By Jeff Sheppard 07 Sep 2022 no comment 71 Views

Those of us who grew up watching cereal mascots on TV might not realize that “kids’ food” is a relatively recent idea.  Through most of history, children ate the same meals as their families.  With the dawn of advertising targeted towards children, companies have used kid-focused ads to sell not only toys and games but food as well.  How healthy is this “kiddie food?”

Read the labels

Reading the labels will tell you exactly what is in a food.  For example, some kid-focused cereals are so high in sugar and artificial colour that they are more like candy in a bowl.

Many fruit snacks may contain a small amount of real fruit.  But many of them are mostly made of sugar (along with artificial colour, preservatives, and flavourings).  Fresh fruit is a much healthier choice for a kid’s lunch.  Try dried fruit on occasions where shelf-life is a concern.

Another common offender is breakfast spreads like peanut butter or cocoa spreads.  Skip the advertising on the front of the container.   Look at the label to check for sugar, saturated fats, and nutritional value.  You may find healthier nut butters in the health food section of the store.  Remember that simply being in the health section does not guarantee that a food is nutritious.  Always read the label.

Convenience is expensive

Some kids’ food is designed to be thrown into a lunchbox with minimal effort required.  The downside is the cost, and the waste that comes along with those individually packaged servings.  That doesn’t even take into account whether the food inside is healthy.  Or whether it contains sugar, salt, refined flour, artificial colour and flavour, and preservatives.

If your child is old enough to handle a kitchen knife, they can cut their own cheese slices and leftover chicken or turkey.  Add a handful of whole grain crackers and you have cracker-stacks, healthier and cheaper than the pre-packaged kind.  Pair them with veggie sticks, a piece of fruit, or a salad.

Tiny Tupperware containers are worth their weight in gold!  They can hold salad dressing so pre-prepared salads don’t get soggy overnight.  They can also hold kid-size portions of hummus dip to make veggie sticks more fun.   Plus, they’re environmentally friendly when you use them again and again.

Leftovers from last night’s dinner also make easy, healthy and convenient lunches.

A reason for kid food

A logical reason for kid-focused food has to do with portion size.  A reasonable serving for an adult would be far too much for a preschooler.

Be cautious with foods marketed to children that have no adult-size equivalent.  For example, restaurants who serve healthy adult meals and deep-fried kids’ meals.  Your kids may do better splitting an adult entrée, eating off your plate or taking leftovers home for a later meal.

Don’t be tempted by the inclusion of plastic toys, or puzzles on colourful packaging.  Unless your child is likely to play with a toy long-term–and the toy is able to withstand such play–“kid meal toys” just end up as unused clutter in your home or trash in the landfill.  Visit a toy department for quality puzzles and playthings, and keep meals focused on nutritious food.

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