Joy Paley is a guest blogger for An Apple a Day and a writer on earning your nursing degree for the Guide to Health Education.
Sure, we all want our kids to eat healthier. But where do you even start, when their main dietary staples are hot dogs and chips? It’s hard enough to get adventurous eaters to try anything labeled “healthy,” much less a kid who lives off two main food groups that weren’t even invented a hundred years ago. The key to keeping your kid feeling well, however, is to make sure they get a variety of foods. Try out this list of sneakily healthy alternatives on your kid---you may just end up with a few more foods that they’ll actually ask to eat.
Junk food kids love: Chips
A healthy alternative: Bagel Chips
- Why kids will love them: While pita chips might be a good “adult” alternative to potato chips, the taste is a little bland in comparison. Bagel chips have the same satisfying crunch and crispiness of potato chips, to pass a kid’s taste test. Stacy’s brand comes in yummy varieties like garlic and everything bagel. They’re not fried, and they have less fat and sodium than regular chips.
Junk food kids love: Hot Dogs
A healthy alternative: Turkey Dogs
- Why kids will love them: While it’s probably impossible to sneak a tofu dog passed your kid’s taste buds, turkey dogs mimic the flavor and texture of traditional dogs quite well. The upside? They have a lot less fat than regular hot dogs, and you can easily find brands that promise organic meat and no nitrates or fillers.
Junk food kids love: Oreos
A healthy alternative: Bananas and Raw Chocolate Spread
- Why kids will love it: You’re not skimping on taste, when you choose a chocolate spread made with real cacao and sweetened with a low glycemic index sweetener like agave nectar. Instead of eating Oreos that are full of fat, processed sugar, and an array of artificial flavors, you’ll be feeding them something that’s actually real food. Love street is one brand to check out.
Junk food kids love: French Fries
A healthy alternative: Cheese Straws
- Why kids will love them: Kids can’t get enough French fries, not only because they quell a hunger for something salty, fatty, and fried, but also because they’re fun and easy to eat. Baked cheddar cheese straws are a kid friendly shape, and they’re great for on the go. Pack some in a Ziploc instead of stopping at a fast food joint. While they’re not exactly as healthy as carrot sticks, they’ll keep you out of that drive through window.
Junk food kids love: Sugar Cereal
A healthy alternative: Organic Cereal
- Why kids will love it: While you can’t really find the day-glo colors of Lucky Charms anywhere else, you can find cereals that have real wholesome ingredients, less sugar, and even better taste. Most kids cereals are fortified with vitamins, but that’s no good reason to get your kid hooked on a bowl of sugar for breakfast. Nature’s Path Envirokidz line includes some great kid friendly cereals, like the peanut butter Panda Puffs, which are high on taste but low on sugar and other processed ingredients.
Junk food kids love: Ketchup and Ranch Dip
A healthy alternative: Hummus
- Why kids will love it: You may have trouble getting your kids to try hummus for the first time, but after they have taken the initial plunge, I bet they’ll love this snack. It’s delicious, and the protein will have them hooked—the hummus will satisfy in a way that those other low-nutrient spreads won’t. It’s fun to eat, and if you pair it with bagel chips, you’ve replaced a former high-calorie junk food pair with a delicious alternative. It’s great for kids’ lunches or on-the-go after sports practice, and it comes in tasty flavors like garlic and red pepper.