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Don't Feed Your Kids These 20 Things

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Bethany SandersConfession: Of the 20 foods listed on MSNBC as the "worst kids' foods in America," my kids have eaten ... well, not as many as I had feared.

We are guilty of a raging Cap'n Crunch habit (voted "worst sweetened cereal"), which is why the stuff isn't welcome in our house more than once or twice a year. And my kids love the Austin Cheese Crackers with Cheddar Jack Cheese (voted "worst packaged snack").

And sadly, our love of Uno Chicago Grill is just simply going to have to go unfulfilled now, since both their kids' deep-dish pepperoni pizza and Kid's Kombo meal made the MSNBC list, as "worst pizza" and "worst kids' meal in America, respectively. (At least we usually get the steamed broccoli side dish when we go to Uno ....)

Still ... not good! The 20 foods on the list represent the worst of the worst when it comes to calories, fat, sugar and salt. Here are a few examples:

Worst Beverage: Sunny D, 16 ounce bottle. Why? It's got 260 calories and 60 grams of sugar. For more essential vitamins, try plain orange juice instead, or switch to flavored water to reduce calories.

Worst Side: Bob Evans Smiley Face Potatoes. We've never been to Bob Evans', but we're guilty of eating Smileys. These tasty treats pack 524 calories and 31 grams of fat -- they might look friendly, but they're not!

Worst Prepared Lunch:Oscar Mayer Lunchables Maxed Out Cracker Combo, Turkey & Cheddar. Maxed out, indeed! This supersized Lunchable contains half your kid's calories for the day. 

Worst Drive-Thru Meal: Have it your way -- if your way includes 1,100 calories and 52 grams of fat -- when you order a Burger King double cheeseburger kids' meal with small fries and a Coke.

Worst Sandwich: Au Bon Pain Kids' Grilled Cheese. You might as well stuff your kid full of two pounds of bacon, because this sandwich has got roughly the same amount of fat and sodium.

(Read more "worsts" and what to eat instead at MSNBC.)

Kids love junk food -- heck, I love junk food -- and we're all busy with our hectic lives. So how do you feed hungry kids on the go without stuffing them full of junk? Here are a few tips:

Share. Go ahead and order the Uno Kid's Kombo, but replace the fries with veggies and order up double the amount. When the food comes, split the fried stuff between your kids and give everyone a heaping pile of veggies on their plate.

Downsize. Sure, the BK Double Cheeseburger is pretty nasty, but their regular burger isn't too bad if you pair it with apple fries or some sliced cucumbers you packed ahead of time.  Kids can still enjoy "kid" food; parents just need to set limits.

Watch out for liquid calories. Kids and adults can easily drink a whole day's worth of calories through a straw. Teach your kids to quench their thirst with water, serve skim milk or 100 percent juice at meals and skip the soda and other beverages.

Eat at home more often. Notice something similar about all these "worst" foods? Every single one is prepared by someone else. Eat at home or pack your own food at least 80 percent of the time, and you'll cut way down on the bad stuff.

What about you -- did you see any of your kids' favorite foods on the list?


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