With the sneaky tactics (and ingredients) that food advertisers use, it's difficult to figure out what foods really are good for our kids. Our expert helps set the record straight.
Guess what? There are even ingredients that you may think benefit your children, but create health hazards later. Celebrity fitness trainer and nutritionist JJ Virgin gave us her advice on the three substances you should never feed your kids:
1. Go unleaded!
You probably aren't giving your child a double espresso for breakfast, but you would be surprised how many "kid foods" have caffeine -- and it adds up. Just for context, a regular cup of brewed coffee has about 150 mg of caffeine per serving. Here are some common places your kids could be getting their daily buzz (listed per average serving size):
- Snapple Iced Tea has 42 mg
- Red Bull has 50 mg
- Vitamin Water Citrus Energy has 50 mg
- Most sodas have an average of 50 mg (16 ounce size, not the supersize ones)
- Grande Frappucino about 115 mg (and we see loads of tweens and teens gulping down these adult milk shakes)
- A milk chocolate bar can have as much as 48 mg
The takeaway? Start checking labels for caffeine amounts and decrease your kid's daily consumption as much as possible, especially if he/she is hyperactive, has a poor appetite or has trouble sleeping well.
Not really, but choose the real stuff over aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. Obviously, treats and sweets are here to stay -- your job as mom and resident nutritionist is to ensure that it is relegated to its proper place in the diet...after they eat the "good stuff" and in moderate amounts.
Aspartame can make our children's brains even more excited -- and we don't know about you, but that is the LAST thing we need in our homes. It can also cause a phenomenon known as "calorie dysregulation" which means that you can no longer correlate the degree of sweetness to the amount of calories, ultimately causing overconsumption. And finally, one we have all experienced firsthand -- when we eat sweet, we crave sweet!
3. No Franken Fats!
Fortunately for us, information on trans fats is about to become much more prominent on nutrition labels. Partially hydrogenated oils are fats that have been pumped full of hydrogen to make them more stable and extend their shelf life. Unfortunately, they don't have the same effect on our body's shelf life -- as they have been implicated in diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Read the labels and steer clear of these fat bombs.
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