Children are resilient. Actually, they’re not. Yet, parents seem to think that whatever they feed their children won’t harm them. The fact of the matter is, the foods we feed our children not only has lasting effects, but can begin those effects immediately.
In fact, studies have linked refined sugar consumption to type 2 diabetes in children which has actually been rising in recent years. Diet can cause problems in the classroom, leading many children to struggle with focus and have behavioral problems. Obesity rates continue to be on the rise, and the life expectancy has actually declined in recent years.
To think, many of these problems could be solved by starting early with a healthful diet that doesn’t include the following very harmful foods.
There is a misconception that juice is healthy. Perhaps it’s the colorful packaging that is marketed to children, giving a false belief that if they’re marketed to children, they must be good for them. Whatever the reason, the fact of the matter is, that many of these “fruit drinks” and juices contain loads and loads of sugar.
Even juices that claim to be “freshly squeezed” undergo processing that takes away much of the original flavor of the fruit. To make the juice palatable, flavor and sugar is added. Many of these “healthy” juices may retain some of the original nutrients including vitamins and minerals, but the added sugar can really negate those efforts. In fact, fruit juice contains just as much sugar and calories as a sugary soft drink — in some cases, even more.
Rather than giving your child juice, give them the whole fruit along with a glass of water to help wash it down. They will retain all the nutrients including fiber that gets lost in the juicing process.
Yogurt is a powerful probiotic that can help settle stomach issues caused by bad bacteria. It also contains calcium, potassium, Vitamin B-6 and magnesium. Yogurt can be a very healthful stack for your children. However, much like juice, many of the yogurts on the market today have added sugar to make them “palatable” to children.
One 6-ounce cup of Yoplait flavored yogurt has 19 grams of sugar and 26 grams of total carbohydrates, compared to about 11 grams of both sugar and carbohydrates in plain yogurt.
You can easily add flavor to yogurt by adding fresh fruit and nuts. And if you child is above the age of two, honey is also a great natural and healthful sweetener.
Cereal is a simple breakfast for a family on the go. Simply pour a bowl of the dry stuff, add some milk, and you have an instant breakfast. However, just like the juice and many yogurt labels, the colorful packages that scream, “I’m kid friendly!” — Yet, they’re really not.
Cereals marketed to kids are full of sugar and additives. They may be fortified with vitamins, but fortified is another word for “adding more processed sort-of-goodness to your food.” In fact, Honey Nut Cheerios, which is one of the top rated cereals for its seemingly good health benefits has been found to really not be so healthy according to studies. One study published by the Environmental Working Group found that One cup of Honey Nut Cheerios contains more sugar than the Chips Ahoy! Cookies.
Bottom line. Take the extra minutes to make a healthful breakfast — perhaps a bowl of oatmeal with fruit or some eggs with a side of fruit and whole wheat toast. The extra time will be well worth it.
4. Chicken Nuggets
Chicken nuggets are a popular food for kids, and can be found in most fast food restaurants and even in stores for grab and go convenience at home. Many even make claims that they are “made with real chicken” to somehow hide the truth that they still aren’t healthy. The fact is, chicken nuggets, whether made with all white meat or all chicken nuggets are processed with most varieties being deep fried in unhealthy, fatty oils.
If your kids love this snack as much as the next, you can easily make your own by dipping chicken strips or pieces in an egg wash, then roll them in lightly seasoned bread crumbs and baked thoroughly. You may find that they like this version just as much if not more.
5. Packaged Pasta
Mac n’ cheese, canned spaghetti, ramen noodles. All are favorites of many kids and adults due to how inexpensive they hare, how simple they are to make — and how tasty they are. Unfortunately, that ease on the budget and schedule could be quite costly. Reports published on Today.com found that man made chemicals called phthalates have been found in most processed varieties of macaroni and cheese, with the highest levels of it being found in the cheesy flavored powder used to make the sauce. This substance was shown in the reports to interfere with human hormones.
But it isn’t just the chemicals. In one, 1- cup serving of Kraft macaroni and cheese, there are 350 calories, 10 g of cholesterol, 570 mg of sodium, 47 g of carbohydrates and 6 g sugar. All this comes with only 10% of your daily values of iron and calcium.
There are many healthy versions of macaroni and cheese that can be found online. And just like any of the above foods, if you take the time to prepare them with healthful ingredients, you can rest assured that you are giving your kids the best chance at a healthy life for years to come.