As an adult, you may find it easy to avoid eating processed foods, but when it comes to your kids, it can be an uphill battle. These foods are designed to look as appealing as possible. Everything from the color to the texture is developed to attract customers.
They are usually displayed in eye-catching packaging. Many brands have well-known slogans or characters. All of these factors make processed foods especially alluring for children and the convenience is an added benefit for parents.
Processed foods can have serious impacts on your children’s health and development. A diet high in processed foods can increase the risk of diabetes and obesity. Eating lots of processed foods in childhood can form a habit. Children who eat an excess of processed foods may continue the behavior as teenagers and adults. (Source)
What Are Processed Foods?
Processed foods are foods that have been subjected to a manufacturing process.
These foods do not occur in nature.They tend to have chemical and artificial ingredients. Processed foods are generally low in nutrients.
So what’s in processed foods?
- Refined carbohydrates
- Vegetable oils
- Artificial flavoring, coloring, and preservatives
- Refined sugar
- Artificial sweeteners
Refined versions of natural compounds are generally less healthy. Processed foods contain many artificial ingredients. These ingredients do not have any nutritional or health benefits.
So why do many processed foods contain so many artificial ingredients?
They are used only to enhance the color, flavor, and even texture of the food. Artificial preservatives give processed foods a long shelf-life.The processed food market is competitive. The more artificial ingredients, the more attractive and tasty a food can be.
Be warned: when it comes to processed foods, the ingredients label isn’t fully reliable. Each artificial ingredient can contain many other ingredients that are not listed. Even labeling can be misleading. A juice labeled as “all-natural” may not contain artificial ingredients. However, actual juice content might be only 30 percent or less. The bulk of the drink is refined sugar and water.
To sum it up: processed foods may taste good, but they’re far from healthy. (Source)
What Are Healthy Alternatives To Processed Foods?
I’ve been there myself. It’s hard to explain the benefits of healthy eating to a 5-year-old. Imagine trying to offer that same child a plain apple over vivid orange crackers shaped like animals. Unfortunately, the healthy choice isn’t always the easy choice. Preparing wholesome snacks and meals takes time and effort.
Processed foods are readily available and cheap. You won’t have to argue with your child over finishing a packet of crisps or a cookie.That doesn’t mean you should fall into the habit of giving your children processed food. Let’s be honest: processed foods are not a healthy addition to a child’s diet.
- The first step to reducing processed foods is simple. Don’t keep processed foods in the house. I know my own children will inevitably choose the pop tarts over the baby carrots I left out.
- Read the food labels. Avoid buying foods with more than 3 ingredients.
- Try to be a role model. If your kids see you snacking on processed foods, they’ll want to do the same.
- There are lots of ways to make healthy foods appealing. Cut fruit and vegetables up into fun shapes. Use dipping sauces to encourage kids to try different vegetables out. Nut butters and yogurt with honey (sweet) or chopped onion and garlic (savoury) are easy and tasty.
- Leave cut up vegetables in the fridge to grab for quick on-the-go snacks.
- For more help getting your family off of processed foods check out the bestselling Family Meals Cookbook, complete with six weeks of grocery lists, recipes and menus. It includes healthy breakfasts and snacks.
Finally, the occasional treat isn’t an issue – just make sure it isn’t a regular habit! (Source)
By Helen Sanders
Helen Sanders is chief editor at HealthAmbition.com. Established in 2012, Health Ambition has grown rapidly in recent years. Our goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. We pride ourselves on making sure our actionable advice can be followed by regular people with busy lives.