Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Nutrition for Kids

By Brandi M. Seals

There has been a lot of fuss lately over kids and what they eat. Heck there has been a lot of fuss over what Americans in general eat. We as a nation are continuing to grow fatter and unhealthier everyday. Some parents try to limit their child's diet to vegetables, whole grains, and other good for you foods. Others take a more relaxed approach and will allow in the occasional cupcake or cookie. And there are those who let the kids eat whatever they want.

I personally do not think we can teach the kids to eat healthier until we actually start eating healthier. Sometimes it takes a shock to realize just how bad some foods are for you. I suggest that each parent keep a food journal of what their children eat. Do it for a week and some of you will be shocked by the patterns that emerge or the foods the kids eat when parents are not around. You will need your child's help. He or she will need to write down any food consumed outside the home or away from parental supervision. Make sure they also note how much they eat.

When the week is done, go through and look up nutritional information on the foods consumed. Pay close attention to how much sugar, fat, and calories they are eating each day. You may be alarmed by what you find.

If you do not like what you see, then it is time to step things up. You do not need to put your child on a diet per se, but you could start encouraging better foods, limiting junk food, and helping them understand portion control.

If your child is consuming too much junk food, stop buying so much of it and have healthy alternatives on hand. Instead of handing out cookies and ice cream, try giving out granola or pita chips. Stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables and healthy snacks. Sneak in healthy food by swapping white bread for multi-grain bread. Pass on the traditional fried potato chips and stock up on baked chips or tortilla chips. You can find healthy alternatives for many snack items.

Never cut out unhealthy snack food without having something to replace it. Snacks are important. They help power people through to meals and keep blood sugar from dipping during the day.

One of the reasons I suggest you look at how much sugar your child is consuming is because it can make them hyper and some foods you would not suspect, are actually very high in sugar. Pop is an obvious high sugar item, but did you know ketchup has an alarming amount in it? A common packet of ketchup from any given restaurant has about 2 grams of sugar in it! Shocking I know.

Next time you decide to take your kids out for a breakfast out at a fast food restaurant, you may want to think again. Everyone says the food is loaded with fat, but do you really have any idea how bad some of this food can be?

I compared the nutritional information for a basic sausage biscuit, medium hash brown with ketchup, and a small orange juice from two common fast food restaurants - Hardee's and McDonald's. The results below are shocking.

Sausage Biscuit
410 Calories
26 Grams of Fat
2 Grams of Sugar

Hash Browns
140 Calories
8 Grams of Fat
0 Grams of Sugar

Ketchup (1 packet)
10 Calories
0 Grams of Fat
2 Grams of Sugar

12 oz Orange Juice
140 Calories
0 Grams of Fat
29 Grams of Sugar

Total McDonald's Breakfast
700 Calories
34 Grams of Fat
33 Grams of Sugar

Sausage Biscuit
530 Calories
38 Grams of Fat
4 Grams of Sugar

Medium Hash Rounds
350 Calories
22 Grams of Fat
1 Gram of Sugar

Ketchup (1 packet)
9 Calories
0 Grams of Fat
2 Grams of Sugar

10 oz of Orange Juice
150 Calories
0 Grams of Fat
35 Grams of Sugar

Total Hardee's Breakfast
1039 Calories
60 Grams of Fat
42 Grams of Sugar

Before you head out to your favorite fast food restaurant, take a look at their nutritional information. I used the Fast Food Nutrition Fact Explorer ( to find the information above.


Bob said...

McDonald’s would rather sink their resources into play gyms rather than applying it to finding ways to improve the nutrient value of their “gold standard” product formulations. What does that tell you? Their hugely successful gold standards aren’t going to change for the healthier without a major PR war. But the truth is: they can, and simply, without impacting taste.

There are safe and natural fat replacers (such as those made from grain fiber) that can assure a reduction in the saturated and trans fat oils in all those "gold standard" brands. They can be applied across the full range of McDonald’s menu items and not one McD's customer will detect detraction in taste. In fact, the fries can even be coated with those same natural ingredients so that they do not absorb so much oil - I've tasted such fries -they absorbed 20% less fat in the frying process; they’re crisper on the outside and actually taste like a potato on the inside. Maybe McD’s should focus more resources on their R&D and their core business (their food and making it healthier) rather than wasting it on PR gimmicks like building play gyms at their sites. The question the whole country is asking McDonald's right now (after saying “gee thanks for the gyms”): if you can make the same food taste the same, but prepare it in such a way that it is healthier or, at least, not as bad for you... why wouldn't you do it?

Site Editor said...

There are 1,039 calories in that little Hardee's breakfast? Wow. Call me stunned.