As the mother of young children, I'm not immune to the lure of fast food. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, because there are some healthy options out there-but also some pretty scary ones that clock hundreds and hundreds of calories and loads of unhealthy fat. The next time (and there will be a next time) you have to feed your kids on the fly, heed these common mom errors and get the brood some smarter picks instead.
Mistake at Burger King:
Ordering anything with the word double in it
The Kids' Double Cheeseburger weighs in at 510 calories and 29 g of fat-add fries and a drink and you'll load your child's lunch with 840 calories and 40 g of fat! Order your little one chicken tenders, instead, and save him or her more than 300 calories. An order of 4-piece chicken tenders contains just 180 calories (but stick to barbecue sauce or sweet and sour on the side to avoid 14 g of fat you'd find in ranch dip). Choose onion rings instead of fries to save another 70 calories, and add an orange juice to meet 70% of your child's DV for vitamin C-at less sugar and fewer calories than a small soda. All together this meal contains 510 calories-the same as the Kids' Double Cheeseburger alone!
Mistake at McDonald's: Sticking with the usual
It may be a force of habit, but try to avoid ordering the "cheeseburger, fries, and soda." A cheeseburger at McDonald's contains 300 calories and 12 g of fat (a plain hamburger has 250 calories and 9 g of fat). Instead, go for the 4-piece Chicken McNuggets Happy Meal with Apple Dippers and apple juice. The nuggets contain only 190 calories and 12 g of fat, and the side of fruit ensures junior steers clear any additional fat. Another fat bomb to avoid: dipping sauce. If your kid is a dipper (and whose isn't?), choose barbecue, sweet and sour, or honey for just 50 calories and 0 g of fat. With sauce, the whole meal rings in at just 430 calories and 12 g of fat!Try these-20 more 400-calorie meals!
Don't let the word junior lull you into submission. The Jr. Cheeseburger Deluxe contains 300 calories and 14 g of fat, and the Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger has 310 calories and 16 g of fat. Add a drink and fries and you have a very-high-calorie kids' meal. Some Wendy's restaurants give the choice of fruit instead of fries with their kids' meal, so ask if that's an option when you order. Otherwise, the Kids' Meal with chicken nuggets and milk is a smart option. If the little ones insist on a burger, skip the Kids' cheeseburger, which has 260 calories and 11 g of fat and get a plain burger instead (220 calories, 8 g of fat).
Mistake at Pizza Hut: Opting for a "healthy" pasta
If you think you can avert the health hazards of pizza by ordering one of the new Tuscani Pastas, think again. One serving of the All Natural Chicken Alfredo contains 640 calories and 33 g of fat. Even a medium slice of Meat Lover's Pan pizza contains almost half that at 330 calories. Your best bet: Order a medium Veggie Lover's Thin 'N Crispy pie. At 180 calories and 6 g of fat a slice, your little one can chow down on three pieces and still not consume the caloric total he'd reach from one bowl of cheesy pasta. If all those vegetables don't sit well with your picky eater, the next best option is the medium Cheese Thin 'N Crispy at 190 calories per slice.
Mistake at Taco Bell: Assuming grilled equals healthy.
Just because the Grilled Stuft Chicken Burrito contains the words grilled and chicken doesn't mean it's a wise choice-this item is "stuft" with 650 calories and 23 g of fat. Instead, encourage your kids to order their tacos "Fresco Style"-they'll get extra salsa instead of heavy sauces and cheese. They can choose from eight different tacos and burritos, all under 10 g of fat. The calorie and fat savings can add up quickly: A Ranchero Chicken Soft Taco ordered Fresco Style has only 170 calories and 4 g of fat, while its full-fat cousin packs 270 calories and 14 g of fat.Make it at home-delicious 30-minute chicken recipes.
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