Worth A Shot

5 Easy, Healthier Hacks To Try When Your Kid Wants Fast Food

Eating well can be a challenge for anyone, especially parents with kids always on the go. These tips will help you fight the good fight.

A little girl eats chicken nuggets, which can be a great at-home hack for when your kids crave fast ...
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Your kids always want fast food, and you can't really blame them. You always want fast food. Fizzy drinks, salty fries — what's not to love? OK, maybe the unhealthy trans fats. Or the lack of any actual nutritional value. The problem is that fast food is just so damn convenient. No matter where you are, and at almost any time of the day, there's always a big ol' bell or set of giant golden arches luring your family into that long AF drive-thru lane. For the salt. For the familiarity. For the ease.

But what can you do if you don't want to keep feeding your kid fast food? Whether you're just concerned about what they're putting in their bellies or you can't keep shelling out $5 for four nuggies, you have some options that still offer the same ease and comfort.

Spend a little time reading these hacks, and you'll be ready the next time your kid wants fast food. No matter the scenario, you can make it through this plea with a few simple tips.

"Healthier" Fast Food Hacks

You're going through the drive-thru. It just has to happen, and there's no avoiding it. That's OK, Mama... all is not lost.

Lead by example.

Dammit, you want that special sauce. But there are little eyeballs glued to you, and they all want to be like their mommy. Remember that "health" can be relative — not everything you order will be considered the peak of healthiness, but what you can do is choose something that is "healthier" than something else. Get the fruit cup to go with your giant sammy. Or opt for water with your combo meal instead of pop. Making simple replacements can help you enjoy yourself and not feel so bad about hitting the drive-thru.

Steer 'em towards healthier options, too.

Try: "Let's all get fruit cups!"

It sounds like a party. It's even instituting a bit of good old-fashioned peer pressure. But your kiddo might follow suit if everyone is opting for yummy, sweet fruit.

Try: "The lettuce on a snack wrap will help you poop!"

Kids love to talk about poop. Lettuce is an excellent example of "ruffage," or fiber-rich food that keeps you regular. If your kiddo is stuck in a fried chicken nugget rut, suggest that same chicken in a new form. Silly? Sure. But at least you've added a bit of nutritional value.

Try: "Do you want milk, juice, or water?"

Everyone knows you can get whatever drink you want with a kid's meal; it's just a smaller size. Giving them options helps them feel like they're in control. They don't need to know just yet that the choices you're giving them are the only ones you want them to have.

Don't just hand back the bag/box.

Part of the appeal of fast food, for parents at least, is the easiness. Everyone's meals are delivered directly to your hand in their own bags. While it certainly makes life simpler to hand back their meals and let them go to town, that may not work in your favor.

What's left in their bags when you clean out your car later? Nine times out of 10, your kiddo scarfs their fries and plays with their prize but leaves their entrée. And let's face it, those nugs or that cheeseburger do at least offer up a bit of protein they can't get in fries. If you can handle keeping the bags up front, you have a chance to choose what your kids fill up on first. "I'm going to give you the nuggets first, so you have plenty of energy for your game!" Who could say "no" to that? (Oh, there's always someone in the back seat willing to say "no.”)

Hacks for Avoiding Fast Food Altogether

Keep snacks handy.

Listen, has trail mix ever fixed your hunger pangs? No, but sometimes it's better than nothing. Keep some quick, easy, and yummy shelf-stable snacks in your car that offer proper nutrition. Think breakfast cookies, dried fruit, or granola bars.

Add some "junk" to the mix, too. Peanut butter or cheese crackers last a long time. So do gummies (as long as they don't get too hot) and animal crackers. When short trips for errands turn into all-day misadventures, you need plenty of options.

Pack lunch.

This seems obvious, but it's often forgotten. If you're someone who packs lunches a week at a time, consider packing an extra one each week. Toss it in your purse or the trunk when you know you're in for a long day. Heading off the "I'm hungry" whine will go a long, long way in making your day enjoyable and productive, as well as keeping your car out of the drive-thru.

As a bonus, add fast food "dupes" to that lunch. Cold nuggies are good, too. And a ketchup packet makes it all the more special. Some packaged apple slices or an extra special drink in their water bottle will add fun to the packed lunch, so they won't necessarily remember they're missing out on fast food. If you want even more brownie points, include a cheap, fun "prize," too.