It can be so hard balancing the desire to have your kids eat the best of the best food with their picky eating and our busy schedules. I am a firm believer that diet plays a huge role in the way our kids act, grow and perform in school. It is one sure way we can help our kids grow to their full potential and ensure they get a great, healthy start at life.
I totally get that kids may not be as on-board with a healthy diet as we hope, but there are some foods that are just not even almost good for our kids. Sure, there is no harm in moderation — having the unhealthy foods is fine once in a while, but they should not be a staple in your family’s diet. Last week I shared the super foods our kids should be eating now to provide the best bang for our buck. The other side of that coin is getting our kids to eat foods they enjoy — that are also healthy for them.
Usually with just a little bit more time, a few extra ingredients, and swapping out some things here and there, there are ways we can keep our kids happy and interested in their food, helping to foster a healthy diet and healthy eating habits.
Click to view the 12 foods your kids need to stop eating now & their 12 healthier alternatives.
1. Frozen Waffles
Frozen waffles hold little to no nutrients for breakfast. They’re usually high in sugar and low in fiber; there is no way that will get your kid to lunchtime.
Healthier Choice: A generous bowl of oatmeal will provide more long-lasting energy. Add berries for a sweet touch!
Try Farro Oatmeal!
2. French Fries
Kids love their french fries and they are okay in moderation. Since they’re typically high in fat and sodium, it’s not a dish your kids should be over-indulging in.
Healthier Choice: Sweet potato fries are just as tasty (if not more so!), but they offer way more nutrients, and are even more healthy if you bake them.
Try Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Soda will be a quick way to get your child a trip to the dentist, since they’ll basically be drinking sugar. Filled with calories that provide no nutrients, kids should steer clear of all sodas.
Healthier Choice: If your child is looking for something sweet, try coconut water. It’s filled with nutrients!
4. Sugary Breakfast Cereal
Kids love the sugar breakfast cereal and who can blame them? It’s colorful and tasty, but that really means it’s filled with empty calories and food coloring.
Healthier Choice: Eggs are a versatile breakfast and will provide a long-lasting protein burst for your kids.
Try Sweet Potato Breakfast Bites.
5. Canned Soup
There is nothing more simple then opening a can of soup, heating, and serving. Unfortunately, they are often filled with sodium and that can lead to early health issues.
Healthier Choice: Making your own soup (and freezing for quick dinners) will allow you to add more veggies, reduce salt, and still enjoy a quick meal.
Try Dairy-Free Cream of Tomato Soup
6. Hot Dogs
I know, hot dogs are kind of a kid-meal must. You can’t go to a ball game or have a family barbecue without them, but the typical beef ones are high in sodium and fat – a bad combo for kids (and adults!).
Healthier Choice: For the odd day where a hot dog is a must, switching to a turkey dog will decrease sodium and fat while still being tasty.
7. Chicken Nuggets
Deep fried, covered in white bread crumbs, and usually full of preservatives, chicken nuggets should not be the staple they often are. High in sodium, fat, calories, with few nutrients, it’s a meal you should avoid.
Healthier Choice: Grilling your own chicken breast and cutting into fun kid shapes or strips can be fun for the kids, and you’ll know they’re eating something natural.
8. Potato Chips
There is little better then a food combination that offers both salty and crunchy elements. Chips go well with movie night, but they sodium-heavy snack is terrible for the whole family.
Healthier Choice: For the same texture and taste, try popcorn with no butter or go the extra mile and make kale chips.
9. Ranch Dip
If your child doesn’t love ketchup, it’s likely they love to dip their food into ranch dressing instead. But keep in mind that a typical serving of 2 tablespoons typically has more than 14 grams of fat.
Healthier Choice: Make your own dip using creamy tofu and add fresh herbs to give a unique taste.
Try Ranch Tofu Dip
10. Bologna and Cracker Lunch Packs
A big hit with the kids for school, these packs are seen many times over during school lunches. Again, very high in sodium, calories and fat.
Healthier Choice: Try multi-grain crackers, turkey slices and natural cheese.
Oh sweet ketchup. What kid doesn’t love this delicious dip that goes with everything? Too bad one of the main ingredients is usually sugar or corn syrup, not tomatoes.
Healthier Choice: Offer a dip that also goes with almost everything, but is packed with protein and fiber — like hummus!
Try Gluten & Dairy Free Hummus
12. Macaroni and Cheese (even the “smart” kind!)
Super high is sodium and low in any nutrients, the boxed versions of mac’n cheese are terrible for your kids. Even the ones that tout the word ‘smart’ have an overdose of sodium and little fiber.
Healthier Choice: Make your own pasta meal using whole wheat pasta, fresh vegetables, and a sprinkle of parmigiana cheese.
Try Basil Pesto Pasta