The Top Five Snacks Your Kids Should Not Be Eating
While it may not be as obvious as allowing the little ones to win the battle in which they’re begging for candy at the grocery store, many a seemingly healthy snack option for kids is still filled to the brim with it.
And with the kids home from school and sleep away camp having ended, many parents will find themselves with a busier than normal schedule for these last few weeks of the summer before back to school time lands upon us.
Even the most dialed in routine of a biweekly healthy food prep can go awry with the kids home all day long, so it’s easy to find yourself in a situation where the easy choice may sometimes win over the healthier option.
But at what point is quick and ready to go too much of a deal breaker?
Some choices are obvious; serving your three year old a bag of chips and a soft drink is a surefire recipe for a back-seat bonk, but what about some of the other ‘kids foods’ that seem like they might be the way to go?
Below are my top five sneaky choices to avoid, followed by a healthier version which will keep the little ones energized enough to fuel their swim lesson, tennis practice or ballet class without coming back to cause a tantrum later on.
1. Gatorade and a banana before soccer practice. Too much sugar, zero protein and fat to balance out all that sugar, sourced from anything from corn syrup to sucralose! Sure, the banana is a natural item, but still when paired with a Gatorade, the glycemic load of the meal is enough to send even the most well behaved child into a sugar high, followed by a tantrum, (1) Instead, make them a homemade smoothie. You’ll know what’s going into it and you can ensure it’s not just another sugar-surge, as many a store bought smoothie or just might be.
2. Squeezable yogurt in a tube. One popular brand contains 10 grams of sugar with hardly any fat (.5 gm) or protein (2g), plus an arsenal of unfavorable additives from carrageenan to red #40 and blue #1. (2) Is it really worth the fact that the tubes are convenient here?
3. Fruit leather. The not so healthy options might contain sulfur and corn syrup, but even those marketed as natural leave a lot to be desired. High in sugar and high in cost, you’re far better off providing fresh, low glycemic fruit like green apple, paired with diced avocado and lime juice for a more balanced, blood-sugar stabilizing option.
4. Trail Mix. Here’s a pandora’s box for you! If you’re making it at home, sprouting walnuts, toasting organic coconut without adding sugar to it and serving it as part of a balanced meal or snack with a viable protein option, that’s one thing. But if you’re relying on what you’re finding even at the farmer’s market or health food store, tread lightly. These days, anything seems to be fair game in trail mix. You’ll easily find versions with carob chips (which still tend to have sugar added), copious amounts of dried fruit, highly allergenic peanuts and what ends up being a high in sugar, low in nutrient snack.
5. “Just one cookie”. There can be a time and place for a special occasion treat, of course. Making a Paleo-ish batch of brownies or cookies for a child’s birthday party, to be served after a meal with balance protein, fat and veggies, sure. But offering the little ones a cookie or two as a snack to tide them over to dinner is a ticket to a tantrum. Just think about how you feel if you go for the sugar mid afternoon at the office! Not that great, right? Make sure they’re getting enough nutrient dense calories earlier on in the day and that any and every meal or snack to follow follows the very same template.
Sugar is the bad guy for all of us, really.
(1) “List of Ingredients in Gatorade.” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 16 Apr. 2015. Web. 07
(2) Klein, Sarah. “What’s Really In Those Squeezable Yogurt Tubes For Kids? (INFOGRAPHIC).” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 07 Aug. 2016.