My healthy living journey began right when my son turned 6months and exclusive breastfeeding was over. With my heightened sense of food and fitness, I was also determined to make healthy choices on behalf of my son.
Research and reading labels became a norm which is why store bought French fries never made it into my freezer. Well except this one (first and last) time.
Now let’s see why you may need to really look into French fries as a part of your kids’ diet…
Definition and History.
The fun-fact here is that the French have (almost) nothing to do with French fries. It actually dates back to 1600s in Belgium. History says that a once fried fish loving people soon ran low on fish and for some strange reason decided to cut up and fry potatoes.
The American soldiers stationed in Belgium were then introduced to it and it was a hit all around. Since the official language of the Belgian soldiers was French, they nicknamed it French fries and it has stuck today. And we can also trust America (more like the Fast food industry) to have made French fries a popular norm in the world today.
So what are French fries?
For the purpose of this write up, FFs are Irish potatoes cut up in various appealing shapes, passed through an UNHEALTHY processing process (pun intended and more on this later) and then bagged up, frozen and sold to those of us prioritizing ease and convenience over health.
Of course when the Belgians found this breakthrough food, the idea was not mass-production. It was just something individual families enjoyed. Today, French fries are so ubiquitous that soon I fear it will even be added as a side dish to eba and egusi soup. (A Nigerian delicacy)
Why it is so popular among kids?.
One thing I have learned in popular fads especially unhealthy foods is that there is nothing casual or coincidental about it. Manufacturers and advertisers jointly create very well curated steps that ensure that you see these products as vital for life, and then when you taste it, you are hooked. It is even amplified when this is aimed at kids because they are very impressionable and gullible, which is normal at their age. The main reason why they need their parents (moms) to be healthily cynical. (I just made up that term and I love it lol).
So yes, you see a happy family, all smiles and their plates are full with fries and all the other unhealthy foods. Your kids taste it and it is so nice, tastier than fruits and veggies and definitely more than the home made potatoes, so they want more servings and on a daily basis.
Plus, hey isn’t it convenient for moms to grab some fries at a fast food, or grab a big bag of French fries from your fave supermarket and then toss it into the frying pan when you need to feed your kids? I mean, everyone is happy all thanks to these restaurants, manufacturers’ and advertisers. But is everyone healthy? Well at least the manufacturer’s bank accounts are certainly healthy because they get to make more profit off you.
The processing Process.
Now this one is interesting as I always wondered how come these store bought fries last longer than the same thing which I cut at home and throw in the freezer. I mean, try it and you would notice that your own fries will get brown after a couple days. And that is normal because of the natural sugar in potatoes. Plus really, natural foods are not meant to last that long so definitely, the processing that gives it a higher shelf life definitely compromises in some sort of way.
Yes, first trans-fat, the baddest (and I don’t mean this in a positive way) kind of fat is added to it and this increases shelf life (or freezer life in this case), high sodium content too helps with preservation, and for reasons weird to me, some artificial sugars are added to MOST making it even sweeter.
So while all of these help convenience and taste for you, it increases calorie content by at least three especially when you deep fry the fries, increases risk of cardio vascular diseases by clogging our arteries leading ultimately to a heart attack or stroke, and then the high sodium content can lead to hypertension.
When these fries are ordered in a restaurant, we all know that everything it is served with is not the healthiest… Soda aka mineral, burgers, ketchup, fried chicken, ice cream, and the likes.
When we serve it at home or parties, frankly how many of us use stew? Not many. We instead use ketchup and sausages. I already did a post on the dangers of sausages and I will put the spotlight on ketchup soon.
Plus convenience means that it soon becomes a staple in our homes for our kids meaning that it then takes up the place of the good stuff.
Research is increasingly showing that more and more kids are having less and less daily fruits and veggies and that is dangerous.
This is not the kind of foundation we want to lay for our kids because it only gets worse, and harder to fight as they grow. I coach adults through weight loss and healthy living. When I see how hard it is for some, I am more determined to help moms help their kids NOW!!!.
Healthy alternatives and presentations
So should you completely get rid of it? Frankly the choice is yours. I can only present options. First, potatoes are super healthy (so far you don’t have any metabolic/health condition that precludes it like diabetes) but we must have healthier cooking options.
First, have you considered boiling them instead? We do that at mine. I boil the Irish potatoes with chicken/fish broth and serve with egg sauce or stew.
Then you could air-fry too. Investing in an air-fryer is so worth it. Skip all these deep frying or keep it minimal. And when I say all these, I mean raw potatoes cut by yourself at home not the frozen fries. There are various potato slicers in the market that give you many awesome shapes.
Baking them is also something that works if you have an oven. Just be sure to sprinkle some oil and spices over it. Skip the salt. Most spices already contain salt.
You can also prepare your own frozen fries at home by evenly cutting the potatoes, blanching, clean/pat dry, oven bake for a bit and then freeze. Process is long and google can help but if you take time to do this weekly or bi-weekly, so you don’t have to cut up and cook every time you wanna serve potatoes, then that’s fine
Keep fries at fast foods as an occasional indulgence for your kids not a staple.
Control their portions and frequency. Don’t load your kids’ precious bellies with chemicals. If you MUST use the store bought ones, see if you can find unsalted, and then wash these fries before frying. Of course air-frying is better.
I also think giving this as breakfast or even better lunch and then sending them off to engage in physical play can help burn those calories off.
Moms, lets swap easy and convenient for healthy. I am not sure why we think or expect the contrary because a healthy lifestyle will cost you something. I mean, that’s just normal. If it didn’t cost us anything, everyone would be doing it.
So make that cognitive shift today. It is not time and energy waster. You are investing it for your kids and gosh, aren’t these precious babies worth it.
Sometime in January, I fell for the convenience trap and got a big bag of frozen fries. As God would have it lol, all the fries were soft and soggy lol. That one time God-orchestrated bad experience swore me off forever as I can be unforgiving when something attempts to waste my money biko. Lol
So hey, ball is in your court and the choice is yours per how and where to kick it.
Remember, when moms get it right, the whole family gets it right!!!
To your health