Better Off Well


BOW "Safe Snack" List

preschool snack list

Back in early November, I posted on Facebook this photo of a preschool "safe snack" list. I suggested that perhaps it was time to re-think our idea of "safe". That post generated a number of comments, some from parents who have children with food allergies. I count myself among the fortunate few who don't have to deal with food allergies in the home. But I've worked with enough families to know this is a huge issue today. I can only imagine the worry and concern that must face some parents as they send their children off to school, out of their protective grasp. Some children are so allergic that simply inhaling the dust of a nut shell would be enough to set off a life-threatening anaphylactic shock- the kind of allergic reaction that only the immediate stabbing of an EpiPen into the outer thigh can resolve.

I am convinced that the rise in food allergies is due to the number of toxins in our environment. And there may be one particular toxin that is especially responsible. In her book, The Unhealthy Truth, mom Robyn O'Brien explains her journey into the food system after her youngest daughter's first severe reaction. O'Brien suspects genetically-modified foods have much to do with the problem.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of children with food allergies rose 18% between 1997 and 2007. The first genetically modified food hit grocery store shelves in 1996. Coincidence? Perhaps not. O’Brien learned that from 1997 until 2002, there had been a doubling of peanut allergies. Today, one out of 17 kids under age 3 has a food allergy. O'Brien founded the AllergyKids Foundation after learning that many of the leading food allergy groups had ties to the food industry.

While we can't definitively tie genetically-modified foods, or anything else, to food allergies at this point, it seems practical to avoid toxins wherever possible. Allergies exist in a body that is inflamed. The fewer the toxins we are exposed to, the less inflammation there will be.

The "safe snack" list that was sent home with many preschoolers included snacks that contain trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils), high-fructose corn syrup, petroleum-based colors, synthetic chemical flavors, and preservatives linked to cancer.

So after that posting, I started working on this list. I hope to make it grow, so parents have even more options to post on their fridges. Feel free to comment and add your suggestions. Together, we can help make our children's lunch and snack bags much cleaner!

(Click once and then again on photo for larger view.)