You’re grocery shopping with your child, and he makes a beeline for the Snacks aisle. He reaches out for a bag of potato chips and a chocolate bar. Then he makes a pit stop at the Soft Drinks aisle to grab a bottle or two of his favourite soda. Does this sound all too familiar?
Junk food can be very appealing to children for many reasons. For one, their bright and colourful packaging. Many manufacturers also package their snacks with a free toy, further enhancing the appeal of these calorie-laden snacks.
That said, it’s never too late to change your child’s diet for the better. It has to start somewhere, right? Here are some foods to keep out of your shopping basket at all times.
Granola or Energy Bars
Although they are marketed as healthy and nutritious snacks, granola and energy bars are often filled with high fructose corn syrup, added sugar and saturated fat. Many commercial brands also contain artificial sweeteners, coconut, chocolate, and not to mention copious amounts of preservatives to maintain a long shelf life.
Diethyl Glycol, Aldehyde C-17, Piperonal, and Ethyl Acetate, are just some of the chemicals that goes into your favourite commercial ice cream. Diethyl Glycol is a cheap chemical used to substitute eggs, and Piperonal, used in place of vanilla, is also a lice killer. So the next time you reach out for a tub, take a minute to browse through the ingredients.
If there are ingredients on a label or package that you cannot pronounce, then you probably don’t want them in your mouth.
A typical can of soda is loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, phosphoric acid and caffeine. Furthermore, soda has no nutritional value yet it can dehydrate the body, which can cause the depletion of essential nutrients. Big price to pay for a quick sugar rush, isn’t it?
Many commercial potato chip brands are skimping on their potato content. A study by the Environmental Law Firm, based in California, showed that the potato chip products it tested went beyond the legal limit of the chemical acrylamide by at least 39 times. The study found that even baked potato chips, often marketed as a “healthier choice,” contain three times as much acrylamide as regular potato chips!
So what is a parent to do? The first step is to become an expert label reader. If there are ingredients on a label or package that you cannot pronounce, then you probably don’t want them in your mouth. Secondly, aim to purchase fresh whole foods and to eat them in as close to their natural states as possible.
Don’t be fooled by the slick marketing of processed and packaged foods. With a little planning, you can serve healthy meals that emphasise fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and fresh fish.