Why do most kids love chicken nuggets so much? Sometimes, too much!
As parents, avoiding such foods when we take our kids out for a meal could be a challenge. Even if we avoid fast food, these items are usually still found on the kids’ menus in other restaurants.
Are hotdogs and nuggets bad for kids? Hot dogs are a favorite among kids as they are just too easy to eat.
Of course, it goes to say that we can make the choice to not let our kids have these foods, but I know this is easier said than done.
I’m sure we’re all aware that hotdogs and nuggets are specially marketed to kids (and parents!) in the guise of being nutritious, with advertisements boasting 100% meat content in hotdogs and 100% white chicken meat in nuggets. But what gets kids hooked on them is definitely the taste and texture.
Are hotdogs and nuggets bad for kids? Chicken nuggets can be commonly found on kid’s menus at many restaurants.
Both these foods are easy to eat, spongy in texture, have a sweet aftertaste and are very, very salty. Quite a contrast to mom’s homemade, nutrient-packed chicken casserole which is usually strewn with a healthy portion of veggies!
If our little ones find them to be so yummy, why are hotdogs and nuggets bad for kids (and us too)?
Nutritional facts of hot dogs and nuggets
Let’s have a look at kids’ daily dietary requirements.
Are hotdogs and nuggets bad for kids: Now, here are their nutrition facts compared to a healthy chicken soup:
*The fat % would be reduced if you choose not to sauté the vegetables before boiling, and use lean chicken meat. In addition to being low in calories, homemade chicken soup is packed with vitamins, potassium and fibre.
Based on the nutrition facts shown, it is clear that hotdogs and nuggets are way too high in sodium and fat. However, there are more dangerous facts parents need to know about hot dogs, nuggets and all processed food.
Risks of consuming processed foods
There is evidence that links eating processed meats such as hot dogs to childhood leukemia and other forms of cancer. The culprit is sodium nitrite that is used as a chemical additive in processed meats.
Other deli meats such as luncheon meat, salami and bacon carry the same risk. Preservatives such as sodium nitrite inhibit certain bacterial growth and preserve color during the curing of meats.
Other deli meats also contain high amounts of sodium nitrite.
This is a serious threat especially to children. Children who eat hotdogs once a week double their risk of a brain tumor, while children who eat more than 12 hot dogs a month have a 10 times greater risk of developing leukemia.
We spoke to Shania Khialani, a dietician/nutritionist at Marie Claire O Shea Dieticians, who shares, “(hotdogs) should only be consumed in moderation as they can be a source of ingredients associated with health problems. Hotdogs are often high in sodium and saturated fat linked to an increased risk of heart disease.”
Cooking meats at a high temperatures like barbecuing which creates char marks on meats, promotes the production of carcinogens such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon.
She adds, “A recent meta-analysis study also found sausage consumption to be associated with increased gastric cancer risk (Zhu et al. 2013). This is linked to the high nitrite compounds found in processed meats and production of carcinogens such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from cooking meat at high temperatures.”
Chicken nuggets come with their own set of hazards. A documentary released in 2004 describes McDonald’s chicken nuggets as chickens “stripped down to the bone, and ‘ground up’ into a mash, mixed-up with a variety of stabilizers and preservatives, pressed into shapes and deep fried, freeze dried, and then sent off to the closest McDonald’s.”
The additives in chicken nuggets are very suspicious. It should never be the first choice for a kid’s meal.
In 2003 McDonald’s changed over to white chicken meat although they are said to contain only 50% of actual chicken meat, with the balance being soy or corn derivatives, stabilizers and other synthetic ingredients — including a type of silicone used in cosmetics called dimethylpolysiloxane.
Making healthier choices
Now that we parents are aware of the health hazards posed by these deceivingly yummy foods, how do we go about making healthier choices in our kids’ diets? Here are some tips:
Why not try making wholesome and delicious home-made chicken nuggets? Serve them with a side of veggies for added nutrition.
- If your kid is hooked on nuggets, why not try making your own? Try this healthy and delicious recipe once, and your kids will definitely ask for more!
- If your kids need to have hotdogs, buy bockworst, a German sausage which doesn’t have nitrites.
- Instead of hotdogs you can also opt for fresh sausages from a gourmet shop, which usually include good-quality ingredients and have no preservatives. If you are in doubt, speak to the vendor and they will clarify the ingredients for you.
- Make healthier choices when you eat out with your kids. Swap chicken nuggets for a grilled chicken sandwich or french fries for sweet potato oven fries.
- Be consistent in adding a healthy portion of veggies and fruits into your kids’ diets. Don’t hesitate to reward them with an occasional homemade treat!
When eating out with the kids, try an option like a grilled chicken sandwich instead of processed food.
We hope this article gave you the information you need to make healthier choices with your family’s meals. What are your thoughts about letting kids eat chicken nuggets and hotdogs? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
Also read: Ultra processed foods and cancer: foods that may be slowly killing you
Republished with permission from theAsianParent Singapore