Easter is over and my house is filled with junk! Candy, candy and more candy! My kids ate so much candy yesterday that it was a miracle we made it through the night without tummy aches or worse! But, hey… that’s what makes Easter fun. But today it’s time to put the candy away in ziplock baggies so I can dole out the sugar in controlled doses. Today… back to my ongoing battle of shoving un-crappy food down their throats.
So I thought this might be a good time to post about some of the surprisingly not-so-healthy foods that many of us are guilty of giving our kids. Last week, I was watching David Zinczenko, author of Eat This Not That, on the Today Show discussing pointless supermarket foods. It was his first item that hit me in the head: Smuckers Uncrustables PB&J! Crap! My kids love these!
With this, I felt compelled to write about not only about the uncrustables, but also about some other foods that we should all be more conscious about when feeding our kids:
Though tasty and convenient, it turns out this easy kids sandwich is loaded with high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil (bad fat)! This actually came as a surprise to me. Why I never thought to look into this before now is beyond me. I supposed I just assumed these sandwiches were made with the same type of peanut butter and jelly that are in my own pantry. Well, you know what they say about assume… and I made a big ass out of myself on this one.
INSTEAD: Make your own and freeze it! Zinczenko suggests Jif Creamy Peanut Butter and 1 Tbsp of Smucker’s Simply Fruit Concord Grape spread. As for the bread, of course whole wheat or multi-grain is best. But if your kids are anything like mine and don’t like those healthier varieties, go for the Wonder Smart bread. Take the crusts off (because kids seem to be genetically wired to hate crusts), wrap them and pop them in the freezer. Still easy, but much healthier. (note: if you really want to go crazy healthy here, sprinkle a little wheat germ in the peanut butter for an extra boost of nutrition.)
First, let’s consider what makes a good yogurt healthy. It’s a great source of calcium and protein. It contains live active cultures, which helps to prevent gastrointestinal infections and boost the body’s immune system. A good yogurt will also contain little in the way of added sugar and other undesirable ingredients. Many of the kids’ brands on the market contain high fructose corn syrup, aspartme and gelatin. And where the heck are the live active cultures?
INSTEAD: Of course, plain is best. Most brands of plain yogurt will fit the bill here. You can add your own flavor — maybe a little jelly, honey, agave or fresh fruit.
However, if you’re like me, you look for the convenience of being able to throw a individually-packaged yogurt into your kids’ lunch. Fortunately, there are a few brands of kids yogurt out there that are pretty good. Just be sure to look at the nutritional information. For 4 oz serving of yogurt, look for those that provide at least 10% Calcium and contain no more than 13 grams of sugar. Also be sure they have live active cultures and NO High fructose corn syrup! Stonyfield Yo Kids is a great way to go! Yoplait Kids is also a decent option, though not fabulous because it does have a few not-so-great added ingredients. But, frankly, it’s better than most.
Veggie chips sound good, but are they really better than regular potato chips? Many brands are equal in calories and fat to that of regular potato chips. According to Consumer Reports, veggie chips are comprised mostly of potato and are merely supplemented with vegetable powder or puree.
INSTEAD: Skip the veggie-infused chip and go straight to the fresh veggie itself. Granted, kids don’t often get excited by a sliced carrot, so try offering it with ranch dip. If it’s a chip they really want, go for a terra or pita chip, which will give them more nutrients and fiber.
While you may think your child needs the extra fat found in whole milk, think again. High in fat AND cholesterol, whole milk is only recommended for children under the age of 2. On the flip side, nonfat milk is also not the way to go. While we don’t want our kids getting too much fat, they actually do need some for nerve development
INSTEAD: Once they hit 2, suggests Frank Greer, M.D., chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’s Committee on Nutrition, your kids should be consuming more moderate amounts of fat and cholesterol by way of 1 or 2 percent milk.
For more tips on how to take on a healthier diet, see…
Want to see more like this? See other Posts on nutrition.
Looking for ideas on how to eat better? See How to Eat Healthy Without Noticing: A Non-Dieter’s Guide to Eating Better.
You can also check me out on Blinkbooks.