The Healthy Snack Trap

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All Natural Junk Food

I read somewhere that close to 20,000 new packaged foods make it to the grocery shelves each year.

Companies are getting smarter (or sneakier) at drawing us into their health food trap with words like fortified, all natural, no added sugar, and gluten free.  Real food is being replaced by chemicals and packaged with fun shinny bright advertising claiming how healthy it is.

Often times “healthy snacks” are laden with extra sugar and sodium to compensate for the taste of the artificial or chemical ingredients used in most processed foods.  It’s no accident once you open the bag of goldfish you can’t stop eating them.

According to an article in the Huffington Post

 “Food made of sugar, fat, and salt can be addictive. Especially when combined in secret ways that the food industry will not share or make public.”

 Do you know why your child won’t eat healthy snacks, because inadvertently, you’ve taught them not to!  ME…never.  Yes you.  Let’s be honest.  There is no guarantee they will eat the veggies or fruit you put in front of them.  Chances are high they will eat the Cheerios and food manufacturers are counting on you to do exactly that.

“If you give your children a lot of sweet, salty, and high fat foods throughout the day then these are the flavors their taste buds will come to expect.” Dr. Rose explains.

We may actually be hard wiring our kids to crave these kinds of unhealthy foods.

Here are some fun facts to drive my point home.

  • Did you know that sugar triggers the brains feel good chemical dopamine almost exactly the same way as other addictive drugs.
  •  We are one of the only countries that allows companies to market junk food to children.  In an article titled Sugar Babies Dr. Mark Hyman reports “Studies show that the worse the food, the more the marketing.  The average 2 year old can recognize and name junk food from their baby carriage in the supermarket.”
  • Dr. Rose from It’s Not About Nutrition say: “Compared to cereals advertised to adults, the cereals aimed at kids contain: 56% more sugar, 52% less fiber and 50% more sodium.”
  • According to a study published in Appetite, a research journal specializing in behavioral nutrition, when preschoolers drank water instead of a sweetened drink, they ate more raw vegetables.

5 Tips to help avoid the healthy snack trap

  1. Stay on the outer edge of the grocery store.  This is where most of the produce and non-processed food lives.  The rest is pretty much unnecessary!
  2.  READ LABELS. Do you recognize all the ingredients?  If not put it down!
  3.  Just eat real foods.  This is the easiest motto to follow.  Did it come from the earth?  Note: apples, vegetables and other real foods requireno label reading.
  4. Plan ahead.  We haven’t totally lost our minds and we know a lot of this is easier said than done especially while totting screaming kids through the grocery store.  BUT does it really take that much more time to cut up an apple then to grab the bag of animal crackers?
  5. Use “kid friendly” snacks as occasional treats and not everyday snacks. This is your change to teach kids about healthy eating.  Remember you are actually shaping your kids taste buds and setting them up for a healthy palate in the future.

What do you do to get your child to eat healthier options?

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