The word ‘healthy’ can be quite subjective. Here are some food examples parents may think are healthy. On the contrary, these foods may not be as ‘healthy’ as they seem.
1) Energy/snack bars
Some energy bars/breakfast granola or cereal bars are loaded with sugar and fat. These are usually marketed as ‘healthy’, but if your child consumes too much, it will be giving them an unnecessary amount of sugar. High fructose corn syrup is often found as one for the ingredients in these bars.
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2) Breakfast cereal
Some breakfast cereals are high in sugar and may not contain much fibre. If the cereal is coated with honey or frosted, the amount of sugar would be higher than a plain cereal. Colourful cereals which appeal to children may have additional artificial colouring, besides the artificial flavours.
3) Fruit drinks
Some fruit juices or fruit drinks are made from fruit concentrate or a lot of sugar. Choose 100% juice with no added sugars, and dilute it with plain water. Better yet, give fresh fruit to your child instead of fruit juice.
4) Kids meals at restaurants
Kids meals look tempting to order for your kids, but most often than not, are loaded with fat as most are deep fried or contain a processed meat e.g. burgers or sausages in. Most also contain very minimal amount of greens. Also, most come with a sweetened drink or juice / sweet dessert. Choose healthier foods from the main menu and give a half portion to your child instead. If you have 2 children, order one healthy balanced meal and let them share it.
5) Low fat yogurt
Usually these contain more sugar than natural yogurt. Choose natural yogurt instead and top up with sweet fresh fruit e.g. blueberries, grapes or banana to make it more attractive to kids. You can also add nuts or seeds as additional toppings.
6) Kids rice crackers
Rice crackers may contain MSG or a large amount of salt and artificial flavouring. They are not high in fibre either, and won’t sustain their hunger for long. Better options are to give your kids wholegrain biscuits or wholegrain bread as a snack. Check the labels to ensure they are low in trans fats and saturated fats.
7) Cereal drinks
Some cereal drinks contain mostly sugar and starch, and little of much else. In some cases, they do not contain any milk, and little calcium. Some may contain creamer as an ingredient. It would be a better option to give your kids milk instead of pre-packaged cereal drinks.
By Ms Suzanne Khor
Clinical Dietician, Child Development Centre
(an affiliation of SBCC Baby & Child Clinic)
Thomson Paediatric Centre (The Child Development Centre)
10 Sinaran Drive
#09-04 Novena Medical Centre Singapore 307506
Tel: 6397 6627/ 6397 6966 (hotline)
This article was first published in The New Age Parents e-magazine