For our children to grow up strong and healthy, it is very essential that they are provided with foods that are high in nutrition. However, as parents, sometimes we are guilty of succumbing to this temptation of giving our children yummy quick food that can tame their hunger fast. Probably because we do not have the time to prepare the food for them, or because instant and processed foods are generally much cheaper than elaborate and organic meals. Still, we believe that you should know how dangerous some of this unhealthy food can be so you could at least try to reduce their intakes.
Carbonated drinks and packed juices
We are not just talking about soft drinks like Fanta, but all kinds of sweetened drinks like cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin-style waters, energy and sports drinks, are unhealthy for children due to a few reasons. In fact, for children under one year old, these drinks should not be introduced at all. Soft drinks often contain an additive called brominated vegetable oil which function is to keep citrus flavourings from separating in sports drinks and sodas. The chemical in this oil can cause a condition called ‘bromine toxicity’ that can influence a child’s nervous system, lead to skin inflammation, and memory loss.
Although brands like Coca-Cola are no longer using this chemical in their products, soft drinks and juices of the likes are high in the number of calories and sugar that will not just lead to weight gain but also corrosion of teeth.
Candies or Sweets
Which child does not like candies? Although we do think it is okay for your child to have them as an occasional treat, candy intakes should be highly monitored by the grown-ups. Candies are high in sugar, calories and fat, but they not adding any other nutritional values for your children. They may feel full from eating some caramel nougats that you bought for them, but it has no impact on their daily nutrient requirements. Frequent consumption of candies could actually deprive the body of the nutrients it needed because your body would have to use other nutrients obtained from different sources to break down the sugar for digestion.
Artificial colours used to make candies more visually appealing can also be unhealthy to children. In fact, a recent review of 15 research found that artificial food colouring increases hyperactivity in sensitive children. Some of these food colouring codes have already been banned in other countries due to evidence that proves they can cause cancer.
Frankfurters, pepperonis, nuggets, and salami are all easy to make and tasty to eat. But… they are also high in fat, sodium, nitrates, and preservatives that are linked to various chronic illnesses like hypertension, bowel cancer, diabetes, and of course, obesity. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) also noted that chemically processed food like those listed above is known as Group 1 carcinogens i.e. known to cause cancer. Hence, it is best to avoid or decrease their consumption especially for young children.
Fries are beautiful potatoes but too much of them can bring ugly consequences. This is because they are laden in trans-fats! Trans fats are a type of saturated fat that is associated with cardiovascular diseases and the enlargement of the waistline (i.e. weight gain). This fat increases the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol that is known as the ‘bad’ cholesterol while simultaneously decreasing the ‘good’ cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in our body.
The thing about this low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is that it sticks on the walls of our arteries and causing them to be hard and narrow. When this happens, it is harder for the blood to flow through the arteries causing the heart to work harder. In more serious cases, a person with blocked arteries could also suffer from a heart attack or stroke. You may think that this is unlikely to happen to a child but when a person is used to consuming trans-fat during his or her childhood, it is certainly not impossible.
Apart from the food that your children are consuming, you should also be aware of the container you are storing your food in. You might have seen the term “BPA-free” on plastic boxes and bottles previously, but do you know what this means? BPA or Bisphenol-A is a toxic chemical typically found in plastics, and they are known to have hazardous effects on the human body. As such, it can increase the likelihood of childhood asthma, obesity, heart disease and diabetes, as well as neurological problems like Alzheimer. Apart from plastic containers, BPA can also be found in the can linings. Thus, instead of buying canned tomatoes next time, maybe opt for the jar option. It may cost a little more expensive, but it is certainly much safer for your children.
If you are wondering what kind of food your children should be eating a lot, you can read: 7 Superfoods for Your Kids.