Nearly 30% of 4–19-year-olds eat fast food on a typical day in the US. A study published in the Journal of Children and Media says that kids prefer junk over traditional home-cooked meals. The main reason behind this is the appealing marketing strategies of multinational brands like KFC selling processed foods. Convenience contributes to junk food’s popularity in America as well. Taste, appearance and low price make them quite addictive too.
The global fast food market size was $862.05 billion in 2020 which is projected to grow from $972.74 billion in 2021 to $1,467.04 billion by 2028 at a CAGR of 6.05%. The Quick Service (QS) eateries’ sales in the US stood at $392.44 billion in 2021 where sales increased by $60 billion from 2020. These figures are a firm testimony that ‘ready meals’ are not going anywhere anytime soon. But it is not a wise idea to ban junk food altogether from your kids’ plates because food restrictions during childhood can lead to risks of binge eating later.
Certain dishes are high in antioxidants and indulging in limits may do them good. As responsible parents, look at what you can feed your kids to satiate young taste buds at times.
These are finely grounded chickpeas, parsley, onions, garlic and spices deep fried. It was introduced to the American market as an alternative to meat-based street food. Studies have found that falafel makes for 27% of food service menus in the past 4 years as of 2020. You may pick sandwiches and wraps that are a mix of falafels, hummus, tabbouleh and olives. Falafel is packed with protein, fiber and vitamin-rich herbs and spices. Order from a well-established restaurant where the flavor and texture will not be compromised. Falafel is also a perfect meal for obese children since it may curb your appetite and support a healthy BMI.
2. Pita Chips
The three main ingredients are flour, oil and whole grains. You may fill them with vegetables or dip them in protein-rich hummus to make it healthier for children.
Image Source: https://tastewise.io/foodtrends/pita
It is also a good idea to take one pita, drizzle it with olive oil and salt and bake. This way parents may have control of exactly what the child is consuming. Else, simply order from a good Mediterranean café near you that promises everything fresh, high-quality and authentic. No wonder Pita has a 10.41% restaurant penetration rate.
3. Chicken Kebob
Marinated cubes of chicken breast, grilled and skewered, are one of the healthiest fast-food options for children. They are not fried and served with salad and bread on the sides.
The meat is also free of fat that may otherwise raise blood pressure and cholesterol in kids. Kebobs make for wholesome snacks made from ingredients that make them finger-licking good. You can consider this as ideal summer-time food for your children. Pair with any sweet-salty drink like mint lemonades or fruit juices for a burst of flavors in the mouth.
This is a thinly sliced meat (lamb, goat, beef or chicken) greased with signature spices and slow-cooked on a stand-up rotisserie. The flesh used is typically thinner than cutlet. It is then rolled into a steamed or heated pita which then appears like a Middle-Eastern style burrito or taco. This can be served with salads or simply devoured alone. Shawarma is definitely an easy snack and can be best eaten on-the-go. Give it in small portions to children or simply consult the pediatrician before introducing it to their diet.
An Arab salad, packed with finely chopped ingredients like onions and parsley, is light, refreshing and healthy for children. You may add lettuce or semolina instead of bulgur wheat and season with lemon-olive oil mix. The salad is proven to promote healing after surgeries, cleanse the body by flushing toxins and improve heart functions. It also fulfils a child’s daily requirement of Vitamin C and K and folate. Kids with impaired digestive health may also benefit from adding tabbouleh to their plates.
It is alright to plan cheat days for little ones too. You can offer them a variety of different cuisines from around the world via fast food which saves them from meal monotony. But make sure they are not heavy on fat, sugar and sodium. Also, do not allow fast food more than 3 times a week to maintain nutritional health.