I went to have lunch with my kids at school last week and noticed a bunch of kids with the organic milk boxes. These used to be my favorite and I would give them to my kids every single day. I came to realize that these milk boxes contain carrageenan, which you want to avoid.
Carrageenan is a common food additive that is extracted from a red seaweed, Chondrus crispus. Carrageenan, which has no nutritional value, is used as a thickener and emulsifier to improve the texture of ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, soy milk and other processed foods. All forms of carrageenan are capable of causing inflammation… chronic inflammation is a root cause of many serious diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and cancer.
Carrageenan is used in animal experiments to predictably cause inflammation, which allows pharmaceutical scientists to test the effectiveness of new anti-inflammatory drugs. In a report Cornucopia released, there is indication that scientists have raised concern about carrageenan’s safety for decades. These concerns are based on their research linking the common food additive to gastrointestinal disease in laboratory animals, including colon tumors.
I recently discovered that the Zico brand of chocolate coconut water contains carrageenan. You are better off drinking non-flavored coconut water, the only ingredient is 100% natural coconut water. One great way to protect yourself and your family is by looking at Cornucopia’s Carrageenan Shopping Guide. For more information you can read Cornucopia’s comprehensive report on carrageenan.
Alas, we needed to find an alternative to what had become a staple in our school lunches. We purchased each of our kids a funtainer which keeps drinks cold up to 12 hours. They are made with an unbreakable stainless-steel interior and exterior and BPA-free materials. If you have an older child, or want one for yourself, the Klean Kanteen Insulated Bottle is another good choice. They keep contents hot for up to six hours and cold for up to 24 hours. These bottles are made from stainless steel with no BPA, phthalates, lead, or other harmful substances. To read more about these bottles and the importance of drinking water, read here.
So, what do you put in these fancy little bottles? We started off with Silk Chocolate Almond Milk & Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk which contain no carrageenan. You can also use organic white milk with these insulated containers. When purchasing any type of chocolate milk, whipping cream, ice cream, nonfat sour cream, frozen dinners, dairy alternatives (soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk), prepared poultry and cold cuts, nutritional drinks, and even infant formula, read your labels. This sneaky ingredient pops up many times. If this angers you as much as it does me, please sign the petition here to have carrageenan removed from our food supply.
Eventually, I started giving my kids water and this is now their new normal. The chocolate almond milk contains a lot of sugar (21g per 1 cup), and I did not feel comfortable giving them this much sugar in a drink. (Sugar weakens our immune system, causes inflammation, and spikes our insulin levels.) If they are thirsty, they will drink the water if that is their only option, I promise :).
So what about Silk Soy Chocolate milk? Unfortunately, Silk brand of soy milk contains carrageenan if you purchase it in the 1/2 gallon size and contains 17 grams of sugar per 1 cup. Silk single-serve and Soy Dream Chocolate are ones that do not contain carrageenan. There may be other brands of soy milk out there that do not contain carrageenan, however it is important to make sure your soy milk is GMO free… 91% of soy crops are genetically modified. I am not an expert on soy, but The Whole Soy Story is a great book to learn more about it. The book explains how soy is not a health food, does not prevent disease and has not even been proven safe. Epidemiological, clinical and laboratory studies link soy to malnutrition, digestive problems, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, even heart disease and cancer.
Regarding fruit juices, here is some advice from William Davis, M.D., author of Wheat Belly:
“Even if they are “natural,” fruit juices are not that good for you. While they contain healthy components such as flavanoids and vitamin C, the sugar load is simply too great for the benefit. Small servings of two to four ounces are generally fine, but more will trigger blood sugar consequences. Soft drinks, especially carbonated, are incredibly unhealthy mostly due to added sugars, high-fructose corn syrup, colorings, and the extreme acid challenge from the carbonic acid carbonation.”
I know this doesn’t sound like ingenious advice, but water is really the best option for all of us. To make it exciting for your kids (or yourself) try squeezing some fresh lemon, lime or orange juice into the water. Alternatively, you can peel and freeze orange, lemon, lime, pineapple or grapefruit slices and add them to the water instead of ice cubes. I keep a bowl of frozen fruit in my freezer for this purpose.
If you have a juicer, you can make frozen juice sticks and pop them in the water bottle. I would recommend purchasing a flexible water bottle stick ice cube tray. The one I purchased in the picture below does not release the sticks easily. The flavors pictured are lemon, orange and cucumber. My kids love the lemon and orange and I love the cucumber. These little sticks provide three purposes: they keep the water cold, add some flavor and add a boost of real, natural vitamins!
~ We need to teach our children TO EAT REAL FOOD. No Fast Foods. No Junk Foods. No Processed Foods. Just Honest, Nutritious, Real Food.
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“When you know better, you do better.”