Classifying french fries and greasy foods as junk food is a smart move when considering what foods are truly healthy choices for children.
Many foods are disguised and could easily fool us, especially when it comes to feeding our children healthy food low in calories, sugar, salt and high in nutrients.
Junk food is much more harmful for babies than adults. “Babies need nutrients to grow more than they need calories,” says doctor and American Dietetic Association spokesperson Christine Gerbstadt. Parents ought to know which foods to avoid when feeding their babies. Here is a short list of five food offenders for babies:
SODA It seems too obvious to mention, but according to the American Dietetic Association, babies as young as seven months old are given soft drinks. Whether regular or diet, soft drinks provide absolutely no nutrients.
JUICE Yes, it is fruit based but it is not healthy! The fiber in the fruit, which is the most nutritious part, is lost in the juicing process. What’s left is a whole lot of sugar, which is a total waste of calories. According to nutritionist Leanne Cooper, using juices such as apple and pear to sweeten baby’s food is a bad idea. The sugars in these juices can speed up the food’s passage through the digestive tract. “When food passes too quickly, the body doesn’t have time to absorb all those lovely nutrients,” says Cooper. It can also lead to diarrhea in some babies.
CRACKERS Once babies can bite and chew, crackers make convenient “empty” snacks. Why? Because they fill your baby’s stomach leaving little or no room for foods rich in nutrients. Just as eating sweet things can help babies develop a sweet tooth, eating salty things can result in a “salty tooth” This can cause babies to get much more than the recommended daily amount of sodium. Go for fruit slices or low-sugar cereals instead.
PROCESSED MEALS With processing, foods often lose significant nutritional value and gain unhealthy additives.
GELATIN DESSERTS Many people think gelatin desserts are full of nutrients because they think it contains protein! Not true. The baby ends up eating a whole lot of sugar, artificial ingredients and flavors. Try a baked, mashed apple with a sprinkle of cinnamon instead. It’s naturally sweet and very nutritious.