Feeding your toddler can be very complicated, especially when the supermarkets are overflowing with foods and food products advertised towards young children. However often a large number of kids foods marketed towards young children (including ones often considered as the ‘healthier options’) contain a large amount of sugar and little in the way of good nutrition.
Below is a list of my top five foods to limit if you want to get your children eating well.
- Juice Drinks – seemingly ‘child friendly’ and perfectly packaged for your little ones, ‘juice drinks’ such as Fruit Shoot, Capri Sun or Ribena are very cleverly marketed towards toddlers and young children. The ‘juice’ in the title along with the pictures of fruit all over the packaging has many parents believing that these drinks are nothing more than 100% fresh juice, however, most of these ‘juice drinks’ contain no more than 10% real juice AND more sugar than coke per 100mls. In fact, these juices are so bad in their marketing strategies that Tesco and other supermarkets have decided to take the children’s versions of these off the shelves and to offer only the ‘no added sugar’ versions from September 2015 onwards.
- Crisps – In the UK we have a real crisp snacking fetish that isn’t apparent in most other countries in the world. A quick skim down the mammoth crisp isle shows just how popular crisps are in the UK and, in fact, crisps have become so ingrained within our society, that we now give them to babies and young children…on a daily basis! A bag of these crisps may seem like a friendly treat to give your children, but research from the British Heart Foundation suggests that consuming just one bag of crisps a day can result in your child consuming around 5 litres of cooking oil over a year. Crisps are also packed with salt and sugar and just one bag contains around 200 (empty) calories.
- Yoghurt covered fruits – Foods such as these are popular with parents and young children. Many parents see it as an easy way to get some fruits into their children’s diets and, without taking a look at the label, you could be forgiven for thinking these are healthy treats. However, as an example, a small packet of Strawberry Yoghurt Flakes – which you might reasonably assume contains simply strawberry and yoghurt – contains around 18 different ingredients, including 6 ‘added’ sugar ingredients. You’re much better off making your own at home with two ingredients – yoghurt and fruit.
- Children’s Breakfast Cereals – Breakfast cereals have received a lot of bad press in recent years, and to give manufacturers their due, there is currently a lot of effort going towards reducing the levels of sugar in breakfast cereals in 2015. However levels are still high, especially in those cereals purposely marketed towards young children. For example Frosties and Coco Pops – along with their chid frienldy characters – are both almost 40% sugar (40 grams of sugar per 100g of cereal). This is even more shocking when you consider that a typical chocolate bar is around 50% sugar! For information on what the best cereals are to give to your children see my previous blog post: Breakfast Cereals you CAN give to the kids…
Before you despair just remember that there are lots of healthy snacks out there to offer your children and, while what you see is definitely not what you always get, your best option is simply to always check the label!!