Do you ever feel like all you do is feed your kids? You give them three meals a day and snacks in between. Sometimes it seems that if you don’t just offer them whatever is easiest, you’ll spend your whole life in the kitchen. 

Unfortunately, easy doesn’t always equal healthy, and some popular kid fare is just plain bad for them. 

The foods below are some of the top kid offenders, but don’t worry. There are also plenty of tasty suggestions of healthier fare to try instead.

Processed Meats

Hot dogs and lunch meat make for quick lunches, but they’re packed with sodium and fat. Not only that, but the sodium nitrite used as preservatives in these meats has been linked to higher rates of cancer.

Instead of processed meats, cook and slice your own sandwich meats. Try slices of oven-roasted beef or strips of grilled chicken on your child’s sandwich. 

Meat-free sandwiches can also be delicious. Stuff a pita with a variety of vegetables, such as shredded lettuce, green pepper rings, shaved carrots and tomato slices. Top it all off with a thin slice of cheese and a squirt of mustard for extra flavor. 

If you occasionally need to buy lunch meat or hot dogs, seek out low-sodium or preservative-free options.

Fruit Snacks

Despite the word “fruit” in the name, there isn’t really much nutritious fruit in fruit snacks. Instead, you’re getting a large dose of sugar and other unnecessary ingredients. These chewy treats aren’t the best for kids’ teeth, either.

Fresh fruit is the best alternative to fruit snacks. Take your kids shopping to pick out interesting new fruits, or jazz up old favorites by offering peanut butter or yogurt as a dip. Try frozen bananas on a stick, or offer frozen grapes to older children. 

If you need a packaged fruity snack for times when you’re on the go, try dried fruits like raisins or banana chips. You can even make your own dried fruits at home.


Potato chips are loaded with salt and fat. Many brands also contain additives and preservatives. Most other chip-type snacks, such as cheese puffs or corn curls, aren’t any better.

Often when people want to eat chips, it’s because they’re looking for some crunch, so look for healthier ways to satisfy that craving. Try raw vegetables, such as carrot sticks, broccoli florets or bell pepper strips. A dip made from Greek yogurt can add extra flavor to a veggie snack. Another crunchy snack option is popcorn. Use an air popper, so you can control the salt and butter level of the snack.


Juice sounds like a better drink choice than soda. However, many fruity drinks have a whole lot of high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors, but very little actual fruit content. Juice is a significant contributor to both tooth decay and childhood obesity.

Honestly, water is the best way to keep your kids hydrated. If they consider it boring, add a splash of lemon or lime to their glass. And when you do shop for juice, look for 100 percent juice varieties. They don’t have the fiber that fresh fruit does, but they can be a good source of Vitamin C, and their ingredient lists are certainly preferable to those of juice drinks. Then, limit your kids to one small glass a day. You can even water down the juice by mixing it with extra water.

Eating healthy can feel like an enormous challenge, but take it easy and introduce small changes a little at a time. Also, don’t stress about keeping every unhealthy food out of your child’s life all of the time. Everyone needs a little treat now and then.

Then I commended mirth, because a man has no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be joyful. Ecclesiastes 8:15

When you do your best to fill your child’s plate with healthy, nutritious choices on a regular basis, you’ll be able to thankfully enjoy every bite your family has to eat, including the occasional treat.

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