Limiting junk food for kids is one of the most important health decisions that parents can make. Kids are subjected to numerous advertisements selling junk food every day, and cannot be expected to make healthy food choices on their own. Limiting junk food for kids by controlling the food they eat is only half the battle. Making sure they understand how to make healthy choices in situations where parents are not there to choose for them is just as important.
Advertising junk food for kids is a very profitable way for junk food companies to lure in customers who have not yet developed healthy habits and an understanding of the long-term effects of food choices on the body. Parents can limit the amount of junk food advertising their child sees by limiting the amount of time the child spends watching television and on the Internet. Additionally, when a junk food advertisement is shown, the parents can explain to their child why eating that product would be an unhealthy choice, and suggest similar but healthier options, such as a vegetable burger on wheat bread instead of a fast-food cheeseburger.
Parents should, if possible, pack the child's school lunch with healthy foods including fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. It is much healthier to do this than rely on the child's choice at school between junk food and healthy choices. This is especially true because many schools supply an abundance of chips, french fries, desserts, and other junk food for kids and a very limited supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, making it even harder for children who do try to make healthy choices to have a satisfying lunch.
Many parents resort to serving the family fast food because their busy schedules do not often allow them to cook a meal at home. A possible solution to this problem could be for the parents to spend a couple of hours on the weekend cooking healthy meals and freezing them for quick, convenient use during the week. Additionally, pre-packaged vegetable and fruit portions can be an easy way to add healthy food as a side dish for the frozen meal. If cooking is simply not an option, parents should try to choose restaurants that offer low-calorie menu items with plenty of fruits and vegetables instead of greasy fast-food items. Though children may express a preference for high-calorie, greasy food, it is important for parents to remain firm and explain why making healthy food choices is an important habit to form.