I can't stand the commercials or advertisements for kids' food. Hate 'em. Marketers know that parents are pressed for time. They know we have busy schedules and lots of lunches to pack. So, they appeal to our need for speed. According to the perpetrators of the marketing madness, the faster we can open a box and plop out a meal the better. The problem is, these meals are not good for us and these products are making us sick.
Magazines include Wal-Mart ads which appeal to our sense of "saving money." The ad says that for less than $1 or two you can feed your family breakfast. You can shove a plain, white bagel down your kid's throat along with some OJ and voila! A healthy and low-cost breakfast! Shame on you Wal-Mart. Parents, can't you offer a healthier alternative and toast a slice of whole-grain bread, add a dollop of natural (no sugar added) peanut butter and include a glass of milk for breakfast? Does it really take that much more time or cost that much more money? I don't think so.
Day after day I see kids with unhealthy lunches. It makes me lose my appetite. The problem is, it's not the kid's fault his lunch is unhealthy. His parents are basically teaching his palette to rely on added sugars and modified foods to satisfy him. He doesn't know any better yet he will pay for this unhealthy practice for the rest of his life when he won't really want to eat anything that isn't sweetened. We owe it to our kids to take a more responsible approach to eating.
Here are some examples:
- Lunchables. Really? You need to buy processed, packaged food with a long list of artificial flavors, partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup and more for your kid's lunchbox? These products have no business being marketed as lunches for kids. Why not choose lunchmeat with no preservatives or artificial ingredients (Dietz & Watson, Boorshead, etc), whole grain crackers , and a piece of fruit instead? It's not that hard.
- PB&J Uncrustables. Parents, you need to buy a PB&J sandwich? One with upwards of 25 different ingredients, some of which you can't even pronounce? You can't make a PB&J sandwich on whole-grain bread with natural (no sugar added) peanut butter and natural fruit preserves? C'mon. Isn't your children's health more important to you?
- Applesauce. On the surface, applesauce looks like a good choice. But when you add a flavor like Cinnamon/Strawberry/Raspberry, etc. you add unnecessary ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup. Why? Applesauce is naturally sweet. Without added sugar. If you want a flavor added to natural applesauce why not sprinkle your own cinnamon or puree your own strawberries. It's not that hard, really.
- Fruit Juice. The epitome of wasted calories. Sure, some fruit juices are 100% juice and, boy, those marketers love to appeal to your sense of "wholesome" and "nutrient-packed." If it's 100% juice that is high in Vitamin C it has to be good, right? But why not get more bang-for-your-buck and offer up a whole apple instead? Your kids get the benefit of a serving or more of fruit, with added fiber from the apple peel. Don't give your kids juice, give them an actual piece of fruit instead. And, make sure they are drinking water (which they probably need more of anyway) or milk for lunch.
- Granola Bars. Snacks like Kudos which advertise "excellent source of calcium" and "made with whole grains" try to suck you into the "granola is healthy" mentality. Don't be fooled. With five different listings for sugar and hydrogenated oils to boot, these are not healthy snacks, they are candy bars. Do parents really think that granola bars with M&M's, Chocolate chips or Snickers is a "healthy" choice? Really? If you want to give your kid a candy bar, just admit it and quit trying to pass a Kudos granola bar off as a healthy snack.
- Go-Gurt. Sounds like a great idea...yogurt on the go! Yogurt is a nutritious snack, right? Not this yogurt. It has more sugar per ounce than a can of Coca-Cola. The problem is there isn't one but two sugar sources listed in the first five ingredients. Both Sugar and
High-Fructose Corn Syrup. Is this necessary? Nope. Get your kids off Go-Gurt for good! Try Stoneyfield Farms brand instead. Yes, sugar is listed as the second ingredient, but it is a natural source of sugar that isn't processed. The sugar ratio per ounce is much less than Go-gurt and not artificial colors or flavors are included.
Some great places to search for easy recipes for lunches and/or snacks are:
Check them out, print off a recipe or two and see how easy (and satisfying) it can be to make a good, healthy lunch or snack.
It's really, truly, is not rocket science.