If you want your kids to grow up healthy, you need to feed their young bodies what they need. Without the full array of vitamins and minerals, they risk developmental delays — and you can’t count on supplements for everything.
However, it’s just as vital to know what not to feed your kids. Not every item labeled safe for human consumption can cause trouble over time. Please keep these 13 foods out of your kid’s lunch box this summer.
1. White Bread
White flour is already problematic because stripping the nutrient-dense bran away during production leaves you with little but empty calories. The bleaching process is also troublesome, creating a substance known as alloxan. Alloxan destroys pancreatic function so well that scientists use it to induce diabetes in lab animals — something you don’t want for your children.
White bread could also lead to more frequent dentist visits. Because it is soft, the starches can stick around, getting trapped between teeth and causing cavities — especially if your little one is a reluctant flosser.
When you do visit your dentist, they no doubt advise you to cut back on the candy. Excess sugar can contribute to tooth decay, but that isn’t the only problem with too much sweet stuff.
Between 2014 and 2015, doctors diagnosed 5,800 children with Type 2 diabetes. Unlike Type 1, you can usually prevent this form of the disease through dietary changes. The high cost of health care alone should persuade you to opt for an apple instead of a candy bar in your kid’s lunch box.
3. Potato Chips
Potato chips can be fatty and salty, but that’s not the only reason to keep them out of your kid’s lunch box. You know those yucky burnt chips? Frying produces a substance called acrylamide that can increase your child’s cancer risk. Officials in the European Union have already updated guidelines, but in the meantime, you can protect your little one by keeping out the crisps.
4. Corn Chips
Corn chips can be problematic for the same reason as the above, although lower cooking temperatures inhibit the production of acrylamide. Nonetheless, these foods are high in salt and oils that aren’t the healthiest for your little one. Please reserve these treats to no more than a handful one or two days a week — not a daily dietary staple.
5. Processed Meats
There’s bad news if your little one loves ham and cheese sandwiches. The World Health Organization classifies processed meats as a carcinogen and red meat like beef and pork as probable. Please don’t put your child at unnecessary risk of cancer. Alternatives include uncured meats, roasted chicken breast and good, old-fashioned grilled cheeses.
6. Buildable Pizzas
Those little buildable pizzas your kids adore are terrible for their health for two reasons. One, the crust is nearly pure white flour. Secondly, the tomato sauce often contains high sugar levels, increasing diabetes risk even more. Please save these for no more than a once-a-week treat if your child insists.
7. Fried Foods
Anything fried at over 248-degrees Fahrenheit could contain harmful levels of acrylamide. Furthermore, many of these products are high in fat and calories — neither of which benefits your child.
8. Commercial Baked Goods
Please exercise caution with commercial baked goods. Even though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of trans fats, they still lurk in many commercial cookies, crackers, cakes and pies. Anything that contains partially hydrogenated oils on the ingredients label should stay out of your kid’s lunch box.
9. Fast Food
It’s probably a no-brainer that excess fast food isn’t the healthiest. Now that you know what you do about processed meats, you can even dispute sandwich chain claims to health. If you do need to opt for convenience, select foods like salads and bags of apples so that your child consumes whole foods.
10. Any Highly Processed Snack
Ultra-processed foods are unrecognizable from their natural components. Many of them contain artificial additives that might harm your child’s health. Please go lightly on processed snacks like fruit rolls and gummy anything — these can also stick to teeth and cause cavities.
11. Low-Fat Yogurt
“Wait a cotton-picking minute,” you might exclaim at this heading. ‘I thought low-fat yogurt was good for you.” It can be a nutritious part of your child’s lunch box — but please check the ingredients label. Many low-fat versions contain as much sugar as many desserts. Opt for a full-fat version instead.
This tip should be another obvious one, but the sugar in cola affects your child’s diabetes risk as much as that found in cakes or pies. Some research suggests that diet versions may contribute to weight gain, although the evidence remains inconclusive. Err on the side of caution and make healthy flavored fruit water instead.
13. Energy Drinks
Younger and younger children are trying energy drinks, sometimes with tragic results. In 2013 alone, 879 children under the age of five overdosed on these products. Please don’t allow your kids to drink these.
If they cite issues staying awake in school, the problem is likely their restricted movement or schedule, not a need for caffeine. Research alternatives, such as online school that allows for more frequent activity breaks, especially if your child grew to love distance learning during the pandemic.
Keep These 13 Foods Out of Your Kid’s Lunch Box This Summer
You want your kids to grow up as healthy as possible. Their diet can do much in this endeavor — please keep these 13 spooky foods out of your kid’s lunch box this summer.