I’ve been reading countless articles on kids and food and the “Americanized diet in general” and how, nutrition wise, we fall short.The messages out there are so powerful that I wanted to share them with you. Overall, I’ve leaned that there are three types of ingredients all parents should avoid when feeding their kids:
1. High-fructose corn syrup – because our bodies don’t metabolize it the same way as regular sugar, and more of it gets stored as fat.
2. Hydrogenated oil – because they’re worse for our digestive and circulatory systems and brain than “good” fats like olive and fish oils.
3. Colors and numbers (like Red #40) – because they can trigger allergic reactions or other inflammations.
Most healthy eating books also emphasize the importance of a breakfast high in complex carbohydrates, protein and “good” fats. No more sugary breakfasts of pop tarts and fake syrups. I’m even guilty of this because I often feed my kids whole-grain pancakes or waffles with cheapo fake syrup. Isn’t it ironic: nutritious homemade pancakes that are made unhealthy by the topping provided. The high-fructose corn syrup is not doing them any favors, especially first thing in the morning. In addition, I often serve yogurt with granola to my kids without checking the labels to make sure they aren’t super high in sugar. Some yogurts are exceptionally high in sugar and will do your body more damage then good.
So here are a list of 5 food items that you should stop feeding your kids right now! Always remember, whole food is better!
1. Kids’ Breakfast Cereal
Sure, that box of Mini Wheat’s or Fruit loops might boast a boatload of vitamins and minerals on the label, but when you consider the amount of sugar and processed ingredients per serving, the miniscule amount of nutritional value they offer doesn’t count for much. Instead, when you shop for a suitable cereal for your breakfast table, go for brands that contain at least 3-grams of fiber per serving and less than 10 grams of sugar. The best morning cereal that you can get your kids hooked on is whole grain oatmeal because it’s high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and you can sprinkle on some berries, a little honey or mix it with yogurt or a smoothie or even a drizzle of real maple syrup.
2. Granola Bars
I know this might be a shocker, but granola is not a healthy snack. And granola bars marketed to kids lack nutritional value more than the adult focus brands—they’re loaded with sugar and added ingredients like chocolate chips, marshmallows, candy, high fructose syrup, and artificial dyes, which makes one granola bar about as healthy as two cookies. Instead, try whipping up a batch of homemade granola bars with natural ingredients like almond or peanut butter, raisins, coconut, whole grain cereal, honey, and dried fruit and nuts.
3. Luncheon Meats
Bologna, smoked ham, and even roast beef are a kids’ lunchbox staple. However, if your child eats a sliced meat sandwich every day, you may be packing them a very dangerous and toxic food. Take a good look at the label, does junior’s favorite lunch meat contain nitrates, a preservative used in food processing that drastically increases the risk of heart disease and cancer? In addition, please, please, please, avoid lunchables – AT ALL COSTS!
4. Snack Cakes
I know your child looks forward to that Ho-Ho, Twinkie, or Wagon Wheel you pack in their lunch box every day. But as much as we love treating our kids, snack cakes are ripe with trans fats, the most unhealthy processes fat known to mankind. So if your child needs something sweet to cap off every meal, pack some mixed berries and grapes in their lunch box or bake cookies, banana bread, bars or muffins from scratch using real ingredients.
5. French Fries
I know that most parents are aware that feeding their kids French Fries at every meal is asking for weight gain and the development of a very unhealthy habit. However, moderation is the key. If you’re going to feed your little one fries, keep them to a few meals per month and make them a side, not the starring food feature. French fries offer very little in the way of nutritional value—they’re super high in fat and sodium. Unfortunately, the same goes for potato chips, cheesy snacks, mozzarella sticks and any fried and puffed snack food. Instead, opt for baked chips or make your kids baked potato or sweet potato fries instead.
For more kid-friendly snacking ideas, click here.
What are your thoughts about feeding kids the right way? Is there a right way? Weigh in by leaving a comment below!