1. Fruit Snacks
Nix it: Dentists hate them because they're the number one cause of tooth decay. Parents hate them because they're filled with artificial colors and flavors. But kids love them-of course. And why wouldn't they? They're basically candy with a health halo. Despite being labeled with the word "fruit," most fruit snacks contain very little, if any, actual fruit. Even fruit snacks that do contain real fruit (and no, "fruit juice" doesn't count) are missing the satiating fiber and water that comes with whole fruit.
Fix it: Grapes, berries, and peeled tangerines are just as finger-food friendly as fruit snacks, and most kids love the taste. And hey, raisins are nature's fruit snacks!
2. Packaged Desserts
Nix it: Nobody sends a Ho-Ho, Twinkie, or Honey Bun to school with their child because they think it's healthy. We let our kids have them because they love them, and we love treating our kids. And what mom out there hasn't holed up with a Swiss Roll and a glass of milk during naptime every once in awhile? Unfortunately, snack cakes are one of the worst sources of trans fats, the man-made fats that experts agree are the worst type of fat to eat. In fact, the USDA advises completely avoiding trans fats as part of a healthy diet.
Fix it: I'm just going to be the bad guy and say it: Kids don't need dessert at every meal. Treats should be a treat, not a staple. That said, for times when you do want to send something sweet, there are lots of dessert options. Try making cookies from scratch (cheaper than a mix and just as easy, I promise!) and saving them in the freezer to serve one at a time. Make them with your kids, and you get quality time, too!