Just when you thought that McDonald’s is the poster child for unhealthy food for children, it turns out that the Gerber Lil’s Entrees are just as bad or actually even worse. With all the craziness of our modern life sometimes it is just all too convenient to give a child packaged toddler meal thinking it is healthy. But the “Chicken and Pasta Wheel Pickups” dinner has 550 mg of sodium which is twice the amount contained in a medium sized order of French fries (270mg). Toddlers 2-3 years old should consume a maximum of 1000mg of sodium a day.
Theses toddler meals are marketed as suitable for children 1 year or older. Also stay away from these meals also:
Gerber Graduates Lil’ Entrée – Macaroni and Cheese with Peas and Carrots – 520 mg of sodium
Gerber Graduates Lil’ Entrée – Cheese Ravioli in Tomato Sauce with Carrots, Peas and Corn.
Another surprise product is Cheerios, which has about 230mg of sodium per 1 cup of serving. It shocks me, scares me and concerns me that two of the most popular toddler foods, Goldfish crackers and Cheerios are just so unhealthy for them. I wish there was a way to measure how much sodium and sugar a child has consumed over the course of the day.
Why should this concern us?
Simple reason: excessive sodium intake results in a wide array of diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, etc…
Here’s a nifty little tool, salt-o-meter that shows how much sodium there is in a wide range of products.
But before you start feeding your toddler French fries, remember that whatever benefit you get from lower salt is negated by their fat content.
Better yet, make the Gerber meal yourself. It’s as simple as this:
1) Boil your own peas
2) Make the pasta and add homemade tomato sauce or low sodium tomato sauce that can be found at many places. If it isn’t salty enough for you, you can add parmesan cheese.
3) Either make or pick up a no-salt rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.
You can turn this whole meal into a family meal!
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