Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
May 21, 2018
“Can I have some Skittles and a Coke?”
Kids say the “darndest” things. Kids also eat the “darndest” things. Skittles and Cokes and all that stuff are junk foods. They certainly are not part of healthy snacking for kids. These “foods” are extremely harmful to every cell in their bodies. They also are major causes of tooth decay and obesity. So, what are the choices that will satisfy those “darndest” cravings and still be healthy? Read some of my thoughts.
Looking for Something to Crunch?
Many years ago, I asked my grandson what he thought was so great with potato chips. He was only 7 years old when I asked that question, and his insight amazed me. He told me that chips are tasty because they are crunchy and salty. At such a tender age, he already knew how the food industry could manipulate his choice of “foods”.
Potato chips, tortilla chips, pretzels – all are crunchy and salty but not healthy. They are made of over-processed carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, excessive salt, and chemicals. In addition, they are devoid of most nutrients.
A great “crunch” without eating chips or pretzels could come from apple slices, celery sticks, cucumbers slices, radish slices, or carrots. You might want to shop for dehydrated veggies and fruit that also work well as a crunchy snack. (However, be sure you only buy dehydrated veggies and fruits. They should not be cooked in unhealthy vegetable oils with added chemicals and salt.) These nutritious substitutes give the satisfaction of a crunchy snack without added processed carbs and other unhealthy ingredients. They could be dipped into an organic peanut butter, organic almond butter, or organic coconut butter (try it; you will be surprised) for added nutrients and taste.
Another crispy choice, which may be new to you, is Jicama slices. Jicama is a root vegetable, with the texture of a firm pear and the flavor of a sweet apple. They also are great for “dipping”.
When it comes to candy, most is not healthy. Basically, candy is all sugar with added chemicals. Instead of grabbing for a handful of candy, think about substituting with a handful of nuts, seeds and raisins. Nuts, seeds, and raisins are crunchy, sweet, and loaded with good nutrients.
Here’s another idea. My personal go-to snack is chocolate. However, milk chocolate is just candy with a little cocoa mixed in. But, chocolate bars could become a healthier snack if you replaced a milk chocolate candy bar with an organic 85% dark chocolate bar. Organic cacao powder is loaded with healthy nutrients and antioxidants. Two of my favorite bars are: “Alter Eco Dark Blackout” and “Theo Pure 85% Dark Chocolate”. These are organic with little sugar and healthy levels of magnesium and fiber.
Looking for Something to Drink?
Avoid all sodas – both those that have sugar and those that are artificially sweetened. All sodas are loaded with unhealthy chemicals and acids. Sugars and acids will cause tooth decay as well as gut problems. Artificial sweeteners by themselves can damage the healthy bacteria in the gut.
Instead of sodas, consider water, teas, or seltzers that have no chemicals. If you want to use a sweetener, use a non-caloric natural sweetener like organic whole-leaf stevia or organic monk fruit (Luo Han Guo).
Looking for Something Cold?
Many people cannot tolerate milk. But, if your kids can tolerate milk products, here is a great substitute for conventional ice cream, which is loaded with sugar and chemicals:
Organic, unsweetened, full-fat yogurt is a healthy substitute. Add slices of whole fruit like berries and bananas to the yogurt and chill in the freezer.
Here is another great summer idea. Instead of traditional, sugary Popsicle, try freezing a smoothie. Make a smoothie with fresh whole fruits and some greens including all their healthy fiber. Don’t juice. Pour the mixture into individual ice cube trays. Then insert a Popsicle stick into each cube and freeze them. Easy to eat and healthy.
Snacks can be healthy and can be fun. Be creative. Involve your kids when it comes to preparing these snacks. This will be fun for them, and they will learn how to prepare healthier foods. It is important to try to avoid all processed grains and added chemicals, and limit added sugars as much as possible.
Most snacks can fit into individual serving packs like small Ziploc bags. These will be time-savers and convenient for trips, lunches, and the perfect “grab-on-the-go”!