Nutrition confusion abounds. I’m often asked “what should I look for on a food package?” Aside from choosing fewer foods that come in packages I usually suggest looking at the ingredient list. It’s also easy to trust a publication or expert and get sucked into “best of” lists. Sadly, the criteria for these lists is often some numerical cut off- making sure there isn’t too much sodium or too much sugar or fat in a product. I’d suggest turning this logic around. If a magazine is going to suggest something ask yourself what does this have in it or what nutrients or benefit does this offer me? It’s not enough for a food to be better than the worst of the worst.  That’s setting a very low bar for consumers or in this case parents and children.
So when this list of Parents magazine 25 best packaged foodspopped into my inbox I looked. And I found
Jif Whips
 “Families are so busy that it’s more important than ever to ensure that our kids eat quality, healthy foods at home and on-the-go,” said Dana Points, Editor-in-Chief, Parents magazine. “We were impressed by the variety of packaged-food options at the supermarket that tasted great and had a good nutritional profile.” 
I know Dana, she’s super smart but are parents so busy that they need sugar and bad fats “on the go”? Yes, there are a variety of packaged foods at the supermarket even one from a company on this same list, Smuckers, and the ingredients for their peanut butter? Peanuts and salt.
What other quality foods should our kids eat according to this? Parents magazine says processed cheese and Tyson nuggets. I get busy, I get easy but peanut butter doesn’t need processed fats, cheese ingredients can look like this Pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes (thank you Cabot) and doesn’t need to be from Laughing Cow. That’s not “fast and fabulous” as the online headline reads.
Sure there were a few organic items in the 25. It was nice to see Applegate listed even if it was for their bacon. There is a place for a healthy snack or even cookie but the options with the best ingredients, for my children and yours or for you and me, aren’t made by Keebler and Newton’s.
What do you do when you come across sub par nutrition advice? Do you mention on social media? Let the publication or person know? What are your favorite fast and fabulous foods?
For the record I wrote in to Parents and said this

I was happy to see your “25 Best Packaged Foods” in my inbox. I wasn’t happy about what I saw. I understand busy and the need for convenience but I don’t understand sub par ingredients certainly not on a “best” list from such a reputable publication. My thoughts are in this blog post. As I said here, it’s not enough if an item isn’t the worst of the worst (even though some listed well…) it needs to offer our children (or us) something. Let’s set athe nutrition bar higher and perhaps say “maybe you will not purchase or require all 25 of these foods” but here are crackers or snacks with more fiber or non-refined grains etc”
Lauren Slayton MS RD
note: I initially indicated the Jif had trans fats (partial hydrogenation) it does not this is a processed fully hydrogenated fat- still far from the “best” and my fault for posting quickly.


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