“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison”- Ann Wigmore
Do you feel like you have very little bargaining power when it comes to what foods your kids actually eat? There are many healthy foods like sweet potatoes, yogurt and fruit! But there are also unhealthy foods like a cheeseburger and french-fries etc. Then there’s food that we think is healthy but actually has very little nutritional value and a whole heap of hidden fats and sugars. And be careful when it comes to convenient, easy to reach “kid” food! Hopefully, convenience doesn’t outweigh quality, nutritious food.
I’ve compiled a list of unhealthy foods that all moms and dads should try to avoid.
- KIDS BREAKFAST CEREAL
Did you know that all packaged cereals whether organic or not are processed through machinery at such high pressure and temperatures it can actually change the molecular structure of the food? The extrusion process destroys many valuable nutrients in grains, causes fragile oils to become rancid and renders certain proteins toxic. Many sugary kids’ cereals are over 50 percent sugar by weight.
A good guideline to follow when choosing cereals is for it to have at least 3 grams of fiber and less than 10 grams of sugar.
- ENERGY BARS
Does this surprise you? It may say they’re loaded with vitamins and minerals, but they’re not necessarily a healthy choice. In fact, “a lot of them are nothing more than glorified candy bars,” says Sari Greaves, RD, nutrition director for Step Ahead Weight Loss Center in New Jersey. “They can be packed with enriched white flour, high fructose corn syrup, and other sweeteners.” Many are high in saturated fat, too, and low in fiber. Instead try whipping up a batch of homemade energy bars with healthy ingredients like Almonds or peanut butter.
- SANDWICH CRACKERS
Cheese flavored sandwich crackers can seem like a satisfying and quick snack option, but you should know that a single serving of these little crackers can have nearly 15 percent of the DV for fat and almost 10 percent of the DV of sodium, and many are loaded with trans fat, high fructose corn syrup and artificial dyes too! Next time your kid needs a quick snack, try a slice of real cheese on a whole grain cracker, now that has plenty of fiber.
- CHICKEN NUGGETS
Chicken is a great source of lean protein no doubt, and kids definitely love to eat it. But there is a lot more on the ingredient list of chicken nuggets than chicken. In fact, nuggets are made with parts of the chicken that aren’t usually eaten, and are held together with meat glue. Chicken nuggets posses25% fat and sodium. It also counts on the 15 foods that are ruining our health. YIKES!!
- CANNED TUNA
Although some other fish species are higher in mercury, tuna is of particular concern because it is high in mercury and the most widely consumed fish in the United States. Mercury’s not good for anyone but it’s especially bad for fetuses, babies, and children because it impedes brain development. The Natural Resources Defense Council publishes a list that offers guidelines on how much tuna is safe to eat depending on weight, but some research suggests that there may be more mercury in tuna than assumed and the amount can vary greatly from can to can. As alternative, try using cans of skinless and boneless salmon.
- YOGURT SMOOTHIES
Smoothies are a great way to give kids a fruity sweet drink that they’ll love, while also ensuring that they’re getting valuable nutrients like calcium and protein. And, if you can’t always make your own, picking up pre-made smoothies can be a real time saver. But beware, some smoothie drinks marketed to kids sneak in ingredients like high fructose corn syrup or lots of plain old sugar (a few smoothies have a jaw-dropping 47 grams of sugar per serving — 10 grams more than a can of Coke), artificial food dyes, and other sketchy additives. Look for a smoothie that’s sweetened with fruit juice and has a relatively short list of ingredients. Or you could always try to make smoothies at home with real fruit.
- HOT DOGS
Recent studies have linked the consumption of processed meat with dramatic increases in heart disease and diabetes, but the culprit might not be the one you think it is. According to The New York Times, it’s not the high levels of fat and cholesterol in these popular foods that make them unhealthy; rather, it’s the huge amounts of sodium and the presence of chemical preservatives. So, when selecting pre-packaged meats for your kids, look for lower-sodium alternatives without the preservatives 🙂
- PRE-MADE LUNCH KITS
For busy parents, a pre-made lunch in a box, and especially one that kids actually love, can be a godsend. But the truth is, this is not the healthiest option, for kids or anyone, for a myriad of reasons. Please beware of the sodium! Even so-called “healthier” versions can have up to 25 percent of sodium.There’s also a huge list of hard-to-pronounce ingredients, and lots and lots of sugar — as much as 33 grams. So next time, you might want to skip the package and make a turkey sandwich 🙂
- FROZEN DINNERS
Hidden sugar, sodium, chemicals, and preservatives are a big reason to ban these foods from your list, but they’re also just not healthy. Serving up kids’ junk food favorites, like chicken nuggets and corn dogs, many of these meals feature a junky mix of refined fried carbohydrates, corn, and juice-sweetened applesauce. This isn’t to say that none of the frozen kids’ meal options are healthy, just be aware, read food labels & try and find healthy ones for your family.
- PORT OR FRUIT DRINKS
Regular fruit juice can have a lot of (naturally occurring) sugar — so much so that many doctors say it’s comparable to soda — but punch, energy, or sports drinks are even worse. In fact, some of these drinks, which target kids in their advertising and falsely claim health benefits, have been linked with childhood obesity and tooth decay, and some doctors suggest these drinks should only be offered to children during or after vigorous exercise.
You can easily avoid consuming high fat and sugar contents in food simply by reading labels and staying educated! I know transition from some of these foods might be challenging for your kids…and you! But don’t beat yourself up and try to make small changes every day or even every week and before you know it, you will have a healthier family! Have a great day!!
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