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With all the talk of healthy eating and losing weight nowadays, we really need to stop and give some thought to the fast food industry and processed ready-made foods. One really needs to be aware of the fat, calories and sodium that are lurking in these products.

As a parent, you are approached by your hungry child wanting food and NOW!! You also should be conscious of your own eating habits. If you are eating healthy you will also want your children to eat healthy. It is a “family” situation.

A package of cookies, or chips are a lot easier to put out when you are involved in an already busy schedule. But what are these items doing to the health of your children? Even if they do not have a weight problem, this is not healthy food fare. Good nutritious foods should be our first thought. Packaged foods that are readily accessible lack wholesome goodness. Here are a few suggestions for quick snacks:

Apple wedges are tasty dipped in peanut or almond butter.
Carrot sticks or cucumber slices are yummy dipped in a lite salad dressing.
A whole wheat tortilla spread with a bit of peanut butter and small amount of natural fruit preserves and then rolled up will satisfy a hearty hunger.
Keep frozen banana chunks, fruits and berries in the freezer. (Alton Brown on the Food Network recently shared a tip. Take the bananas out of the skin and put them in a plastic bag in your freezer. You will not end up with the dreadful black bananas) Put the fruit with juice, soy milk or skim milk in a blender and blend up a delicious fruit smoothie/shake.
A good before dinner snack to keep on hand for children older than 3 years old is to wash grapes, cut them up put in the freezer. As these could be a choking hazard, do not feed these to young children.
Make your own trail mix from raw sunflower seeds and raisins. The sweet and salty combination is a hit with children and adults alike. Before serving anything with nuts be sure to check these against possible food allergies.
The veggies with lite salad dressing, tortilla roll-ups and trail mix could all be put into a cooler and taken on your road trip or kept in the refrigerator at your office for when Mr. Hungry arrives.
Let us turn now to eating at Fast Food Establishments:

There are times when fast food is unavoidable. Time and budget limitations necessitate our visiting our friendly hamburger, and fried chicken establishments. Let us face it, fast food restaurants and their drive-through service helps meet our schedules when we are trying to stay on schedule.

Although you may have to stop for fast food do your research ahead of time. You can go online and find out how many calories, grams of fat, etc. are in the various items on the menus of the various fast food chains. Then you will be prepared to make a healthier choice when you stop. You can easily consume your calorie allotment for the day, and more in a single meal. Learn to make healthy choices. They do exist even in fast food. And remember super-size tends to do just that…. Super-size you!!

Forgo the French fries. Most fast food chains offer side salads. Stay clear of the fattening dressings. Opt for a lite dressing or oil and vinegar.

Most fast food places now carry some sort of fruit. Ask for extra tomatoes, lettuce and pickles on your sandwich. If you have the option to order a baked potato, this would be a good choice. Be sure not to use the high-calorie topping s that are offered.

Even with something as simple as ordering a drink, you have healthy choices to make. Your waistline will be paying the price for your decision. Soda is not a good choice and diet soda depending on the artificial sweetener that is used is not that healthy either. Water is always a good choice. Other good selections would be unsweetened tea, 100% juice (not juice drinks) or low-fat milk. Here again watch the super-size.

Do not leave your portion savvy at home when you are traveling. The extra calories, which translate into pounds, will be facing you when you get back from your trip. If you “have” to order the value meal, share it with a friend. A child-size meal may be the answer to your portion control! If you order smaller portions, you will not be tempted to overeat.

Watch out for the extras. A tablespoon of mayo, adding another slice of cheese, or extra sauces can really add up. Mustard is a good choice as it is low in calories and carbohydrates.

Try to order grilled or baked meats. The breaded chicken patties will sabotage your waistline for sure. Batter fried fish could prove to be a disaster.

As promoted on the Biggest Loser, a Subway sandwich, especially the veggie one, can be an answer to your food concerns. If you are on a low-carbohydrate diet, discard the roll and eat the filling.

If you find yourself tearing out of the house without stopping for breakfast you can set yourself up to fail if you are planning on stopping at a fast food restaurant. This could very well be the beginning of calorie overload for the day. Instead of a breakfast sandwich, order a bowl of fresh fruit, fruit and yogurt parfait, oatmeal cereal with milk or just plain eggs.

As an example of various Fast food chains and your options:

Arby’s Beef & Cheddar – 440 calories/21 grams of fat

Better choice – Jr Roast Beef = 270 calories/9 grams of fat

Savings: calories/12 grams of fat

Burger King Original Whopper – 700 calories/39 grams of fat

Better choice – Hamburger – 310 calories/12 grams of fat

Savings: 390 calories/27 grams of fat

Hardee’s Double Thick Burger – 1240 calories/90 grams of fat

Better choice: Thick Burger – 850 calories/57 grams of fat

Savings: 390 calories/33 grams of fat

McDonald’s Big Mac – 560 calories/30 grams of fat

Better choice: Hamburger – 260 calories/9 grams of fat

Savings: 300 calories/21 grams of fat

Sonic Super Sonic Cheeseburger – 839 calories/55 grams of fat

Better choice: Jr Burger – 353 calories/21 grams of fat

Savings: 486 calories/34 grams of fat

Wendy’s Big Bacon Classic – 580 calories/29 grams of fat

Better choice: Jr Hamburger – 280 calories/9 grams of fat

Savings: 300 calories/20 grams of fat

I hope this information has been helpful. It is a real eye opener when you see these figures in black and white.

Children as well as adults can have an unhealthy lifestyle that will affect their health and how they live their lives.


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