There are many blogs out there right now about back to school lunches, and how to find healthy options. In fact, it was the topic I myself had planned for September.
I was going to write about how to create a balanced lunch for your kids, and include fun ways to encourage them to eat fruits and vegetables. However in working with children’s diets, I find that the core of their meals are not as much of the problem as the snacks they are consuming.
Most parents are sending their kids a balanced lunch – like a sandwich, and some veggies sticks or a piece of fruit. The problem lies when they start adding the extras. These extra packaged snacks are where kids consume the majority of their sugar, refined flour, inflammatory fats, food additives, food dyes and salt.
Things to watch out for on labels:
- Avoid any products that contain modified oil – when an oil is modified you lose the benefits and they become inflammatory. This process is used to extend the shelf life of a product. It will list something like modified palm kernel oil
- Watch the type of sugar used – Glucose-fructose on the label is another way to say High Fructose Corn Syrup. Table sugar is composed of equal parts of glucose and fructose, whereas HFCS has higher amounts of fructose. This type of sugar has been associated with greater incidence of obesity and liver concerns. (1)
- Watch out for the amount of sugar – 4.2g of sugar = 1 tsp. You should try to aim for snack foods that have no more than 8g of sugar, and contains 2-3g of fibre.
- Watch out for Food Additives and Food Colourings – these have been linked with hyperactive behaviour in kids, and make it hard for kids to concentrate.
Here are 5 of my favourite Kid Snack Foods
1. Made Good Bars
These bars are made with whole grains, contain 7g of sugar and 2 g of fibre and have added vegetable powder. They are also nut free and are school safe. Made with all natural ingredients these are an excellent option for a school snack or treatThese can be found at costco, the health food store or the health food section of the Grocery store.
2. Terra Chips
Many parents often say that their children want a crunchy snack at lunch. Meet the terra chip. These are root veggie chips that provide a much better option than a lot of the processed crackers or chips that are in most school lunches. They taste great with hummus!
3. PC Fruit Leathers
Instead of sending the “regular” variety that is chocked full of hydrogenated oils, corn syrup and food dye try these instead. They are made from fruit, and fruit juice concentrate.
Don’t be fooled however…anything with added fruit juice concentrate is higher in sugar so these are considered a treat! They are found in the baby food section of the grocery store. There are others like this made by companies such as love grown. These can also be made at home with a recipe such as the one from Katie of Wellness Mama (2).
4. Way Better Snack Tortilla Chip
This is a great option to be used as a chip, or for the kid that doesn’t love sandwiches and you can add these in a bento box idea with protein, cheese, veggies and fruit. They are a great vehicle for dips like hummus, salsa or guacamole.
They are made with whole sprouted grains and are GMO free. You can find them in the health food section of the grocery store.
5. PC Organic Apple Sauce
Sadly most of the applesauce that kids are consuming today on the market is full of added sugar. Not just any added sugar, but good old corn syrup…the worst kind.
I like this brand because they have no added sugar, and uses organic apples. Since apples are always number one on EWG’s list for being the highest food with respect to pesticide content it is best to feed ourselves and our children the organic variety.
There are also organic fruit packs found in the baby section. While these are meant for toddlers, big kids can enjoy them too. There are different options, but try and see if your child will eat the ones with the added veggies!