Spend less and eat better: stop buying special kid food

I was in Whole Foods, but unnecessary kid food products can be found in any grocery store. Organic Jammy Sammy’s are just Uncrustables for the organic set.

Five Reasons to Stop Buying Kid Food:

Food companies have done a great job of making us think kids need special food — yogurt, snacks, bars, crackers, juices…. Kid branded items are in almost every aisle of the grocery store. But if we wake up (to borrow a phrase from the Wellness Bitch) out of our marketing-induced purchasing trance, we can stop buying this stuff, eat better, and save money. Wow, a no-brainer!

1. Kid food is more expensive. Serving sizes are small, servings per container are small, but price tag is big. For example: a 32 oz tub of Stonyfield Yogurt is $.12/oz and YoBaby is $.16/oz; graham crackers are $.21/oz and Teddy Grahams are $.30/oz ($.47/oz in the individual packets).

2. Kid food teaches kids they need special food. Kids don’t need to eat special food but if it’s what they eat most, how will they know? Many kid’s products are portioned out for kids, so they don’t learn appropriate serving sizes. When kids eat the same thing as adults, they eat more variety, eat healthier, and learn better eating habits.  Younger kids, especially, like to emulate grown-ups. When it comes to eating, that’s how kids are learning what’s healthy, what’s tasty, and how to portion out a serving.

3. Kid food teaches kids to snack. Most kid food products are snack foods — bars, crackers, cookies, yogurt tubes — and come in little snack packs. Parents carry snacks around all the time to satisfy their child’s hunger immediately. All this does is teach kids to grab a snack as soon as they feel a hunger pang. Grabbing a pack of crackers or a juice box at every sign of hunger is a really bad habit. Kids end up eating more processed foods and are too full to eat at meal times.

4. Kid food is full of unnecessary ingredients. Kid food is almost always highly processed with refined flour, sugar or HFCS. Food makers think kids need bright colors, which usually means dyes. They think kids need fun shapes which means additives to bind and emulsify. Kid food generally has a super-long shelf life, which means preservatives. All this stuff makes kids unhealthy and overweight.

5. Kid food generates more waste. Most kid food is individually wrapped in small portions resulting in lots of waste. And a lot of it is foil and non-recyclable plastics. If generating less waste isn’t on your radar when it comes to eating healthier, it should be. Less packaging = less pollutants, smaller land-fills, and less nagging to your spouse to take out the trash.

Sure, maybe your kids think they can’t live without their favorite food (like Goldfish, frozen waffles, or yogurt tubes) but they can. It doesn’t have to happen all at once. Replace favorites one at a time and see how quickly your kids adjust and develop new favorites for everyday eating. Save the old favorites for treats and special occasions.

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