Kids actually need to snack between meals as part of a healthy diet. Why? Their bodies are smaller and yet they need more calories per pound of body weight than adults (1). Relying on just 3 meals a day makes it difficult for kids to get all the nutrients and calories their growing bodies need. Eating as often as six times a day is ideal. Nutritious snacks can play a vital role in boosting their energy and providing them with the essential nutrients their bodies need.
Studies show that most kids get 25% of their daily calorie needs from snacks (2), so it is important to ensure they eat the right kinds of snacks. Unfortunately, most kids snack on foods that are at the top of the food pyramid (e.g., chips, candy, soft drinks), which are high in calories, fat, sugar and often low in essential nutrients such as calcium. The best impact a parent can have on the food choices kids make at snacktime is to set a good example. JungleGrub may have been formulated with kids taste and nutrients in mind, but it is just as good for parents! It’s a great tasting snack with only a 100 calories and it will give you the energy you need to make it between meals.
Not sure what to look for in a good snack?
A good place to start is reviewing the guidelines set by a California State Senate bill called SB-19. SB-19 has set limits on the amount of fat and sugar a healthy snack food should have. According to SB-19 a snack should have:
- No more than 35% of its calories from fat
- No more than 10% of its calories from saturated fat
- No more than 35% sugar by weight
Remember…snacktime should be fun and the kids should like what they eat. It’s OK to let them have snacks that:
- Are less sugar than a glass of milk
- Lower in carbs
Since most kids have a sweet tooth when it comes to snacktime, we added a nonfat vanilla yogurt icing for a taste of sweetness in each bite. Our goal was to provide kids with a nutritious snack that tastes sweet like the snacks they crave.
What’s in most other nutrition and breakfast bars?
We know the competition is tough and many times have seen large corporations make decisions to sacrifice quality for keeping profits up and costs down. This strategy is a winning proposition for many firms but a losing one for the consumer. In the food industry the decision to decrease the product cost often results in impacting the health and well-being of consumers in ways they probably never suspect. Substituting low quality and low cost ingredients can even enhance the sweetness of junk food, making it more irresistible to kids, and ultimately leading to higher consumption of these packaged foods full of “empty calories” - one of the most common examples of this is the substitution of HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) for good old fashioned cane sugar. Poor quality foods with highly processed ingredients leave kids feeling moody and unmotivated…barely getting through the day! I think I know some adults like that too! Go to our high-fructose corn syrup challenge to learn more.
Remember choose USDA organic when you can, and if it’s not available, read the label to make sure there’s no HFCS, trans fat, partially hydrogenated oils of any variety, and an excessive amount of sugar.
- The American Dietetic Association. Snacking Habits for Healthy Living. Minneapolis, MN: Chronimed Publ., 1997.
- Rallie McAllister, MD, Snacking Done Right; Keepkidshealthy.com: February 19,2004.
People love sweetness - its natural - but HFCS is not
What is it?
Since its introduction, HFCS has replaced the sugar in many processed foods. The main reasons for this switch are:
- HFCS is cheaper than natural sugar due to corn subsidies and sugar import tariffs; a phenomenon found mainly in the United States.
- HFCS is easier to blend and transport because it is a liquid.
- HFCS has a much longer shelf life.
- HFCS has a sweeter taste than sucrose or sugar.
Why should I be concerned?
Studies by researchers at University of California, Davis and the University of Michigan have shown that fructose increases the levels of triglycerides (fat) in the bloodstream. Fructose is converted to fat by the liver.
Unlike glucose (simple sugar), fructose does not stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin which signals the brain to turn down your appetite and control body weight. Furthermore, Dr. Peter Havel, a nutrition researcher at UC Davis who studies the metabolic effects of fructose, found that fructose does not increase the production of leptin which also signals the body to control the appetite and Dr. Havel found it does not suppress the production of ghrelin a hormone that increases hunger and appetite.
Simply stated, fructose turns off your body’s “full” signal…so you eat too much! In addition to the metabolic effects of fructose, high-fructose corn syrup is sweeter than sugar encouraging us to want more.
Dr. Havel is not convinced that HFCS is the only problem, but - the rate of HFCS consumption is the main concern. Food scientists will tell you there is nothing wrong with HFCS as long as it is consumed in moderation.
The overuse of HFCS in processed foods has made it difficult to avoid. According to the Department of Agriculture the average person in the US consumed almost 63 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup in 2001. HFCS is found in almost every kind of processed food. We encourage you to read more about HFCS and take the HFCS challenge. You will be amazed to find out how many of the foods you may be eating or feeding your kids contain HFCS!
Take the challenge!
The challenge is to find 5 processed food items in your kitchen that do not contain high-fructose corn syrup as an ingredient. The goal of the challenge is to bring to your attention the amount of HFCS you may ingest on a daily basis. Be sure to check food you would never suspect: croutons, pasta, bread, cereal, jelly or jam, peanut butter, soda, and fruit juice. You are going to be amazed!
Remember…as consumers we have the power of choice, the more we choose food items that do not contain HFCS the less manufacturers will use it.
Send us an email telling us about your experience with the challenge. If you have a favorite food that does not contain HFCS, let us know we plan to set up a page on our site dedicated to helping you find products that are free of HFCS.