These “Healthy Bites” are Junk Food in Disguise

Preschool & Older

Do words like “low-fat” and “organic” make you think you’re in the clear when it comes to eating healthy? We’re breaking down the top suspects that are disguised as healthy foods.

Fruit snacks

Fruit snacks seem healthy, but they are more like candy! Even the ones promising they are “made with real fruit” are made with juice concentrate, which packs in loads of sugar!

Trade the fruit snacks for real fresh fruit, unsweetened applesauce or a pack of raisins for a sweet, nutritious snack!

Fruit juice

Another fruit fraud is fruit juice, which many parents think is a healthy beverage for their kids. Not so fast! Ounce per ounce, fruit juices pack in as much sugar as soda! 

A better bet: Get your fruit servings with pieces of real fruit, and serve water or low-fat milk to quench your kids’ thirst!

Energy/protein/cereal bars

Energy bars, protein bars and cereal bars all sound like a healthy, convenient snack to satisfy hungry tummies, but most of them are full of sugar and some contain trans fats, artificial sweeteners and other ingredients we don’t want to feed our kids.

Save the energy bars for long-distance runners and give kids a crunchy granola bar free of chocolate or candy pieces.

Yogurt

Yogurt’s a nice, wholesome snack, right? Only if it’s the plain variety! Yogurts with flavoring (even the “light” and “lower sugar” varieties) are made with lots of artificial sweeteners and other ingredients to make them taste, well, like something other than yogurt! Choose Greek or regular plain yogurt, then add your own toppings like fresh fruit!

Speaking of yogurt, just because something claims to be “yogurt-covered” doesn’t make it healthy! Those yogurt coatings are mixtures of trans fats, sugar and yogurt powder … none of which are good for you!

A good rule of thumb: If it says “yogurt” but isn't kept in the refrigerator, steer clear!

Cereal

Outsmart the cereal aisle by checking the Nutrition Facts label and choosing a cereal with six grams of sugar or less per serving. Another great option: Look for cereals and other products identified as “WIC approved.”

Smoothies

Smoothies do a great job disguising themselves as a healthy treat, but even homemade smoothies are a high-sugar beverage. And the ones at smoothie shops? They are even worse—high in sugar and bursting with other bad-for-you ingredients!

Instead, serve plain yogurt with fruit, or veggies and cheese for a calcium-rich snack!

Veggie chips

Think stocking up on veggie (or fruit) chips is a healthy alternative to snacking on their cousin—the potato chip? After seasoning and frying, veggie chips retain very few nutrients (and gain unhealthy additives along the way). 

Breakfast

Just because a cookie or biscuit has the word “breakfast” in front of it doesn’t make it healthy! Cookies at breakfast (even ones made with oats) are still sugary cookies … and aren’t a nutritious start to the day!

Try a whole-grain waffle topped with peanut butter, a hard-boiled egg with fresh fruit, or homemade trail mix with whole-grain cereal, dried fruit and nuts.