When you are a busy parent, it is so tempting to purchase those grab-n-go snacks for your kids. It is so much easier to throw in lunch boxes or hand out in the afternoons. But, packaged foods often have some serious downsides. It is a good idea to “package” your own snacks from whole foods. You can prepare them ahead of time and hand them out when needed. Here’s why…
6 Reasons Whole Foods Are Better
1.They’re Truly Natural
Labels may say “natural” on the package, but many are far from it. There are not strongly regulated standards when it comes to being able to tote a packaged food as “natural.” There are some packaged foods that are pretty healthy. But, be careful to read labels thoroughly. Don’t think just because it says “natural” on the front that it really is.
2.They Have Less Sodium
A big problem with many packaged foods is the high sodium content. Too much sodium can lead to weight problems, mess up your body’s fluid balance, and even have negative effects on the heart.
A high salt intake has been shown to increase blood pressure and this increases the risk of heart disease and strokes three fold. There is evidence that a high salt diet in childhood can increase blood pressure and thus increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. ~Action On Salt
Whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables have powerful antioxidants that help build the immune system and prevent disease. Your child is not going to get that effect from those colorful gummy bears. Livestrong suggests educating your young children about the power of antioxidants and other nutrients.
Learn more here: Information For Kids On Antioxidants
4.Build Healthier Habits Long Term
Learning to love healthy, whole foods early on will set kids up to be lifelong healthy eaters. While developing a taste for sugar and salt early will have the opposite effect. Anyone that has struggled with good nutrition knows that old habits die hard. It is easier to set up good habits while you are young.
This is not always the case as fruits and vegetables get sprayed with chemicals too. But if you wash your produce well, or buy organic, they are going to be much healthier than all those chemical-laden packaged foods. You don’t see red dye #6 listed on a banana. Many chemicals can cause allergies and nasty health problems for children. Skip them.
6.No Trans Fats
Along with being chemical free, whole foods are also free of trans fats. Many foods aimed at kids are full of them.
Avoid snacks and desserts with hydrogenated fats, which are added to many conventional processed foods aimed at kids. The hydrogenation process transforms vegetable oils from their natural liquid state into solid fats. The result is a fat that is rich in trans fatty acids. ~Whole Foods Market Blog
Trans fats can mess with healthy cholesterol levels and affect the heart.
As mentioned earlier, there are healthier alternatives in some packaged foods. You can find packaged snacks at the health food store that are not chemical-laden. Still, read packages carefully. And be sure to add in fresh, whole foods whenever you can to give your children optimal nutrition.