Overeating, Processed Foods And Children

Macaroni And Cheese
Image: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

I was looking over my FaceBook notifications and saw a post where someone said that their grandchild (a toddler of two or so) ate a whole can of Spaghetti O’s, hot dogs and a mini cheeseburger and she fears a possible growth spurt. My first thought offered a different conclusion for the little one’s need for so much food.

Honestly, my very first thought was “People still feed kids that kind of garbage?” There’s so little nutritional value in foods like the ones this person described, I’m not surprised the child is eating like a beast. His young body is craving the elements it needs to grow, and those things just aren’t present in those heavily processed junk foods. Everyone needs healthy, nutritious food, but children need it so much more, to facilitate healthy growth and development.

There’s actually scientific data to back up this idea. People who eat unhealthy foods are often more hungry because their body is still craving vitamins, minerals and other elements that aren’t present in the junk foods they choose to eat. It’s part of why someone can eat fast food or microwave meals that look substantial, then be hungry an hour or two later. The body wants healthy components, so it sends the brain signals to eat more, in the hopes of getting it.

Those who live for long periods on processed foods can get more used to it, but it’s still unhealthy. I was actually amazed at how much smaller a portion of healthy food could be and still keep me full. Or how the same amount could provide more satisfaction and energy. Hamburger Helper for instance, suggests a 1-cup serving. An hour or so after eating that Eric and I would feel hungry again. However, when we make our own pasta with lean beef (mock tenders usually), real cheese and vegetables like broccoli or mushrooms, a 1-cup serving keeps us full for about five hours.

I know that some people claim the reason that they feed themselves and their children heavily processed foods is because it’s cheaper. If you look through the food category here you’ll see I’ve written several times about how Eric and I ended up cutting our grocery bill significantly by shopping at a quality store and making all our food from scratch with fresh ingredients. There are also plenty of articles online that can show you how to shop fresh and actually spend less than the cost of processed foods.

Some claim that it’s time and effort, and yes, cooking from scratch does take more time and energy. However, it’s pretty easy to make things in bulk then store them in single-serve containers int he refrigerator and freeze for quick grabbing at a later time. Once you get used to it, cooking everything from scratch really isn’t as big a burden as people make it out to be.

With obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and other illnesses becoming so common, people really need to think about what they’re eating, and especially what they’re feeding to their children. Small children really need proper nutrition so that their brains and bodies can develop properly. Sodium and fat filled foods with with few or no natural components are not the things a growing youngster needs. They’re not good for people of any age.

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2 thoughts on “Overeating, Processed Foods And Children

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    1. [smiles] Yeah, we’re getting really good at re-purposing leftovers and being creative with whatever we have in the house. Tonight Eric’s challenge is to take shrimp, rice noodles and some slightly stale carrot chips and make something delicious. I bet it’s going to be awesome!

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