Kids may not be the ones doing the grocery shopping, but their preferences still hold powerful influence over what foods are brought home. Parents are on a constant quest to find healthy food their kids will want. Food companies know this and work hard to present their foods as healthy, kid-friendly goodies. The problem is many “kid-friendly” foods are simply masquerading this way. In reality, they are unfriendly foes to the health and well-being of your family. We’ll skip the warnings on the obvious foes like processed lunch meats and crackers and double stuffed cookies and focus on these top five imposters.
- Juice Boxes. Many juice boxes have a splash of juice combined with sugar and artificial flavors. Even all-natural juice boxes are best regarded as a treat instead of a staple since they do not offer the nutrition the whole fruit does. Instead: Let your kids pick out a leak-proof water bottle to fill with water.
- Snack crackers. Whether they are shaped like goldfish, whales, or any other little critter, these critters lack much nutrition and are packed with refined grains that give kids a quick energy crash. Instead: Use a cute cookie cutter to cut actual cheese into the fun shapes that these crackers offer.
- Prepackaged Snacks. These hold double appeal: kids think anything in a wrapper is automatically delicious and weary parents appreciate a shortcut to getting lunches made. Unfortunately, these snacks are still full of preservatives, sugars, and other undesirables; they just come in colorful wrappers. Instead: Take a few minutes each week to prepackage some truly kid-friendly snacks, like nuts and raisins, in small baggies for little hands to grab for lunchboxes and quick snacks.
- Yogurt. We have been made to think that yogurt is ice cream’s healthier cousin. In reality, the yogurts aimed at kids are full of sugar roughly equal (sometimes greater!) than that of a similar size of ice cream. Instead: Let your kids flavor plain yogurt with fruit and nuts. Or skip the dairy all together and offer them a homemade smoothie in a reusable squeeze pouch for all the fun of a yogurt tube without all the sugar.
- Organic Treats. It’s so easy to fall to the lure of thinking anything that is organic is good for you. While ‘organic cane sugar’ and the like may lack the pesticides conventional sugar has, it is still sugar. This means those organic lollipops marketed at your kids will still have all the negative effects of sugar. Instead: Use the same criteria you use to evaluate all foods with when making shopping choices, whether the choice is conventional or organic.
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