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Kristin Kirkpatrick, M.S., R.D., L.D.

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5 Things Never To Feed Your Child

Posted: 01/25/2012 3:36 pm

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was seven and, after school one day, my mom agreed to take me to my favorite fast food joint for a burger, fries and a cola because I did well on a test. As we pulled into the parking lot, my mouth started to water. I literally imagined putting the food in my mouth and the sweet taste of every chew. I was a picky eater and ordered my burger "plain." Since it was 1983, we were given a small yellow tent to put on top of our car because we had to wait for the "specially made" sandwich to come out. Those minutes seemed like hours. Obviously, this wasn't my first time eating fast food at my favorite place; the emotions I felt were conjured up from past memories that my stomach, brain and digestive hormones weren't soon to forget. Throughout the years, I appreciated my fast food treat more often than I should have and, by the time I was a teenager, I had a weight problem and needed to change my habits for my health. I saw a dietitian at Cleveland Clinic and the rest, as they say, is history. But I often wonder -- had I never been introduced to fast food, would I really have become so excited waiting in the car for my fat, sugar and sodium? Would the years have been a bit easier on my waist size and my insulin levels? Would I still say, "Man, I miss (insert favorite fast food item here)" every so often when I pass my old favorites places?

Today, I often get questions from parents regarding the healthiest foods to give their children. More often than not, they don't like my answers. Do you ever wonder about how the foods you're giving your child today may affect him or her tomorrow? Here are five to steer clear of.

Anything With Extremely Unnatural Coloring
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Last March, the FDA probed whether there was a correlation between food dyes and hyperactivity in children. They discovered there was a lack of evidence to support the idea that food coloring contributed to hyperactivity, but found that it may contribute to hyperactivity in children with ADHD. A study out this month in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, found the effects of food colors were notable in regards to behavior in ADHD kids, but that further research was needed due to bias and sample derivatives. In addition to behavioral effects of food coloring, let us not forget that many foods containing added colors tend to be processed leaving them loaded with sugar, fat, sodium and empty calories for your little one. The UK and EU recently banned the use of some food dyes in food manufacturing. You can at least consider banning it in your own household, right?


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