What food kids need to eat to stay in top form, healthy, strong and smart, at the same time easy to make to match up with current fast paced lifestyle?.
A question very often parents ask other parents and search over and over again on internet. Even then most parents end up feeding their children unhealthy food unknowingly.
Parents, many a times get carried away by clever advertising terms like “Reduced fat” “Enriched” flour, “Multigrain”, Whole Fruit” and many more. Sure, those sound healthy, but the poor nutrient quality of these foods has been smartly obscured. These foods in reality could be doing far more harm to child’s health than good.
Find out which popular “healthy” foods are actually unhealthy
1. Say no to Instant oatmeal
Oatmeal for sure is a great food for kids. They are packed with fibers and nutrients. Nutrient-rich oatmeal contains thiamin, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, selenium, and iron. But quick-cooking oats or instant oats are not that good for health. Instant oats are basically powdered oats and take less than 5 minutes to cook. Although they are easy to cook, most brands of instant oatmeal have added salt and sugar. Also a 250 g serving of instant oatmeal lead to a GI of 83, whereas coarse one can be as low as 55. The process of grinding oats removes some of their fiber content, which accelerates digestion and raises the instant oats GI.
What you can do:
- Look for instant oats that can give 3 grams of fiber per serving
- Stay away from instant oats with chemical ingredients and additives
- Opt for instant oats with low sugar
2.Granola bars: Could be dressed up junk food
The word granola may invoke thoughts of healthy oats, grains, and nuts all nicely mixed up into an easy to eat bar. Many parents proudly give this energy packed bars as evening snacks. But parents beware- what lies behind the wrappers of these seemingly innocent bars may be an over-processed nutritional mess.
Similar to candy or cakes, many of the bars contain high fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to weight gain and insulin resistance. It also might contain hydrogenated oils, which can raise cholesterol levels and monosodium glutamate, which has been linked to stomach problems, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
What you can do:
- Look for whole grains, nuts, and fruits
- There should be no partially hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, or artificial colorings in your granola bars
- Look for a granola bar with 10 grams of sugar or less
- Pick granola bars with natural sweeteners like honey or pure maple syrup
3.Puffed, Flaked and Sugared breakfast cereals…turn away from them
Cereal should not be made as part of a balanced breakfast
Through advertisements and marketing we have been made to believe that breakfast cereal is indeed a part of a balanced breakfast. The nutrition label too carry phrases, such as whole grain, natural, fortified with vitamins, gluten free and high in fiber – all keywords that give consumers the impression that cereals are healthy. The reality is far from the truth.
The grains are first made into fine flour and cooked, after which sugar, flavor, color and other additives are added. Then they go through extrusion process, after which they are dried and made into different shapes. During this process, fiber and nutrient value of grain is partially lost. Breakfast cereals made for kids many a times have 85% more sugar, 65% less fiber and 60% more sodium than cereals marketed to adults. Unless one opts for organic cereal, it’s likely to contain genetically modified ingredients (GMOs), including wheat, corn and soy, which can wreak havoc on the immune system and lead to various health issues.
What you can do:
- Select Cereal boxes with short ingredient list (added vitamins and minerals are okay).
- Choose Cereals with high fiber content.
- Opt for Cereals with few or no added sugars, including honey, molasses, fruit juice concentrate, brown sugar, corn sweetener, sucrose, lactose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup and malt syrup
4.Fruit juices are not as ‘Healthy’ as Fruit
Fruit juice many a times contain extra added sugar along with additives, preservatives and artificial colors
Many people think that having a tetra pak of juice is equivalent to eating fresh fruit. This is not correct. Fruit juice which comes in packs rarely contain fiber and mostly is just a concentrated source of sugar. Fruit juice elevates blood sugar more quickly than whole fruit, and the level of sugar that can be obtained from fruit juice is higher than the level found in whole fruit. For example, 120 calories’ worth of whole apples contains about 24 grams of sugar, while 120 calories’ worth of apple juice contains about 30 grams.
Many a times fruit juices that are sold in supermarkets contain only a small percentage of real fruit juice, and contain added sweeteners (sucrose or high fructose corn syrup). As a result, children end up consuming large amount of calories without getting any actual nutrition. In addition these juices are loaded with Nature-Identical and Artificial Flavoring Substances, Acidity regulator (INS 300), Antioxidants (INS 300) etc.
Artificial flavors and additives are added to juices which can harm the teeth and intestines. It is found that the juice concentrate is actually made oxygen less to increase its longevity. This hampers the taste and so additives and artificial flavoring agents are added to make it taste like the real fruit.
What you can do:
Make sure you read fruit juice labels carefully. Thoroughly check the ingredients and understand how much real fruit it has and how much sugar is added in extra
Yogurt is a terrific food for kids and adults alike. It is an excellent source of calcium and potassium and probiotics. But most of the “kid-friendly” yogurts deliver in addition to nutrients, a hefty dose of added sugars and artificial colors. Many of them contain in addition preservatives, thickeners and other additives.
What you can do:
Pick one pack of kid’s yogurt and mix it half and half with plain, unsweetened yogurt. Get them used to home made plain yogurt sweetened with fruit, a teaspoon of sugar or a teaspoon of honey.
There is nothing to replace home cooked food made using fresh vegetables and pulses. But then in this fast paced life, many a times it’s not possible. So before you pick up your groceries, check on the ingredients and make your choices wisely……Give your kid ‘Healthy’food.