We all try to pack healthy lunches for the little ones and sometimes we might think we are putting a healthy snack in the lunchbox but if you take the time to look at the labels and ingredients, some of these snacks are actually extremely unhealthy.
Fruit Snacks- Dentists hate them because they’re the number one cause of tooth decay. Parents hate them because they’re filled with artificial colors and flavors. Even though they are being labeled with the word “fruit,” most fruit snacks contain very little, if any, actual fruit. Even fruit snacks that do contain real fruit are missing the satiating fiber and water that comes with whole fruit. Grapes, berries, and tangerine slices make great, healthy alternatives because they are also bite size healthy fruit snacks!
Packaged Desserts– Sure, we may have all stuck a Twinkie or Honey Bun in the lunchbox or even had one for ourselves on occasion without thinking but snack cakes are one of the worst sources of trans fats, the man-made fats that experts agree are the worst type of fat to eat. In fact, the USDA advises completely avoiding trans fats as part of a healthy diet. Studies suggest that children should not receive sweets and desserts on a daily basis, that they should be thought of as a special treat once a week. A healthy alternative is to bake cookies from scratch which are much healthier!
Juice Boxes– While they may be convenient, these beverages consist mostly of sugar water. There is little to no nutritional value in them. Just like with fruit snacks, it is better to eliminate these entirely and have your children get their juice from consuming fresh fruits directly. Try adding them to smoothies if they are missing that beverage intake they desire.
Crackers– We all love crackers but not all are created equal. Most are filled with lots of calories, white flour, and preservatives. The next time you are at the store, pay attention to the labels and make sure that the crackers you select have whole grains, at least 3g of fiber per serving, and have a short list of ingredients. You can also cut whole grain pita bread into small squares and toast them for a great, healthy option!
Lunch Meats– These long-time staples might actually be killing you. The ones processed with nitrates are the most dangerous. Nitrates and nitrites are food preservatives that do a much better job of preserving food than they do people. Research shows that people who eat nitrate-packaged foods including lunch meat, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and jerky drastically increase their risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Try to steer clear of processed meats and when you do buy packaged lunch meat, hot dogs and the like, buy the preservative-free varieties. Also, remember that “all natural” does not always mean preservative free!!