The Worst Health Foods for Kids

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 04/22/2024

Ever heard the saying, "You are what you eat?" For our kids, it's more like they become what we feed them. Balancing work life and daily tasks and ensuring your child is eating right can be difficult, but it is important nonetheless.

Learn about foods you should avoid feeding your children so you can support them growing healthy and strong.

The Sugar Trap in Children's Health Foods

It may surprise you, but many foods marketed as healthy for kids are full of sugar. For instance, fruit juice and flavored yogurt often hide an alarming amount of this sweet substance.

The Deceptive Nature of Fruit Juice

Fruit juice is widely perceived as a vitamin-rich option for children. But the truth? It's a high-sugar beverage that can cause issues like hypoglycemia and dental problems. The natural sugars in fruit become concentrated when made into juice, leading to these health concerns.

Recent studies have found that nutrient depletion is another problem associated with high fruit juice consumption. This happens because consuming large amounts of fructose—the type of sugar found in fruits—can hinder the absorption of certain nutrients in your child's body.

The Hidden Sugars in Flavored Yogurt

You might think flavored yogurt is a good snack choice for your kid because of the calcium content. Unfortunately, there are a lot of hidden sugars in yogurt that you want your kids to avoid.

While plain yogurts usually have low levels of naturally occurring milk sugars (lactose), their flavored counterparts are loaded with added sweeteners. These turn what seems like a healthy food choice into another source of feeding our kids' excessive sugar intake.

Unhealthy Weight Gain Solutions for Kids

Parents often turn to weight gain shakes like Ensure or PediSure, believing they'll help their children bulk up. But, these drinks are loaded with sugar and synthetic vitamins.

The Unhealthy Components of Weight Gain Shakes

A closer look at the labels on these popular products reveals a shocking truth. The amount of sugar in them can be alarming.

This high sugar content not only contributes to unhealthy weight gain but also increases the risk of dental issues and insulin resistance.

While created to mimic natural ones, synthetic vitamins may not provide all the benefits associated with naturally occurring nutrients.

Healthy Alternatives for Weight Gain in Children

Healthier alternatives are available if you're seeking ways to boost your child's calorie intake without sugary solutions.

Natural starches are excellent choices because they offer more nutrition than processed foods and do not dramatically spike blood glucose levels.

Incorporating other nutrient-dense foods like avocados and nuts into meals is another intelligent move toward healthy growth.

The Misconception of Whole Grain Cereal

Whole grain cereal often holds a reputation as the go-to healthy breakfast for kids. But let's dig deeper into this assumption.

The Processing Problem with Whole Grain Cereal

During manufacturing, many whole grains are stripped of their nutritious bran and germ layers, reducing their nutritional value significantly.

This process leaves behind refined grains that have fewer nutrients and less fiber. So when your child digs into a bowl of 'healthy' whole grain cereal, they're not getting all the nutrition you might think.

The Risks of Overconsumption of Refined Grain Products

Risks extend beyond just missing out on some vitamins or minerals, though. Eating too many refined grain products can spike insulin levels in our bodies, potentially leading to obesity over time.

Studies show an association between a high intake of refined grains and health issues like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

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The Vitamin C Myth in Orange Juice

Orange juice, the breakfast table staple, has long been celebrated as a potent source of vitamin C, but actually may not be so healthy.

The Pasteurization Process and Vitamin C Depletion

Pasteurization is necessary to kill harmful bacteria in juices, but this heat treatment has an unwanted side effect: It depletes natural vitamins such as vitamin C from orange juice.

By the time that carton of juice reaches your fridge, its once-rich supply of naturally occurring vitamin C has been depleted.

To compensate for this loss, manufacturers add synthetic versions of vitamins back into their products. So yes, while you get some form of vitamin C when you drink store-bought orange juice, it’s not naturally derived from oranges.

Healthier Alternatives to Popular Kids' Foods

The journey to healthier food choices for kids don't have to be difficult to find, as long as you are aware of them.

Proteins: Trade Processed Meats for Lean Options

Lean proteins, like grilled chicken or turkey, are more beneficial than processed meats, such as hot dogs and deli slices. These alternatives offer higher nutritional value and less sodium and preservatives.

Veggies & Fruits: Go Fresh Over Canned or Juiced

Fresh fruits and veggies trump canned versions every time because they're free from added sugars and syrups.

Nuts & Seeds: Natural Energy Boosters

Nuts and seeds make great snack options as they’re packed with protein, healthy fats, and fiber, which can help support heart health. Remember portion control; while nutritious, these foods are high in calories.

Kids Gut Health and Diet

Maintaining good gut health in children is paramount for their overall well-being. A balanced and nutritious diet supports their digestive system and immune function. However, concerns about parasites may arise, leading parents to consider a parasite cleanse for kids.

Ensuring that children's diets are rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and probiotic-rich foods can contribute to a healthy gut environment, helping to prevent parasitic infections.

Incorporating a parasite cleanse for kids when recommended by a healthcare professional, can be an extra layer of protection. This cleanse can help eliminate potential parasites and safeguard children's gut health.

Parents should consult healthcare providers to determine the most suitable approach to maintaining their kids' gut health and addressing parasite concerns.

Balancing a nutritious diet with preventive measures like parasite cleanses can promote optimal gut health in children and support their overall growth and development.


What we feed our children shapes their health and well-being. While it can be challenging to balance daily tasks, being mindful of their diet is crucial.

Many seemingly healthy foods for kids contain hidden sugars and additives that can contribute to health issues.

Opting for lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, and natural snacks like nuts and seeds can provide essential nutrients without the drawbacks of processed foods.

Prioritizing gut health through a balanced diet and considering preventive measures like parasite cleanses, when necessary, can further support their overall health. By making informed choices about their diet, we can help our children thrive and grow into healthy individuals.

Let's give proteins, vegetables, and fruits more plate real estate at meal times. Nuts and seeds make great snacks, too!


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