You’ve read about “superfoods” for babies — these are the foods like berries and sweet potatoes that give an extra nutritional boost. Here are the “anti-superfoods,” the bad food for kids. The foods on this list have been shown to have little to no nutritional value and are linked to long-term health problems like obesity and diabetes. If you recognize your toddler’s diet on this list, it might be time to re-evaluate your shopping habits.

1. Soda—Calories from soda are empty and provide no nutritional value for your child (or for you). It’s just sugar in a bottle. A 12-ounce container has about 10 teaspoons of sugar, which is like eating a large candy bar or three bowls of ice cream! Long-term soda consumption is associated with poor bone health, according to one study.

2. Lunchmeat—Processed lunch meats are full of nitrates, which are preservatives used to prevent bacterial growth and add color. Nitrates have been linked to an increased risk for colon cancer. A recent study also found that consumption of processed meats was connected to coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes later in life.  Try to avoid processed meats such as bacon, ham, salami, corned beef, and some sausages. If you can’t resist, choose organic meats that are grass-fed or free range for a healthier option.

3. Hot dogs—They’re as American as baseball and apple pie. But they’re also a huge choking hazard for toddlers and have little nutritional value. A typical beef hot dog is very high in fat, nitrates, and sodium. If you have to serve a hot dog, try switching to a healthier alternative like a turkey dog, and cut it up into coin-size pieces. Then cut those coins in half again to make them easier for your child to chew.

4. Fruit juice—Your pediatrician has probably told you to avoid giving your child more than 4 ounces of fruit juice a day. There’s a reason for this. Not only can high levels of juice consumption cause diarrhea, but excessive consumption is strongly associated with weight gain in at-risk children. It’s fine if your child enjoys juice, but be sure to include water and milk just as often in his or her diet. If that becomes a battle, try watering the juice down into a half-and-half mixture to reduce sugar intake—many popular fruit juices are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to a host of health problems.

5. Prepackaged, processed meals—They’re quick and convenient but full of sodium. Your kids may love them, but a high-sodium diet is linked to increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and cardiovascular disease in later years.

6. Foods that are choking hazards—In addition to hot dogs, try avoiding foods that present an obvious choking hazard, like hard candies, nuts, popcorn, gummy candy, chewing gum, and marshmallows.

It can be hard to imagine that what you feed your toddler now will have an effect in 40 or 50 years, but today’s diet will have a dramatic effect on your child’s health in the future. Their taste buds can be “trained” to crave salty, sugary foods that aren’t good for them, leading to a potential lifetime of poor nutrition. Be an advocate for your child’s health and try to model healthier habits yourself.

Takeaways

  • Try to avoid overwhelming your toddler’s system with high volumes of sugar, fat, caffeine, and nitrates.
  • Lunchmeat and hot dogs are full of nitrates, which have been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer.
  • Excessive fruit juice consumption is strongly associated with weight gain in at-risk children.
  • Be an advocate for your child’s health, and try to model healthier habits yourself.

References

  1. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Association between long-term consumption of soft drinks and variables of bone modeling and remodeling in a sample of healthy German children and adolescents.
  2. Micha R, Wallace SK, Mozaffarian D. Red and processed meat consumption and risk of incident coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Circulation. 2010 Jun 1;121(21):2271-83.
  3. Faith MS, Dennison BA, Edmunds LS, Stratton HH. Fruit juice intake predicts increased adiposity gain in children from low-income families: weight status-by-environment interaction. Pediatrics. 2006 Nov;118(5):2066-75.
  4. Daniels LA, Mallan KM, Nicholson JM, Battistutta D, Magarey A. Outcomes of an early feeding practices intervention to prevent childhood obesity. Pediatrics. 2013 Jul;132(1):e109-18.

Comments

  1. Great article.

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  2. Thankfully, now you can find lower sodium and nitrate-free lunch meats so they don’t have to be off the menu!

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  3. So much has changed since our kids were babies. Thank you for the great info for our granddaughters.

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  4. Great reminders…I hadn’t thought of all these as potentially dangerous!

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  5. I knew lunch meat wasn’t great for you but I feel like I need to stay away from it too now!

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  6. This is mostly common sense for most I would believed. But the lunch meat thing was new

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  7. We mostly stay away from this list anyways, but we juice occasionally. And its usually organic and not the ones loaded with sugar and fructose corn syrup.

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  8. My daughter doesn’t like juice!!

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  9. This is such an informative article, I had no idea! This is a great thing since we babysit my niece, and soon when we have our little ones we´ll be more informed with all this information. Such a great share, considering that we avoid some of them already, but the information here is more detailed. Thanks.

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  10. Great article… i’m sad to say i am guilty of almost all of these! Good to know!

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  11. New to the group! Just started my membership today. I just wanted to say hello and introduce myself. My name is Jesseca, I’m a mother of two, son (Roanin-11), and daughter (Miah-5). Nice to be a part of a group of parents helping one another with the legacy of our children! Have a great day!
    ~Jes

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    1. Nice to meet you, Jes! Glad to see you’ve joined Bundoo. You’ll undoubtedly have a lot of advice to offer some of our new parents, and I hope Bundoo can help you in your parenting journey, too. If there is ever anything we can do for you, please let me know!

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  12. I already ditched the chicken nuggets, but Lunchmeat too? yikes!

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  13. My kids love orange juice in the morning, but I do try to limit it and give them water the rest of the day. Hot dogs are an occasional indulgence.

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  14. With regards to hot d
    God, Dr. Oz says children who eat hot dogs a lot have higher risk of leukemia. As for artificial sweeteners, go to Dr. Russell Blaylock…and Dr. Mercola, and Dr. Betty Martini….and you will learn how TOXIC aspartame is to the system…and was never really approved for human consumption until Donald Rumsfeld manageD to get the scientists kicked off the FDA who were opposing the passing of it to the American public as it caused multiple tumors in studies on rats…read the TRUTH. About aspartame at their sites.

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  15. OK, let’s get one thing straight. “Fruit juice” is not sweetened with HFCS. “Fruit drinks” are. Drinks labelled as “100% fruit juice” are just that. Albeit, not that good for your kids. It’s been so processed it’s probably not much different than HFCS as far as what it does to your blood sugar. Juice is a treat in this house and it’s freshly pressed along with spinach, kale, and broccoli.

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    1. Great point, Rebecca! The words companies choose to market products makes it even more important to check the labels.

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  16. My girls love hot dogs but I have recently switched to nitrate free and try to limit the amount they have. My oldest also enjoys turkey sandwiches but I try to stick to nitrate free as well. Haven’t introduced soda and don’t plan to for a very long time and usually dilute juice when they have it!

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  17. My son is 5 and eats and drinks half that stuff but no dark sodas. Lucky for us and him he’s got perfect straight white teeth and gets good news every dentist visit. He’s also very active so he’s not a chunky monkey but not a stick he’s just right and very happy and healthy. 😉

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  18. Hot dogs? Guilty as charged. But I do buy kosher, nitrate-free. And as of my reading this article, I’m going to try to cut back on how much my daughter eats them! 🙂

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    1. Same here! My little one loves hot dogs! I do buy organic chicken ones though. They are actually very good. 🙂

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    2. We stay away from everything on this list but do indulge in hot dogs every once in a while!

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  19. Wow, I had not heard to stay away from lunchmeat. I don’t feed it to my 2 and 4 year old very often at all, but my older boy loves salami. Next time I’m at the store I’ll look for organic options.

    Reply

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