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Keep Kids Away from These Ingredients!

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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.

2. Eat sugar!

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.

Read more Food and Entertaining stories!

next: Amanda Peet Speaks Out for Vaccines
9 comments so far | Post a comment now
LauraRojas August 5, 2008, 3:11 PM

Interestingly, when my last son was born, six weeks early, the pediatrician TOLD me to give him a quarter of a cup of coffee a day, to excite brain growth. He is now 8, and has skipped two grades in school. Guess the caffeine worked. Certainly didn’t hurt…

Dominique August 5, 2008, 3:24 PM

My daughter was 8 weeks premature. Never in my life have I heard of giving a baby coffee to help brain growth. My daughter is also way ahead of kids her age and is very very smart.Just be happy your child poor little heart didnt give out. I think that pediatrician needs to go back to school.

Kristen F August 5, 2008, 4:45 PM

I don’t think 1/4 cup hurt him, lol.

April August 5, 2008, 9:39 PM

Dominique - I’m sorry, but you didn’t post your accreditations with your response. I’m going to assume you have at least a medical degree under your belt, since you seem to know more than the pediatrician who treated LauraRojas’ child.

rosalie mondacci August 6, 2008, 9:59 AM

when my nephew was 3 mos. old mommy used to give him coffee, i just about flipped over this, now he’s 40ys. old and still a bright boy, her doctor told her to do this and he would sleep like a baby.

Stephen Fox August 6, 2008, 10:50 AM

Bravo for hammering aspartame, the worst silent killer in the Western World, since it is metabolized as methanol and formaldehyde and even one more proven causer of brain tumors: DIKETOPIPERAZINE. You ought to do an interview/article on Dr. Betty Martini, Founder of MIssion Possible International, the real lead in the efforts worldwide to remove aspartame from the market!….
Stephen Fox, Managing Editor Santa Fe Sun News.

Stephen Fox August 6, 2008, 10:53 AM

Oh, April: By the way: I don’t have medical credentials, but several I work with, like HJ Roberts and Russell Blaylock>>>they do. You can google their names if you are timorous and/or skeptical about quitting aspartame.

Lesa August 6, 2008, 6:05 PM

I for one have been avoiding these chemical additives for a while now. I have been stunned at how accepted they have become. So KUDOS to JJ Virgin and MomLogic for at least talking about it. I used to complain about “sugar cereals” Ha. Now I am happy to see when a company actually uses real sugar. The chemically altered ones are just as bad, so again, I am glad to see a them get blasted here.

April August 6, 2008, 9:42 PM

Stephen Fox - I actually don’t eat any foods or drinks with aspartame in them. Instead, I choose to eat fresh foods, and drink water. But thanks for ASSuming.

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