Still serving your kiddos these five worst kids foods on a regular basis? You might want to rethink that.
Look, we get it: these foods are nostalgic. They’re so ingrained in our philosophies of how we raise children that they seem terrible to cut out. And to be clear, that’s not what we’re recommending. What we are recommending, however, is to reconsider how often these foods show up on the dinner table. One item, once a week? No big deal. More than that? Problematic.
These foods have a lot of things in common: they’re low in nutrient density, high in calories, high in fat, and totally and completely bland. And no, the organic versions aren’t any better. Sorry! We’re disappointed, too.
They do nothing with regards to palate development. Children need to learn to eat foods with different textures, flavors, and appearances to develop a healthy palate, prevent oral aversions, and develop oral musculature. If children don’t do this at an early age, it’s all too likely that those patterns will carry through to adulthood, increasing the likelihood for obesity, diabetes, and other nutritionally-impacted chronic conditions.
If these five worst kids foods have become a little too common, we recommend going cold turkey until your kiddos adapt to different foods. While it’s tempting to phase them out gradually, it often becomes a push-and-shove that wears you down over time. Toss them from the pantry for a month and hold firm!
Eventually, the kids will come around. You’ll thank us later!
Top 5 Worst Kids Foods
1. Macaroni and Cheese.
Whether it’s from the blue box, an organic version, or homemade, macaroni and cheese is high in calories, high in fat, and really, really easy to chew and swallow.
Adhering to a diet of foods that are too easy to swallow (once you’re firmly out of the choking years) robs children of the palate development needed to prevent oral aversions.
A single cup of Classic Kraft Macaroni and Cheese contains 350 calories, 30% of the maximum recommendation for sodium, and 25% of the maximum recommendation for saturated fat.
Meanwhile, 1 cup of allrecipes’ most popular homemade macaroni and cheese recipe contains 465 Calories, 56% of the maximum recommendation for sodium, and nearly three days’ worth of saturated fat. Yikes!
2. Chicken Nuggets
Squishy, resistance-free protein covered in breading: that’s essentially what chicken nuggets are. While that doesn’t sound too terrible on the face of it, chicken nuggets – like other foods on this list – fail to offer a different textural or flavor experience aside from bland, easily likable food.
Six Tyson chicken nuggets contain 270 Calories and nearly an entire day’s worth of saturated fat, not to mention 30% of the maximum recommendation for sodium.
3. Hot Dogs.
At the occasional camp-out or backyard BBQ? Fine. Unfortunately, keeping these in your regular rotation could lead to some pretty serious repercussions: Hot dogs are classified as Group 1 Carcinogens by the World Health Organization. Enough said.
Bland, bland, bland. Containing literally zero nutritional value, there are far better portable snacks for kids! Swap these out for something with fiber, protein, or calcium! Fruit, hard boiled eggs, string cheese, and yogurt are all great picks.
5. Chocolate Milk.
What’s wrong with regular milk? Nothing! But try telling that to a child who has become accustomed to the taste of chocolate milk. While chocolate milk may seem benign, a single 8 oz serving contains 160 Calories and more than a day’s worth of added sugar. This makes it a surprisingly easy addition to the worst kids foods list.