Are Veggie Chips and Fruit Gummies Replacing real Vegetables and Fruits in your child’s diet?
Do you like being fooled … tricked … taken? Snacks such as Fruit Roll-ups®, Fruit Snacks®, Fruit by the Foot® and Veggie Chips® are candy or chips in disguise. They do not contain any of the goodness of vegetables and fruit and instead are high in sugar, fat, salt, artificial flavours, colours, and preservatives. They are missing important nutrients and fibre that are vital for good health and protection from disease. These snacks are not as satisfying and nutritious as vegetables and fruit, which mean that they are often eaten in greater quantities. Don’t be fooled by fancy packaging with pictures of vegetables and fruit and words such as real fruit or a serving of vegetables on the label. Know what you are eating. Enjoy eating whole vegetables and fruits everyday to get all the health benefits they offer.
Are Organic Foods More Nutritious?
There is not enough evidence at this time to say that organic foods are more or less nutritious than non-organic foods. Some foods grown organically may have more nutrients, and some may have the same, or even less, than those grown on non-organic farms. So what is the difference between organic and non-organic foods? Organic food is produced without synthetic (human-made) pesticides and fertilizers, antibiotics or growth hormones, irradiation and genetically modified organisms. Is organic food as safe to eat as other foods? Yes, In Canada, both organic and non-organic foods have to follow strict guidelines and are tested to make sure they are safe to eat. Organic produce may have lower levels of some pesticides. Although Canadians are not exposed to unhealthy levels of pesticides from organic or non-organic food it is still wise to wash all your fruits and vegetables very well with water for at least 30 seconds especially when you eat the outer skin. To further reduce your exposure to pesticides, you can also choose foods grown in Canada since Canadian produce tends to have lower amounts of pesticides.
In the end, what’s most important is that you eat a variety of health-promoting foods. All vegetables and fruit are nutritious (when they are eaten whole or minimally processed), whether they are organically grown or not.
What’s Up with Superfoods?
You’ve probably heard of the word superfood, often used as a marketing tool by social media. Common examples of superfoods include goji or acai berries, blueberries and kale just to name a few. A superfood is considered a nutrient-rich food that is super beneficial for a person’s health. In reality, there isn’t one food in particular that contains all the nutrients your body needs, and therefore there isn’t one specific food that can be classified as being the most nutritious or a superfood. The best way to max out your nutrient intake is to eat a variety of nutritious foods. Try including different coloured fruits and vegetables when preparing family meals like bright orange mangos, green asparagus and red peppers to get a variety of nutrients.
Getting the Best Buy on Vegetables and Fruits
Do you think that vegetables and fruits are expensive? Does that make it more difficult to choose them more often? In reality, vegetables and fruit are not as expensive as they are perceived to be. If you compare the cost of foods by weight (instead of calories), vegetables and fruit are less expensive than most foods high in saturated fat, added sugars or salt! However, prices of fresh vegetables and fruit fluctuate during the calendar year and can be affected by weather, politics and other factors. In order to get the best buy on vegetables and fruit, try these tips:
- Buy or pick fresh vegetables and fruit in season. Visit the Foodland Ontario website for their Availability Guide to see when Ontario fruits and vegetables are in season.
- Frozen vegetables and fruit are affordable and nutritious options, especially when fresh produce isn’t in season
- Lower-sodium canned vegetables or fruit canned in water or juice (not syrup) can also be a convenient choice
- Visit EatRight Ontario for grocery shopping tips and Half Your Plate for storage tips (to help prevent waste)
Do you consider your child a Picky Eater?
Parents often use the term ‘picky eating’ to describe eating behaviour that in reality is normal childhood eating behaviour. It is normal for young children to be cautious when it comes to trying new foods (especially vegetables), love a food one day and have no interest the next, show enthusiasm at meals for a time and then exhibit disinterest. This is common for toddlers and preschoolers, however, it can continue into later years depending on the response of parents and caregivers. Childhood feeding expert, Ellyn Satter explains that patience and perseverance will lead to children adopting the eating patterns of their parents and caregivers, however, pressure in the form of praise, rewards, tricking or punishing children into eating is likely to lead to an unhealthy relationship with food and greater dislike for healthy foods such as vegetables. Children are more likely to try foods they helped make, so it is important to include your child in the preparation of meals (including their school lunch). Children are also more likely to eat vegetables or fruit when they see their parents and caregivers eating them. Eating a variety of vegetables and fruit is one of the best ways to ensure your children will eat them too!