Quite often I find myself being asked about healthy snacks for kids. This week when I found myself being asked this question, a light bulb turned on in my head. This question would make for a great post on my blog. Not only is it great information to share which will benefit many people, it also fits in well with my review of “Cure Tooth Decay” by Ramiel Nagel. So if you would like to know more about picking healthy snacks, read on. And if you think you already know how to pick a healthy snack, read on as you will either be enlightened, or get some reassurance, either of which is always nice to have.[/wpcol_1half_end]
When choosing snacks for kids, and even adults, marketing of products can really make good decisions hard to make. It is very easy to pick a product and think it is healthy, only to find later that it may not have been the best of choices after all. Fruit snacks are a perfect example of this. Companies are really good at making these sound great by using phrases like “no sugar added”, “contains real fruit juices”, and “100% real fruit juice”. Although these phrases sound good, it can easily distract from the truth.
Fruits by nature contain a fair amount of sugars. Even though these sugars are natural sugars, they can still contribute to causing cavities as well as total body sugar spikes. So to say “no sugar added” does not mean there is no sugar in the product or that the amount of sugar is low. Often, during food manufacturing processes, natural sugars can be concentrated to levels higher than what would have been in the same quantity of natural fruit.
“Real fruit juice” only means it came from fruit and is not being created via artificial means. However, this does not mean the fruit juice is unaltered or as healthy as juice freshly squeezed. Especially in the cases of juice from concentrate, the juice has gone through significant changes. These changes often de-nutrify the juice for which nutrients are latter added back in, with vitamin C being the prime one.
To avoid issues like the above I will provide some simple tips to help ensure your kids, and yourself, are getting healthier snacks.
- Pick snacks that are as natural as possible. Overly processed foods are often devoid in nutrients or have had modified versions of the nutrients added back in that will not be as healthy for you as the real thing.
- When choosing snacks, pick things from multiple food groups. Try to have at least 3 different food groups in every snack you have. When you eat from only one food group you actually deplete your body of essential nutrients, even if that food item is considered a healthy food. This happens because your body uses a variety of resources to digest and process the food you eat. If what you are eating does not contain the ingredients your body needs to replace those resources, you actually deplete resources and throw off the balance your body works hard to maintain. Additionally, foods are meant to be eaten with other foods. There are many foods that when eaten alone are very hard on your digestive system, yet when eaten with other foods, are easily process and great sources of nutrients. The foods we eat are as much of the digestive process as our digestive system.
- Snacks that are higher in sugars and acids should be minimized and eaten with foods that help to counteract the harmful effects of the sugars and acids. For example, dried fruit, although would seem a great snack, is generally higher in sugar and acid levels than the original form. Dried cranberries are a perfect example of this as well as raisins. I have seen many kids come to my practice with decay in the grooves of their teeth. When assessing the cause it often leads back to snacks which often involves dried fruit. Dried fruit sticks to the grooves in the teeth, supplies the bacteria with sugar to eat and convert to acid, as well as being acidic itself. If eaten often enough and left on the teeth, cavities result.
A way to counteract this would be to eat the raisins or other dried fruit with raw vegetables like carrots which will clean the fruit out of the teeth. Add to this some cheddar cheese and crackers will give you a total of three food groups and the cheese helps counteract the acids and provides an abundance of minerals to help strengthen the teeth, not to mention its own bacteria that help compete against cavity causing bacteria
In conclusion, don`t trust what a package says. Look at the ingredients, check the nutritional information, and keep it natural. Pick from multiple food groups to maintain balance and add extra flavour.