children with all of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients they need to develop into healthy, strong and emotionally balanced adults. In our obsession with convenience foods, we’ve lost touch with our bodies and chronic disease has become epidemic.
So what’s “processed” food and why is it bad for your kids?
I think you’ll recognize this menu - I know it’s very similar to what I would have fed my daughter when she was little and I thought she was “mostly eating healthy”:
Breakfast: Honey nut Cheerios and low fat cow’s milk, glass of Sunny Delight orange juice
Snack: Bag of baby carrots and snack size bag goldfish crackers
Lunch: Skippy Peanut butter & Smuckers jelly sandwich on wheat bread, with a snack bag of Doritos and orange slices.
Snack: Apple slices and string cheese
Dinner: Mom’s roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and a few bites of broccoli.
Dessert: A couple of Oreos
This is going to shock you: This day totals up to a whopping 130 grams of sugar!
80 grams are added sugar - only 50 grams occur naturally in the fruit. I recommend keeping added sugar to no more than 25 grams per day. This example also includes hidden trans-fats, MSG, artificial petroleum-derived coloring & flavorings and is deficient in multiple vitamins & minerals. Eating this much sugar on a regular basis will lead to insulin resistance and diabetes, which is why the rates of type 2 diabetes in youth are rising.
Almost all of the processed products used in the example (Cheerios, Doritos, Goldfish crackers and Oreos) contain partially-hydrogenated industrial oils (canola, soy, sunflower, etc.), which have trans fats. Industrial trans fats are the result of chemical processing - our bodies can’t utilize them and they’re linked to conditions such as atherosclerosis, heart disease and dementia. You may think that a couple grams a day is not so bad - except that a couple of grams a day, every day, starting as a child, adds up to a health disaster.
All of these processed foods have flavor enhancers (free glutamates), which excite the brain into thinking the food tastes good - and make it addictive. Nacho Cheese Doritos have THREE flavor enhancers added. Flavor enhancers are known as excitotoxins - they overstimulate neuron receptors, are toxic to the brain, and have been linked to ADHD, autism, impulse control, obesity, diabetes, degenerative brain diseases (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s diseases).
Three of the meals & snacks have grains. Wheat, corn, rice, barley, sorghum, oats, rye and millet produce toxins such as gluten protein that damage the lining of the gut and inhibit the absorption of essential minerals and nutrients. These grains are also refined so the natural vitamins, minerals and fiber are removed as part of the processing. Most have synthetic vitamins added back in.
Minimally processed convenience foods such as pre-bagged salad greens and raw nuts, are generally safe.
So if you can’t feed your children convenient processed foods, what do you feed them?
Why Your Kids Need a Whole Food Diet
An organic whole food diet is the best gift you can give your child.
If this seems overwhelming, don’t feel bad. I spent years studying nutrition so that I could decipher the studies and information available to help my clients make the best choices for their families. I study so you don’t have to - you can focus on taking care of your family (and cooking!).
If you’re interested in 1:1 nutrition counseling for you or your family, please contact me to set up a free initial consultation to see if my services are the right fit for you. You can schedule an appointment here or email me at Cathy@McCannNutrition.com.
Cathy McCann is a functional nutritionist, coach, writer, speaker and meditation teacher, who is passionate about health and guiding people through the journey of healing.