Label Lessons for Healthy School Lunches

Packing healthy lunches for the kids can be downright stressful. How can you be sure that you are packing your kid's lunch box with foods that are both delicious AND nutritious? These days, food companies can be deliberately deceitful with misleading and seductive marketing. How do you know you're not just feeding your kids sugar, GMOs and chemicals dressed up in "natural" packaging? 

Avoid the Scary Seven:

1. High-Fructose Corn Syrup

(Glucose-Fructose in Canada)
Potential side-effects: obesity, insulin resistance, increased belly fat, heart disease.

2. Trans Fats

(Labeled as "shortening," "partially hydrogenated," or "hydrogenated," "mono and diglycerides," or "DATEM")

Potential side-effects: heart disease, cancer, diabetes.

3. Artificial Flavors

A blanket term refering to over 100 possible chemical additives. Potential side-effects: allergic and behavioral reactions.

4. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Potential side-effects: chest pain, heart palpitations, headaches, stimulates taste buds causing us to eat more.

5. Artificial Colors

Potential side-effects: Allergies, sinus congestion, hyperactivity in children, worsens symptoms of ADD and ADHD

6. Artificial Sweeteners

Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet): Primarily affects the nervous system.

Potential side-effects: headaches, dizziness, memory loss, convulsions.

Sucralose (Splenda): More research is needed to determine its safety.

Acesulfame Potassium (Ace-K): Research indicates it may cause cancer.

Neotame: Need more studies to confirm safety.

Saccharin (Sweet'N Low): Proven to cause cancer in animals. Suspected human carcinogen.

7. Preservatives

Potential side effects:

TBHQ: Tinnitus, nausea, vomiting.Polysorbates (60, 65 & 80): Infertility, immunosuppressant, anaphylaxis.

BHT/BHA: Liver and kidney problems. BHA is a possible carcinogen.

Nitrates or Nitrites: Allergic reactions, potential carcinogen.

Potassium Sorbate: Allergic reactions, nausea, diarrhea and DNA damage.

Sodium Benzoate: Allergic reactions, carcinogen.

Sulfites: Allergic reactions - especially for asthmatics.

While you're at it, be sure to Unjunk Your Kid's Lunch Box by learning to easily navigate food labels and make healthy food choices to keep your kids alert, well-nourished and ready to learn!

In this free e-book by our team at Naturally Savvy, you will find healthy alternatives to conventional lunch box foods, from sandwich breads to juices. Side-by-side comparisons clearly outline what distinguishes a bad choice from a Naturally Savvy recommended alternative, with easy to understand information baking up these claims. You will also find nutritional information and full ingredients lists that are color coded to help you recognize the worst ingredients, also known as The Scary Seven, ingredients that should be eaten with caution, and those that are potentially GMO ingredients.

The e-book comes packed with useful information, some great recipes, and peace of mind that you are educating yourself to ensure your kids get great nutrition without sacrificing taste. The e-book also includes links to coupons for the Naturally Savvy approved products. 

Be sure to visit for more natural, organic and healthy living alternatives.

5/12/2015 7:00:00 AM
Written by NaturallySavvy
Andrea Donsky is an Author, Registered Holistic Nutritionist (R.H.N.) and Co-Founder of The Healthy Shopper Inc. and Naturally Savvy Media. A natural visionary and successful entrepreneur, Andrea holds a Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University and is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (R.H.N.). Andrea has dedi...
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We must be careful also though to not get caught up in the hype that everything "store-boughten" causes allergies, ADD, Autism, cancer, etc.
I think moderation should be the target and also referring back to the good old food pyramid to guide our choices.
Posted by Kalee RN MSN
Splenda, in "normal" amounts, is 100% safe. I've been a Medical Director of a weight loss clinic for 30 years. There is NO study which disputes Splenda's safety.
Posted by Dr. Mike
This was a very informative post about watching out for various unhealthy ingredients in foods. It can be difficult to find foods without these ingredients. It has become more apparent that preparing one's own food rather than consuming processed foods and growing one's own food is the healthiest and most sustainable diet.
Posted by PharmD student
This was a great read and something I wish more parents followed. Starting healthy habits needs to start at a young age and it kills me to see kids going into school with Lunchables and other horrible things they sell nowadays. September was National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and it is something that needs to be continued year round. Packing healthy lunches and keeping kids activate is the best way to lead them to a healthy lifestyle for the future. One tip: when grocery shopping try to stay near the perimeters of the store. That's where you will find the healthiest food.
Posted by JC
Wow. Really educative article. Great supermarket guide!!
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