“I wish for everyone to help create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.” -Jamie Oliver
Easier said than done Jamie. Put a healthy, home cooked meal in front of a child and he or she is bound to whine, make faces and turn mealtime into an ordeal.
The opposite is true of fast food. They happily gobble it up and the harried parents are grateful that there is at least some food in their children’s system.
A recent survey revealed that forty per cent of UAE parents admitted to giving in to their children’s demands for junk food. It is a similar situation in the rest of the world.
Junk food may seem appetizing and a godsend for parents with difficult children. However, these parents fail to realize is that they are becoming their own child’s worst enemy by feeding them such food.
Fast foods are extremely high in calories and according to nutritionist Rashi Chowdhary that is the reason humans crave it so much. “From an evolutionary point of view, humans are hard-wired to crave high-calorie food as a survival mechanism, so each time we see, smell or eat junk food, many chemicals and neurotransmitters are released in our body,” he says.
“When your child bites into a burger, his brain reward system gets activated since dopamine, which is the main neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure and excitement, gets secreted. And then he will feel a complete lack of control and an intense demand from his brain for more,” Chowdhary says, underlining the addiction factor.
So, what kind of junk food do our children consume the most and with the greatest eagerness?
Richard D. deShazo and Steven Bigler, both professors at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, conducted an experiment in which they dissected two chicken nuggets from different restaurants and studied them under a microscope. What they saw was most alarming.
They published the results in the American Journal of Medicine. The nuggets contained mostly muscle, fat, vessels, nerves, skin, connective tissues, skeletal muscle and even bones!
This research brings to mind Chef Jamie Oliver’s nuggets that he made on his show Food Revolution:
On the other hand, the National Chicken Council (NCC) feels differently and holds that " nuggets are an excellent source of protein" for children who are picky eaters.
Dr. Ashley Peterson, NCC's vice president of science and technology says, “This study evaluates only two chicken nugget samples out of the billions of chicken nuggets that are made every year."
You may also check out:America's Top 5 Worst Junk Food Items!
A recent research showed that cookies are more addictive than psychoactive drugs.
The research carried out by Dr. Joseph Schroeder, an associate professor of psychology and director of the behavioral neuroscience program at Connecticut College and his student Jamie Honohan, indicated that cookies - Oreos in this case - are very addictive. They concluded that “high-fat, high-sugar foods are stimulating the brain in the same way as drugs of abuse and can be considered as a potentially addictive substance."
Food and drinks high in sugar content and calories are neither filling nor nutritious. It is doubly dangerous for children since it increases the risk of diabetes, suppresses the immune system and the release of growth hormone.
You may like to read: Most Unhealthy Meals Served By America's Fast Food Chains
If it was up to our kids, they would happily replace every form of liquid in their diet with a soda. Drinking soda can increase their odds of being overweight and developing type-2 diabetes, in addition to causing dental cavities.
However, fruit drinks can be just as bad. The canned, bottled and boxed varieties are just as bad as soda. Unfortunately, parents are under the false impression that they are healthier substitutes for sodas. They are not made of 100% fresh juice and have large quantities of sugar/sweeteners, color and preservatives.
Crisps and Fries
For most kids (and ultimately their parents) fries are the closest equivalent to veggies in their junk meals. French fries are loaded with sodium and fat and do not have much in terms of nutritional value.
Here are 3 Surprising Reasons To Give Up Soda
Kids’ Breakfast Cereal
Breakfast; now here’s a meal that is the most important of the whole day. Parents happily give their children cereals, satisfied they are enriched with a bunch of vitamins and minerals. Little do they know that the colorful, sugary delights their children are so happily consuming have more color, sugar, preservatives and processed ingredients and end up doing more harm than good.
Let’s face it the best option for a healthy cereal would be a whole grain one, ideally oatmeal sprinkled with fresh fruits, nuts and honey.