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Best Fast Food Options for Stressed Parents

Your own health is in jeopardy when your stress levels are high, but a new survey shows that stressed parents are more likely to put their child’s health in danger, too. When researchers analyzed the data from 2,100 parents, they found that moms and dads who are stressed are more likely to have children who are obese.

The analysis also found that parents who perceived themselves to be stressed fed their children more fast food. Being too busy to cook a homemade meal—or too focused on your work to pay attention to what your kids are eating—can cause frequent visits to the drive-through. Heed our advice on how to Beat Stress Wherever It’s Hiding.

What’s a dad to do? You know the obvious: eat in more. But we know sometimes that’s a lot to ask, so we’ve gathered some of the worst kids menu items at 5 popular restaurants and provided just as tasty—but significantly healthier—alternatives for your kids.

Cheesecake Factory

Kid’s Pasta with Alfredo Sauce
1,810 calories
696 mg sodium

CALORIE EQUIVALENT: 775 Parmesan-flavored Pepperidge Farm Goldfish—that’s two bags!

Alfredo sauce is never a good idea, but the Cheesecake Factory manages to fit more calories onto this pint-sized plate than what’s found in most restaurants’ adult-sized portions of fettuccine Alfredo. More disturbing though, is the total fat tally—this constitutes two days’ worth of the very maximum amount a child eating 1,600 calories a day ought to consume, just in one meal!

Kid’s Pasta with Marinara Sauce
490 calories
515 mg sodium

Many times restaurants will stick you with a severe sodium load to compensate for fewer calories. Fortunately, in a rare, commendable move, the Cheesecake Factory keeps the sodium stable while cutting the calories significantly. Plus, the marinara sauce boasts high levels of lycopene, an antioxidant compound that may bolster your kid against a whole range of maladies down the road. (Find more smart restaurant swaps in Eat This, Not That!)

On the Border

Kid’s Cheese Quesadilla with Mexican Rice
1,120 calories
1,690 mg sodium

CALORIE EQUIVALENT: 14 El Monterey Steak Taquitos

Not only is this kid’s meal doused in grease, but between the tortilla and the rice, it packs an astonishing 78 grams of carbohydrates. In short, you’re providing your kid with almost 75 percent of her calories for the day, but shorting him nutritionally—the quick-burning, cheap carbs will leave him hungry again in no time.

Kid’s Mexican Plate with Crispy Chicken Taco..

Read more: Men’s Health


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