“Lunchables” Are Not The Answer

With everyone back in school and schedules growing busier, it’s easy to choose shortcuts when it comes to meal planning. Those ready-made meals and snacks, however, are not always the answer to good nutrition. It’s still healthier to cook at home and from scratch. We know that it takes more time, but it’s better for everyone. And eating together allows everyone in your family to communicate and find out how the day went.

The American Academy of Pediatrics published a great article to help parents fight back against the high levels of childhood obesity. It also talks about the importance of starting a healthy diet early in a child’s life.

In a 2015 study, researchers examined the sodium and sugar contents of 1,074 infant and toddler dinners, snacks, fruits, vegetables, dry cereals, juices and desserts. They found that a significant amount of these commercial meals and foods sold in the U.S. were very high in sodium and sugar. Out of 79 infant mixed grains and fruits, 41 contained at least one added sugar, and 35 got more than 35 percent of their calories from sugar. Seventy-two percent of toddler dinners were high in sodium, containing more than 210 mg per meal. On average, dry fruit-based snacks contained 60 grams of sugar and 66 percent of their calories from total sugars. The most common sugars were:
* Fruit Juice Concentrate (56%)
* Sugar (33%)
* Cane (20%)
* Syrup (15%)
* Malt (7%)

The researchers concluded that many types of infant and toddler foods had such high sugar and sodium content. These results are concerning, and we advise our parents to read nutrition labels when shopping, paying attention to which types and brands have lower amounts of added sugar and sodium.

Reducing sugar and sodium intake early on not only builds healthier children, it helps to set taste preferences and help those children make better food choices later in life.