The school lunch box. Most moms make sure all the food groups are represented “ protein, dairy, fruit or vegetable, a carbohydrate and something to drink. But they also may be packing dangerous chemicals that are known to lead to cancer, heart disease, hyperactivity and obesity.
Take Lunchables, for example. A typical Lunchable contains sodium nitrite, hydrogenated oils, and sodium benzoate. Sodium benzoate is a preservative which is linked with increased aggression, compulsion and hyperactivity. Hydrogenated oils can be associated with development of ADHD, depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairments. A bag of Cheetos is a cocktail of dangerous chemicals including yellow dye, monosodium glutamate and hydrogenated oils. Yellow dye is connected with hyperactivity, eczema, asthma, DNA damage, zinc deficiency and aggressive behavior. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a neurotoxin that can lead to memory loss, learning disabilities and nervous system dysfunction. Even a packet of Oreos contains hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup.
So what is a mother to do?
The good news is that healthy, chemical-free options are much more prevalent than they used to be. Now on grocery store shelves, natural and non-processed foods share space with their highly chemical laden counterparts. You just have to read the labels and understand the impact of the chemicals that are in most food products that may look kid-friendly.
Key chemicals to avoid and their toxic effects:
Sodium nitrite “ converts to a known carcinogen in the human body, potentially leading to stomach and brain cancers
Hydrogenated oils “ heart disease, obesity, sudden cardiac death and stroke
High fructose corn syrup “ fat storage, loss of satiety and uncontrollable hunger
Sodium benzoate “ aggression, compulsion and hyperactivity
Yellow dye “ hyperactivity, eczema, asthma, DNA damage, zinc deficiency and aggressive behavior
Monosodium glutamate “ a neurotoxin that can lead to memory loss, dementia, learning disabilities and nervous system dysfunction
To help with your grocery selection, here are some brand names that are committed to chemical free, natural products. Most of these companies have products designed with children in mind.
- Newman's Own Cookies, Popcorn, and Crackers
- Applegate Farms Lunch boxes, lunchmeats, cheeses, breakfast meats
- Chobani Yogurt
- Kashi Cereals, Granola Bars, Trail Mix, and Frozen Meals
- Minute Maid 100% juice (CapriSun has a 100% juice option too)
- Langer's 100% Fruit Juice
- Annie's Fruit Snacks, Cookies, and Snack Crackers
- Envirokid's Snack Bars, Breakfast Bars
- Nature's Path Granola and Breakfast Bars, Crackers, Cookies, Breakfast Toaster Pastries
- Cascadian Farms
- Health Valley
- Clif Bars
- Horizon Organic Dairy Products
- Organic Valley
- Barbara's Bakery Fig Bars
- Bear Naked Granola, Cookies, and Trail Mix
In addition, many stores are carrying organic and natural products that are store brand, so you can pick these up as well. Again, reading the ingredients on a product's label is the most important thing a mother can do while shopping. While it may cost a few cents more to purchase the healthier alternatives, think of this as an investment in your child's long term health. If you find yourself hesitating, print off the above list of chemicals with their toxic consequences to remind you why you are making different choices.