Updated: Apr 1, 2019
BY DR. LISA GOODMAN, DC, CCSP, CACCP
Hey, Parents! In a perfect world we have family dinners and pack organic lunches for our kiddos every day, complete with veggies that they eat before their dessert right? Well, we all know that often times this isn’t real life. And shhh, I’m going to share some tips on how to do the best for you and your kids when you just need to prepare something quick or serve something they will eat. We’re really talking about convenience foods and condiments. You know the ones pb&j, mac & cheese, lunch meat, hot dogs, pancakes, juice, etc. Some of this might be common sense as we are fairly evolved, but you might be surprised, so check it out.
The first thing to consider is that shopping organic and non-GMO is important. But it is NOT the only important consideration. Here is a quick cheat sheet to ingredients you really want to avoid:
Nitrates. Occurring in nearly all hot dogs, bacon, pepperoni and deli meat and used for decades to preserve meat, nitrates are solidly linked to cancer. They are also a key ingredient in rocket fuel. It is not enough to purchase ‘all natural’, ‘kosher’ or ‘all beef.’ Read the label carefully! It has to say Uncured and Nitrate-Free. Bacon is awesome, just be sure you are eating the unpreserved variety.
High Fructose Corn Syrup. This is getting much better, educated consumers have been heard! But be sure to look for it! One place where we still see HFCS is ketchup, salad dressing, yogurt, soups and syrup. HFCS increases fat production, does not properly stimulate insulin production and because it is so sweet, affects our taste receptors. It also contains many other toxins and is a general marker of cheap, processed food with no health benefit. It is not the same as sugar.
Artificial Sweeteners. You most likely know to avoid Aspartame and Sucralose, but now we have to watch out for Erythritol and Xylitol which are the newest ‘safe’ sweeteners. Many low calorie, energy and sports drinks (including Bai, Vitamin Water and Zevia Soda) are sweetened with Erythritol and promoted as healthy because they are derived from sugar or fruit. However, these sugar alcohols can cause common side effects including diarrhea, stomach ache and headache even in small doses. They are terribly aggravating for IBS and because they cannot be processed by our bodies, they accumulate and can lead to chronic digestive issues. Erythritol is also used as a pesticide and lethal to insects. Watch out for Truvia as is only 5% stevia and 95% Erythritol. Better alternatives are unsweetened beverages, honey, stevia and real sugar in small quantities.
Fake Food. Fake foods are foods that are not actually foods. These can include ‘peanut butter’ that is actually hydrogenated vegetable oil and sugar. Or jelly which has added sugar or artificial sweeteners. The worst offender perhaps is ‘maple syrup’ most of which is made of HFCS. In all of these cases be sure to opt for the real thing! Also on this list is conventional mac & cheese. Among the reasons these fake foods are so inexpensive is because they have such cheap ingredients.
In a nutshell, buy organic when you can and be sure to read labels on the things you purchase most frequently. Get the real thing, with real ingredients. Most nutritionists advise shopping the perimeter of any grocery store, that way you are most eating fresh plant and animal products and fewer processed foods. However, when you go processed, it becomes even more important to check that label. Remember that old Breyer’s commercial about “Milk, Cream and Sugar?” Well, it’s true, if you don’t know the words in the ingredients list, it is probably not something you should consume.
Opt for This Instead of That
Make choices as an educated consumer, here are a few of my go-to, easy suggestions for making healthy choices today.
Pancakes – Opt for Kodiak Cakes found at Costco (higher in protein too) instead of conventional brands
Dessert – Freeze yogurt tubes (with no HFCS) as a yummy alternative to ice cream
Deli Meat & Bacon – Seek out nitrate free options at Whole Foods or Sprouts
Milk – Add Califia Farms Coconut/Almond Unsweetened into your routine. It might just get you thinking about ditching milk altogether. More calcium than cow’s milk, too!
Juice – add 50% water to your juice to cut some sugar out and make it last longer
Mac & Cheese – first choose a brand with real ingredients and then choose to use only half of the cheese packet
Build a ‘snack’ lunch – deconstruct the sandwich. Send your kids with turkey, cheese and crackers rather than a traditional sandwich to school. Like a make-your-own lunchable. Don’t forget dessert – perhaps a small chocolate square
Kid-Conscious Wash Park Restaurants
When all else fails and you want to opt for a healthy meal out check out some of our local faves:
Breakfast at Wild Eggs is delicious and they have friendly staff who cater to kids! We love that Wild Eggs also has optional 100% maple syrup.
Lunch at Vert Kitchen uses only real ingredients in their yummy pb&js with the cutest presentation for our little connoisseurs
Dinner at Homegrown Tap & Dough provides a fun atmosphere including video games and outdoor games, not to mention a delicious kids menu complete with veggies and a small sundae. And finally, we’d like to bust the myth that all kids hate brussels sprouts. If you or your kiddo fall into this category, clearly you haven’t tried the brussels sprouts from Blackbird Public House. They are so crispy and delicious that your kids won’t know they’re actually full of vitamins. Win win!
Washington Park Chiropractic is the only practice in Denver, Colorado specializing in Sports Chiropractic, Prenatal Chiropractic and Pediatric Chiropractic. Our Wash Park Doctors are expert certified and trained in Sports, Pediatrics and Prenatal Care including massage, acupuncture, Webster Technique, Graston Technique, Laser, K-Laser, Kinesiology Tape, RockTape and Normatec.
Lisa Goodman, DC, CCSP, CACCP is a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP) and Certified Prenatal and Pediatric Chiropractor (CACCP). She is a CrossFit L1 and CrossFit Kids Certified Trainer. Dr. Goodman founded Washington Park Chiropractic in 2006 in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Goodman incorporates sports chiropractic techniques with prenatal and pediatric patients, she teaches mobility and taping classes locally, and is a contributor to POPSUGAR, Urban Life Wash Park and DC Aligned. She is a committee member on the boards of the ACA Pediatrics Council and the ACA Sports Council. Areas of special interest include prenatal care, ankle and wrist injuries, instrument assisted soft tissue techniques, strength training, and pediatric fitness. Stay connected with Dr. Goodman on Instagram @washparkchiro or @lisakgoodman