Just back from a weekend in LA at the country’s largest health conference. Every second was crazy inspiring listening to the world’s leading pioneers in nutrition—David Wolf, Mark Sisson, Geneen Roth, and Paul Pitchford to name a few. I left with a ton of OMGs. My biggest AHA moment was from the brilliance of Julia Ross and her thoughts on sugar. Basically, it’s an addictive substance and in its early days was held under lock and key for reason. The white powder is 4X more addictive than cocaine. I know, crazy.
And marketed especially to children. That is just SICK. Dressed up all cute and disguised, it is pretty much in EVERYTHING commercially packaged —mayo, ketchup, mustard, fries, desserts, salad dressings, crackers, bread products-et al. Sugar and it’s partner in crime, HFCS, a totally artificial sweetener, are linked to obesity, liver scarring, and type 2 diabetes.
Julia speculates that by 2024, sugar will be restricted, the same way tobacco is today. Lets make this a reality.
Here’s a first of a series of some of the unhealthiest foods and the substitutions you can start making NOW.
- 1. Yogurt: Yogurt seems healthy, right? It’s a wholesome dairy product with fruit. Yogurt is LOADED with sugar and other “stuff.” The “fun” yogurts—tubes, shakes—are high in sugar, artificial colorings and other chemicals. Plus, most dairy products are loaded with hormones and antibiotics that can interfere with your child’s own hormones.
THE BETTER CHOICE: Organic PLAIN non or low-fat Greek yogurt, coconut yogurt or chia seed pudding. Sweeten it yourself with fresh fruit.
- 2. Instant Oatmeal: How bad can instant oatmeal be? Surely it must be better than sugary kids’ cereals. You’d be surprised! Instant oatmeal tends to be just as high in sugar as other kids cereals—as high as 12 grams of sugar per serving in certain flavors like maple. Additionally, some instant oats may be contaminated with gluten during manufacturing. If your child is gluten sensitive (and many are), then this can cause a real problem.
THE BETTER CHOICE: Steel-cut oatmeal (look for products labeled gluten-free), organic PLAIN instant oatmeal (if you must), kasha cereal or buckwheat granola.
- 3. Fruit Juices and Soda: Fruit juice is not a healthier alternative to soda. Package labeling make promises like “100% of….” or “all-natural.” Don’t be fooled. They still may contain sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and other chemicals. Also, juice lacks the fiber that whole fruit contains. Remember just because a soda can be organic, it is still acidifying, chemical-laden, and loaded with either HFCS or sugar.
THE BETTER CHOICE: Plain water flavoured up with lemon, berries, herbs. Coconut water, fresh homemade lemonade, go-go juice, or worse case, watered down juice.
- 4. Peanut Butter: This is a very popular kid food. Usually loaded with sugar, trans fats, non-organic peanuts are one of the most pesticide saturated foods in the Western diet. Peanuts are also especially prone to developing fungi (up to 24 types according to some studies) and toxic mold. One strain commonly found in peanuts is aflatoxin, which is a chemical carcinogen 20X more toxic than DDT. YIKES.
THE BETTER CHOICE: Organic, raw almond butter. They might not even tell the difference. Label should read—organic almonds, salt. That’s it.
- 5. Breakfast Bars: First ingredient is “enriched flour.” Next comes the ubiquitous sugar, listed in all its different alias, or HFCS, and you’ll find other chemicals as well. While these foods appear to be healthy, they are actually filled with empty calories that make hunger return in about an hour. You’ll save calories by providing your child a real meal that fills them up first thing in the morning.
THE BETTER CHOICE: A smoothie—loaded with healthy add ins like chia, flax, hemp—with extra banana to give it a kid-friendly flavour. Check out these kid-loving smoothies.
Lead by Example. Your kids won’t really get healthier until you make healthier choices yourself. Make the commitment as a family to make better daily food decisions.
Stock the home with healthy choices. Your kids might throw a hissy fit at first, with the “I won’t eat it” or even just push away new food. They won’t starve to death. In time, they have to eat something, and if all you have in the house is the healthy food they will have to try it. Plus they’ll see you eating it and commenting on how good it makes you feel. You may not be able to control all the food they eat at school or when they’re out with their friends, but at least you know they’re getting the good stuff at home.