Yesterday, Michelle Obama called for a food marketing summit in an effort to encourage companies and television broadcasters to stop advertising unhealthy foods to kids. The First Lady sited research that showed food marketing as a leading cause of childhood obesity. While this is a critical aspect of the childhood obesity issue, children aren't the only ones coaxed by clever marketing. Parents trying to make the healthy choice for their families are often duped into buying unhealthy products because of seemingly healthy terminology. Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's Director, Child Wellness, Trisha Hardy shares five of the terms every parent should look out for when trying to keep their family on a healthy path.
1. "Juice," "Sports/Energy Drinks" and "Vitamin Water"
While words like "juice," "sports" and "energy" sound healthy, they are actually just "liquid candy" in disguise and loaded with unnecessary sugar. Did you know:
· Sweetened beverages are the primary source of added sugars and excess calories in your child's diet?
· Children's doctors see young kids who drink up to 1,000 calories a day, yet their parents don’t realize it’s a major cause of weight problems.
Choose water or 1% milk at meal and snack times and drink water when being active.
There is no major nutritional difference between organically and conventionally grown foods. The two main differences are:
· Organic foods are grown without pesticides or fertilizers
· Organic foods generally cost about 33% more than conventional foods
If you want to minimize your family’s exposure to pesticides, without exceeding your food budget, buy conventional from the “Clean 15” list, which includes produce that has been shown to have little-to-no pesticide residue and consider buying organic from the “Dirty Dozen” which includes fruits and vegetables that have shown to have the most pesticide residues.
Many fat-free and low-fat processed foods are loaded with added sugars and/or salt to replace the fat, which makes them a not-so-healthy choice. The best fat-free/low-fat products are whole foods such as:
· Fat-free and low-fat plain milk and yogurt
· Veggies and fruits
· 100% whole grains such as bread and unsweetened cereals
Additionally, high-fat whole foods, such as nuts, seeds, and avocado are very healthy.
4. "Nutrition Bars"
Many so-called “nutrition bars,” such as cereal bars and granola bars, are loaded with sugars and some are even covered in chocolate. In fact, many nutrition bars have as much sugar as a candy bar! Check out some healthier on-the-go options:
· Homemade trail mix made with whole grain cereal + nuts/seeds + dried fruit
· 1/2 peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread
· Apple slices and a low-fat cheese stick
5. "Fresh" Veggies and Fruits
Fresh produce loses nutrients on the way to your local grocery store and while sitting in the produce section and in your refrigerator. On the other hand, frozen produce is usually flash-frozen shortly after harvest so it better retains its nutrients. Overall, frozen is just as good as fresh and in some cases may be better. To reap the full benefits of both:
· Try to buy fresh produce that is in-season and locally grown, store it appropriately and eat it promptly
· Choose frozen produce with no added sugar, syrup, salt or sauces and store appropriately
Making healthy substitutions on a daily basis will improve your family's health. Remember you are your child's biggest role model, so if you expect them to make healthy substitutions, you need to lead by example. Visit Strong4Life to see their new "Rewind the Future" video and small steps you can take today to keep your family happy and healthy.