You may not realize that you’re sending your kids off to school with a lunchbox filled with high fructose corn syrup, refined sugar, artificial ingredients, and genetically modified foods. These common ingredients can cause hyperactivity, an inability to concentrate, sluggishness, and a lowered immune system.
Fun fact: just one teaspoon of sugar can lower your immune system for up to 5 hours. The average child consumes 16 teaspoons of sugar a day.
Just for reference, The American Heart Association states that children up to age 8 should take in no more than 3 to 4 teaspoons of added sugar per day. Older kids and teenagers should limit themselves to no more than 5 to 8 teaspoons of added sugar each day.
Before you say, “Oh, my kids don’t eat a lot of sugar. We rarely have candy in the house…”
Remember that sugar hides in everything from their morning breakfast cereal to the tomato sauce they’re eating at dinner.
Does your kid suffer from earaches, eczema, or tummy troubles? Dairy could be the culprit. It’s one of the most common food intolerances in children. Regular yogurt is made with conventional pasteurized dairy. The high heat used in the pasteurization process kills the essential enzymes, destroys the probiotics, and even alters vital amino acids. Not to mention, the animals are often treated with antibiotics and fed a diet of genetically modified grain. Remember, you are what your food eats. Don’t forget, most yogurts also contain a hefty serving of sugar.
I like to think of these as glorified chocolate bars. They’re often dipped in chocolate, sprinkle with chips, and full of sugar. But what about the oats? They’re healthy, right? Unfortunately, oats are commonly contaminated with the pesticide, glyphosate. You may have heard about glyphosate (aka RoundUp) in the news lately when a California jury found it’s parent company, Monsanto, liable in causing Dewayne Johnson’s cancer. Monsanto was ordered to pay $289 million in damages. See how your favourite granola and cereals stack up in this report.
Don’t fool yourself. Even the gummy snacks labelled with “real fruit” are really just candy in healthier looking packages. They’re full of sugar, corn syrup, and artificial colouring and flavour. Even Dare’s Real Fruit Gummies that contain “no artificial colours or flavours” still have a whopping 20 grams of sugar per 8 gummies — that’s 5 teaspoons of sugar in case you’re wondering.
Sugary drinks are where children get a lot of their sugar intake from. But, it’s not just the sugar-filled pop you have to worry about.
The iconic fish-shaped crackers are one of the most popular snacks for kids. They also happen to be full of corn syrup, sugar, conventional dairy, and MSG (aka hydrolyzed yeast extract). Canola and sunflower oils are another big one found in goldfish crackers. Highly refined oils, canola and sunflower are high in the pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats. If that wasn’t bad enough, goldfish crackers are also contaminated with the cancer-causing pesticide, glyphosate. Read the report here.
The decadent little pudding cups are a safe haven for health-harming ingredients, including conventional dairy, sugar, and artificial flavour. Let’s take a closer look at another common ingredient: artificial colour. The food dye used to make your kid’s snacks more appealing have been linked to aggressiveness, allergies, hyperactivity, irritability, and learning difficulties. Another all too common ingredient found in pudding cups is hydrogenated vegetable oil. This type of oil increases your risk of heart disease, obesity, and inflammatory conditions — it’s also been banned in two European countries.
These treats, of course, contain the obvious sugary ingredients, but you also have to worry about the enriched flour and hydrogenated oils. Aside from gluten being a common food allergen, and contaminated with glyphosate, it’s also nutritionally dead. But how can that be? It’s “enriched”? When wheat is processed, all of the enzymes and nutrients are stripped away. During the “enriching” process, vitamins and minerals are added back in. However, your body doesn’t recognize these synthetic versions of the nutrients and, in turn, does not absorb them.
I could probably write an entire blog post on the dangers of this one alone. We’ve already discussed the downfalls of conventional dairy, enriched wheat, genetically modified foods, and artificial colour and flavours (which are listed on the ingredient label). One ingredient that should be highlighted is the sodium nitrite found in the deli “meat”. In 2015, the World Health Organization announced that processed meat is carcinogenic due to the inclusion of sodium nitrates and sodium nitrites. And yes, it’s an ingredient in your kid’s Lunchables.
Avoid foods that contain enriched flour, dairy, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, MSG (hydrolyzed yeast extract, artificial colours, artificial flavours, sodium nitrites/nitrates, hydrogenated vegetable oils, canola/rapeseed oil, and non-organic oats.
Instead, you want to fuel your kids up with nutrient dense foods that will keep their appetites filled, brain happy, and immune system strong.
*If your child’s school doesn’t allow nuts or nut butters:
You may really enjoy my posts, 14 Brain Foods You Need to Be Eating For Better Memory, Focus & Health or 6 Healthy School Safe Snacks (That Your Kids Will Actually Eat), too!