It’s perfectly common for kids to go through a picky stage at the dinner table. As parents we typically stress over eating enough and getting a good balance of nutritious foods for kids, but some seemingly healthy foods your kids might like could be misleading. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, poor snack choices increase a child’s caloric intake and can lead to childhood obesity. Here’s a list of the 5 most popular foods that aren’t as healthy as they seem.
1. Fruit Snacks
It’s convenient to want to reach for those gummy snacks on the shelf for a quick go-to snack when you’re in a hurry. With labels advertising ‘made with real fruit juice’ it may seem like a good choice. The actuality of these fruit flavored snacks is they contain a lot of sugar and very little nutritious value, if any. They’re also not very filling.
The Alternative: Dried fruit
Dehydrated fruit is a healthier alternative that tastes just as sweet and delicious as the other stuff. Dried strawberries, for instance, taste just like candy but there’s no added sugar and they’re naturally high in Vitamin C. Just be sure you check the label for fat content if you’re buying packaged dehydrated fruit over making your own as some are actually fried rather than baked. True dehydrated fruits will have low to almost no fat at all. Yogurt covered raisins are also great for on-the-go quick fixes.
Who doesn’t love this stuff, right? You’ve seen the commercials and ads claiming it’s part of a balanced breakfast, but that all changed very quickly when one mom filed a suit for false advertising. That’s because these chocolate hazelnut spreads contain an alarming 21 grams of sugar per serving!
The Alternative: Almond Nut Butter
If you want a delicious, healthy spread for your toast in the morning opt for almond nut butter instead. It contains more heart-healthy essential fatty acids than peanut butter as well as vitamins and minerals. Be sure to check the labels and choose an organic or all-natural spread that doesn’t have added sugar to it. You can even make your own healthier spin on chocolate hazelnut spreads by adding organic cocoa powder and local raw honey to almond butter for a delectable treat.
3. Veggie Chips
Don’t be fooled by those bags of commercial veggie chips or straws. These are actually made up mostly from refined grains such as rice flour and corn flour so you’re getting very little nutritional value from the vegetables that are contained in them. While these are a better alternative to potato chips and cheese puffs, they’re a far cry from the real deal. You’ll also need to look at the sodium content.
The Alternative: Stick to actual vegetables for the nutritional benefits. Carrot sticks and celery are easily portable for a crisp and crunchy snack to munch on in the car. Making your own vegetable chips offers better solution than the packaged stuff, such as cutting up thin slices of sweet potatoes, drizzle in a little bit of olive oil and toss in some dried herbs and spices then pop in the oven until crispy or a food dehydrator.
4. Organic Baked Cheddar Bunnies
You know those cute packages of non-GMO bunnies by Annie’s? They easily give the impression that they’re nutritious foods for kids with labels like organic and no artificial flavors, colors etc. but you would be surprised. These are actually higher in fat content and have less nutritional value than Goldfish or Cheez Its.
The Alternative: If it’s cheese they love then go for it. In moderation, cheese can be a great snack for kids because it’s not only tasty, but also a great source of calcium that growing bones need. Some good choices are the mini Babybel cheese wheels or the Sargento Colby-Jack cheese sticks with reduced sodium.
Yogurt in and of itself is a healthy treat, but the ones that are marketed for kids such as Go-Gurt and Trix or even Stonyfield Yo Kids Low Fat Organic yogurt varieties contain more sugar than you’d imagine. Many kid branded yogurt varieties also have added artificial colors to make them more appealing.
The Alternative: Don’t buy into the gimmicks and stick to the regular yogurt or even Greek yogurt to serve up to your kids. For portable convenience you can buy a large tub of regular yogurt and pick up some resealable ice pop baggies to fill them with for your own DIY go-gurt!
There are a lot of marketing gimmicks out there to draw buyers in, especially when it comes to nutritious foods for kids. Be sure to read the labels to get an idea on whether it really is a good choice or not. The first ingredient listed is what it contains the most of so be wary of this. Also look at the nutritional content per serving suggestion. Keep in mind that the daily value percentages listed are generally in reference to the daily recommended amount for adults (unless it states otherwise) and will be different for kids. For ideas of nutritious foods for kids with healthful benefits be sure to check out our article on Super Foods.