Fast Food Review: Can Fast Food Be Healthy?
“Avoiding fast food restaurants is best because it is difficult to control the food content and these establishments provide a lot of stimulants and cues to over eat,” says Kymm Mutch, MS, RD, NEW (Nutrition, Exercise, and Weight Management) Kids at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. She is the dietitian who counsels kids and families daily about healthy food choices.
NEW Kids is a multidisciplinary program that includes a coordinated effort of nurse practitioners, psychologists, dietitians, exercise physiologists, and physicians.
“Let’s face it. In reality parents take their kids to fast food restaurants. I simply try and tell parents to limit their trips to a couple per month,” commented Mutch.
If you visit a local fast food place, Mutch recommends avoiding juice or soda, which contribute high calories and almost no nutritive value. “Instead,” she says, “choose milk or water for your child. As for the meal, go with a plain hamburger, which usually has less fat and calories than chicken nuggets. Also skip dessert.”
“It is good that some restaurants have put apple sauce on the menu but the fruit snacks are really a misnomer,” she said, noting that products with high fructose corn syrup can raise blood sugar and give children cramping and diarrhea.
Mutch suggests parents have the ingredients on hand to make fast meals at home. These include low sodium frozen meals (with sides of vegetables included), as well as sandwiches made with wheat bread, low fat cheese, and meat or low sodium canned soups. Other options include good old pasta with sauce, easily assembled tortilla mini pizzas, or burritos made with whole-wheat tortilla, refried beans, whole kidney beans or cheese.
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