So what’s a parent to do?

If your kids are hooked on fast food, we offer these suggestions for steering them towards healthier eating:

  • Serve a variety of healthy foods at home to prevent “picky eater” habits from forming. Taking them grocery shopping, teaching them to find and choose foods, and involving them in meal planning tells them you want to prepare meals they will enjoy.
  • Set realistic goals. If the child bristles at eating a side portion of veggies, make a game to get him to take one bite of the new-tasting food.
  • Make your own chicken snacks at home, using healthy dipping sauces like marinara sauce, or mustard. If you must bread the nuggets, dip them in an egg, roll them in gluten free flour and bake, don’t fry. If you fry then use coconut oil.
  • If you’re eating out, cut out half of the trans and saturated fat by ordering a grilled chicken sandwich instead of nuggets. Order for your child from the adult menu, or share your sandwich with her, so the nuggets issue doesn’t come up.
  • Be consistent and firm, but encourage and praise the child every time she tries a new, healthier food. And be a good role model—don’t expect children to eat healthy when one or both parents snack on salty chips or fatty, processed foods.
  • Keep healthy foods in the meal, even when you give in and allow your child to order junk at a fast food place. Serve it with a side salad, or fruit.