When looking for easy ways to sneak fruits and vegetables into a child's diet, many parents wonder if veggie chips or fruit and vegetable juice will do the trick. According to the advertising claims on the package, these seem like healthy options.
Check your veggie chip nutrition facts
Who wouldn't want to eat or drink these products when health experts advise us to eat more fruits and vegetables? But are we truly getting all the nutrients that these packages claim?
To answer these questions, it's important to look at the ingredients in veggie chips. In many, there's more dried potato than any other ingredient; more tapioca starch than beet, spinach, pumpkin, tomato or red bell pepper powder; and more salt than kale powder. In short, most veggie chips are coming from mainly dried potato and veggie powders or flours. If the ingredients list "vegetable solids from dried vegetables,"in reality, dried vegetables are actually vegetable powders.
In some juices, the ingredients come from sweet potato and carrot concentrates, and the full serving of fruit that's advertised comes from mostly apple and grape juice concentrates. So even if concentrates provide "some" of the vitamins and minerals, they are not as nutritious as eating whole fruit.
Nothing beats eating the real thing
Vegetables are low in calories because they are mostly water; therefore, eating the dry version of a vegetable will not give you the full benefit simply because you aren't getting the water content.
When you replace some of the ingredients in a dish with whole vegetables, you lower the number of calories without losing the fullness factor. For example, when you add carrots and peas to your brown rice, odds are you'll eat less rice but feel full.
On the other hand, veggie powders in veggie chips do not reduce the number of calories you consume, and you may overeat on the chips thinking that you are eating a nutritious snack.
It takes planning and dedicating blocks of time to cut up fruits and veggies and cook meals, but once they are in your fridge, you can just grab and go! See more tips for meal planning to keep your family healthy.
Setting goals and making one healthy choice at a time can help your family on the journey to wellness. Learn more about our pediatric weight management programs and services.
Stay current on the health insight that makes a difference to your children. Sign up for the Children's Health newsletter and have more tips sent directly to your inbox.