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JUNK NO MORE: Healthy Alternatives to Junk Food Snacks


Stop munching that chocolate and look at this.

Gone are the days when children in the United States eat fresh apples and drink milk for snacks. Blame it on fast food advertising, on parents giving their children more bucks than needed or even just on different junk temptations around. Children would opt to grab a bucketful of fries and a cup of ice cream with caramel on top than eating vegetables and especially some green vegetables which they often think as inedible. Compare these two:

Which would your child grab?

French Fries Grilled Burger

A package of regular fries can cost you 12g of fat and 235 calories – which a 180-pound individual will burn in 20-minute nonstop aerobics. A 133-pound person can burn a double patty cheese burger (with 706 calories and 44g fat) in 120 minutes of jogging. Imagine your child who just sits the whole day playing video games eating a package of regular fries plus a double patty cheeseburger regularly. Imagine how he would look if he keeps on eating that way for several months, or worse, for years? With the convenient availability (since fast food chains are just everywhere) plus media influences, eliminating these junk foods from your child’s life is close to impossible.

Instead of sour-grapes over bundles of pizza and chocolates your child consumes, why not think of alternatives – something a bit “junk food” but in a healthier form.

  • FRENCH FRIES. French fries is the darling of the American fast food industry, no questions. Although fries may taste great, but it has considerable amount of sodium and trans fat which triggers elevated blood pressure and kidney problems. In fast foods, french fries are cooked in very high temperatures, around 190°C, which can be potentially carcinogenic and can cause cancer. With so many unsatisfactory effects that researchers have found out about fast food french fries, sweet potatoes are instead recommended. Sweet potatoes have antioxidants which prevent free radicals to damage cells.

    French Fries 2

    Just cut sweet potatoes in wedges, put a pinch of salt, spray the pan with some olive oil, fry until tender and alas, you now have a substitute for those scary fast food potatoes. You can buy already precut sweet potato fries at Trader Joe’s.

  • DESSERTS. There is nothing wrong with serving desserts to your child. We have to remember that desserts typically are served after a meal. In this country children are allowed to go into refrigerator and cupboards and grab treats at any time. It is the responsibility of the parents to set limits with desserts. If a child has eaten a balanced meal especially with a reasonable portion of veggies a dessert is appropriate. At home it is best to serve portion sized desserts that are around 100 calories, such as puddings, jello and frozen desserts such as the popular fudgeisicle. Do not deprive your children from desserts because they will then crave the sugar and end up overeating at a friend’s birthday party or even a family event. I suggest a dessert each day for your child if they are eating healthy..

  • PIZZA. This is one of the most loved Italian food in the entire world. The tasty crust, cheese and toppings make it tasty, savory and flavorful which in turn makes people want to eat not just one a slice, but often a few slices. The downside of this pizza is that the meat toppings are very high in fat such as the pepperoni, bacon, beef, salami ham, etc . Often the meat is of low quality which explains why the fat is the highest. The cheese that is used is high fat mozzarella which explains the oil slick that appears on the pie. The very thick crust is high in carbohydrates and the pizza is loaded with salt. The next time your child craves for a pizza, you can opt to order the thin crust or the wheat crust ones. Low fat cheese can be a good choice, too. As for the toppings, onions, black olives, red peppers, garlic, spinach, pineapple, mushrooms, tomatoes and broccoli are the best.


  • SODA.The government blames obesity partly to soda consumption. There is a proposal to place a 18% tax on sodas. Over-consumption of soda, because of accumulation of sugar, leads to diabetes and in some cases, to osteoporosis. As a soda substitute, you can just put fresh lemon or lime in water which tastes like lemonade. It is best for skin care and digestion yet not sacrificing the taste.

We might not always check what sorts of food our children eat everyday, but if we get the chance to, we should always resort to the healthier version. But despite their being healthy, they are still classified as “junk” which means moderation is still necessary. We should not put the blame on the government or on school administrators, but we as parents should carefully oversee what our children are gobbling up especially nowadays that obesity among children is widespread.