Part 2 of Unhealthy Stuff that is Fed to Most Kids

With Father’s Day around the corner, I bring you the sequel to my original post regarding the junk that I see kids fed all too often.

Part 2 of Unhealthy Stuff that is Fed to Most Kids-3

As I always mention in nearly every single post…it’s not that you (or your kids) “can never have ____ food.”  The point is that if you (or your kids) are eating these foods as a routine rather than a fun, seldom, treat…THAT is the real problem.

Brace yourself for what follows, it’s quite likely to offend some of you.  If you’re easily offended, then I suggest you stop reading now.  However, if you’re open to knowledge of how to raise healthier kiddos, then keep going.

 

Pancakes.  Waffles.  Muffins.

Ok, stop freaking.  I’m not saying they ALL suck.  It all comes down to what exactly is in them.  Nearly all “standard versions” of these foods are the equivalent of feeding your kids birthday cake for breakfast.  (White flour and sugar with frosting aka fake-syrup.)  If you can either make or find a mix that is based in 100% whole grain flour, less added sugar and perhaps add ground almonds (or other nuts), flax, chia, wheat germ, or all sorts of other cool nutrient-rich things, then maybe you can turn things around here.

Also, if you’re going to use syrup, invest in REAL maple syrup.  At least you’ll get a little nutrient bang for the buck.  The most common fake-maple-flavored corn syrups that most people use are a sad, sad, sad excuse for consumable food-like product (read the ingredients).  You might say “but those [better] mixes and real syrup cost too much!”  Well, how often are you eating these foods anyway?  Perhaps getting some variety in your breakfasts could be useful.  Also, sometimes there is a reason that some foods are super cheap…because they provide you with nothing useful.

 

Kool-Aid.  Capri Sun.  Sunny Delight.  Soda.

C’mon, really?  I’ve said what I think of juice in the last post on the matter of kid foods, but these juice-like drinks are even worse.  Artificial flavoring, artificial food dyes, artificial sweeteners (in the “low sugar” versions)…notice a trend here?  Your kids’ brains were not designed to thrive on artificial foods or drinks.  Most regular versions are a sloppy mess of added sugar.  All this does is not quench our thirst, making us want more…and more…and more…because our body is trying desperately to find water.  We also pave the way for a rollercoaster of blood sugar, leading to craving MORE sugar all day long.

PLEASE teach your kids to search for water as a main beverage.  Their growing bodies, brains, and kidneys need this habit so very badly.  Guess what the most common cause of UTIs and kidney stones is?  Yes, that’s right; it’s dehydration.  What will you often notice when you provide water for your kids?  They drink it.  It’s really interesting.

Save the sugary beverages as a rare, occasional, novel treat, and your kids will grow into adults with good habits.

 

Popsicles.  Snow cones.

These suck for all the same reasons outlined in #2.  I know many of us grown-ups have fond memories of sucking on these cold treats in the Summers of our childhood.  However, if that’s what you’re thinking, think about this:  how many health issues are you currently battling?  High triglyceridesElevated blood sugar Difficulty losing weight?

Look, I’m not saying that your beloved popsicles “caused” any of these health issues directly.  But these, along with a lot of our other lifelong habits, most certainly (and significantly) lead us toward the chronic health issues we face as adults.  If you don’t believe that, then you’re in complete denial of science, including epigenetics, inflammation, etc.  Save your kids from these same issues; it’s your job.  Their lifelong habits start when they are teensy little toddlers.

 

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Lunchables. 

What’s wrong with these portable-little lunches, you might ask?  Well, there are so few nutrients in them they shouldn’t even be sold as food.  There are many different versions of these things, so I’m going to speak broadly here.  Most contain some kind of white-flour, super-preserved, fake-butter-flavored cracker on which your littles put a meat-like product (usually made from cow and/or pig eyelids and rectums leftover from meat processing).  And lest we forget some sort of sugary beverage pouch and multi-fake-dyed dessert.  YUM!

Take a look at the ingredients on the side of the box sometime.  It’s hard because you’ll have to squint – they’ve managed to fit the 7,000 ingredients onto that teensy little panel on the side of the box.  It doesn’t matter though, because most of us wouldn’t recognize many of those ingredients anyway; they’re not real food.

At the very least, you can DIY these little lunch-boxes with 100% whole grain crackers, good-quality deli meat, and real cheese.  Or, what about a tuna sandwich with a good-quality mayo (soybean oil should not be the base…try to find avocado oil or olive oil based mayo) on 100% whole grain bread?

 

Boxed Mac & Cheese.

Ok, ok.  I actually have some of this (Annie’s brand) in my pantry right now.  But here’s the thing – most versions of boxed mac & cheese are composed of white-flour pasta and artificially cheese-flavored powder that has artificial orange coloring to make it appear more orangey.  Gross.  IF you must buy boxed (which, like I said, I have used sometimes), at least use a better brand without fake junk in it and add some vegetables.  Our favorite is peas in our macaroni at my house.

Furthermore, have you ever attempted to make homemade macaroni?  It seriously doesn’t take me but 5 minutes longer to make than when I make boxed, and that includes hand-shredding some real cheese.  Do not—I say again, DO NOT—use Velveeta.  Please.  You can (and should) use whatever 100% whole grain noodle shape you want.  You make a roux with butter and flour; add whole milk and whisk together.  Then add shredded cheese and whisk until smooth.  All the while, your noodles should’ve been cooking and will be done by the time your sauce is done.  You drain the noodles and stir in the cheese sauce.  Google homemade mac & cheese and I bet you’ll find 10,000 recipes with exact steps.  Try it with extra-sharp white cheddar – I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

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Kids learn what you teach them.  Teach them to not only eat healthy foods, but to find ways to make them super tasty.  Eating healthy doesn’t have to suck!  If it does for you, then you’re doing it wrongFat isn’t “fattening,” and can really take your vegetables to the next level.  Not all whole grains are “grainy.”  You don’t have to love ALL vegetables, but you have to find ways to eat more of the ones you do love.

Your kids depend on you 100% for the foods you provide to them and the habits you teach them.  You and I cannot take this lightly.  Life can include treats, but by mere definition a treat is something that happens infrequently as a novelty.  Please feed their little bodies and brains things that are useful to them and nourishing; and teach them how to make that taste absolutely awesome.  If you need help doing so, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist.

 

xoxo – Casey

Nutrition Documentary = Bad Advice

Getting your nutrition advice from a documentary is like getting your news from the National Enquirer.  I can’t help but be annoyed by people spewing out nutrition pseudo-science stating that it has to be factual because it came from a documentary.  If you’ve been a follower of lettucetalk for a long time (thanks!) you already know about my disdain for misinformation disguised as facts.  But the most recent thing that has crawled under my skin BIG TIME is documentaries.  Yep, I said it; especially nutrition documentaries.

Nutrition Documentary = Fake News-4

I will reluctantly admit that I have been mesmerized and swayed by nutrition documentaries at certain points in the past.  The most gripping season of my life relating to documentaries revolved around a certain vegan-touting documentary called Forks Over Knives, which was based on a large cohort study called The China Study.  I bet I’ve seen that particular documentary at least 5 times, no joke; and, for a minute, I was SOLD.

They had effectively used slanted opinions and research cherry-picking to convince me of how DEADLY animal products and fat of any kind were.  I felt so incredibly guilty every time I poured my baby a cup of milk or ate a piece of chicken.  But later, when I had time to sit and truly pour over all the research surrounding what Forks Over Knives was telling me, I was gravely disappointed in them.

Forks Over Knives does offer some compelling testimonials on life transformation for individuals who went “off animal foods” and subsequently losing 600 pounds and stopping all medications.  However, on a very basic level, consider this:  what if someone who was a complete couch potato living solely on fast food combo meals with soda suddenly went plant-based and his life was completely turned around?  Can we specifically say it was “because he stopped eating meat/dairy”?  No, we can’t; there are so many positive things this theoretical man changed including eating vegetables (when he hadn’t ever before) and exercising (when he hadn’t ever before).  Do you see how confounding factors make it impossible to completely determine cause and effect here?

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You see, even a professional in the field of nutrition can be hypnotized by convincing sales pitches if effective methods are used by the salesperson; we’re all human.  All documentaries on nutrition I’ve ever watched employ a specific feature that they all have in common – twisting both sound research and crappy research around their motives until it fits JUST. PERFECTLY.

I’ve heard throughout several carnivore-hating documentaries statements like “casein [a protein found in milk] causes cancer.”  I bet you’re thinking what I was thinking – “wow, what a staunch direct accusation that milk is killing us all!”  Firstly, we don’t eat nutrients; we eat food.  This is a small but super important perspective to keep with you!  Forks Over Knives and other documentaries have stated that when rats are fed casein, they develop tumors.  The more casein, the bigger the tumors.  When casein is reduced, the tumors shrink.

Guess what?  When we look at all the existing literature (not just rats fed isolated casein), we find that milk doesn’t exert the same effects [on causing cancer].  Why?  Because milk contains other protein (namely whey) and other nutrients that seem to prevent the “cancer causing” effects seen from isolating only the casein.  Furthermore, when we look across the last few decades of literature on any single nutrient, we find some that are absolutely awful for us when isolated turn out to be amazing when allowed to work synergistically with other nutrients in regular foods.  Even beta carotene, the provitamin A compound found in orange fruits and vegetables, can increase cancer cell growth in high, isolated (supplemental) doses.  However, foods high in beta carotene are also high in numerous other nutrients that make these foods actually cancer-protective.  Why?  The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, people!  It’s synergy.

I continuously hear that “saturated fat is the leading cause of heart disease.”  No it isn’t.  A few months ago, I personally performed my own detailed review of the last 8 years of literature surrounding saturated fat and heart disease for my Master’s Degree capstone; and (not surprisingly) used 61 lovely pages to put that accusation to bed as far as I’m concerned.  Just as noted above regarding casein, we don’t eat nutrients; we eat FOOD.  What the research shows is that when we eat saturated fats from good-quality, wholesome foods along with copious amounts of fiber-rich whole foods and omega-3-rich foods, we THRIVE and actually prevent heart disease   I will not drone on and on about this because I already have here and here.

“We should be disgusted with our milk.   It contains blood and pus, among other gross things.”  Stop it.  Just stop it.  Fear mongering at its finest.  A Canadian dairy farmer has debunked this annoying rumor about “pus in our milk” quite nicely so I don’t have to.  Click here to read more.

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Look, here’s the real deal.  I am happy to support and guide individuals who choose a completely plant-based diet.  I am also happy to support those who choose a animal-food-containing diet.  I would say I’m not for or against you drinking milk; roughly 70% of us are lactose intolerant anyway.  The major point is – don’t miss this – that whichever pathway you choose, you have to do it for the RIGHT REASONS.  Slanted, fear-mongering documentaries are not sound education.  Consult a registered dietitian nutritionist for further explanation on both sides of any nutritional controversy, and you may just be enlightened.  Nutrition is not (nor can it be) one-size-fits-all.

Any researcher who makes staunch assumptions on specific cause and effect based on the so-called “facts” delineated from cohort studies or isolated nutrient studies that are not representative of the masses is making spurious correlations most likely to fit a personal or professional bias.  This is most evident in these dazzling, sensationalized documentaries that are just sitting there in your Netflix queue.  Go ahead and watch them if you want, but I discourage it because they are infomercials designed to manipulate you into thinking like they do.  Do they all make good points?  Yeah, some.  Do they completely distort the real facts?  Yeah, all.

Eat real food.  Stop complicating it and uber-restricting and going on the next fad train.  Just eat, and use the tools offered in the archives of lettucetalk to help you.  Toodles!

xoxo – Casey

Unhealthy Stuff that is Fed to Most Kids

Unhealthy Stuff that is Fed to Most Kids

Happiest Mother’s Day, moms!  In honor of the theme of today, which is being a momma, I feel there is some clarification needed in society on what is “healthy” when it comes to feeding our kiddos.  Nearly every single TV commercial I see that is marketing something “healthy for kids” is really NOT HEALTHY at all.  I’d like to give you some insight.

Here are some of the most irritating items marketed toward the feeding of our littles (in no particular order except how they popped into my mind):

  1. Choosy moms would NOT choose JIF peanut butter (if they read the ingredients).
    • Many/most popular peanut butter brands have far more than just peanuts in their peanut butter.  You’ll often find Crisco (partially hydrogenated oil) and a bunch of sugar, among others (NOT GOOD if you’re wondering).
    • Good quality peanut butter has two ingredients: peanuts and salt.  It comes in generic versions and brand names.
    • You may have to stir it a little, but I’m sure you can handle that.  After you stir it up, it won’t separate again if you keep it in the fridge.  And, it tastes AMAZING without all the added crap.
  2. Fruit snacks do not count as nourishing.  Stop it.
    • Fruit snacks are no different or better than feeding your kids candy throughout all hours of the day.  Yes, I know you can buy 700 of them for cheap at Costco; but just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
    • Even as an adult, those little things are addicting.  That is not a joke.  They seriously are addicting, as are many fake-food-mostly-sugar products.
    • Fruit snacks contain not only added sugar and zero nutrients (until they throw in a shot of vitamin C…whoopidydoo…), but also petroleum-based artificial food dyes. (NOT GOOD if you’re wondering).
    • I know they are convenient and all; but convenient doesn’t beat out the nasty consequences of eating fake foods often found much later in life.
    • Furthermore, they are the opposite of satisfying (for adults or kids) because of their fake-ness; therefore, those eating them will often end up MORE hungry than they were before they ate them.
  3. Goldfish crackers do not satisfy the quota of “eat fish twice a week” that dietitians recommend.
    • Goldfish crackers are made of processed, refined carbohydrates, fake cheese flavor, and zero fiber or real nutrients (besides those that were added to the flour after it was stripped of anything nourishing).
    • There are some other versions of Goldfish crackers that at least make an attempt to not put so much fake junk in there and an attempt to use at least a bit of 100% whole grain flour in the production.
  4. Juice is not healthy.  Yes, you can reread it but it remains a fact.  Be mad if you want; argue if you want; but that fact doesn’t change.
    • I do not recommend juice for anyone.  Juice is a processed form of a fruit.  Juice does not make us full, so we can consume it nearly endlessly to quench our thirst, all the while spiking our blood sugar to the moon all. day. long.
    • I’ve heard all the arguments, such as “but my juice is fresh-squeezed” or “there is no added sugar” or “mine has lots of pulp.”  Those arguments don’t change the fact that you (and the kiddos) should be drinking water as a main beverage, and eating whole fruits.  What kids do early in life in terms of habits are what they will typically do as adults.  Teach them now to love healthy foods.
    • If you can absolutely not imagine life without juice, I strongly recommend to limit consumption to no more than 1 cup (8 ounces) in an entire day, and even less for kids.
    • Never ever ever ever drink sugary beverages, including juice, to quench thirst. If you must have them, have them because you simply enjoy the taste rather than thirst.  If you drink juice to quench thirst, your health will suffer over time.
  5. Hot dogs are not food.  I know they are convenient and cheap, but they are not nourishing your kids in any way except filling up the precious real estate in their bellies that is supposed to be filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber, fat, protein and things to build healthy bodies and brains.
    • Hot dogs contain everything from nostrils to hooves.  If you are disgusted by that, you should be!  Seriously!  Bologna is about the same, just flatter.
    • I’ve also heard the argument “but mine are organic” or “these are 100% beef.”  Well, I still don’t love the idea of organic eyeballs or cow buttholes any more than the alternatives…so?  Really?
  6. Nutella is cake frosting.  Seriously, it is just like cracking open a can of cake frosting and spreading it on your kid’s toast in the morning.
    • I can’t stress enough for you to read ingredients.  You will really open your eyes to the value (or lack thereof) of your food.  The calories, fat, sodium…none of that matters at all if you are eating fake, sugary food!
    • The main ingredient in Nutella is SUGAR, not hazelnuts.  There are other versions of similar product who actually make hazelnuts more of the focus, and reduce the sugar substantially.  You’ll often find them in the same section as Nutella.

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Ok, so, if you are wondering what exactly you could use in place of many of these foods, I hope I can convince you to think outside the box.  I’ve written some meal planning posts, snack ideas, breakfast ideas, etc. that I hope will help guide you.  Eating healthy doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive (I wrote about that already too).

Your children’s genetic expression, regardless of family history, is influenced by their lifestyle from birth.  What you feed them controls their health future in a sense.  You’ll hear far more about the concept of nutrigenetics in future years…but I can assure you that what those little people eat from infancy to adulthood can influence the functioning of their bodies substantially.  We should be proactive in preventing diseases and illnesses, not reactive (as in waiting until we have something wrong to finally start changing our habits to be healthier).

If you teach your kids to love water, they will be adults that love water.  If you teach your kids to make vegetables a significant part of every meal, they will be adults who continue that practice.  If you teach your kids to only drink sugary beverages (including juice) and that chicken nuggets can be consumed daily, they will be adults with a limited palate and a list of chronic health conditions when they are 50 years old.  (It’s starting earlier…little tiny kids are now being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at an alarming rate!)  Please do not make these kids have to relearn how to take care of their bodies as adults, because the damage will have already begun.

If you absolutely must buy convenience foods, read the ingredients!  You can find frozen fish nuggets/sticks that don’t have 8,000 ingredients (i.e. aren’t full of artificial crap).  You can find boxed mac and cheese that uses 100% whole grains and non-fake ingredients.

We are all a victim of marketing to some extent.  We’ve all seen the Kellogg’s breakfast commercials where the kid had a HUGE glass of OJ, a HUGE bowl of cereal, some fruit, some toast, and a grand total of way too much to eat.  But we learn from that.  We learn from the commercials for Pediasure that somehow drinking a bottle of corn-syrup-flavored synthetic vitamins is miraculously going to be better than feeding our kids real food (NOT).  Remember, the people who write those commercials and ads in magazines are paid very well to sway you into buying their products, whether right or wrong.  I am not paid at all to teach you here with professional guidance.  Not one cent.  Remember that.  My only vested interest in teaching you the right way to live is that I believe so strongly in the evidence to do so.

I’m not saying I’m some kind of whip-cracker at my house either.  My kids have had juice, albeit on special occasions like 2-3 times a year.  My kids sometimes have cookies, or candy, fruit snacks or whatever junk food.  The key is making those things special, infrequent treats.  When something is done daily, it is routine.  Don’t make it hard; it isn’t.

Email me for more insight or clarification if you want 🙂

xoxo – Casey