What is High-Fructose Corn Syrup?

What is High-Fructose Corn Syrup?

As a parent, you’re always hearing about the laundry list of ingredients and toxic chemicals you should avoid in your kid’s diet.

Things like artificial food dyes, GMO’s, pesticides, antibiotics, arsenic and one of the worst offenders: high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

But what is high-fructose corn syrup? And is it really that bad for your kid’s health? Here are answers to those questions and more.  

 

What is High-Fructose Corn Syrup?

In recent years, there’s been a lot of buzz about HFCS, but the artificial sweetener made from processed corn starch has actually been in use since 1967, when it was first introduced.

Like table sugar (sucrose), HFCS is made up of two sugar molecules: glucose and fructose.

Regular sugar is broken down by the enzymes in our digestive tracks and then absorbed into the body.

HFCS is also made up of glucose and fructose but since the two molecules are unbound, they don’t have to be digested and they’re absorbed into the body at a much faster rate, Mark Hyman MD, states in this article.

Enzymes are added to HFCS to convert some of the glucose into fructose so it has a higher fructose-glucose ratio, making it even sweeter than sugar.

High fructose corn syrup is big business in the U.S.

Since high fructose corn syrup is government subsidized, it’s cheap to make and profitable. According to a 2018 report by Zion Market Research, the global market for the sweetener is expected to be worth more than $5 million by the year 2024.

Manufacturers also use the sweetener since it offers more flavor, stability, freshness, texture, pourability, color and consistency in foods than sucrose, according to one study.

 

Which foods contain high-fructose corn syrup?

High-fructose corn syrup is used in sweet foods, processed foods and surprising foods you’d least expect, including:

  • Cereals
  • Canned fruit
  • Condiments
  • Desserts
  • Granola bars
  • Ice cream
  • Juice
  • Salad dressings
  • Sodas and sweetened beverages
  • Sports drinks
  • Soups
  • Yogurt

Is high fructose corn syrup bad for kids’ health?

Research suggests foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup can spike the blood sugar, lead to inflammation, type-2 diabetes, weight gain and childhood obesity, high triglyceride levels and heart disease.

A landmark April 2004 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition was the first to show a link between HFCS consumption and the obesity epidemic.

Yet a few years later, Barry M. Popkin, one of the study authors, pulled back on his theory, The New York Times reported.

Then in 2008, the American Medical Association (AMA), also came out to say that it’s unlikely that high fructose corn syrup contributes more to obesity or other health conditions than regular sugar, and there’s insufficient evidence to limit it or use warning labels on food.

Still, the debate around high-fructose corn syrup and its health effects persisted.

According to a February 2010 study out of Princeton University, rats with access to HFCS gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, despite consuming the same amount of calories.

The same study also found that long-term consumption of HFCS led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially abdominal fat, and an increase in triglycerides, or fats that circulate in the blood stream.

Studies also suggest the ingredient is harmful to the liver.

According to a May 2017 study in the Journal of Hepatology, obese children and teens who had diets high in foods that contain fructose like soda, sweetened beverages and processed foods, had an increased risk for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

What’s more, 38 percent also had nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a more chronic and severe form of fatty liver disease.

Does high fructose corn syrup contain mercury?

Studies show some foods with high-fructose corn syrup also contain mercury.

A January 2009 study in the journal Environmental Health found toxic levels of mercury in food samples containing high-fructose corn syrup.

Yet just a few months later, the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) announced that independent testing and expert review showed no detectable levels of the toxin in food samples with the sweetener.

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies mercury, a toxic metal that has been linked to a host of health problems and can have adverse effects on a child’s nervous, digestive, and immune systems, as one of the top ten chemicals or groups of chemicals that are a public health concern.

Should you avoid high fructose corn syrup in your kid’s diet?

Although much debate continues to exist around HFCS and its harmful effects on our health, there’s no question that limiting any type of added sugars in our—and our kids diets—is ideal.

The demand for high-fructose corn syrup has been on the decline in recent years is promising, but it seems that we’ve replaced it with sugar. 

According to a 2017 report by the USDA, between 2015 and 2016, consumption of refined sugar increased by 6 percent.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say kids should get less than 10 percent of their total daily calories from sugar, yet most kids are getting much more.

Since foods that contain high fructose corn syrup also lack the nutrition kids need to grow and develop at a healthy rate, it’s one more reason to limit or avoid the sweetener altogether.

By focusing on real, whole, healthy foods instead, you can ensure your kids are getting the nutrition they need to be healthy now, and throughout their lives.

 

 

9 Healthy Holiday Tips for Your Family

9 Healthy Holiday Tips for Your Family

With countless opportunities to enjoy sweet, savory and decadent dishes at family gatherings, holiday parties and special events, combined with treats tempting us at virtually every store (food or otherwise), it’s no wonder most people overindulge during the holidays.

Blame it on food marketing, the societal draw or stress, but 87 percent of Americans say they have an increase in food cravings this time of year and 75 percent experience guilt after giving into their cravings, a recent poll found.

The holidays are meant to be enjoyed and food is a big part of that enjoyment, but overindulging from now until New Year’s Eve can cause weight gain, affect mood, interfere with sleep and make your family more likely to get sick.

With a bit of planning and some simple strategies however, you can enjoy all the season has to offer without all the pitfalls. Consider these 7 healthy holiday tips for your family.

 

1. Don’t arrive hungry

If you know your family will eat a large holiday meal later on in the day, you might be tempted to skip meals.

If you arrive feeling famished however, you’ll be more likely to overeat when the meal is served.

Skipping breakfast in particular is a mistake. Studies show people who eat breakfast, especially one that’s high in protein, eat less calories throughout the day.

Do your best to serve healthy meals and snacks at the same times you and your family usually eat.

The same goes if dinner will be served in the middle of the day, although you may want to have a snack instead of a meal. A combination of protein and fiber like celery sticks and hummus or an apple with almond butter is ideal.

2. Bake healthy

Between pumpkin pie, eggnog and all those Christmas cookies, there will be plenty of sweets to go around, but that doesn’t mean everything you make has to be high in calories, fat and sugar.

With a few simple substitutions, there are several ways to bake healthy during the holidays and still enjoy all the desserts.

Check out my healthy holiday baking tips here.

3. Bring a healthy dish

If you’ll be attending a holiday event at someone else’s home, offer to bring a healthy dish that everyone can enjoy.

If your kids have food allergies or someone in the family has specific dietary restrictions or preferences, bringing a healthy dish is also a great way to keep them safe and ensure they have something to eat as well.

4. Model healthy eating habits

You can teach your kids how to enjoy all the delicious food without going overboard by taking small, healthy portions, making choices about what goes on your plate and enjoying everything in moderation.

When most people are reaching for second and third portions, you can show your child that it’s possible to enjoy the food without stuffing your face.

5. Get moving

To help burn off excess calories, combat stress and keep everyone on an even keel, carve out time before or after a holiday celebration to do something active.

This can be as simple as a walk around the neighborhood, a game of catch in the backyard, an indoor dance party or a game of Twister.

6. Make sleep a priority

Irregular schedules and later-than-usual bedtimes can throw everyone in the family off schedule.

Without enough sleep, everyone will be more irritable and more likely to reach for food and make unhealthy food choices.

In fact, an August 2018 study in the Journal of Sleep Research found that kids who regularly fell asleep after 11pm were 2 to 3 times more likely to eat junk food at least 5 times a week.

8. Give kids a kids-sized plate

Kids don’t need the same size dinner plate as adults, and may end up eating more because of it.

Make sure your kid has a kid-sized plate or an appetizer plate to keep portions healthy.

9. Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues

When food is in abundance during the holidays, it’s easy to overeat. Paying attention to your hunger and fullness cues however, can prevent you from reaching for seconds.

If your kids tend to overeat on special occasions too, depending on their ages, you can talk to them about eating when they’re hungry and to stop when they’re not hungry.

Sure, there’s always room for dessert but teaching them how to recognize their hunger and satiety cues can prevent them from eating just because the food is there.

10, Strike a balance

Raising kids to be healthy eaters includes teaching them how to enjoy delicious food, not be deprived of it.

Allow treats, but also strike a balance by serving plenty of healthy, whole foods including plenty of vegetables when you’re not celebrating.

10 Easy Ways To Slash Sugar From Your Kid’s Diet

10 Easy Ways To Slash Sugar From Your Kid’s Diet

Homemade cookies, your hometown ice cream shop and trick or treating on Halloween are what childhood memories are made of.

But let’s face it: kids can get sweets almost anywhere whether it’s the school cafeteria, on the sports field, in your local bank or in your own pantry.

What many parents don’t realize however, is that it’s not only the sugar that shows up in desserts or treats that are problematic, but also the sneaky sources that are in everything from cereal to yogurt.

Diets high in sugar are proven to lead to weight gain and obesity, type-2 diabetes, fatty liver disease and heart disease—all conditions that can follow kids throughout their lives.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend we limit sugar to no more than 10 percent of our total calories for the day.

For kids, that works out to be about 30 to 35 grams of added sugar for little ones who get between 1,200 and 1,400 calories a day, according to Jessica Cording, a registered dietitian-nutritionist in New York City.

Yet studies show most kids—even babies and toddlers—are getting much more than that.

The good news is that even cutting out small amounts of sugar can make a dramatic difference in your child’s health.

According to a February 2016 study in the journal Obesity, obese children who reduced the amount of sugar in their diets but didn’t change the amount of calories they consumed had improvements in their blood pressure, triglycerides, and LDL “bad” cholesterol after just 10 days. Researchers also saw significant improvements in their blood glucose and insulin levels.

So how do you slash sugar from your kid’s diet? Here are 10 ways.

1. Become an avid label reader

With more than 60 names, sugar is seriously sneaky and can hide in places you’d least expect it, such as:

 

  • Cereal
  • Yogurt
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Granola
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Ketchup
  • Salad dressings
  • Sauces
  • Dips
  • Granola, protein and cereal bars
  • Canned fruit and fruit cups

When you’re grocery shopping, make a habit of reading labels and comparing brands to ensure you’ll make the best choice.

 

2. Forget juice

Although juice has historically been seen as a healthy food for kids, it’s anything but.

 

Juice is high in empty calories, sugar, and carbohydrates, and drinking it can lead to weight gain, cavities and diarrhea.

 

The American Academy of Pediatrics says if you’re going to give kids juice, limit it to between 4 and 8 ounces a day depending on their ages while infants under 1 should avoid it altogether.

 

Another option is to make homemade juices at home with 80 percent green leafy vegetables and 20 percent fruit, but still watch the portion sizes.

 

Although the sugars in homemade juice are natural, the calories and sugar can add up fast and they’re also processed in the body the same way as added sugars.

 

3. Cut sugary drinks too

Soda, sweetened ice teas, lemonade, sports and energy drinks, fruit punch, apple juice and chocolate milk make up a majority of the amount of sugar kids get in their diets.

In fact, between 2011 and 2014, 63 percent of kids consumed a sugar-sweetened beverage on any given day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

 

Water is the best beverage to offer your kids but if they have a hard time giving up the sweet stuff, start by diluting their drinks or gradually replacing a few with water until you’ve completely eliminated them from their diets.

 

Or, serve water with slices of cucumber or strawberries for a hint of natural flavor and sweetness.

4. Serve kids real, whole foods

The more sugar your kids eat, the more they’ll crave.

 

What’s more, foods made with white, refined carbohydrates including flour, white breads and pastas, and white rice can spike your kid’s blood sugar and lead to sugar cravings.

 

To curb their preference for sweet foods, serve healthy, whole foods at every meal and snack.

Focus on protein and healthy fats, green leafy vegetables and fruits, including those with a low glycemic load like apples, pears and strawberries.

Depending on their ages, kids need just as many, or more, servings of vegetables than fruit.

 

5. Add healthy fats to your kid’s diet

Healthy fats found in foods like eggs, salmon, olives, avocado and coconut oil help kids feel satiated and curbs their sugar cravings.

 

Despite what we’ve been told for years, fat doesn’t lead to high cholesterol, heart disease, type-2 diabetes or obesity.

 

Need more proof? I recommend you read Food: What The Heck Should I Eat by Dr. Mark Hyman.

 

6. Ditch the dried fruit

Dried fruit can be a convenient, portable snack but they’re little sugar bombs kids don’t need.

Fresh or frozen whole fruit is always better and lower in sugar. Save the dried fruit for the occasional treat or dessert instead.

 

7. Purge the processed foods

Processed kids’ snacks, kid-friendly frozen meals and soups—even those that are organic, gluten-free or “made with real cheese”—may seem healthy but many have added sugar.

The only way to avoid these sneaky sources of sugar is to purge your pantry and replace your child’s meals with real, whole foods.

 8. Make homemade treats

I don’t think kids should be deprived of desserts, but making your own homemade versions helps you to control the ingredients and the amount of sugar.

With upgraded ingredients like oats, applesauce, pumpkin, nuts and seeds and cacao nibs, you can make healthy, delicious treats for your kids.

And if you let your kids bake with you, even better. Cooking with your kids teaches them about healthy foods and how to prepare healthy meals.

9. Curb “natural” sugars that are actually added sugars

Agave, honey, and maple syrup might be natural, but once it’s separated and added to a food as a sweetener, it’s actually an added sugar.

In fact, the FDA may even require companies to list honey and maple syrup as an added sugar by 2020.

Although I don’t see anything wrong with enjoying a drizzle of pure maple on pancakes, for example, keeping tabs on the overall amount of sugar in your kid’s diet will ensure he’s not going overboard.

Replace sugar with natural sources of sweetness

To slash sugar from your kid’s diet, choose whole foods that add flavor and sweetness.

Add fresh or frozen vegetables to plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt or apples, cinnamon and vanilla extract to oatmeal, for example.

Roasting fruits like apples or pears also brings out their natural sweetness and is a healthy and delicious dessert your kids will love.

 

11 Easy Food Safety Tips For Moms and Kids  These food safety tips can help to prevent food poisoning and keep your family healthy.

11 Easy Food Safety Tips For Moms and Kids

These food safety tips can help to prevent food poisoning and keep your family healthy.

Whether you buy organic, local, non-GMO or local, and shop at Whole Foods or the famers’ market, you and your kids can still be at risk for food poisoning.

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 48 million people each year get sick from foodborne illness from exposure to germs like norovirus, salmonella, E. coli and listeria.

Pregnant women and children under age 5 in particular, have some of the highest risk for food poisoning.

Kids’ immune systems are still developing so they can’t fight off germs and illness as well as older children can. Food poisoning is also a particular concern for young kids because diarrhea and dehydration can land them in the hospital.

When it comes to pregnant women, they’re 10 times more likely to get a listeria infection than women who are not. Pregnant women who are Hispanic are 24 times more likely to be affected.

Contamination can happen at any time along the food journey to your kitchen table, but there are several ways to prevent the spread of germs.

Here, learn about the food safety tips that can prevent food poisoning.

1. Check restaurant health ratings

According to a 2018 poll conducted by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, one in 10 parents say their kids have gotten sick from spoiled or contaminated food and 68 percent attributed the food poisoning to eating out in a restaurant.

One of the best ways to prevent food poisoning when eating out is to check health inspection ratings—something only 25 percent of parents do, the same poll found.

To review health inspection ratings, check with your local or county health department or try the What The Health app.

2. Clean out your refrigerator

Before you leave to go to the grocery store, go through your refrigerator and throw out food that has gone bad and shouldn’t be eaten.

Food that has mold, smells unpleasant, or whose color or texture has changed should be tossed.

Leftovers that have been cooked should be thrown away after 4 days and raw chicken and meat after 1 to 2 days.

It’s also a good idea to know what the dates on food packaging mean to prevent food waste.

3. Do grocery shopping in this order

When you run errands, try to do all of your regular errands first and leave your grocery shopping until the end so you can take your groceries home immediately and prevent food from spoiling.

Also, consider bringing an insulated bag with an ice pack to transport cold, perishable food items.

4. Keep meat and fish separate

At checkout, place raw meat and fish in plastic bags to prevent spreading germs to other foods.

When you arrive home, store these foods on a plate or in a shallow pan on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator and away from ready to eat foods.

5. Wash your hands before preparing food

Before you handle food, be sure to thoroughly wash all surfaces of your hands with warm or hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds.

After handling raw chicken, wash your hands before moving on to other foods to prevent the spread of bacteria.

6. Use designated cutting boards

It’s a good idea to use one cutting board solely for fruits and vegetables and one for raw meat, poultry and fish.

7. Wash and sanitize cutting boards

Scrub cutting boards after each use with hot, soapy water, especially after preparing raw meat, fish and poultry.

To deep clean cutting boards, scrub them with a paste of baking soda, salt and water and wipe them with full strength white vinegar to disinfect.

Rubbing a sliced lemon on the boards also helps to sanitize them and remove odors.

8. Always rinse fruits and vegetables

Always rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water and consider using a produce brush to remove dirt and debris.

If you plan to peel fruit, you should still rinse it before eating it to prevent germs from contaminating the inside flesh.

Ready to go, pre-chopped produce like bagged salad and cut up vegetables that aren’t labeled pre-washed should always be washed at home.

9. Defrost foods properly

Never leave food out on the kitchen countertop or in the sink to defrost.

Instead, thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator on the bottom shelf on a plate or a shallow pan. You can also defrost foods in the microwave but they should be cooked right away.

10. Cook foods thoroughly

Instead of making a judgment call about whether meat, poultry and fish are ready to eat just by looking at them, use a food thermometer to ensure they’re thoroughly cooked.

Unsure of the right temp? NSF International has a handy chart.

11. Serve food at safe thermometers

Cold foods should be served at 40º F or below while hot foods should be stored at 140ºF or above.

When foods are left out and in the “danger zone” range between 40º F and 140º F, they’re only safe to eat for 2 hours or 1 hour in temperatures above 90 degrees.

[Video] 6 Health Benefits of Eggs for Kids + How to Serve Them

[Video] 6 Health Benefits of Eggs for Kids + How to Serve Them

Eggs are one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids and many experts even call them a perfect food for babies, toddlers and big kids alike.

Since they’re high in fat and cholesterol however, you might be wondering if kids can eat eggs everyday or even twice a day.

Here, read about all the amazing health benefits of eggs for kids, how much is too much and how my kids eat eggs.

1. Eggs are packed with protein

One of the primary health benefits of eggs for kids is that they’re high in protein.

One large egg has more than 6 grams of protein as well as all 9 essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein that the body cannot make and must come from food.

Protein helps to satiate your kids’ hunger, balance their blood sugar, give them energy for school, sports and play, and prevent weight gain.

Protein is also vital for your kids’ growth and development. According to a June 2017 study in the journal Pediatrics, babies between 6 and 9 months of age who ate an egg a day had a 47 percent reduced prevalence of stunted growth.

 

2. Eggs are rich in choline

According to the National Institutes of Health, choline is an essential nutrient that plays an important role in your child’s brain development and function, memory, mood and metabolism.

Studies also suggest low levels of choline during pregnancy can increase the risk of neural tube defects.

What’s more, an April 2016 study out of Sweden found that higher levels of choline in teens were associated with improved academic performance.

3. Eggs have healthy fats

Not only does fat from food promote satiety but kids need fat in their diets.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says fat is an essential nutrient, it provides the calories and energy kids need for their growth and active play and it shouldn’t be severely restricted.

One large egg has 5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat and 2.6 unsaturated fat.

4. Eggs support eye health

Eggs are a good source lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids or plant pigments found in the eyes that can prevent macular degeneration, cataracts, and improve memory and processes speed, one study found.

5. Eggs help support a strong immune system

It’s inevitable that your kids will swap germs all day with other kids at daycare and school, but eating eggs is another way to boost their immune system.

Eggs are high in vitamins A, B12 and selenium, all nutrients that support immunity.

6. Eggs are rich in omega-3 fatty acids

Eggs are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which support kids’ brain and eye health.

Look for omega-3 eggs, which are typically fortified with flaxseed and have even higher levels.

 

Can Kids Eat Eggs Everyday?

For many years in the U.S. experts said we should limit the amount of eggs in our diets because the saturated fat they contain was linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Experts now agree, and studies (here and here) show that there’s not enough data to support that theory.

Studies also show that dietary cholesterol doesn’t have much of an effect on blood cholesterol either.

A January 2015 study in the American Heart Journal found eating up to one egg per day is not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.

Despite the health benefits of eggs and the low risk of ill effects, eating several eggs a day probably isn’t the best idea. Instead, feed your kids a variety of protein-rich and other healthy foods to ensure they get the vitamins and minerals they need.

[VIDEO] How to Serve Eggs To Kids

Scrambled eggs take minutes to make and most kids love them but if you’re looking for other ideas about how to serve your kids eggs, watch this video for 3 ways I serve them up.

Do your kids eat eggs? How do you serve them?

10 Reasons Kids Should Eat Healthy That Have Nothing to Do With Childhood Obesity

10 Reasons Kids Should Eat Healthy That Have Nothing to Do With Childhood Obesity

If you’re a parent, you know your kids should eat healthy, but have you ever thought about the why?

Maybe it’s because you know a healthy diet is vital for their growth and development.

Or perhaps you’re sick of their picky eating behaviors and you want meals times to be peaceful.

If you’re an emotional eater and struggle with your weight, or have family members who do, you’re probably concerned about your child becoming overweight too.

With more than one-third of children who are overweight or obese, childhood obesity is definitely a good reason for your kids to eat healthy.

But fat or skinny, all kids should eat healthy. Here are 10 reasons why.

1. We’re a nation of (very) sick people

In the U.S., we’re facing a health crisis and 50 percent of Americans have at least one chronic health condition, mental disorder or substance use issue, a September 2016 study in the journal Psychology, Health & Medicine found.

We’re facing skyrocketing rates of:

  • ADHD and ADD
  • Allergies
  • Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Arthritis
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Menstrual disorders
  • Obesity
  • Reflux
  • Skin problems
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Type-2 diabetes

Perhaps the most compelling reason kids should eat healthy is because food can prevent them from getting sick.

In his book, Food: What The Heck Should I Eat?, Dr. Mark Hyman states:

“Food is the most powerful drug on the planet. It can improve the expression of thousands of genes, balance dozens of hormones, optimize tens of thousands of protein networks, reduce inflammation, and optimize your microbiome (gut flora) with every single bite. It can cure most chronic diseases; it works faster, better, and cheaper than any drug ever discovered; and the only side effects are good ones—prevention, reversal, and even treatment of disease, not to mention vibrant optimal health.”

 

2. Mental Health

According to a 2017 report by World Health Organization (WHO), depression affects a whopping 322 million people worldwide.

As someone who has struggled with both anxiety and depression since childhood, I won’t tell you that nutrition is a cure-all for all people with depression and anxiety.

Food cannot override low levels of neurotransmitters, genetics, past trauma, low self-esteem and stress, for example.

But it can make a huge difference to improve mental health as it has done for me.

For some people, diet alone is enough.

Studies suggest nutrients like vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D can support mental health.

In fact, a September 2014 study in the journal BMJ Open found consumption of fruits and vegetables was associated with mental well being in both men and women.

3. Boosts Brain Power

You can hire a tutor and encourage your kids to study harder, but for kids to learn, concentrate, and excel in school, they need to eat healthy.

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like fish, chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts are important to focus on.

According to a December 2017 study out of the University of Pennsylvania, kids who eat seafood at least once a week have higher IQ scores that are 4 points higher on average than kids who eat fish less frequently or not at all.

What’s more, a healthy diet is important for kids’ brain health when they’re young and throughout their lives.

In fact, a July 2015 study in JAMA Internal Medicine found in older people, a Mediterranean diet with foods like fish, nuts, olive oil and avocado is associated with improved cognitive function.

4. Sports and Athletic Performance

Playing multiple sports and joining travel teams are all great, but without the right nutrition, your kids won’t fuel their bodies with what they need to build muscle, strength and endurance.

Without a healthy diet, they’ll be sluggish and their athletic performance can suffer.

An April 2013 article in the journal Paediatrics Child Health states the right amounts of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and hydration are essential for young athletes’ growth, activity and athletic performance.

5. Gut Health

A healthy gut is linked to a strong immune system but leaky gut syndrome or “intestinal hyperpermeability” is something that can develop over years due to a poor diet.

Although controversial in the Western Medicine world, leaky gut syndrome is believed to occur when the tight junctions or cells that line the inside of the intestines open up and allow undigested food particles and pathogens in, which causes problems in the gut and throughout the body.

Experts say a diet high in processed foods, sugar and synthetic food additives, which disrupt the balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut can leady to leaky gut.

6. Sleep

Sleep plays an important role in kids’ health and affects their overall function, mood and behavior, school and athletic performance.

But it’s an often-overlooked factor when it comes to eating healthy. Eating foods low in fiber and high in saturated fat and sugar is associated with lighter, less restorative sleep and more awakenings at night, a January 2016 study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found.

Without enough sleep, kids are also more likely to make unhealthy food choices. Studies show the less sleep they get, the more likely they are to make unhealthy food choices.

In fact, an August 2018 study in the Journal of Sleep Research found that kids who regularly fell asleep after 11pm were 4 to 5 times more likely to eat less than three breakfasts a week and 2 to 3 times more likely to eat junk food at least 5 times a week.

7. Eye health

A healthy diet can keep support your child’s eye health.

For example, vitamin A helps the eyes see in low light conditions and keeps the cornea healthy and lubricated.

Omega-3’s can prevent dry eye syndrome, often a result of too much screen time.

Research suggests lutein, a carotenoid or plant pigment found in pumpkin and green leafy vegetables could improve learning, memory, focus and concentration.

A healthy diet can also prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration later on in life.

8. Prevents some types of cancer

Cancer isn’t something any parent should have to worry about but laying the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating can prevent certain types of cancer into adulthood.

A June 2017 review and multiple meta-analyses in the journal Nutrition Reviews found a healthy diet can reduce the risk of breast and colon cancers.

9. A longer life

It’s no surprise that eating healthy can prevent disease and extend your life.

But a March 2014 study in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found people who eat 7 or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day cut their risk for premature death by 42 percent.

10. Your future grandchildren

What your kids eat now can set the stage for the way they eat throughout their lives and those choices can affect their fertility, whether they’re male or female.

What’s more, 2015 guidelines from The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics state that not only is optimal nutrition before and during pregnancy important for women but it can affect their future generations as well.

7 Reasons To Consider Making Your Own Homemade Baby Food

7 Reasons To Consider Making Your Own Homemade Baby Food

If you asked me what I think is the one thing I did to raise kids who eat really healthy, without a doubt, it would be making my own homemade baby food.

I don’t consider myself an au naturel, crunchy type of mama who only eats organic food, makes all of her own cleaning products and cooks every single meal from scratch, but I am a big advocate for serving up fresh, healthy, real food including homemade baby food.

When my kids were babies, I loved looking through cookbooks, whipping up new combinations of fresh fruits and vegetables and serving them up as my kids were exposed to all the new flavors and textures.

You might think making your own homemade baby food is time consuming. Truth be told, it does take time—more time than throwing pouches into your grocery shopping cart. But with the right tools to cook and store the food, you can make it in no time.

Still not convinced? Here are 7 reasons to consider making your own homemade baby food.

1. Homemade is healthier

Many of the store-bought brands don’t have preservatives or additives, but they may contain additional fillers and be less nutritious than homemade. In fact, in 2015 Good Morning America found that water was the most predominant ingredient in Plum Organics’ baby food and other ingredients like fruits, vegetables and meat were in smaller quantities.

What’s more, store-bought baby food is heated at high temperatures to kill bacteria but doing so may also lower the nutritional content. A 2011 study in the journal Food Chemistry suggests some store-bought baby food brands contain less than 20 percent of the recommended levels of many minerals and micronutrients.

2. You control the ingredients

Recent studies suggest store-bought baby food may contain dangerous chemicals. According to an October 2017 study by the Clean Label Project, a non-profit advocacy group, of 530 baby food products tested, more than 25 percent had detectable levels of lead. Another report, published by the Environmental Defense Fund in June 2017, found detectable levels of lead in more than 2,100 baby food samples.

When you make your homemade baby food, you control the ingredients and the nutrition. You can choose local, organic foods, pick up something new and interesting at your local farmers’ market and get foods that are in-season in your area, which are fresher and may be more affordable.

3. The potential for flavors, textures and consistenies are endless

Store-bought brands of baby food offer unique food combinations and go beyond the basic peas and carrots of yesteryear.

Yet when you make your own homemade baby food, you can expose your baby to a wide variety of new foods and flavors that you won’t find in the store. You can also use your kitchen tools to change the texture and consistency according to your baby’s age and preference and add herbs and spices to change the flavor every time.

When you go the homemade route, you’re also not limited to steamed foods alone—you can bake and roast your ingredients to bring out delicious, robust flavors.

4. Your baby is less likely to be a picky eater

If you want to raise a kid who is a healthy, adventurous eater, introduce real, fresh food early on. Studies show the more types of foods and flavors babies are exposed to, the more adventurous they’ll be as they get older.

A February 2017 meta-analysis in the journal Nutrients found that although children are predisposed to prefer caloric, sugary and salty foods and reject new foods during the pre-school years, and genetic differences for certain types of food can exist among kids, their preferences can change when they’re consistently offered healthy foods.

Regardless of whether it’s organic or has flavorful food combinations, store-bought baby food simply doesn’t come close to the taste of fresh, homemade baby food.

5. You don’t want your kid to eat out of a package

Baby food pouches are so easy and convenient especially when you’re at the park or traveling, but an important part of raising healthy eaters is teaching your children that fresh, whole foods are best.

Feeding kids from a pouch when they’re babies and letting them suck pureed food from the pouch as they grow, only reinforces this unhealthy habit of eating out of a package.

6. Your baby can eat what you do

When your baby first starts solids, you’ll probably stick to basic, one-ingredient fruit and vegetable purees.

As your baby gets older however, and you make combinations with more ingredients and complex flavors and textures, you can take a portion of the meal you make for your family and put it in the food processor or serve it as is to your baby.

Not only will this make your job much easier and save time, but your baby will get used to eating the same meal as the rest of the family and you won’t get into the bad habit of being a short-order cook.

7. Your baby will take to table foods more easily

When you’re ready to offer finger foods, you won’t have to sneak vegetables into meals, negotiate or plead with your baby to eat. Chances are, he’ll be more likely to accept the foods you serve because he’s already been eating those foods all along.

7 Simple Food Swaps Your Kids Won’t Miss

7 Simple Food Swaps Your Kids Won’t Miss

When it comes to getting your kids to eat healthy, it’s not necessary—or even ideal—to completely overhaul their diets. If you make several, large changes all at once, you risk the chance that your kids will rebel and overindulge and it might prevent them from eventually eating healthier. A better approach is to make small tweaks slowly over time.

Here are 7 food swaps your kids won’t miss.

1. Cook instead of eating out

When you’re busy and you’re running around for after school activities and sports, getting take-out or eating out makes getting dinner on the table a no-brainer.

Yet eating out means more calories, sodium, sugar, and fat which can quickly add up, not to mention most kids’ restaurants don’t have healthy options.

Although it’s not always realistic to get a home cooked meal on the table every night, dinner will likely be healthier and more affordable than what you’ll get in a restaurant.

2. Serve whole grains instead of white, refined grains

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 50 percent of the grains we eat be made up of whole grains, which have more nutrients and fiber than white, refined grains.

This food swap can seem like a drastic one for some kids so do it gradually. Try to replace white rice with brown rice and then in a few weeks, replace white bread with whole grain bread, for example. Eventually it will be one of the food swaps your kids won’t miss and may even love.

3. Replace processed, packaged snacks with whole foods

Most processed, packaged foods are loaded with sodium, sugar, saturated fat, and artificial ingredients you can’t identify or pronounce. They also lack fiber and the vitamins and minerals kids need in their diets.

What’s more, experts say the more processed foods you eat and the longer you eat them, the higher your risk for inflammation, leaky gut syndrome, and a host of health conditions in the future.

Although you may not be able to completely eliminate these snacks in one fell swoop, try to replace a few snacks a week with healthy snacks made with whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and nuts and seeds.

4. Offer water instead of sugary drinks and juice

Juice boxes and pouches are convenient especially for school lunch but juice—yes, even the organic kind—doesn’t have a place in a child’s diet unless you don’t have access to fresh fruit or your kid won’t eat any fruit.

Drinking water is always a better alternative and a good habit to get your kids into. Yet if they snub plain water, add slices of cucumber, strawberries, or lemon into their water bottles for a little sweetness and hint of flavor.

5. Swap your old dip for an upgraded, healthier one

Kids love to dip their food and pairing dips with raw vegetables can make them more appealing and more likely that your child will eat them. Yet many store-bought dips are high in calories, saturated fat, sodium, sugar, and artificial ingredients.

Read labels carefully and compare brands, or consider making your own healthy homemade hummus, vegetable dip, or black bean dip, for example. It’s easy to do with any food processor and serving an upgraded dip is perhaps one of the easiest food swaps your kids won’t miss.

6. Substitute low-sugar cereal for sugary types

Cereal brands that call attention to health claims like “gluten-free,” “made with real fruit,” or “a good source of vitamins and minerals,” might seem healthy but many cereals are high in sugar, whether they’re marketed to kids or not.

When selecting a cereal, read labels and compare brands. Look for cereals with 100% whole wheat, oats or another type of grain, those that are high in fiber and low in sugar. If your kid misses the sweetness of his favorite cereal, add cinnamon or fresh fruit.

7. Pack a lunch box instead of buying school lunch

Packing healthy school lunches takes time to plan, shop and pull together so when you’re rushing out the door in the morning, letting your kids get school lunch is an easier option.

Yet most school lunches aren’t healthy and with options like chicken fingers, pizza, and hot dogs, they’re not teaching your kids anything about how to eat healthy.

Although making all of your kids’ lunches may not always be realistic, if you can make a point to pack lunch from home more than you do now, it’s one of the best decisions you can make for your kid.

How To Eat Healthy On A Family Vacation

How To Eat Healthy On A Family Vacation

This summer, I’ll be heading to the beach for a family vacation and luckily, I know my kids will eat healthy. We’ll be staying with my in-laws who cook and eat lots of vegetables, fruit and beans—enough to balance out our trips to the boardwalk for some ice cream.

Yet so many times in the past when I’ve been on vacation or taken weekend getaways, my kids ate erratically, skipped meals, ate too-large portion sizes and indulged in foods they wouldn’t have eaten at home.

Sometimes grabbing something quick, but not that healthy, is a matter of convenience. Other times, there aren’t always the healthiest options available.

The result? Your kids feel sluggish, have meltdowns, and maybe even get constipated.

So before you take your next summer trip, here are some tips to make sure you and your family eats healthy on vacation.

Bring Healthy Snacks

Although many of the restaurants at highway rest stops have made healthier options like fruit, cheese and yogurt available, most of the food is still fast food and processed food.

Before you hit the road, prepare and fill an insulated freezer bag with an ice pack and turkey and cheese roll ups, lettuce wraps or sandwiches. Other ideas to consider:

  • Cut-up fruits and vegetables
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Low sugar, high fiber bars
  • Low sugar granola
  • Nut butter
  • Hummus
  • Bean dip
  • Chia seed pudding

Prepare For Your Flight

If bringing a freezer bag filled with food to the airport is too much to carry, bring nuts, seeds, dried fruit or bars in your carry-on bag—and bring extra if your flight is delayed.

Although I’m not a fan of kids eating apple sauce or fruit and vegetable purées in pouches on a regular basis, it’s convenient and not a big deal if you pack it for a flight.

Compare Food Options At the Airport

Between travel to the airport, check-in and security, waiting to board and the flight itself, somewhere along the line your kids are probably going to get hungry.

Instead of grabbing fast food at the airport, look for mini mart-type stores where you can get fresh fruit, yogurt, and hard-boiled eggs, for example. Or find a sit-down restaurant but avoid fatty, fried, and high-sodium foods.

Be Choosy About Accommodations

Depending on the types of restaurants in the area and the meals you order, eating out or eating poolside can make for a calorie-, fat-, sodium-, and sugar-filled vacation, not to mention it can get really pricey.

When booking your family vacation, consider Airbnb, or a resort or hotel that has a kitchen or a kitchenette so you can cook some of your meals. When you arrive, go to the grocery store to pick up what you need, have your groceries delivered or place an order beforehand through Amazon Fresh Grocery.

If accommodations with a kitchen aren’t feasible, look for a hotel with a mini-fridge so at least you can stock up on a few healthy snacks when your kids get hungry.

Start the Day Off Right

When you have a full day of activities planned—or no agenda at all—it’s easy to lose track of time, skip meals or grab something quick.

If you start the day with a healthy breakfast, you can at least ensure your kids will eat a vegetable, a fruit and get some protein and fiber. You may even consider bringing your juicer or mini-blender and make a green juice or smoothie for a healthy dose of antioxidants.

Stick to a Schedule

Skipping meals or eating at erratic times throughout the day can lead you and your kids to feel famished and overeat at the next meal. Eating at irregular times might also affect their sleep too. In fact, a small June 2017 study in the journal Current Biology suggests changing meal times can alter our circadian rhythm or sleep/wake cycle.

Grabbing a quick bite to eat like a hot dog or an ice cream can also deplete energy levels, increase sugar craving and make everyone feel cranky.

When you’re on a family vacation, you don’t want to have a strict schedule like you would at home but if you do your best to serve meals and snacks at roughly the same times your kids eat at home, they’ll be more likely to eat healthy.

Watch Portions

When you take a family vacation, cruises, all-inclusive resorts and restaurants usually serve up double—even triple—the size of a healthy portion.

To prevent overeating, order a few healthy appetizers and a salad, share a meal or ask for a to-go container and set aside the excess before you eat.

Use the 80/20 Rule

Make sure your kids eat a vegetable with every meal and the food is prepared in a healthy way (i.e. grilled instead of fried). The rest of the time, let them enjoy a special treat.

Pitch in

If you’re staying with family and friends and they don’t eat like your family, bring a healthy dish or two everyone can share, stock up their fridge with healthy options, or offer to cook some of the meals during your stay.

Relax

A family vacation isn’t the time to worry about every last bite your kids eat, and you also can’t expect them to eat the same way they do at home.

Yet every time they eat, it’s a good opportunity to teach them about making healthy choices, especially on vacation when food temptations are everywhere. They’ll learn how to make healthy food choices and how to kick back, have fun and enjoy ice cream, cotton candy or a piece of fudge.

10 June Superfoods Your Kids Will Love

10 June Superfoods Your Kids Will Love

If you’re looking to serve up some of the most healthy, fresh and delicious fruits and vegetables of the summer, June is the month.

With a ton of nutrition and plenty of flavor, these June superfoods can help you put an end to your kids’ picky eating and ignite a newfound interest in healthy foods.

1. Eggplant

Eggplant meatballs are one of the hottest new food trends and for good reason. A plant-based diet is a healthy way to eat if done right and studies show it’s heart-healthy, can prevent many types of cancer and ward off weight gain and childhood obesity. Eggplant makes the cut for June superfoods because it’s a good source of fiber, folate, potassium and vitamins B6, C and K.

Whether it’s eggplant meatballs or baked eggplant parmesan (light on the cheese!), it’s a sure-fire way to get your kids to eat their vegetables.

2. Mango

When I think of the freshest, most delicious fruit on earth, it has to be mango. In recent months, one of my kids has become a picky eater when it comes to fruit but mango is one of the few she will eat. A good source of fiber and vitamins A, B6, and C, mango is a healthy choice for kids.

It’s delicious on its own, mixed into yogurt, chia seed pudding or salsa, or added to quesadillas.

3. Endive

With its crisp texture and mild, sweet and nutty flavor, endive is one vegetable to introduce this summer. A good source of vitamins A, C, E, K and folate, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium make endive one of the best June superfoods.

Chop endive into salads, add a slice to a sandwich, or swap them in for chips paired with your child’s favorite dip.

4. Watermelon

There’s nothing that says summer quite like watermelon. I’m not a fan myself but one of my kids can polish off a big piece in one sitting. Since over 90 percent of watermelon is water, it’s one of the best June superfoods for kids to stay hydrated on a hot day. Watermelon is also a good source of vitamins A and C, potassium, iron and calcium.

Not only does watermelon make for a healthy snack, but you can grill it, add it to salads or make your own popsicles.

5. Corn

Fresh corn is a summertime favorite most kids love, especially with a pat of butter. Corn is a good source of fiber—one small ear of corn has nearly 3 grams—as well as thiamin, folate and potassium.

Whether you serve corn on the cob, add it to a summer salad or make a stir-fry, corn is a summer staple.

6. Figs

Fresh or dried, figs are one of the healthiest June superfoods your kids will love. For starters, figs are high in fiber: a half-cup of raw figs contain nearly 3 grams of fiber while the same portion of dried figs have more than 9 grams. Figs are also a good source of calcium and potassium.

Add figs to oatmeal, salads or yogurt, or serve them solo as a snack.

7. Zucchini and Summer Squash

Zucchini and summer squash are a good source of protein and fiber, vitamins A, B6, C, E and K and folate as well as magnesium and potassium.

Not only are zucchini and summer squash delicious during the summer grilled or spiralized, but they make a filling and delicious addition when you shred them into pancakes, breads and baked goods.

8. Strawberries

Sweet and satisfying, strawberries are a good source of fiber, vitamin C and potassium.

Add strawberries to smoothies, oatmeal or salads or serve them as a snack

9. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a good source of lutein, and zeaxanthin, two types of carotenoids, or plant pigments, found in the eyes that studies show can improve memory and processing speed. They’re also a good source of lycopene, which can protect the eyes from damage and keep them healthy, as well as fiber, calcium, potassium, vitamins A and C, and choline.

During the summer, cut up slices of tomato and avocado and add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar for a yummy summer salad, pair them with hummus for a filling snack, or make a delicious bruschetta.

10. Kiwi Fruit

One of the best June superfoods your kids will love is kiwi fruit. Kiwi fruit is an excellent source of fiber—a 1/2 cup has 3 grams—and a good source of vitamins C, E, and K, and potassium. Sweet and delicious, it also makes for a great first food for baby.

Serve sliced kiwi alone, with Greek yogurt, added to any fruit salad, or in place of a high-sugar jelly on toast.

9 Foods To Avoid Feeding Baby

9 Foods To Avoid Feeding Baby

In recent years, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have drastically changed their recommendations when it comes to starting solids and foods to avoid feeding baby.

 

Just a few years ago when my kids were babies, I was told to avoid feeding them peanuts until they were older, for example.

 

With more research about food allergies, the AAP now encourages parents to feed their babies a wider variety of foods, making highly-allergenic foods previously off limits now back on the menu.

 

There are still several types of foods however, that lack the nutrition babies need, could be harmful to baby’s health or pose a choking hazard and should be avoided. Here are 10.

 

1. Honey

 

Before they turn 1-year-old, babies should never consume honey whether it’s raw, processed, local or purchased at the grocery store, a local farm or a farmer’s market.

 

Although rare, there is a risk for botulism, a rare illness caused by toxins produced by clostridium botulinum, a spore-forming bacteria which can cause weakness, paralysis and even death. Before a year, babies’ immune systems are not strong enough to fend it off so they should never be given honey.

 

Be sure to also avoid other foods that contain honey such as baked goods or meals you prepare at home or purchase. Although clostridium botulinum is heat sensitive, the spores are difficult to kill.

 

2. Cow’s Milk and Non-Dairy Milks

 

Breast milk and/or infant formula are the only two your baby needs for the first year of life. Not only is cow’s milk difficult to digest but it doesn’t have the right nutrition babies need—the nutrition that only breast milk or infant formula can provide.

 

Likewise, non-dairy milks such as soymilk, almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, rice milk and hemp milk should never be given to baby.

 

When you introduce a sippy cup to your baby, you can offer water but breast milk and/or infant formula should still make up a majority of his calories.

 

At around 6-month-old, your baby can eat whole milk yogurt and cheese but always speak to your doctor before introducing these foods. And when you do, stick to shredded cheese or cheese that’s cut into small, soft pieces your baby can handle. After your baby’s first birthday, you can introduce whole or reduced fat cow’s milk. If you prefer non-dairy milk, talk to your pediatrician or a pediatric nutritionist to make sure he’s getting the nutrition he needs.

 

3. Peanut, Nuts and Nut Butters

 

Perhaps the most significant development in recent years regarding infant nutrition were results from the landmark Learning Early About Peanut (LEAP) study published in 2015. According to the study, introducing peanut protein to infants at risk for food allergies or eczema actually decreased their chance of developing a peanut allergy.

 

Before introducing peanut butter however, talk to your child’s pediatrician because the AAP has guidelines specific to an individual baby’s risk.

 

Regardless of when you introduce peanut butter or other nut butters, it’s important to realize that they’re still a choking hazard. Stick to creamy instead of chunky varieties and thin it out by mixing it with fruit or vegetable purees.

 

4. Fruit Juice

 

Many parents think fruit juice is a healthy option for babies, and although it does have some nutrition, the AAP recommends babies under age 1 avoid juice altogether.

 

Fruit juice is high in sugar and empty calories and whole fruit is much better than fruit juice because it packs more nutrition and fiber. Juice can also cause cavities and diarrhea. Unpasteurized juice should be off limits too because of the bacteria it can introduce to your baby’s immature immune system.

 

If you decide to offer juice when your baby turns 1, limit it to 4 ounces a day, dilute it with water and serve it in a cup, not a sippy cup or a bottle which encourages baby to sip on the sugar all day.

 

 

5. Foods That Are Choking Hazards

Foods that your baby can’t mush with his gums, won’t dissolve in his mouth or can be sucked into his windpipe can cause your baby to choke. Even if you’re a baby-led weaning mama, there are foods that can pose choking hazards. Some of the most common include:

  • Grapes
  • Olives
  • Hot Dogs
  • Popcorn
  • Raisins
  • Peas (whole)
  • Raw vegetables like carrots
  • Some types of meat, poultry and fish
  • Nuts

When your baby can handle chunkier consistencies, you can likely offer more types of foods but you’ll still have to be careful. Although grapes may be OK, you’ll have to peel and slice them.

6. Some Types Of Fish

Fish is an excellent source of protein and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an omega-3 fatty acid babies need for optimal brain development. Feeding babies fish early on can also increase the chances they’ll accept—and like— fish as they get older. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend infants consume 3 to 6 ounces of fish per week.

Yet just as you had to limit your exposure to certain types of high-mercury fish when you were pregnant, you should also avoid those you feed your baby. Fish high in mercury include:

  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • King mackerel
  • Tilefish
  • Tuna (albacore)

The following are low in mercury and can be offered:

  • Scallop
  • Clam
  • Oyster
  • Sardine
  • Anchovies
  • Catfish
  • Salmon
  • Canned light tuna
  • Pollock
  • Catfish
  • Shrimp

7. Sweets

You—or someone else in the family—might not think giving your baby some ice cream, a cookie or a piece of candy is a big deal but nurturing a sweet tooth early on isn’t a good idea.

Feeding your baby sugary treats displaces other healthy foods she needs especially during the first year of life which is critical for growth and development. Wait until your baby’s first birthday party to offer the first taste of sugar.

8. Smoked Meats, Cheeses and Fish

 

Smoked cheeses, fish like lox and smoked and cured meats like bacon or sausage are high in nitrates, a harmful chemical linked to cancer as well as saturated fat and sodium, making them some of the foods to avoid feeding baby.

9. Packaged Snacks

There are so many processed, packaged snacks like breakfast bars, crackers and fruit snacks for babies on the market and although many of them are organic or touted as a good source of vitamins and minerals, babies don’t need these in their diets.

It’s OK to give babies snacks but packaged fare takes the place of healthier foods that pack nutrition and also gets your baby into the habit of eating snack foods—a habit that can be hard to break as your baby gets older.

If you want your baby to grow up eating real, wholesome food, then nix the processed, packaged snacks and offer real, fresh whole foods.

Food Allergies: Food Substitutions for 8 Common Allergens  Kids with food allergies don't have to miss out on delicious and healthy foods with these simple swaps.

Food Allergies: Food Substitutions for 8 Common Allergens

Kids with food allergies don't have to miss out on delicious and healthy foods with these simple swaps.

If your children are among the nearly 6 million children in the U.S. who have food allergies, you know avoidance is the first step. Yet if the foods your kids are allergic to are also a significant source of nutrition, it’s important to know what food substitutions they can eat to get the vitamins, minerals and key nutrients they need.

Here are 8 of the most common food allergens and food substitutions to consider in your child’s diet.

1. Milk

A cow’s milk allergy is the most common food allergy in babies and young children. About 2.5 percent of children under the age of 3 are allergic to milk, according to FARE.

Cow’s milk is found in many obvious foods like butter, ghee, cheese, yogurt and sour cream as well as chocolate, baked goods and even tuna fish.

Milk is a good source of calcium but there are plenty of healthy food substitutions like plant-based milks such as coconut milk, almond milk and cashew milk. Other calcium-rich foods include leafy green vegetables, sardines and tofu.

2. Peanuts

When I was a child, it seemed that the only thing kids ate for lunch were peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. With the rise in peanut allergies however, all that has changed. It’s estimated that up to 5 percent of kids have a peanut allergy, according to a 2014 study in the The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Plus, kids who are allergic to peanuts have between a 25 and 40 percent chance of also being allergic to tree nuts, one study found.

If your child is allergic to peanuts and peanut butter (but not allergic to tree nuts), try soy butter, sunflower seed butter, almond butter, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.

3. Eggs

Eggs are a tricky food allergy especially since they’re used in many foods like baked goods or freshly prepared, ready-to-go meals you’ll find in the grocery store.

Eggs are an excellent source of protein and choline, but if your kids are allergic to eggs, try kidney beans, beef, salmon, turkey or chicken breast which also have these nutrients. When baking, any fruit puree or ground flaxseed makes for a good egg substitute.

4. Tree Nuts

Almonds, cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts and Brazil nuts are a good source of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. They also make for a healthy, easy and convenient snack for summer road trips or when you’re running around after-school.

The good news is that your kid may be allergic to certain tree nuts and not the others. If he’s allergic to all of them however, you can get the same nutrition that you get from nuts with seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, and chia seeds.

 

5. Wheat

If your kid is allergic to wheat, has Celiac disease or is gluten-free for another reason, it can be tough to find a food substitution.

But gluten-free flours like coconut flour and oat flour are easy swaps for baking and gluten-free grains like rice, millet and teff, or seeds like quinoa provide plenty of fiber and B vitamins kids need.

6. Fish and Shellfish

About 40 percent of people with a fish allergy and 60 percent of those with a shellfish allergy experience their first reaction as an adult, according to FARE.

If your kid is allergic to either one however, he’ll have to find other sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Eggs, beef, poultry, lentils and beans are all great foods to fill the void.

7. Soybeans

About .4 percent of kids have a soy allergy so avoiding foods like tofu, tempeh and many processed, packaged foods that contain soy will help keep your child safe.

To replace the nutrition from soy, add in beans, lentils and quinoa—all of which are high in protein and fiber.

8. Sesame

Sesame isn’t usually considered a top allergen but experts say although it’s unclear how many kids are allergic to sesame, it’s on the rise in the U.S.

The scary truth about sesame is that federal law doesn’t require food manufacturers to list sesame as an allergen on their packaging. It may not always be possible to avoid packaged foods but it’s the best way to prevent an allergic reaction.

Sesame is a good source of protein, fiber, calcium and magnesium but you can get these nutrients through other foods such as pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds and green leafy vegetables.