Let your child eat the “bad” stuff and you might be opening the door to unhealthy eating for junior.

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You might be surprised at the kinds of foods you shouldn't be offering to your little fella! If you have been including these items in your child’s diet, it’s time to stop or at least control their consumption — even if these are your kid’s favourite — you want to ensure that junior is strong.

1. Processed meats
Bacon, ham, hot dogs and luncheon meat, though convenient, are not nutritious as these are filled with nitrates, a preservative used to prevent bacterial growth, add colour and preserve the meat. Worse, they’re often deep fried in (unhealthy) oil — so unsuitable for junior! These foods may contain a lot of fat and could trigger or increase their chances of contracting chronic illnesses — particularly if you already have a family history of them.

2. Fish with HIGH levels of mercury
It is not advised for young children to consume food with high levels of mercury as they may impact their growth and development. Examples of fish that may contain high levels of mercury are tuna, eel and bonito. However, fish is still an essential for children because of the various amounts of nutrients — including omega-3 fatty acids — that are very beneficial for them. Just make sure to check that the fish has low levels of mercury.

Bacon, ham, hot dogs and luncheon meat, though convenient, are not nutritious as these are filled with nitrates, a preservative used to prevent bacterial growth, add colour and preserve the meat.

3. Breakfast cereals
Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes and Lucky Charms… you probably grew up eating these familiar sugary cereals for breakfast. If you read the packets, you’ll see that they are packed with sugar and are hardly nutritious. Don’t repeat the same mistake with your child. Other than making his breakfast look interesting and colourful, these cereals do not benefit him. Fret not, there are healthier cereals available, just make sure that sugar (or the many other names for hidden sugar including high fructose corn syrup) isn’t one of the first three items on the ingredient list!

4. Soft and/or sugary drinks
This does not just refer to the typical sodas, but also to drinks like fruit juices and sport drinks that may have high sugar content. Sure, some juice brands offer “pure” fruit juice — but remember that these usually pulp-free juices are from lots of fruit. It takes from two to four oranges to make a measuring cup of juice — so if your child drinks two tall glasses (with maybe a cup and a half of juice in each) that could be 12 oranges! Stop and think before you pour.

Also, too much sugar can lead to damage to the teeth and increase junior’s risk of developing obesity. Another reason for junior to avoid sugary drinks is, some of these drinks might contain caffeine that has physiological effects on junior’s body. Also the long-term effects of caffeine on human brain development is not well understood. Instead, milk or water should be better.
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5. French fries
French fries are vegetables, because they are made from potatoes. Right? Yes, but they are usually deep-fried in hydrogenated oil and heavily salted, leaving it with little to no nutritional value and high in fat and sodium — nothing like a good nutritious potato. It will only increase junior’s risk of high blood pressure as well as open other doors to various health problems like heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and stroke.

6. “Kids meals”
A go-to option for junior, especially if your darling is a fussy eater. But not necessarily the best option. Kid’s meals are usually limited to burgers or chicken nuggets with fries. In other words: Processed meats, French fries and a soda. And you already know the dangers lurking in those items.

On top of that, with the constant exposure to foods high in salt, junior’s taste buds will be altered to want saltier foods, which is the start to unhealthy eating habits.

7. Microwavable foods
These dishes can be found everywhere and are available in almost any cuisine. Not only are they convenient when you are busy, but it also makes meal times simpler. But read the ingredients: They are high in sodium and unhealthy fat with little nutritional value. We’ve already talked about increasing junior’s risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. On top of that, with the constant exposure to foods high in salt, junior’s taste buds will be altered to want saltier foods, which is the start to unhealthy eating habits.

8. Breakfast pastries
Danishes, Chinese pastries, croissants and cinnamon rolls… As delicious and easy to eat as they sound, breakfast pastries are certainly not what junior should be eating for breakfast. Not only are they laden with sugar and simple starches (that break down into sugar again), they offer not nearly enough nutrition for junior. Plus the high levels of sugar could result in a sugar crash, leaving your little one hungrier and wanting more than necessary. This might lead to obesity and other related health problems.

Photos: iStock

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