Remember that there is no such a thing as kid food, only marketing and packaging. This 5 Processed Kids Snacks You Should Avoid post will give you creative and healthy homemade alternatives.
Stay Away From Processed Kids Snacks
The closer to nature, that better your kids will be, so stay away from processed foods, make your own snacks and choose real foods made with fresh ingredients. 5 Processed Kids Snacks You Should Avoid will definitely help you make better choices.
Unfortunately, food companies market unhealthy products directly towards children. Cartoon characters and colorful boxes attract kids into buying extremely unhealthy foods loaded with sugars, refined wheat and artificial colors, which are linked to all sorts of chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes and hyperactivity/ADHD. In fact, artificial colors have even been linked to behavioral issues in children without ADHD.
Kids are eating more processed foods than ever before. Did you know that today, by the time the average child in a developed country turns 8 years old, they’ve had more sugar in their lives than the average person did in their entire lifetime just one century ago? Processed food are loaded with sugar! We need to inform ourselves and start making better choices.
The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) have great information about the devastating consequences of eating too much sugar. It is very important to Know Your Limit for Added Sugars.
I am going to advice you on 5 processed kids snacks you should avoid. In my opinion, these products should never be in your grocery shopping list. What you have available at home is what your kids will eat, so keep your home full of healthy food options and make your own snacks.
5 Processed Kids Snacks You Should Avoid Plus DIY Healthier Alternatives
The worst cereals are sadly geared towards children. The information on the package is also deceiving. Uninformed consumers just look at the box and read: “good source of whole grains” or “made with real fruit”. So they go ahead and buy them thinking they are giving their children something healthy.
Popular brands like Froot Loops, Captain Crunch and Apple Jacks are 40 to 50% sugar by weight. This is just insane! These cereals should be treated as candy. In fact, EWG explains that most kids’ cereals are no better (and in some cases worse) than giving your kids a handful of cookies for breakfast. They go on to explain that every single cereal marketed towards kids has added sugar. Every. Single. One.
What about the cereals that aren’t geared towards kids, though? How do you know if it’s just as bad as cookies? Look at the ingredient’s list: If you see corn syrup, high fructose or other types of sugar in the top three ingredients then you know it is not a healthy option. Remember that the ingredient list on a food label is the listing of each ingredient in descending order of predominance. The ingredients used in the greatest amounts first, followed by descending order by those in smaller amounts.
Look for healthier options: first ingredient should be whole grains and anything under 5 grams of sugar per serving would be a good choice. Check out also these 2 fun and healthier alternatives: Teddy Bear Toasts and Healthy Banana Sushi.
2.- Fruit snacks
Another popular and deceiving product for kids. The packaging of fruit snacks gives the impression that they are in some way healthy. “Fat Free” and “Made with real fruit.” Yes sugar is “fat free” but that doesn’t mean it is healthy. What they don’t tell you is your body will process sugar and convert into fat. So that “fat free” label is completely misleading.
“But it has real fruit!” you say? Go ahead and take a peek at the label. Tell me where you find “real fruit” in the ingredient list? All I see is artificial colors, artificial flavors, corn syrup and sugar. The long list of ingredients indicates this products is nothing but artificial. Again sugar in the top three ingredients.
FYI, “juice from concentrates” is not the same thing as real fruit juice. As Real Mom Nutrition, It’s significantly sweeter and loaded with more sugar. Bottom line: An iota of “real fruit” definitely doesn’t make up for all the sugar and artificial flavoring & colorants. Fruit snacks are gelatinous sugar globs with a little fruit juice and added vitamin C or calcium. This shouldn’t be the way our kids get vitamins or minerals anyway. If you just want to give it to your child occasionally please understand: this is candy not a healthy snack.
Healthy homemade alternative: If you want to give your children a healthy fruit snack please take a look at this Homemade Healthy Gummies recipe. You can also make healthier snacks simply by dehydrating actual real fruit.
A popular snack for kids you see in supermarket shelves. Boxed juices and pouches are everywhere. It is funny how some parents will not give soda to their kids but instead will buy them sweetened drinks like Kool Aid and Capri Sun. These fruit drinks are just as bad as soda. If they’re not made from 100-percent juice, they’re the nutritional equivalent of soda without the bubbles. Most popular brands are also made with high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors just like sodas.
What to look for instead? Healthier fruit juices made with 100% juice and make sure they are not from concentrate. You can also make your own smoothies, please see my Green Smoothie or Cherry Banana Spinach Smoothie recipes for more natural alternatives. Remember always the healthiest choice should be water!
4.- Ice pops
Kids are attracted by the neon colors, shapes and cartoons on these store-bought ice pops. Some boxes will again say these ice pops are made with real fruit and are also fat free. The reality is they are full of artificial dyes, sugars and in some cases even artificial sweeteners! Have you seen your kids’ tongue after eating one of those store-bought ice pops? Surely it is not something healthy for them.
Again, the “real fruit” is often a highly concentrated sweetened version of the juice. Even if they were made with 100% actual unsweetened fruit juice, though, the artificial ingredients are enough to keep this off your grocery list.
Healthy alternative: If you want to give your kids real fruit ice pops then you should take a look at my Great Snack Idea: Ice Pops. I started by making them with fruits only but now I add vegetables like beets, spinach, cucumbers and carrots. My son loves them and they are also great for picky eaters. Using fun molds helps get them even more excited and you feel good about giving your kids a healthy snack. There are so many ways to get your kids to eat their veggies you just need a little imagination!
Ice Pops are also great when a child has a cold. Dairy and sugar free and full of nutrients to fight viruses and infections! It can soothe a sore throat and help with coughing by adding raw honey. It can also help with reflux if you add some Aloe Vera or Ginger. Don’t forget to add your superfoods like a tablespoon of chia seeds for added protein and health benefits.
5.- Cheese crackers
As a mother, you are always looking for snacks you can take when you are out with your kids. Crackers are very popular but most commercial crackers are made with GMOs, are very high in sodium and low in fiber. They have no nutritional value and are full of preservatives, sugars, artificial colors and flavors.
A healthier choice: Try Homemade Cheddar Cheese Crackers. Made with only 4 ingredients! You can make a big batch and store them in a cookie jar and enjoy them while they last. You can use fun cutters in different shapes and sizes. Homemade crackers are very easy to make and so much better for your kids.
Are there any “good” processed foods?
With all this talk about the worst kinds of processed kids’ snacks, it’s hard to imagine that there’s such a thing a “good processing.” In an ideal world, we’d eat fruit fresh off the tree, pick our own vegetables from our backyard garden, and never eat a single thing that wasn’t exactly as nature intended. Of course, we don’t live in that world, so some processing is a given.
EatRight.org explains that foods fall on a “processing spectrum” from minimally to majorly processed. Things like bagged spinach, roasted nuts, and sliced vegetables are technically processed, but they still retain all of their original ingredients and nutrition (in the case of roasted nuts, they do lose some nutrition in the process). These are typically considered acceptable “processed” foods, although the real raw version is always better.
Frozen fruits and veggies are also still considered okay as long as they are frozen and packaged in their own juices. Look very, very carefully at the label, as many frozen fruits have added sugar and preservatives. After that, it starts to go downhill. Once a manufacturer starts adding in flavor enhancers and artificial preservatives, the processing crosses the line from acceptable to “scratch that off your list.”
Remember, healthy eating habits start at home
I hope you liked my 5 Processed Kids Snacks You Should Avoid post. Remember snacks are not treats, they are mini meals. Teach your kids to make better choices and they will make good choices in the future. Stay away from processed foods and limit treats to once or twice a week. Homemade foods are always the best choice.
If you are interested in other fun and creative snack options, check out also my Creative And Healthy Snack Ideas post.
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