snacktivism

The Truth About Fruit Snacks

by Sally on January 14, 2015

Myths about Fruit Snacks by Real Mom NutritionFruit snacks are fixtures in lunch boxes and party goody bags. They show up on soccer sidelines and are beloved by kids (yes, including mine). But for something that calls itself “fruit” and a “snack”, they’re also highly overrated. Here are the three biggest misconceptions about fruit snacks–and what ALL parents should know about these ubiquitous little pouches:

Myth #1: Fruit snacks are healthy.

Here’s the ingredient list for a popular brand of fruit snacks that features superheroes on the front of the box:

Corn syrup, Sugar, Apple Puree Concentrate, Water, Modified Corn Starch, Gelatin, Contains 2% or less of Citric Acid, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Natural and Artificial Flavors, Yellow 5, Red 40, Sodium Citrate, Blue 1.

Here’s the ingredient list for Gummy Bears:

Corn Syrup, Sugar, Gelatin, Dextrose, Citric Acid, Corn Starch, Artificial and Natural Flavors, Fractionated Coconut Oil, Carnauba Wax, Beeswax Coating, Artificial Colors Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1.

See any similarities?

  • Both have two forms of added sugar (corn syrup and sugar) as the the first two ingredients–meaning, those are the ingredients in the largest quantities
  • Both contain artificial flavors and preservatives
  • Both contain three kinds of artificial food dyes

See any differences?

  • Fruit snacks have added vitamin C. But keep in mind: Children ages 4-8 need just 25 milligrams of vitamin C a day–that’s the amount in 3 medium strawberries OR about a quarter of an orange. In other words, C isn’t a vitamin that’s terribly difficult to get.
  • Fruit snacks contain apple puree concentrate, which allows the box to claim “made with fruit”. But keep in mind: Fruit concentrate is actually more like a source of added sugar than actual fruit.

Myth #2: Fruit snacks are fruit.

Yes, some fruit snacks are made with fruit juice, but not in a meaningful amount. Some fruit snacks are made with fruit juice concentrate, which is more of a sweetener than actual fruit. Fruit snacks should not be considered a serving of fruit. They don’t have the fiber of fruit. They also don’t have the texture of fruit. So kids who gobble fruit snacks are not learning to like fruit. They are learning to like gummies.

Myth #3: Fruit snacks are harmless.

Fruit snacks, like other kinds of chewy candies, stick to the teeth. Bacteria in the mouth feed on these sugary residues, producing acids that can cause decay. Fruit snacks are also loaded with added sugar. Take a look at exactly how much is in one tiny pouch:

Myths about Fruit Snacks by Real Mom NutritionI know fruit snacks aren’t going away anytime soon, and I know kids like them. So if you’re going to buy them…

  • Consider choosing one without artificial food dyes. There’s growing evidence that some children’s behavior may be affected by these dyes (read: Are Artificial Food Dyes Safe For Kids?)–and besides, these dyes are simply not necessary. Several brands including Annie’s and Mott’s use fruit or vegetable juices to colors their fruit snacks.
  • Treat them as you would a dessert. Packing fruit snacks in your child’s lunch? Skip the cookie. Giving your child a choice of a sweet treat after dinner? Fruit snacks should be on par with candy or ice cream.
  • Have your child drink or swish water after eating them to get rid of the sticky residue on their teeth.
  • Be sure you’re offering actual fruit at snack time a lot more often than fruit snacks.

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My 10 Most Popular Posts of 2014

by Sally on December 28, 2014

Thanks for making 2014 a great year at Real Mom Nutrition! In case you missed any of them (or are new to my blog), here are my 10 most-read blog posts of the year:

Naturally-Colored Holiday Frosting from Real Mom Nutrition

1. Naturally Colored Frosting

Easy recipes for red and green frosting using natural dyes made from beets and spinach.

10 Kitchen Tricks That Save Time & Money -- Real Mom Nutrition

2. My 10 Favorite Kitchen Tricks

Bread dough not rising? Missing an egg for a recipe? Here are my best tips and tricks for saving time and money in the kitchen.

From-Scratch Cooking Confessional by Real Mom Nutrition

3. From-Scratch Cooking Confession: I Can’t Keep Up!

Why making everything from scratch isn’t possible for me–and why that’s okay.

20 Fruit & Veggie Team Snacks  from Real Mom Nutrition

 4. 20 Healthy Team Snacks For Kids

Bring healthy team snacks to your child’s next game. Here are 20 ideas.

5 Healthy (Packaged) Snacks For School

5 Grab-and-Go Healthy School Snacks

Nutritious munchies to tuck into lunchboxes and backpacks.

Salami and tomato skewer lunch

6. Your Child’s Lunch Makes Me Feel Inferior

If you’ve ever felt intimidated by lunchbox photos on Facebook and Pinterest, here’s why you should relax.

5 Foods I Don't Buy Anymore from Real Mom Nutrition

7. 5 Food I Don’t Buy Anymore

The stuff I always make from scratch for my family, including taco seasoning and waffles (with recipes!).

4 Foods I've Changed My Mind About by Real Mom Nutrition

8. 4 Foods I’ve Changed My Mind About

From local eggs to organic meat, here are four of the biggest ways I’ve changed how I feed my family.

 

SamSpaghetti2

 9. What Your Child Wants To Tell You About Picking Eating

Frustrated by your child’s picky eating? Dietitian Maryann Jacobson of Raise Healthy Eaters explains eight of the most common (and frustrating) eating behaviors.

Boo-nana Ghosts: Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween Parties

 10. 8 Healthy Treats For Classroom Halloween Parties

Treats for Halloween classroom parties that are healthy and simple to make.

 

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8 Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween Parties

October 24, 2014

I’m a purist when it comes to trick-or-treating: I pass out chocolate and let my kids have free reign over their stashes (read: “How I Handle Halloween Candy Craziness“). But I think it makes sense to dial it back for classroom Halloween parties. Most kids already haul in loads of sugar from trick or treating. At my children’s […]

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12 Ways To Get Healthy Food Into Your Child’s School

October 21, 2014

You’re already doing a lot to make healthy eating happen at home. But you might feel helpless when it comes to your kids’ school. Children spend 35-plus-hours at school every week, eating up to two meals (and maybe even a snack) there. That makes it a natural setting for learning about and experiencing food. Good food. The kind […]

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Want Healthier Soccer Sidelines? Use These FREE Resources For Coaches & Parents

September 30, 2014

Coaches are role models, and they set the tone for the season. They also play a critical role in getting junk food and sugary drinks off the sidelines of youth sports. When I’ve taken my Snacktivism mission to the coaches of my children’s teams, I’ve been grateful that they’ve all been on board (read: “THAT Mom: The Sequel“). I was […]

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20 Healthy Team Snacks for Kids

September 9, 2014

Leaves are falling. Soccer balls are flying. Naturally, my thoughts turn to healthy team snacks. Since I first voiced my frustration over junky soccer snacks a few years ago (read Soccer Mom Soapbox), I’ve advocated for fruit-and-water team snacks. I’ve also made the case for simply eliminating the team snack altogether (read The End of Soccer […]

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Want To Improve Camp Food? Now Is The Time To Act!

August 27, 2014

You may be in back-to-school mode, but if you were unhappy with the snacks or meals your child received at summer camp this year, now is the time to speak up. Why now? Because camps are sending out end-of-summer evaluations and surveys–and there’s plenty of time to look at parent feedback and make improvements for next summer. This summer, […]

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Changing Camp Snacks For The Better

July 7, 2014

Snacktivism doesn’t stop when the school year ends. While some kids attend just a week or two of camp throughout the summer, others spend many weeks–or even most of the summer–at camp. It shouldn’t be a place where healthy food takes a permanent vacation. Two years ago, I had my own moment of camp Snacktivism, […]

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Soccer Snacks on Steroids: Is THIS Why It Started?

April 30, 2014

Remember when soccer snacks were simple orange slices on the sidelines? Someone’s mom brought a Tupperware container full of them for halftime. You sucked out the juice or peeled the fruit from the rind while getting a pep talk from your coach, then ran back onto the field. Flash forward a few decades and orange […]

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Soccer Mom On A Mission…Watch It!

March 13, 2014

Two years ago, I tromped around the soccer fields in my community, snapping photos of the snacks I was seeing. I set the photos to music and turned them into a video slideshow called “Soccer Mom On A Mission”, with the hopes of raising awareness and mobilizing a new wave of Snacktivists to create change. After […]

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