First, a disclaimer: I don’t believe in demonizing foods. I tell my kids that there are no bad foods or good foods, just foods that are better for you than others. Anything is okay in moderation, right?
That said, I don’t plan on buying my girls Uno Chicago Grill’s Kids’ Kombo with French Fries anytime soon. According to MSNBC, it is the worst kids’ meal in America, containing a whopping 79 grams of fat (11.5 g of it saturated) and adding up to 1,250 calories.
MSNBC has a helpful tip about eating out — try to avoid beige foods like fries, white bread and chicken nuggets. It’s a “marker of cheap, calorie-rich, nutritionally bankrupt foodstuffs.” Instead, make it a rule to buy meals that feature at least two colors (no, ketchup doesn’t count, nor does strawberry ice cream).
These “worst kids’ foods” earned the dubious honor because of their high levels of calories, salt, sugar, and fat. In some cases, artificial coloring and flavoring earned them a place on the list or else just empty, nutrition-free calories.
The 20 Worst Kids Foods:
Worst Kids’ Meal: Uno Chicago Grill’s Kids’ Kombo with French Fries (see above) – and pet peeve, why do they have to mispell combo?
Worst PB&J: Atlanta Bread Company Peanut Butter & Jelly – Who knew PB&J could be so bad?
Worst Sweetened Cereal: Cap’n Crunch - Ahoy! “This cereal is a food scientist’s concoction of worthless foodlike particles and chemicals,” according to MSNBC.
Worst Beverage: SunnyD Smooth Style – 260 calories, 60 g sugars. Don’t fool yourself. It’s not orange juice. It’s sugar water.
Worst Drink: Baskin-Robbins Small Snickers Shake – contains more than 1,000 calories and 50 grams of fat. Wow.
Worst Dessert: Uno Chicago Grill Kid’s Sundae – 94 grams of sugar!
Worst Side: Bob Evans Smiley Face Potatoes. These “vegetables” provide 524 calories and 31 grams of fat.
Worst Burger: Ruby Tuesday Kids Turkey Minis & Fries – Sounds relatively healthy. It isn’t.
Worst Prepared Lunch: Oscar Mayer Lunchables Maxed Out Cracker Combo, Turkey & Cheddar. You’ll be maxing out if you eat too many of these.
Worst Drive-Thru Meal: Burger King double cheeseburger kids’ meals with small fries and a Coke. Enough said.
Worst Sandwich: Au Bon Pain Kids’ Grilled Cheese – Don’t be fooled. UPDATE: Au Bon Pain said that this is no longer on their menu.
Worst Finger Food: Denny’s Little Dipper Sampler with Honey Mustard Dressing Dipping Sauce and Deep Space French Fries has more than 1,030 calories, 2/3 of your child’s recommended daily caloric intake.
In general, steer clear of nuggets, mozzarella sticks, and fries which, according to MSNBC “make an unholy trinity of sodium and saturated fat.”
The easiest way to avoid most of these foods? Eat at home. I’m not much of a cook, but even packaged Mac and Cheese and frozen chicken nuggets are healthier than most of the kids’ meals you get at restaurants. Check out The Family Kitchen for ideas on how to cook easy, healthy family meals.
Read the full list of “worst kids’ foods” at MSNBC, which also suggests healthier alternatives based on “Eat This, Not That.”
How many “worst” foods do your kids eat? Don’t feel too guilty. Remember: everything is okay in moderation, right?