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Tag: kids foods

Your family is visiting a friend’s family for the holiday weekend. The friend generously offers to have you stay at their house. Things are going great until it’s lunchtime and out comes the florescent orange mac & cheese and fake lemonade. What do you do? Well, you have a few options: (1) tell yourself that it’s only a few meals and it won’t seriously impact the kids’ health (2) tell your host that you’d never feed your child that crap (3) come prepared in anticipation of this possible scenario.

Health is incredibly important and I’m generally in favor of doing whatever you have to do to eat healthy. However, friendship is also precious and waving your nose in the air at her meal suggestion is not advisable either. No one likes to be made to feel bad about the way they feed their family. Instead, come prepared. Here are a few suggestions to survive a junk food weekend.
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As I walked from my car towards the school grounds, it was like a scene out of a movie. Over a hundred girls in varying heights and coordinated t-shirts,  stood in a semi-circle around a Troop Leader with a bull horn. She was standing next to the American flag spelling out the rules of the Costa de OroInvestigate Your World Day Camp. This was the Santa Barbara Girl Scouts Summer Camp and I was there to present a session on reading food labels.
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On a recent trip, a friend brought out these individual servings of Mott’s Original Applesauce for all the kids. My daughter loves applesauce and eagerly waited for me to open it. We always purchase applesauce with no sugar added and I forgot that many brands contain added sweeteners. When I glanced at the label, I noticed that this particular brand had high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) listed as the second ingredient. This is a perfect example of an unnecessary additive.

I don’t know about you, but I find apples plenty sweet on their own. Instead of enjoying the natural sweetness of nature’s bounty, kids get used to artificially sweetened food and start to “need” their food to be ultra-sweetened. Luckily, my friend had also purchased Mott’s Granny Smith Applesauce for the moms and, surprise, it contained NO added sugar or HFCS. There are many brands of applesauce that only contain apples and vitamin C (prevents the applesauce from browning). They taste great and kids will be spared the added sugars and empty calories. You can also make your own applesauce; check out these recipes from Devine Health and The Salad Girl.

Exercise:

Look in your fridge and pantry and start reading labels. Search for foods containing added sweeteners (especially HFCS and chemical sweeteners). Next time you go shopping, try switching out your normal brand with a version that does not contain added sweeteners. There are thousands of foods with added sweeteners, but here are some common ones to start with: applesauce, fruit juice, jam/jelly, salad dressing, breakfast cereal, peanut butter, dried fruit, yogurt, syrup (only buy real maple syrup), canned fruit, and pasta sauce. While you’re looking to make the switch, consider a certified organic variety too! You’ll get the added benefit of no pesticides or genetically modified ingredients.

Note: Beware of “sugar-free” products. This means that the product does not contain cane or beet sugar, but instead, likely contains a chemical sweetener such as aspartame, acesulfame potassium or saccharin. Be Food Smart does NOT recommend consuming any of these artificial sweeteners.