Fast food is an umbrella term that covers a variety of foods that are both cooked and served very quickly. As a parent, of course, you want your child to be happy and healthy, and you know that fast food isn’t the healthiest option out there.
Should You Allow Your Kids To Eat Fast Food
Still, it’s not really entirely feasible to not give them fast food at all. That’s why there are certain factors you might want to take into consideration when deciding how often you should allow your kids to eat fast food.
1. Developing A Healthy Relationship With Food
Most of the time, when talking about eating habits, people usually mention the nutritional value of certain foods, as well as the price points. Unlike some other things a child might want, as is evident by the latest McDonald’s prices, the financial factor isn’t really something that needs careful consideration here since fast food is very affordable. So, putting that aside, let’s focus on health.
Of course, the nutritional value of the foods your child eats is very important for their physical health. However, developing a healthy relationship with food is also important for their mental health. Teaching them that their main focus shouldn’t be on food all the time is something that you can do by allowing them to eat fast food, but not letting it become a common thing.
Having a diet where they eat different kinds of healthy foods consistently will allow them to learn how their food affects their bodies, which is very important. However, if you let them eat fast food occasionally while getting other nutrients from different sources at home, then it’s fine. That way, you’ll ensure that they don’t overly stress about things like calorie intake or their weight, and they will grow up in a way that isn’t dictated by food, while still remaining physically healthy as well.
2. Physical Activity
Physical activity is important for kids just like it is for adults as well. Of course, it’s always important that the activity is age-appropriate – you don’t want a young kid lifting weights or something similar because that’s not safe for them. The activity needs to be something that fits their age and physical development as well as their personality, or they won’t enjoy it as much or benefit from it as much.
And just like with adults, the amount of calories they can intake depends on how active they are. Not because of their physical appearance, but because of the health effects being seriously overweight could potentially cause. That said, it’s important to note that children shouldn’t be calorie counting, or made to feel bad about their bodies.
Offering them healthy alternatives on days where they already had enough calories from other sources is fine, but making them feel bad about how many calories they have already eaten is not.
3. Special Occasions
If you’re looking for a reason to give your child fast food and they don’t actually need any of the above ones, then you could always use the fact that it’s a special occasion – such as their birthday or something similar. However, it’s important to take care that you don’t teach them to use food as a coping mechanism since that can develop into a larger issue.
They also shouldn’t be eating fast food that often because it’s ‘special’ since that wouldn’t teach them good eating habits either. If they want to go for a burger and fries, or pizza on their birthday that’s completely fine, of course. However, by only giving them food on occasions like that, you might create a habit where they turn to that kind of food whenever they need to feel good. Taking them out to their favorite fast food place from time to time just because can be a good way to prevent that from happening.
While this is obvious, it should still be mentioned – how often you let your kids have junk food should heavily depend on their age. While there’s no denying how tasty it is, that kind of meal often contains a lot of unhealthy additives. That’s why a younger child shouldn’t have it as often as their older siblings.
That’s also why you should consider your child’s age when deciding whether or not they should have fast food at all – the younger they are, the less often they should have it. However, as they grow up, their diets should become more and more varied – to avoid cravings or limiting themselves.
The way kids think about themselves eventually becomes part of their personalities. If you teach them that they should be worried about their weight or that they can never have anything even slightly unhealthy, then that will eventually become part of who they are. It’s why it’s so important for parents to teach their children healthy habits – not because of how good they look, but because of how good they feel.