If you’re a working mom or dad, you have very little time to cook meals. Even more so, desserts. We often choose what’s more convenient over what’s healthy, but many times, we end up paying a costly price for these choices. Not all of us like eating healthy homemade stews, vegetables and fruits. Once you’re introduced to tasty artificial treats, it will be hard to go back to healthy snacks. McDonald’s meals, boxed macaroni and cheese and many other readily available and easy to cook meals are often loaded with preservatives and non-food ingredients. The list of the worst foods to eat can be lengthy, but you can’t avoid all of them. Still, what can be avoided should always be avoided, in order to minimize the damage these bad foods can create.
Top Worst Foods to Eat
1. Breakfast Cereal
This is the toughest one, since many children start their day with a bowl of “healthy” cereals. If you look at the box in which they came in, you will notice vitamins and minerals, so they must be good, right? Wrong! They are loaded with processed sugar, food dyes, starch and other ingredients that may add to your kids’ unwholesome eating habits. What’s worse, these processed ingredients (especially sugars) are known to cause addiction and alter the function and functionality of the taste buds. That’s why your kids may not like the idea of a healthy breakfast.
The healthier solution: if you are a fan of reading labels, look for the different names of artificial sugars. These can be anything from cane sugar, sucrose, evaporated cane juice to agave and high-fructose corn syrup. If you can’t find a brand that will support your healthy eating plan, at least try to stifle the damage. Look for high fiber and low sugar contents. If you find one with less than 5 grams of sugar and at least 5 grams of fiber, that’s the brand for your kids. You can kick up the notch to even the worst foods to eat, so add fresh fruits to your kids’ breakfast cereal. You can add berries, and if your kids don’t like them – freshly blended pears, apples, cantaloupes and other high fiber fruits.
2. Mac’n’Cheese In A Box
Maybe the top of the worst foods to eat list should be reserved for boxed, “cooked in minutes” meals. For example, macaroni and cheese and instant noodles. Other than the fact that these noodles are made of white flour and starch, they have a dangerous high amount of sodium and preservatives. The cheese in Mac’n’Cheese is not cheese at all, the tomato traces are not tomatoes at all. They are full of artificial colorings and flavors, like tertiary-butyl hydroquinone and monosodium glutamate (TBHQ and MSG). Regular (ab)use can trigger heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, hypertension and many other health problems.
The healthier solution: The person who invented these should be locked up, because macaroni and cheese is one of the easiest meals you can cook from scratch. Your 6 year old can cook them, if, of course, you are fond of spending time preparing meals together. They can be done and served in less than 30 minutes, with healthy substitutes for white flour and artificial flavorings. You can even prepare more than one serving per person and keep them refrigerated for a couple of days without losing much of their flavor and texture.
3. Granola Bars
Granola bars as the worst foods to eat was a big shocker. The way they are overly advertized as a healthy snack for kids should be illegal. The claimed nutritional value of this snack food should always be compared with the amount of artificial dyes and flavors, and high sugar contents.
The healthier solution: You don’t need to write off granola bars altogether, just look for a more organic brand. If the ingredients on the label are mostly caps letters, numbers, and terms the average adult can’t pin down, they are not healthy. Look for brands that list the ingredients like: nuts, fruits and whole grains. Even better, learn some easy recipe to make them at home. They have a relatively long shelf life and some can stay locked in a container for up to two weeks.
4. Sodas and Sport Drinks
Adults are advised not to use sport drinks on a regular basis, which means kids shouldn’t even know their names. Sodas in general may be the reason your mood experiences ups and downs throughout the day. There are studies that show that high amounts of artificial sugars in these drinks lead to altered moods and behaviors, like aggression, depression and etc. Keep sodas at the end of the shopping list.
The healthier solution: Homemade juices and ice teas. Keep in mind that a glass full of orange juice carries a nutritional value that can satisfy adult bodies. Your children, especially if they are under 14 years old should not be drinking freshly squeezed juices in large amounts. Water them down for them.
5. Luncheon Meats
It seems like a healthy brown bag lunch for your kids. It’s prepared in minutes, you can add veggies and cheese to it, so it seems healthy. Deli meats, regardless of the brand and manufacturer, are all covered with nitrites. They have to be, so they can withstand long shelf storage. Aspartame is also a part of their nutritional makeup, which has been linked with seizures and delayed mental development. Avoid cured and smoked meats too. They are drowned in chemicals before they hit the market, to enhance their taste and extend shelf life.
The healthier solution: Avoid the sliced and packaged types of deli meats. When you’re in the supermarket and store, make sure you can see them slicing the pieces from an actual, larger piece of meat. When making your own barbecue, consider marinating the meat in rosemary, since this herb can suspend the cancer causing components. The best solution is, of course, to find a deli market that farms their own animals.
6. Frozen Finger Foods
This is a favorite of many kids, as well as adults. They are tasty, made of meat (at least to an extend) and ready for the dinner table in a few minutes. Although not all brands are unhealthy, so look on the package. Make sure you pick the box with lowest saturated fat content, since high fat content usually point to flash frying before packing.
The healthier solution: Nowadays there are brands that guarantee high quality fish, chicken and cheese in the box, so read the labels. Even then, the flash-fry procedure will still apply, to make sure the batter sticks, so look for low fat and sodium levels. Learn an easy chicken finger recipe, and pre-prepare the meat, store it in lock bags and keep it in the freezer.
In general, you should always read the labels on everything you buy. These are not the only worst foods to eat on the list. We consider adding canned foods, dipping sauces and juices to be a bit redundant at this point. Read the list of foods you should avoid giving to kids if they are younger than 2 years old. That way you can make sure they are healthy as they are glorious!