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7 Everyday Foods NOT Proven Safe for Kids

Most people would agree that the healthiest foods for kids are unprocessed, nutrient-dense, and – when possible – made at home. Your kids can cook healthy recipes too…really!

But take a look at our current food supply. Pondering the number of foods, chemicals, products, and other environmental influences that are in our children’s world that weren’t even around thirty, fifty, or a hundred years ago is mind-boggling.

Are these foods even safe? What does the research say?

7 Everyday Foods

I was thinking along those lines one wintry Saturday in January, finding myself absentmindedly staring at a young girl guzzling a neon blue G2 (low calorie Gatorade) while munching a clown-nose red licorice twist as she sat in the crowd at her brother’s basketball game.

The thought hit me like a brick: Do we have any idea what effect some of those ingredients have on pre-pubescent girls as they grow and develop?

The list of possible offenders in this one mid-morning snack:

  • artificial food dyes, as unnatural in color as if they were cartoons on a screen
  • high fructose corn syrup, a controversial but relatively new sweetener in the whole scheme of history
  • electrolytes added to the G2, which are supposedly beneficial for athletes after a massively taxing workout, but how do they impact a young body who is…just sitting?
  • and the one that always bothers me the most of all, artificial sweeteners. In our family, my kids know that Gatorade and G2 are completely different (one is a dessert and the other a no-way-Jose-throw-it-away), but I have a funny feeling that much of the world hasn’t a clue. (This is the one non-food that is put into things people eat that I will never, ever allow my kids to consume, although we unfortunately compromise on all the others on today’s list.)

I started scribbling notes on a scrap of paper in my purse for a post with a great title that popped into my head as the blue juice disappeared into a still-developing body: “Things That Have Never Been Tested on Kids.

7 Everyday Foods Not Proven Safe For Kids

I know that testing products on children is kind of a no-no and not done as often as animal tests or adult human testing, so I assumed that there were likely no studies on the safety of many “food products” that children regularly consume. I couldn’t wait to start researching the idea.

What I found out was equally if not more disturbing than the idea that children might be regularly ingesting unknown, untested products.

A number of the items on my list actually DID have studies tracking how they impact young bodies, and the majority of those demonstrated frighteningly negative effects – hence the title you see today being different than the one I expected to write this winter.

What’s worse – that we might feed our kids fake foods with completely unknown effects on their developing systems, or that our kids are regularly consuming “foods” that have already been proven to cause problems, and those studies are simply ignored or downplayed?

Let’s dig in!

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Madiha Saeed, M.D., a board-certified family physician and best-selling author of The Holistic Rx: Your Guide to Healing Chronic Inflammation and Disease. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

Fake Food #1: Food Dyes

berkey filter food coloring

Verdict: Tested – Both problematic and unknown

The basics: Artificial colors have been added to countless food products in America even as they are banned and removed from foods in Europe. Our consumption has increased 5x since the 1950s and is ringing in at 15 million pounds of the stuff per year added to processed foods, in 8 different colors.

Studies have shown: Food dyes are linked to hyperactivity in children specifically as well as cancer, allergies and ADHD in all age groups. They require warning labels in the E.U., which means most brands remove them from their products rather than slap a scary-looking label on the box. The FDA in the U.S. doesn’t think that’s necessary.

More info on artificial colors and food dyes in an earlier series at KS.

Fake Food #2: MSG

Slow Cooker Ginger Beef (2)

Verdict: Tested – problematic

The basics: MSG (monosodium glutamate) is a substance that was discovered naturally in seaweed about a hundred years ago. It excites the fifth sense of taste: umami. Incorporating umami in a dish, which can be done with something as simple as sauteed mushrooms, enhances all of its flavors.

Scientists learned to isolate the MSG only and created a powerful food additive, one that makes everything taste better (and more addicting). Many think of MSG as being something you find exclusively at Chinese restaurants, but it’s in everything from sausage to Goldfish crackers.

It is unfortunately also hidden (often as free glutamic acid, which responds similarly in the body) under over 20 different names on ingredients lists. (Anything with “autolyzed,” “hydrolyzed,” “yeast extract,” or “glutamate” is a good start to watch out for.)

Besides the obvious obesity component of foods exciting the tongue and being very addictive, MSG also excites some other areas of the body, to our children’s detriment.

Studies have shown: MSG is classified as an excitotoxin, which means it stimulates (and quickly over-stimulates) receptors in the brain, causing hyperactivity, loss of focus, and ultimately slow brain damage as the cells literally burn out from overuse.

Early research only told part of the story, because humans demonstrate higher glutamate in their blood than any other animal when MSG is consumed, and the levels stay higher for longer, resulting in much more toxic levels in humans than animals (i.e. lab rats).

Children under three and unborn babies are most susceptible to the effects of MSG partly because their brains are less protected from the environment at that age.

Even though as people age they become more resistant to its toxic effects, once exposed to MSG consistently, the body may permanently lose its ability to control weight gain, further contributing to the obesity epidemic and all the awful “diseases of civilization” that come part and parcel with that (diabetes, heart disease, cancer, even Alzheimer’s).

Learn more about MSGs and the hidden sources in a previous KS Monday Mission.

Fake Food #3: Artificial Sweeteners

5608101779 536b 9957ac

Photo Source

Verdict: Tested, Somewhat – Problematic and Unknown

The basics: Artificial sweeteners include all non-caloric sweeteners that were created in a lab, and all of them are dangerous or suspicious at best, with the possible exception of the white powdered form of stevia, which is safe (the liquid is real food, not created in a lab).

Although kids should be in an age group where they don’t have to “watch their calories,” 12% of children drink artificially sweetened beverages, and I don’t even want to know how many regularly consume things like light yogurt, “less sugar” juice, sugar-free Jello and popsicles and more.

I’ve even found artificial sweeteners in regular old drinks that my kids bring home from parties at school – NOT the “less calorie” or “reduced sugar” kind, which means most parents are surely completely unaware of what’s going into their children’s bodies.

And if anyone in the house chews gum? Good luck finding one without artificial sweeteners.

It’s not just the “sugar-free” kinds anymore, unfortunately. I’ve only found gum without it at health food stores (Glee brand, can be found on Amazon) and maybe ONE national brand out of the 20 I read three years ago preparing for an airplane trip. They’re hiding everywhere!

There’s such ignorance on the artificial sweetener issue that when I emailed my 3rd grader’s teacher about the root beer floats they were having the last week of school, the umpteenth celebratory “treat” in those final few weeks, we had a misunderstanding that hurts me to my bones.

I had quickly asked if perhaps it wouldn’t be too much trouble to remind the parent bringing the soda to choose one of the many caffeine-free brands of root beer, for the sake of the children and the parents they were being sent home to. The teacher then forced my son to choose the diet soda, telling him that his mom “wanted him to only have sugar-free kind.”

I nearly fainted when I found this out just this weekend. My son knew better, but how is he going to argue with the teacher? Kills. Me.

Studies have shown: Ignorance cannot be bliss on this one, folks. If your child is consuming artificial sweeteners, whether you know it or not but especially if it’s a regular occurrence, they are, according to the chair of the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health earlier this year, “participating in an uncontrolled experiment.”

Our kids are the lab rats on this issue, because no one can guess how artificial sweeteners will impact development and health over 40-60 years of consumption, and I was right – people aren’t doing widespread testing (that I can uncover) on the effects of no-calorie sweeteners on young children.

We do know that there are many risks to Nutrasweet, Splenda and the others, including headaches, asthma, GI distress, obesity, weight loss, hypoglycemia, irritability, depression, brain tumors and a much longer terrifying list.

Aspartame in particular (Nutrasweet), one of the more common no-calorie sweeteners, at least before Splenda/sucralose came onto the market, has been proven to be an excitotoxin and a neurotoxin linked to birth defects, cancer, brain tumors and weight gain – again, having a greater negative impact on the very young, whose brains are more susceptible.

Before aspartame was approved by the FDA, an MD by the name of Dr. John W. Olney made a statement to the board of inquiry recommending that aspartame be deemed unsafe for all populations, particularly children: “We can be reasonably certain there is no margin of safety for the use of aspartame in the child’s diet.”

So the research – or at least the medically educated conjecturing – has been done, and it’s not good news. Parents, please read labels for this one! It needs to be non-negotiable in your home that children do not consume aspartame, sucralose or other artificial sweeteners!

Read more about the dangers of artificial sweeteners for kids in a comprehensive research post at KS.

Fake Food #4: Genetically Modified Organisms

chemistry flasks measuring golden liquid

Verdict: Untested in the long term

The basics: Genetic modification is the process of putting a gene or part of a gene from one species into another species, such as deepwater fish into tomatoes to make them more cold-resistant or insect into corn to make it pesticide resistant.

Most of the corn, soybeans, canola and sugar beets grown in America are genetically modified (GM), which means that almost any processed food you buy (maybe all of them!) contain some GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Beyond that, there’s not much else to worry about in the produce section.

Studies have shown: Contradiction after contradiction. Some say there’s plenty of research showing no harm from GMOs whatsoever: 10 years of research and 1800 research papers. Clearly far too much to sift through in a sitting, but I always wonder: Are there any 10-year studies?? 20 years of studying the same person?

Since GMOs have only been around for decades, not centuries, do we have any idea of the true long-term effects?

And if we don’t, guess who’s most at risk? Because their bodies are constantly changing and still developing, children and especially adolescents are at the greatest risk of any potential health risks yet unknown with GM food. (Demonstrated potential risks in lab rat studies include immune suppression, gut disorders, liver and kidney disfunction and infertility.)

And at the rate it’s being used in processed foods and the percentage of U.S. society who subsist on those foods, we’re all joining the big unregulated GM experiment.

Genetic modification proponents say there’s no reason to worry, because the genes from GM foods cannot get into nor impact the human person.

On the other hand, new research came out two years ago that may prove that genetic material does pass from food to eater, something previously thought to be impossible. That would be a major game-changer for perspectives on GM food.

At best, the jury is out on the safety of GMOs, which most children consume daily. At worst, organ damage and toxicity at unknown levels.

When ingesting something, I’d much rather hear that it was proven safe rather than, “We haven’t seen anyone get sick…should be fine.”

It’s called the burden of proof, like when someone is taken to court – it must be demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that they committed the crime. This “innocent until proven guilty” concept that I appreciate very much in the court system should not be applied in the same way to food, since what I don’t know can certainly hurt me!

Should we do more tests on humans, on kids? Here’s what the company getting the big money from GMOs has to say: “There is no need for, or value in testing the safety of GM foods in humans.” Thanks, Monsanto. Glad you’ve got everyone’s best interests in mind and accept the burden of proof.

Further reading on GMOs:

Fake Food #5: Soy, Served American Style

7 Everyday Foods Not Proven Safe For Kids

Photo Source: USDA via Flickr Creative Commons

Verdict: More Studies Needed, May be Harmful

The basics: Soybeans have been eaten for thousands of years, although that was mainly in fermented form as miso and tempeh.

Now in America, thousands of new products are created using soy or have soy added to them each year in the form of the relatively “new” soybean oil or soy protein isolate, both of which have come about in the last few decades.

Studies have shown: More confusion. Some studies show that soy may negatively impact the immune system and reproductive health or even contribute to the rise in peanut allergies. Some say that soy protects against breast cancer and may lower cholesterol and fight obesity.

The most balanced reports seem to agree that there simply isn’t enough data, yet, to say that the 40 years of soy formula have been necessarily safe, and would recommend caution for the 20-25% of U.S. babies who receive soy-based formula in their first year. (And remember, nearly all soy consumed by Americans is genetically modified, with that set of potential unknown risks.)

“We know that too much genistein [created in the body after eating soy] is not a good thing for a developing mouse; it may not be a good thing for a developing child,” said Retha Newbold, a developmental biologist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. (source)

If you want to know all the potential health risks of regular soy consumption, usually based on the approximate amount of a cup of soymilk or less per day, here goes:

  • thyroid suppression (hypothyroidism)
  • increase in cancers
  • lowered testosterone/decreased sex drive
  • reduced mineral absorption from other foods (can cause anemia)
  • possible increase in seizures in autistic children
  • premature puberty
  • disruption of fetal development
  • *babies on soy formula may be subjected to the equivalent of 4-10 contraceptive pills per day, when the estrogenic effects are adjusted for age and body mass.

I appreciate Chris Kresser’s balanced viewpoints again: The Soy Ploy, Soy Foods Associated with Lower Sperm Counts, and Harmful or Harmless? Soy Lecithin

Fake Food #6: Carrageenan

Cottage Cheese

Verdict: Largely Untested

The basics: Carrageenan is a substance used as a food additive, thickener, emulsifier, etc. in a plethora of everyday products like ice cream, soy and almond milks, cottage cheese, creamer, and more. It’s derived from seaweed, but like MSG, the additive is typically quite far from the actual natural plant.

Studies have shown: Carrageenan has actually been quite widely studied over its 50 years in the food supply. The results are, of course, contradictory and confusing, partly because many research studies used the wrong kind of carrageenan that doesn’t behave the same way as the food additive.

Results from animal studies may not be able to be extrapolated because the substance is very species-dependent when it reacts. There also have only been in vitro experiments on human cells, isolating compounds without the rest of the food or the human person, which may not demonstrate the way the whole thing reacts in our bodies.

That said, there is some related risk of inflammation and gut health issues, which can be a major deal for something hidden in so many foods.

Fake Food #7: High Fructose Corn Syrup

7 Everyday Foods Not Proven Safe For Kids

Verdict: Somewhat tested, Not Very Positive

The basics: High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is an inexpensive industrial sweetener derived from corn. It is about 55% fructose and 45% glucose, slightly different than white table sugar (typically beet sugar) which is just about 50/50.

When considering whether HFCS will hurt you or your children, here are all the facets of the issue to consider:

  • All sweeteners add calories without nutrients to a food
  • All sweeteners raise the blood glucose/blood sugar
  • HFCS is pretty much always genetically modified…if that makes a difference (but so is most white table sugar)

Studies have shown: Although the corn producers want us to call HFCS “corn sugar” and be not afraid of it, there is much to hesitate about. High fructose corn syrup has been demonstrated in studies to cause obesity at greater rates than fat or table sugar, thus linking it to diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Corn syrup has also been shown to increase hyperactivity in children.

Read more about HFCS and how it’s made at this KS Monday Mission.

The Bottom Line – Whole Foods are the Healthiest Foods for Kids

Could there be more than seven items on this list? Certainly. Far more. But you have to realize that cooking from scratch and avoiding most processed foods (at least without careful and educated label reading) is a must if you want to truly avoid these toxic additives even most of the time.

Aside from the actual foods, a healthy mindset about food is vitally important for kids too. Check out this interview about having a healthy relationship with food.

Kitchen Stewardship® provides the resources you’ll need to get started providing your family foods that are healthy for kids and transitioning to a more whole foods lifestyle, including:

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7 Everyday Foods Not Proven Safe For Kids
Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.
Category: Research

55 thoughts on “7 Everyday Foods NOT Proven Safe for Kids”

  1. Hi thank you for this post. I was wondering if these sign effects for soy included organic soy? Your reply would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Organic soy would be non-GMO, which is a step in the right direction, but as far as I know, the phytic acid and estrogenic compounds should be exactly the same…it’s definitely something to do a little more research on (click the source links here for starters) if you regularly consume soy.
      🙂 Katie

      1. This was a very informative post and the section on soy and its possible link to rising peanut allergies in kids was quite interesting considering that my son drank soy formula as a baby due to the fact that I had to quit breast feeding at around 3 months and he later developed a allergy to peanuts, wheat too. I thought to myself hmmmm…..coincidence? Probly not.

  2. There’s a lot of information in this post, thanks for doing all the research!

    I feel like we’re doing great on every single item, with the exception of the GMO’s. That’s one I’m confused on because it doesn’t say on the label “GMO”! I buy so little prepackaged foods though, so at least I have that going for me.

    The hardest challenge for me with my 5-year old daughter is at church, sadly. We’ve just made the blanket statement, “no sugary treats” and thankfully our daughter does well with listening to us. I do have a substitute snack/treat for her after the services so she won’t feel left out.

  3. Occasional reader here. My experience is that soy has been a main culprit in my adenomyosis. (Endometriosis inside the uterine muscle). Had a few medical treatments, but as soon as I cut out soy I felt a difference. Crazy! I had incredible pain (needed rx pain meds) for 18 months, and 2 weeks after it stopped ingesting soy, pain gone. PraiseGod!! I’m so thankful for blog posts like yours, Katie. It’s helpful to know I’m not just crazy, and for others to know the dangers of the things we eat. (To the best is our ability) I’m sure most of the readers are middle class ish. I pray daily for those in poverty that cannot afford to have any allergies, or do anything about their concerns about food. Have you ever noticed the WIC signs at the grocery?? Scary what the government says is okay to buy, and not okay to buy… That’s another topic. 🙂

    1. WIC is supposed to help the participants to choose healthy foods, but some of their allowed to buy food are not good either. Government for sure need to catch up with this kind of things. Why can’t they allow not from concentrate juice? Well, I guess they at least they allow organic fruits.

    2. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I hear you on the WIC program… thank goodness at least some of the products are decent, dry beans and such. But yeah…

      That is AWESOME that you had so much relief from eliminating a food! I just love success stories like that, and it’s also good to hear, I think, that it took two weeks. Glad you stuck with it! I think too many people give up after 5-7 days…

      🙂 Katie

  4. Kelley via Facebook

    Austin Maresca
    Maxwell Maresca
    Read this guys and you will know why I don’t like you eating and drinking all that garbage!

  5. Katie,
    Thanks for the great post but at the same time I feel so overwhelmed. My daughter will start preschool soon and I’m definitely nervous about preparing her lunch. Thanks to your post in the past, I found momable blog. It’s a fantastic blog. I tried to apply with my daughter, but it’s not going well. She just doesn’t like that kind of food. I’m terrified to think that I’ll end up just feeding her lunches that her school provided. Who knows what’s in there. The other day, she had her assessment test and the lady who tested her, offered her a lollipop….I felt that I lost the battle already. How do I say no without offending the lady and without giving in to my daughter’s meltdown?
    Note: I’m not a good and creative cook myself…which adds to my frustration. I want to provide healthy meal for my family but how do I do it? sigh…

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hi Fanny,
      You’re so not alone! Many, many parents struggle with these issues, both the foods offered (one problem) and the child’s opinions on everything (another issue altogether). Parenting is TOUGH!

      First, I want to gently encourage you to worry less about other adults’ feelings when they’re giving your child junk food. Are they worrying about yours? No, you don’t want to burn bridges or anything, but you might want to brainstorm some stock responses that you can comfortably use in those situations – they’ll keep coming! (examples: You take the sucker and say, “Thank you, we’ll put this in her candy bag at home” or “Thank you, I know she’ll look forward to this for dessert.”) Or you can offer your daughter a trade for any junk food she gives to you to throw away, something she would be tempted by (TV time, $, something you are comfortable with too). With my kids, they know that candy goes after dinner at dessert time. Only. It still stinks when they’re offered random candy, but they handle it. If my child melted down over a sucker, they’d hear, “When you throw a fit about dessert, dessert goes away.” Bu that’s just me! Everyone needs something that works for them – but you definitely have to have some standards with your daughter about junk food and stick to them.

      On the cooking, it takes time. You’ll get there – just make some small goals like “one fun and healthy dinner this week” or “one new food that they love from scratch/healthier than we’re used to” this week. If your daughter will like the school lunches, you can make similar stuff in healthier ways. Homemade chicken nuggets, my kids love them cold. Pack your own yogurt without colorings and less sweetener than the store stuff. Cold homemade pizza? One of my kids’ favs! So mimic the school lunches when you can if that helps. It doesn’t all have to be cold quinoa salads and broccoli bites. 🙂 Even if you promise that 2 times a week, you’ll pack a homemade lunch, that’s better than 5x hot lunch. A lot of moms make the compromise that the child can choose one hot lunch per week, and they look at the menu each month and circle the 4 days. Gives the child a sense of control and choice but still with lots of homemade goodness.

      Baby steps…baby steps…baby steps. And remember that all this food stuff isn’t just one issue – it’s shopping, cooking, attitude of presentation, culture/society, AND parenting all rolled into one. Consistency will be key in making new policies for your house/dinner table, if that’s what’s needed, but stick with it! It’s all worth it, I promise!!!

      Good luck! You can do it!
      🙂 Katie

      1. awww…Katie…you made me cry…not a sad cry, but a relieve cry. Your reply really encourage me and I feel like someone has pulled me up and put me back on my feet again. Yes, baby steps..I need to remind myself about that…it’s just that when I’m working on something to make things better/healthier for my family, another issues came up. When I had my first baby, I browsed the internet to look a better deal on diaper (cheaper option), from there I found that disposable diapers have some scary things in it, then while researching why they are not good, I found that in fact daily necessities items (shampoo, soap, cosmetics, etc) are also badly contaminated, and then next I found about dangerous stuffs in food items, then on and on. I’m sure you can picture my frustation. That’s why I’m actually thankful for found myself always looking for your previous post about whatever I might need at the certain time (you would laugh if I tell you how many time I read over and over your post about review on dishwasher detergent and sunscreen before I go ahead and buy them. I did buy the ecover brand dishwasher and is very please with it). Anyway..thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you..and the fact that you took the time to write a heartwarming reply to my comments, it made me have hopes again. God bless you, Katie!

        1. Hi Katie,
          I just want to correct some typos and some cut off sentences..I’m typing this with my eyes half open.

          That’s why I’m actually thankful for your posts. I found myself always looking for your previous post about whatever I might need at a certain time (you would laugh if I tell you how many times I read over and over your post about review on dishwasher detergent and sunscreen before I go ahead and buy them. I did buy the ecover brand dishwasher and is very pleased with it)


    2. Have you realized that most candy/lollipops are made to attract the eye and not the taste? I mean all these bright colors,patterns and shapes…so you can teach your kid to see them as a work of art or decorative item that she wouldn’t like to spoil by eating. My daughter is very glad when offered a sweet,she keeps loads of them in jars and uses them as make-believe ingredients for her cooking.The ants can be very happy too,so I pop them into the fridge at night!

  6. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    Thanks so much for this very informative post. I can’t imagine how much time you spent researching and writing it. Please keep giving us this information. We eat as healthy as we possibly can at home (which is most of the time). When we are out and about (which is not often), we can relax a little, but many of the items on this list, we try to avoid at all costs. Thanks, again, for the info.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Good for you, Heather! These research-y posts always take longer than I expect…I’m very time-challenged. 🙂

  7. What a blessing your website has been for our family!! I find the whole topic of eating healthy EXTREMELY overwhelming with our children being in public school and having been extremely undereducated on healthy eating until recently. I really appreciate the hard work you put into helping other families who want to follow the same path to healthier choices. Keep up the great work and attitude!! You are appreciated 🙂

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Thank you, Stephanie – it’s all about those baby steps!!

      🙂 Katie

  8. Shannon via Facebook

    Some parents use juice boxes but those are less portable and can be tough on the digestive system in large enough quantities several times every day.

  9. Shannon via Facebook

    Thank you for your reply. I see online that honey sticks have 5 grms of sugar. Being 6 foot 1 and 165 pounds now I think he needs about 30 grams of sugar for lows.

  10. via Facebook

    Shannon Aileen Personally, I’d totally take the occasional Coke over Diet anything for my own kids. Just have good discussions about moderation – or let him overdo it and get sick just once. 😉 As for type 1 diabetes, I have very little experience – but if you’re just looking for something with a sugar/carb load that is super portable, have you ever seen honey sticks? I know you can get them online and they’re always at our farmer’s market. Super portable and yummy (the plain ones won’t have food coloring). Would that be enough? I also wonder about the glucose content in dates and if that would be enough to eat a few to make a difference? I hope that gives you a few brainstorms – and maybe someone else will chime in…

  11. via Facebook

    Kyla Robinson Isn’t it funny that I never actually looked into that particular issue as I was making my lists? I bet you’re right, since they’re formulated for adult athletes. Do any parents know to water it down though? LIkely not. I’m so glad you chimed in!!

    1. Children should never be drinking “Gatorade” type drinks, watered down or not. They serve no purpose except for adding chemicals & GMOs into their systems.

  12. via Facebook

    You bet I do Ellen Bratzel! Take this idea with you to your meeting: and let me know if you’d like any of the other resources I’ve been gathering if I ever get a chance to strive for change at our school. Email – and good luck!! Woo hoo for a feeling of support! 🙂 Katie

  13. via Facebook

    Nicole Batten Emmons It IS, isn’t it??? Sheesh. It’s one of those things that I’d been meaning to look into and write a whole post on but just turned a blind eye to ingredients labels…sigh…time to switch that up!

  14. via Facebook

    Well said and sad to hear Lynn Tarasek Minney – but good for you to notice the correlation instead of just running to the doc!!

  15. Shannon via Facebook

    I wonder what you might suggest a parent give to her child who has Type 1 Diabetes for low blood sugars? (glucose tablets have food coloring…but other forms of sugar are not very portable and hard to choke down quickly, several times a day.) Also…if one could never EVER give her child sugar substitutes, what might she give her teen-aged son while at a pizza party with friends when they are drinking Coke? Would one force the teen to drink water or have a little bit of balance and be grateful there is a little something that helps him feel somewhat normal.

    1. I have a 16 year old, a 6 year old, and a 4 year old. They all choose to have water at a party. None of them have any interest in drinking the soda because they know it’s bad for them. They even make these choices when I’m not around (other adults tell me because they are shocked when my kids ask for water.) They don’t feel like they are not normal because drinking water is what’s “normal” for them.

  16. Ellen via Facebook

    Articles like this are why I love you, Katie! I just emailed our principle yesterday about one of our daughters health issues, and our concerns over the amount of junk “food” our kids are exposed to at school. (She is very much affected by the stuff on this list, and now that we’ve cut it out, our other kids get sick from it too. I think before, their bodies were just too overloaded with it for me to notice.) His response was positive, so now I just have to schedule a meeting with him to discuss setting a school policy concerning junk food in school and at school events. (Can’t wait! I’m hoping it goes well and we can start a new school year without having to constantly worry about what people are sending in! Wish me luck- I know you know what an uphill battle it is!!!)

  17. Elizabeth via Facebook

    Very refreshing to read a balanced, well-researched perspective on these issues. 🙂

  18. Kyla via Facebook

    There is too many electrolytes in those for kids – your supposed to water it down before kids drink it.

  19. I work in retail and have a co-worker who is constantly chewing gum. He was complaining that he has been getting headaches. He went to his dentist to rule out TMJ or other issues. The dentist said everything was fine so long as he was casually chewing and not chomping the gum.
    One day I asked if he ate or drank Aspartame and he replied that he did not do the sugar free stuff. I then challenged him to find a gum on the shelf that did not contain Aspartame. He could not find one. Even the “sugar” gums had it. I sent him to a local health food store to get gum without aspratame, saccharin, sorbitol, splenda, etc). After switching to the new gum for a week he had no more headaches!!!!
    We as consumers have to be mindful of ingredients since the companies put all sorts of crap in things that don’t need to be there. Who would thing of a non-nutritive being in “regular” gum!!!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      That story totally rocks! Your co-worker is lucky you kibitzed! 😉 Way to solve a problem the medical community missed…

      🙂 Katie

      1. Helen @ Kitchen Stewardship

        My dentist hands out Spry gum:

      2. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

        I’ve found Glee gum at World Market, probably at Whole Foods too (we don’t have one, so sad). 🙂 katie

  20. Nicole via Facebook

    Agree with all of these. Lately, have been trying to eliminate carrageenan. It is in so many organic foods too. Ugh! I think Whole Foods has made a commitment to phase out products with carrageenan in the next year or so.

  21. Lynn via Facebook

    food dye & corn syrup cause my kiddo to have sensory meltdowns. we noticed from an early age that they made her extremely hyper & i stopped buying those foods. they aren’t a treat, they are torture.

  22. Good for you to even notice Rebekah Pike!! Sometimes it’s hard to see correlations, but you’re clearly paying attention…

  23. Marc via Facebook

    I don’t drink Gatorade or sports drink any more, even when running. Water and a “salt pill” (sodium and potassium) if I am sweating a lot. I’m a high fat / low carb marathoner now. Fueling on sugar is to a minimum and only when necessary. And it’s not often necessary.

    1. Home made bone broth is a natural sports drink and can be kept warm in a good thermos (not plastic leeching kind). Coconut water is a natural sports drink too.

  24. Rebekah via Facebook

    We’ve eaten a fairly clean diet since my daughter was a toddler and recently I’ve noticed a link between her moody/emotional/hyper days and how much junk she’s had to eat. Sometimes, it’s not even a lot of sugar …. just junky stuff and food coloring. It’s been interesting to note the correlation between what she’s eating and how she behaves. It’s made me even more cautious about allowing her to eat candy and snack food, because as you’ve said, those aren’t really “special treats” anymore.

  25. Amber Thompson

    Katie, I am curious why you and your husband chose not to homeschool your children? It seems to me that if it bothers you SO MUCH what they are offered/given to eat at school you would consider it for that reason, not to mention you will certainly be more devoted to training and teaching them the things of God than anyone else because they are your children. And the vibe that I felt from your sons teacher is that she doesn’t respect you, why would you want him to be taught by someone who does not respect your parenting choices? Not judging just curious why.
    Also you should know that it seems like you are complaining about the food at school thing alot here lately. I mean really? I understand it upsets you, naturally it would and should because you are their mom and do everything you can to care for them to the best of your knowledge and ability. But at the same time what do expect? NO ONE, NO ONE cares for your child like you do. If you choose to put your child in the care of someone else for any period of time you have to expect and know that things are going to happen that you do not agree or prefer. That is just the way it is. I realize this is your blog and you can say whatever you want, but I (and probably others?) would appreciate less complaining on the subject. Life isn’t perfect on this earth.
    I hope this doesn’t upset you, just curious about your schooling decisions and wanting you to be aware that the food at school topic is getting old. I hope you will take it is constructive criticism on the latter. No judging or hard feelings. You do a wonderful job with presenting so much great information that is well researched, that is why I follow you!!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Thanks for your respectful way of asking. I do think the teacher was trying to respect my wishes but was simply uneducated about artificial sweeteners and made an honest (but ignorant) mistake. 🙁

      Homeschooling is a complete lifestyle shift, and although I would welcome the food-control part of it, the number of hours and patience I don’t have just aren’t in the mix right now. We considered homeschool and prayed about it when my son was in preschool, and even then with one other little one running around and distracting me and no blog, I didn’t feel good about it. Our oldest thrived when we started him in preschool 4s that February. It’s something that comes up from time to time, but for now, my personality just isn’t built for homeschooling and we don’t think God is calling us in that direction.

      It’s my hope that I can make positive change in the food climate at our school and help not only my own kids, but beyond. I’m sorry the anecdotes come across as negative. Someday I’ll have good news to report on that front, I’m sure! 🙂 Katie

      1. Great reply, Katie! I think your posts about food and school are an excellent resource for those of us who do choose to send our children to school, for so many good reasons, but occasionally have issues with the food served there. Your children’s influence on their peers and your influence when you bring food for school events undoubtedly reach more than just your own family.

        I’m pinning this article. I like your balanced assessment of these foods that are, at best, not adequately studied. Some of them are “sometimes foods” for my family, but none are things we eat regularly.

    2. I don’t find at all that there are too many posts complaining about the junk kids get at school as I can sympathize – and my husband is the principal! Homeschooling is not for our family at this point in our lives, and probably never will be since my husband is a teacher. I certainly am not. I don’t think people should be feeding my kids without my permission. I send lunch and snacks and drinks, that is what I want them to eat. We have no cafeteria or vending machines and very few hot lunches by the ladies aid or student council. But the “candy sales” for fundraising, candy, etc. from teachers as rewards or for class parties or birthdays is never-ending. My kids are not sugar or anything else free and are allowed treats on occasion, but I like to be the one who decides what and how often they are consuming all this junk we call “treats”. Treats are supposed to be occasional, not all the time.

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