Many parents turn to organic, super food-filled food pouches
as easy-to-prep solutions for picky eaters, but experts argue this may be
exasperating the problem, and setting kids up for a lifetime of bad eating
habits and obesity.
When my baby first started eating real food, I dreamt of
preparing love and kale-filled dishes for him every singe day. That dream
quickly turned to dust, as the overwhelm of being a working mom hit. After
brainstorming a number of solutions, I was thrilled when I found organic baby
food pouches chock-full of amazing ingredients at the store. They were the
perfect snack to carry in my purse, or to give to my LO on those days where he just
wasn't impressed with my cooking.
Then, the other
day when I was checking out, the clerk at the store casually asked if I'd seen
the latest research on these pouches. I hadn't, but I immediately went home and
looked into it, and what I found shocked me!
more and more experts are concerned about the health problems these packages
pose. Often given as the healthy alternative to regular snacks, few parents
realize that these pouches contain between 12 and 20 grams of sugar—twice
that in a regular apple—thanks to their most tasty ingredient:
concentrated fruit juice (aka "added sugar" according to the US
Department of Agriculture.)
Even when companies do not list
concentrated fruit juice in their ingredients, the process by which this food
is created is problematic in two ways. First, a lot of the water is removed,
concentrating both the flavors and the sugars. The second problem is that
grinding the fruit up destroys the insoluble fibers naturally found in this
food, which mitigates the sugar and insulin spikes caused by high sugar foods. Since
the food is pureed it is absorbed much faster, which only exacerbates the
problem. In other terms: regularly consuming these pouches is the perfect setup
for diabetes, weight gain and heart disease later in life.
By indulging our kids demand to eat easy-to-eat, great tasting food, they miss a key developmental milestone and are set up for a lifetime of poor eating habits and dental problems.
Not only that, but Plum Organics
and Gerber have actually been accused of bait-and-switch labeling by the nonprofit
Center for Science in the Public Interest because their prominent placement of superfood ingredients on the label does not match what's actually inside.
If that wasn't enough, doctors are
also concerned that frequent sucking of foods has a negative impact on the
development on the facial muscles used for chewing (remember how the doctor
said to ditch the bottle at your one-year checkup? Same logic!), increases the
risk of cavities the same way juice does, and further spoils the palates of
picky eaters. By indulging our kids demand to eat easy-to-eat, great tasting
food, they miss a key developmental milestone and are set up for a lifetime of
poor eating habits and dental problems.
there is the risk of mold and contamination, like last year's GoGo Squeez mold
contamination scare which, while not life-threatening, did make a whole lot of
food taste terrible and posed an increased risk for allergic reactions in
a mom to do? Did I go home, throw out the devil's pouch? No, of course not!
They are by far still the best option for those growth-spurt days where kiddo
just needs another snack, or those tired and grumpy breakfasts where even his
favorite foods seem to make his skin crawl. (Or, now that he's learned sign
language, are "all done" before he's taken a second bite.)
But we have made a more concerted
effort to keep real foods on the table. Bananas and apples, steamed sweet potatoes, millet porridge with
small chunks of sweet potato, noodles topped with a delicious veggie
filled sauce and meatballs filled with kale, beet and more. We always season
his food, let him try whatever he wants, and make sure that he has great
associations with mealtime.
Eating real food is more than just eating your veggies. It is sitting at the table with mom and dad talking, stealing bites from other people and developing your own tastes, even if that means chucking a handful of dinner at Mom, then signing "all done" before asking for a special treat.