When you go to the grocery store today, it feels like everything has some sort of “healthy” angle. Words like “kid-friendly,” “organic,” and “natural,” are plastered all over the “healthy snacks” aisle etc. If you’re someone whose purchasing decisions are influenced by this kind of language, you are not alone.
Even supposedly “paleo-friendly” or “super-healthy” snacks can have an abundance of sugar in them.
To help make things easier, I put together this quick list of 4 toxins you need to be on the lookout for when choosing a snack for your child. Next time you go to the store, forget the fancy language on the front, and check the nutrition label for the following:
As you know, sugar has been linked to everything from obesity to diabetes to hyperactivity in kids (and rightly so). While there’s nothing wrong with having an occasional sweet treat, you definitely don’t want to be accidentally consuming excess sugars in foods you thought were supposed to be good for you and your family.
Food manufacturers are dumping sugar into just about everything… especially “healthy snacks” for kids. One of the most popular yogurt brands for children contains a whopping 14 grams of sugar per serving. That’s almost as much as you’d get in a snickers bar! And we all know too much sugar makes our kids hyper, but it’s more serious than that.
Excess sugar consumption in children has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, as they get older. Before you turn to “zero-calorie” or “low sugar” alternatives I want you to be aware of this …
This sounds like a good idea on the surface. Get rid of the calories from the sugar, while still getting the sweet flavor. Unfortunately, because they don’t have any calories, they aren’t very satisfying and therefore leave you wanting more.
Even worse, they’re downright dangerous. Research shows that kids can have adverse reactions to artificial sweeteners. They can cause behavior issues and hyperactivity that mimics ADHD symptoms. This can be confusing for parents and may lead them to think there is something wrong with their child. Artificial Sweeteners have also been known to cause migraines, weight gain, and cardiovascular disease. I recommend avoiding artificial sweeteners when possible.
OK, carbs in and of themselves aren’t bad… especially for growing children. But kids tend to eat an abundance of carbs. Why is that a problem?
Carb-heavy snacks can cause an immediate spike in blood sugar levels, which causes a similar reaction as when your kids eat sugar. Hyper and energized for a little while, and then hungry, irritable, and grumpy shortly after. So be sure to pair carb-like snacks with a little protein and healthy fat like Paleovalley meat sticks and avocado.
This toxic fat has thousands of studies proving it causes inflammation, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and much more. And although you’ll rarely see “Trans Fat” printed in bold letters on the label, it’s still in plenty of foods.
Big food companies are allowed to cram up to half a gram of trans fats per serving in their food and still claim their food is “Trans Fat-Free” (even though it isn’t).
Even worse, many companies use processes that disguise trans fats completely. 99% of beef sticks, for example, are “preserved” by coating them with citric acid and hydrogenated vegetable oil (i.e. trans fat).
Yet they’re allowed to hide this on the label and just put “encapsulated citric acid” instead.
Now, I know this isn’t the most encouraging list. Especially if you’re the mom of a picky eater and just want them to get something down. It’s really hard to find a proper, healthy snack, that’s nutrient-dense, satisfying, and free of dangerous ingredients.
This is why I’ve made a list of 3 guidelines for healthy kid-approved snacks
#1 – Go for Clean Protein
We all know the importance of protein, but that important role is especially great in our children whose bodies are working overtime to grow healthy and strong. Growing kids require protein to build enzymes, hormones, and repair cells.
And as a benefit for you, protein-rich snacks keep them feeling fuller longer, giving you a much-needed break from the constant “Mooommm, I’m hungry!!”
#2 – Pick Snacks That Balance Their Blood Sugar
The typical high-carb, sugar-heavy snack is a recipe for blood sugar disaster. Constant ups and downs in blood sugar levels lead to a whole host of symptoms that interfere with a child’s ability to learn and do well in school.
- Inability to concentrate
- Temper tantrums
- Inability to sit still
- Increased anxiety
- Difficulty listening
- Easy distractibility
Cortisol is partly to blame for these reactions. That’s because we release adrenaline when our blood sugar drops, which then stimulates our adrenal glands to release cortisol (the stress hormone). That process is all fine if your kid ever needs to outrun a bear, but in everyday life, this constant cortisol release just makes it hard for them to focus, memorize, and pay attention. Provide snacks that help keep blood sugar balanced to support brain function all through the day. Some ideas for truly healthy snacks include apples and nut butter, guacamole and veggies or chips, oatmeal with berries and nuts, toast with nut butter or avocado, a piece of fruit, carrots, and hummus, popcorn drizzled with olive oil, and Paleovalley meat sticks.
#3 – Focus on Gut-Healthy Ingredients
Your child’s gut is home to over a trillion microbes, including viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Most of these are beneficial, helping your child fight off diseases and maintain homeostasis. With the right nutrition, this “microbiome” can help your child’s immune system.
But the WRONG foods can upset this balance and send your child’s immune system crashing to the ground …and their mental well-being too. That’s because of the gut-brain connection that scientists are just now starting to research extensively.
One study followed a group of 77 kids and discovered that kids with healthier guts were more social, positive, and curious. The children with lower bacterial diversity were more fearful and introverted. An easy way to nurture your kid’s gut is by giving them fermented snacks. They load the gut with probiotics that increase their levels of beneficial bacteria. You can also offer sources of prebiotics, which act as food for the good bugs. Great sources include bananas, asparagus, and garlic.
There’s one problem though.
Most kids have somewhat picky palates, and the tangy, sour taste of fermented foods isn’t exactly their idea of delicious. This is why I LOVE Paleovalley 100% Grass-Fed Beef Sticks.
They are portable, mess-free, and so delicious that kids love them, and parents do too! They are infinitely more nutritious than other snacks and loaded with gut-healing probiotics. They’re also free from all the chemicals, preservatives, encapsulated citric acid, and artificial flavors you find in pretty much every other packaged snack.
Besides that, Paleovalley Beef Sticks check all the boxes mentioned above:
- They’re a source of lean, clean protein – pasture-raised and 100% grass-fed AND finished, never fed grains, hormones, antibiotics, or GMOs.
- They help naturally balance blood sugar levels with 0 grams of sugar (yes, you read that right…ZERO sugar!)
- They are preserved naturally via the old-world process of fermentation, infusing every stick with gut-friendly probiotics!
In fact, my family and I enjoy them so much that I started giving them out to families in my clinic too. They are a hit! The folks at Paleovalley arranged a special deal just for my readers and podcast listeners. If you click the link below you can SAVE an additional 15% off your first order and get FREE SHIPPING. (So you can actually save up to 40% total!).
Here’s a recent blog post and video I published that explains “The Connection Between Your Child’s Blood Sugar and Behavior.“