Day to day life with kids is busy. With running to and from school, practices, play dates, planning meals and grabbing kids snacks that are healthy quickly become secondary thoughts. Convenient packaged foods are the easy choice both for dealing with time constraints and for ensuring a willing child eater.
As selective eaters, kids generally love a sugary, tasty snack and not so much a bunch of vegetables:
1. Juice boxes
As far as juice boxes go some options are better than others. The low-end options are basically a direct sugar infusion. Kids love them because they taste great and parents love them for simplicity, and they don’t have to fight to get the kids to hydrate. 100% fruit juice is not all created equally so be careful with labels – look for low sugar content and minimal additives. A juice box should be considered a treat and not a staple to a child’s diet.
2. Lunch combo packs
A package that offers a “complete” meal is so easy to grab and feel good that you’re providing a well-rounded diet. The problem is that invariably the contents within that package have as many downsides as they do benefit, if not more. Most lunch combo packs are some collection of deli meat, processed cheese, chips, snack and drink. Deli meat is notoriously high in sodium and preservatives and the other components offer sugars and unhealthy fats. Once in a while as a treat one of these is okay, but on a semi-regular basis is not advised.
3. Veggie chips
On the surface, these are chips that sound like healthy kids snacks. An increasingly popular alternative to potato chips, root vegetable chips are made from sweet potato, beets, and turnips, among other vegetables. The calories and fat found in veggie chips is commensurate with standard potato chips. While there are some good vitamins no chip is a good alternative to fresh fruit or veggies.
4. Yogurt tubes
Yogurt, generally speaking, has a lot to offer given the calcium and protein it provides. The problem is the construct of the convenient tube yogurt has more redeeming qualities than good ones. They are high in sugar and include artificial food dyes, both of which, according to some studies, can cause hyperactivity in children.
5. Energy bars
They sound like a great option and some bars do offer a nice infusion of nuts, fruits and healthy fats. However, energy bars also include a number of offsetting components that make them a suboptimal selection. Among the issues with them are a high sugar content, preservatives to keep the product “fresh” and protein isolates (e.g., whey) which can be extracted via a process using hexane solvents and has been linked to cancer.