“Teacher Recommended Healthy Snacks for Kids” is another Oldie-but-Goodie that was originally posted in March of 2011. (Still “rebuilding” my archives after the hack attack!)
It’s really no wonder at all that we can be so confused by nutrition.
It’s also no surprise that our kids end up equally, if not more, confused.
Recently, following our nutrition and lifestyle consultation, one parent in our practice brought in the “Recommended Health Snacks” list from her child’s class for my reading enjoyment. She thought I’d get a “kick” out of its contents.
Apparently, it’s enjoyable to others to watch me grow new gray hairs and wrinkle prematurely.
This mom explained that their school is participating in a much-publicized “wellness initiative” this year in an effort to “stamp out” childhood obesity and improve “heart health”, amongst other commendable goals.
Obviously, that’s all good.
They’re doing interesting things in gym class to chart their progress throughout the year, wearing pedometers to encourage additional movement, as well as sponsoring fun events like jump rope contests and so on.
Nutritionally, I’m not so sure.
I continue to hear very confusing, inaccurate nutritional messages in circumstances like these.
I get a little edgy when the term “healthy” is thrown around so loosely… carelessly, at times. I reserve the use of “healthy” for choices that are “health-building” and “health-enhancing”. That keeps it pretty simple and clear when it comes to making choices. Takes care of much of the confusion.
I definitely have an issue with using the term healthy for a lifestyle choice that clearly subtracts from our optimal cellular function, or has the potential to subtract from it.
Anyway, back to the list this concerned mom brought me.
Although this list isn’t horrifying by any means, it’s just disappointing… knowing that this was apparently based on the school’s “big improvement in nutrition” this year.
Check it out:
List of Recommended Healthy Snack & Lunch Choices:
At first glance, you might not think it’s too bad, right? That’s what most parents have shared with me.
“What?! There’s no chips or chocolate bars or candy on that list. It’s HEALTHY!”
In the case of the nuts & seeds and the fruit and vegetables, I agree. Well, if the nuts and seeds are raw & unsalted, that is!
What do YOU think about the rest of the list?
The cheese, yogurt, trail mix and applesauce might be a decent choice – depends on their source and quality. Although dairy is not required for optimal cell function… so we can argue that we shouldn’t even be consuming it at all! Whenever possible, clean it up. Organic and raw are better choices. Don’t choose dairy products based on the number of calories, or whether or not it’s “low-fat” or “fat-free”. Choose based on the ingredients and the source of those ingredients.
I repeat – we do not require dairy in order to experience optimal cell function (i.e. “health”). In fact, most times, dairy directly subtracts from our health.
By the way, our brains NEED fat. A low-fat diet (from processed, factory foods) is NOT the direction we should be headed with kids in particular. Their developing brains need all the help they can get. (So do mom and dad’s!) When we choose low-fat and fat-free foods we miss out on the critical fat soluble vitamins found in healthy fats. This is NOT the answer to the childhood obesity epidemic!! Real food, whole foods, more raw foods, non-toxic food PLUS daily exercise and an active lifestyle… that’s more like it!
Back to the list.
When my kids were in school, every “healthy” trail mix provided at various school functions always contained cereal and pretzels… and usually some type of colorful candy. Not my idea of healthy trail mix! For a “healthy” trail mix, focus more on raw nuts and seeds as the main ingredients.
Peanut butter can be a slippery slope. Many health experts say that we shouldn’t consume peanut butter because it contains aflatoxins that are harmful to our health. Almond butter is a better choice. At the very least, consuming “natural” peanut butter without all the added sugar and chemicals is a step in the right direction. Consider, too, that peanuts are legumes. We don’t actually need those in our diet. (I’m still bummed out about that, too. Trust me!)
Breakfast bars? Guess that would depend on their ingredients. Definitely not the conventional junk that’s out there. Those can be no better than glorified junk food. If you can, make your own, or look for raw bars with “clean”, real food ingredients. Granola bars can be tricky, too. Leading brands tend to be high in sugar and processed ingredients… plus, they’re loaded with grain, which leads me to the next point…
All righty. Let’s get down to the biggest problems on this list.
Gold fish crackers? As a “recommended HEALTHY snack”? Crackers, pretzels, bagels??
Fillers? Yes. Stop a kid’s stomach from growling? Yes. Health-promoting fuel for the body AND brain? NO.
Processed, refined, toxic grains trigger the stress response in children and adults alike.
This is one of THE root causes of ALL chronic illness… whether it’s obesity, attention & learning deficits, emotional dysfunction, or even the ‘bigger’ illnesses like diabetes and cancer.
Grains are carbohydrates. (So are veggies, by the way. However, most Americans are in no danger of over loading on carbs from vegetables anytime soon!) Carbohydrates break down to glucose. Carbohydrates elicit a physiological response that favors fat storage. This entire hormonal cascade of events taxes the pancreas, the adrenal system and the immune system and contributes to an insulin roller coaster.
Also, there’s an inflammatory response to boot – you know, that same inflammation I’ve described as one of the root causes of all chronic illness?!
Then there are the issues of gluten and lectin, which, in a nutshell, can cause massive GI disarray and lead to serious autoimmune ailments.
Plus, grains just flat out do not offer us anything we can’t find in superior forms from other foods, like vegetables. grass-fed and pasture-raised meats, and healthy fats & oils.
Maybe these foods on the list are indeed a step UP from the nastier more toxic snacks that contain even more artificial ingredients and colors and sweeteners… but that doesn’t mean we should confuse kids OR parents by calling them “healthy”.
That’s quite a stretch.
I know it’s challenging to provide a healthy lunch and healthy snacks day after day… after day. I get it.
Mixed messages make it even harder for everyone, kids included.
SO… let’s be PROACTIVE here! Let’s be part of the solution, rather than continuing to wallow in the problem.
What are some of YOUR favorite healthy snack choices you like to provide your kids?