As parents, we agonize over what’s good for our children and what isn’t. Some decisions seem easy, like ensuring your child eats breakfast every morning. Other decisions can get a little more complicated, like what they’ll eat for breakfast. As we all know, what children what and what’s good for them aren’t always the same thing.
Indulging is totally fine from time to time. But every day? Put these 10 foods on the back burner when it comes to your child’s regular diet.
1. Processed Lunch Meats
Nitrates and hormones and antibiotics? Oh my! These meats seem so easy to buy—they’re not too expensive and make sandwich making a snap. Honestly though, you’ll want to avoid giving your kids processed lunch meats on a regular basis. Yes, processed meats also include hot dogs, sausages, and other weird meats like bologna. Just don’t do it. Processed lunch meats contain high levels of sodium and bad fats in addition to preservatives. There have been studies done linking high consumption of these meats to various types of cancer. Not to mention the animals they came from were tortured and sick. So, they’re best avoided.
2. Snack Cakes
These too are cheap and easy to buy. Reading the ingredient list can put some bad thoughts into your head, though—partially hydrogenated oils, sugar (of course), high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, and food dyes? Ouch! Your kids may beg you for these at the store, but make snack time more fun by making healthy versions at home and teaching your kids how to read the ingredient list.
3. French Fries and Potato Chips
The header for this one should have said “anything fried”, but fried eggs and such are ok compared to French fries and potato chips, both of which have one of the highest free radical contents of all food. The way they’re made (at high temps with oil and fat) make them some of the worst foods you can eat. Steer your kids towards healthier options. And remember, McDonald’s French fries are not gluten-free or vegetarian. (Don’t believe me? Google the ingredient list, please).
4. Frozen Pizza
Nearly every kid adores pizza. However, making pizza at home can be a lot of fun and much healthier than the frozen stuff you buy at the store. A typical frozen pizza is likely to contain BHA and BHT, two preservatives that’ve been shown to cause cancer in high levels. They also contain tons of fat, sodium, trans fats (the worst fats ever!) and words that you’ve no idea what they mean, such as “flavoring”. Get creative with custom pizza creations and teach your kids how to make their own food—avoid frozen pizza.
Juice in itself might not seem so bad, especially if you’re buying organic juice that doesn’t have any added sugar. However, there’s a reason that apples are apples and not apple juice: fiber. Taking the juice out of the fruit without the fiber means your body is going to suck up that sugar and have a sugar spike because there’s no fiber to help the body process it. Limit juices.
You knew this one was bad. High fructose corn syrup, enough sugar to inspire scary type-2 diabetes statistics, and artificial flavors? Your kids shouldn’t be drinking these. You can create your own sodas with carbonated water, herbs, and fruit juices. Or, you know, just pick up some kombucha at Whole Foods. That too.
Even organic candy still has sugar in it. Conventional candies contain sugars, artificial flavors and dyes, and other scary ingredients like preservatives. As many kids really enjoy candy, try to limit their consumption of it or again, make a fun project of making your own at home with raw sugar or sugar replacements like honey or dates.
8. Fast Food
Nothing terrifies me quite like the ingredient list of a fast food restaurant. Even the ones you might think are “better” (think Chik-fil-A and Subway) have really scary ingredients in there. Eating out all the time isn’t healthy to begin with, but if you’re going to eat fast food, go for something that’s a little healthier like Chipotle, which banned GMOs and has very minimal, healthy ingredients.
9. Cereal with a Cartoon Face on It
Many cereals and other brands that kids love are specifically marketed to them. This means putting ponies, pirates, or cute little animals on your kids’ cereal. Keep your kids away from breakfast cereals that have cartoon faces on them. I promise they’re not any better than eating a candy bar. Think fresh fruit for breakfast with home-prepared oatmeal. Really, you’ve got a lot of options besides Lucky Charms.
Dr. Jakob Taylor of True Weightloss Solutions understands the challenges that parents face. “Balancing what we should be feeding our children and ourselves with what we see on TV, read in the paper, or find in the grocery store can seem overwhelming. We are bombarded with messages from celebrities or colorful catch phrases pitching us products everyday. One easy way to help stay on course and filter the noise is to follow a simple guide:
F – fruits and vegetables
O – organic lean protein
O – omega-3 fatty acids
D – drink more water!
10. White Bread
White bread (and white flour) is not doing anything for your kid’s body. It’s been stripped of its nutrients and left to give your body blood sugar spikes after PB & J time. Stick to whole wheat and make sure your child doesn’t have a gluten intolerance before packing on the bread. Eliminating white bread is best, no matter how “good” it tastes.
Your child’s health is one of the most important things to you. Take this opportunity to teach your child about healthy eating habits, reading labels, and learning about ingredients. Limit or avoid these 10 foods when it comes to your children’s diets. Make fun activities out of learning about new foods and making creations at home!
Guest post by Jenn Ryan