Unmasking the Dark Side of Popular Kids' Snacks

Aug 30, 2023
kids snacks

Welcome, wonderful parents, cool aunties, caregivers, and anyone else invested in the well-being of our younger generation!

Today, we're pulling back the curtain on some of the most popular kids' snacks out there. And let's just say, not all of them deserve their cherished spot in your pantry. But don't worry, I'll also give you some Nutrition-Nerd-approved cleaner swaps to keep those little tummies happy and healthy.

Ready to dive in? Let's get started.



The Unhealthy Truth About Popular Snacks



Your child reaches for Goldfish crackers, and you're enticed by the promise of "100% real cheese." But did you know that autolyzed yeast extract is an ingredient that's basically MSG in disguise? It's designed to make your child crave these crackers, encouraging them to eat more than they should. Meanwhile, the enriched wheat flour in Goldfish has been stripped of beneficial nutrients like fiber, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins. The long-term consequence? You're setting your child up for a poor relationship with food and exposing them to harmful chemicals like glyphosate, a well-known cancer-causing agent found in tests on Goldfish crackers.


Fruit by the Foot

When you unwrap a Fruit by the Foot, you won't find a trace of strawberries. Instead, your child is ingesting sugar, corn syrup, and pear concentrate, all artificially dyed and flavored. One of those dyes, Red 40, is so concerning that it requires a warning label in Europe: "may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children." Consuming these artificial ingredients can lead to hyperactivity and attention issues in your child over time. (And sadly, these ingredients make their way into many more snacks—not just Fruit by the Foot)



You might think GoGurt is a healthy option because it's yogurt, right? Wrong. The second most plentiful ingredient in GoGurt is sugar. That sugar, coupled with "natural flavors" and potassium sorbate, makes GoGurt anything but healthy. To make matters worse, the milk used is from factory-farmed cows that have been given hormones and an unhealthy diet. Over time, these additives and chemicals can disrupt your child's hormonal balance—and remember, hormones control every function in our body from digestion to sleep to energy to mood and so much more.


Quaker Chewy Granola Bars

Your child might love Quaker Chewy Granola Bars, but their bodies certainly don't. These bars contain eight different processed sugars! From brown sugar to corn syrup, this snack is a minefield for setting up poor eating habits. Not to mention, it's loaded with soybean oil, an inflammation-causing ingredient that should have no place in a child's diet. In the long run, these unhealthy ingredients could lead to chronic inflammation and related diseases.


Veggie Straws

Don't let the name fool you; Veggie Straws are not filled with a variety of vegetables. In fact, they contain negligible amounts of vegetable powders and are mainly made from conventional potatoes fried in inflammatory seed oils. Over time, these unhealthy oils can compromise your child's immune system and promote inflammation.


Time For A Fresh Start: You Haven't Failed, You've Been Fooled

Let's pause for a moment. If you're feeling a little shell-shocked or guilt-ridden after reading about the ingredients lurking in those pantry staples, take a deep breath. It's not your fault. Food marketing teams have PhDs in deception and an incredible talent for misleading even the most vigilant consumers.

The important thing to remember is it's never too late for a fresh start. The past is the past, and every new day offers a chance to make better choices. Thankfully, healthier options do exist, options that are both kid-approved and Nutrition-Nerd-approved.

So, let's leave behind the misleading labels and harmful ingredients. It's time to introduce your family to snacks that you can feel good about.


Lesser Evil Popcorn

Ingredients: Organic non-GMO popcorn, organic coconut oil, Himalayan sea salt.
Why it's better: With only three ingredients, it's easy to see the transparency with Lesser Evil Popcorn.


Boulder Canyon Potato Chips


Ingredients: Potatoes, avocado oil, sea salt.
Why it's better: These chips use heart-healthy avocado oil and skip the additives, offering a simpler and cleaner snacking option.


Veggie Pops

Ingredients: Organic Kale, Organic Chickpeas, Organic Sunflower Seeds, Organic Bell Peppers, Organic Cauliflower, Organic Almonds, Nutritional Yeast, Organic Lemon Juice Concentrate, Organic Potatoes, Sea Salt, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Garlic Powder, Organic Cayenne.
Why it's better: Ingredients you can recognize (and pronounce!) plus the fact that they're almost all REAL veggies means your kiddo gets a big dose of fiber to promote digestion and regularity.


From the Ground Up Cauliflower Crackers

Ingredients: Cauliflower, Potato, Whole Grain Rice, Cassava, Rice Flour, Potato Flakes, Oat Flour, RSPO Palm Oil, Sea Salt, Sugar (only 1g added sugar!), Baking Powder, Paprika, Onion, Garlic, Xanthan Gum, Vegetable Blend (Spinach, Broccoli, Carrot, Tomato, Beet, Shiitake Mushroom), Sunflower Lecithin, Rosemary Extract, Parsley.
Why it's better: While this list is a bit longer, it's full of recognizable ingredients and incorporates real vegetables, offering a veggie boost.


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Larabars

Ingredients: Dates, peanuts, semisweet chocolate chips (Fair Trade Certified unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla extract), sea salt. (By the way, only 4g of added sugars!)
Why it's better: These bars are mainly fruit and nuts, keeping added sugar low and nutritional value high.


That's It Bars

Ingredients: Apples, blueberries.
Why it's better: With only fruits listed in the ingredients, these bars are the epitome of clean eating.


Horizon Organic String Cheese

Ingredients: Low Moisture Part Skim Organic Mozzarella Cheese (Cultured Pasteurized Part Skim Organic Milk, Salt, Microbial Enzymes).
Why it's better: This string cheese is organic, hormone-free, and made from the milk of cows not treated with antibiotics, offering a cleaner source of dairy.


Pearls Olives to Go

(my 4-year-old niece will slam one of these snack packs in about 6 seconds)

Ingredients: Olives, Sea Salt, Ferrous Gluconate.
Why it's better: This snack is straightforward and simple, featuring whole olives without any unnecessary additives.


Bonus Nutrient-Packed Options

Whole, Organic Fruit Dipped in Greek Yogurt and Peanut Butter

Recommended Brand for Peanut Butter: Crazy Richard's (because it has only one ingredient - peanuts!)
Why it's better: Combining fresh fruit with full-fat Greek yogurt and natural peanut butter creates a snack rich in vitamins, protein, and healthy fats, offering a well-rounded nutritional punch.


Fresh-Cut Veggies Dipped in Hummus

Recommended Brand for Hummus: Cava (because it has the cleanest ingredients list)
Why it's better: Fresh vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, and when paired with hummus, you're adding fiber and protein to the mix, making it a balanced and satisfying snack.



Bottom Line:

Look, I know it's a lot to take in, and your kids may be attached to some of these snacks. But the good news is you have the power to make healthier choices. Start swapping things out slowly; your kids will get used to and even love the cleaner options. Their future selves will thank you. 🙌

Looking for more healthy snack swaps for your littles? Drop a comment below, and I'll keep this post updated regularly.

To healthier snacking!

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