Do you have a “picky eater” or an underweight child?
Are you concerned your kids are not eating enough good quality food that supply them with adequate nutrition on a daily basis? Or maybe you have an underweight child and you’ve gotten a recommendation from your pediatrician that you should start supplementing with meal replacement shakes (aka calorie dense drinks) such as PediaSure©, Boost or Ensure?
In the case of an underweight child I recommend you perform a set of tests (I would do these test with an integrative doctor) to determine whether the child has an undiagnosed milk protein intolerance or allergy – which irritates and inflames the gut, making nutrients and energy even harder to absorb. Make sure you look deeper than just IgE allergy responses with a conventional MD allergist. This must be done prior to relying on any shake that is based heavily on milk proteins.
The idea of replacing a full meal (and along with it the struggle) with a sweetened drink that kids love is indeed alluring, but unfortunately not the best choice you can do for you beloved child both in the short and long runs.
PediaSure© is manufactured by the pharmaceutical giant Abbott, and marketed to the public as a meal replacement / supplement which “balances your picky eater’s uneven diet”.
Before you make your decision whether to get this drink for your child or not, let’s look at the facts.
Should you choose a meal replacement shake like PediaSure© to supplement your child’s diet?
According to Abbott, PediaSure© is clinically proven and each shake is a source of 7g protein and 25 essential vitamins. It is available in three kid–approved flavours (vanilla, strawberry or chocolate), but the best part – PediaSure© comes in a reclosable bottles — perfect for kids on the go!
Well, actually not so much!
Although it sounds like this drink has beneficial ingredients to support the health of our children, the ingredient list doesn’t look healthy at all!
Lets have a look at the ingredients list for PediaSure©:
Water, Sugar, Corn Maltodextrin, Milk Protein Concentrate, High Oleic, Safflower Oil, Canola Oil, Soy Protein Isolate. Less than 0.5% of the Following: Short-Chain, Fructooligosaccharides, Natural & Artificial Flavor, Cellulose Gel, Potassium Chloride, Magnesium, Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Phosphate, Tuna Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium, Phosphate, Salt, Cellulose Gum, Choline Chloride, Ascorbic Acid, Soy Lecithin, Monoglycerides, Potassium Hydroxide, m-Inositol, Carrageenan, Taurine, Ferrous Sulfate, dl-Alpha-Tocopheryl, Acetate, L-Carnitine, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Niacinamide, Manganese Sulfate, Thiamine Chloride Hydrochloride, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Lutein, Cupric Sulfate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Folic Acid, Chromium Chloride, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenate, Sodium Molybdate, Phylloquinone, Vitamin D3, and Cyanocobalamin.
Decoding PediaSure©’s ingredient list
Health Canada regulates the labelling of food through the Food and Drugs Act, according to which manufacturers must list ingredients in order of weight, beginning with the ingredient that weighs the most and ending with the ingredient that weighs the least. This means that a food contains more of the ingredients found at the beginning of the list, and less of the ingredients at the end of the list.
Now that you know this basic rule about food labelling, let’s get back to the ingredient list of PediaSure©.
After water, the most prominent ingredient is sugar! Wasn’t this supposed to be a nutritional supplement?! How can it even be called a kids’ supplement when the second ingredient is sugar? I just can’t wrap my head around that BS. With all the detrimental effects of sugar, it is still pushed and marketed for kids.
That’s not all, manufacturers have a lot of other less common names for sugar (i.e. agave nectar, barley malt, beet sugar, brown rice syrup (aka rice syrup or rice malt), corn sweetener, corn syrup, crystalline fructose, dextran, fructose, galactose, high-fructose corn syrup, etc.). Other sneaky names are fructooligosaccharides and cellulose which are also used in PediaSure©.
30% of PediaSure©’s calories are derived from sugar!
Shocking isn’t it? But wait, that’s not all.
According to the nutrition label, one cup of serving has 240 calories – 80 calories are derived from fat, 25 from protein, and the remaining 135 are from carbohydrates. Now, here’s where it gets interesting – the carb breakdown is just 1 gram of fibre, and 18 grams of sugar! That’s the equivalent of 4.5 teaspoons of sugar per one bottle of PediaSure©. No wonder kids love this drink!
What other dirty ingredients are in PediaSure©?
After sugar, it is followed by Corn Maltodextrin (GMO – genetically modified organism), which is used as a thickener in soft drinks, salad dressings and soups. The fats in this drink are derived from Safflower oil and Canola oil (which are both most likely GMOs). Can you imagine your child drinking genetically modified oil as a source of their nutrients?
How about the protein?
The proteins are derived from milk, soy, and peas as isolates and concentrates. This means that the original, whole food is deconstructed and highly processed, losing its beneficial nutrients. Milk protein concentrate is a cheap ingredient often imported from China, with little to no quality inspection or regulation. As I mentioned earlier, it is crucial to identify whether your child has an intolerance or allergy to milk proteins which might be the underlying reason to their inability to keep the weight on. You certainly don’t want to feed your child with PediaSure© or any other milk based supplement if the gut is unable to digest it properly.
More unpleasant facts about PediaSure© drink for kids
Not that you wouldn’t expect it in this product, but the vanilla flavour is entirely fake, added as natural & artificial ingredients.
The list of vitamins and minerals following the main ingredients may seem alluring at first, but the bio-availability of these nutrients is not quite impressive. Isolating specific vitamins and introducing them into the body in pill, liquid, or supplement form does not guarantee they will be absorbed. A large percentage may find its way into your child’s urine – which means your child peas them out instead of them being absorbed into their body. Another important point, the clinical trials Abbott refers to were conducted on children at risk for malnutrition, which is not the case in typical Canadian homes.
Why is PediaSure© a bad idea in the long run?
What are the PediaSure© Side effects?
Parents of so called picky eaters may become fascinated with PediaSure© as a quick and easy fix at first. But the dependence it creates can lead to long-term problems including poor eating habits and a strong craving for sweet foods.
As mothers it is our job to provide our kids with the best nutrition possible, and now you know that PediaSure© drink is a step in the wrong direction. Sugar, GMO oils and fillers, highly processed protein and fake flavouring are far from beneficial nutrients and should be totally avoided.
Are there healthier alternatives to Pediasure© on the market?
Believe me I know how busy you are, and how easy it is to pop a bottle and feed your child with something they actually like. I’ve spend hours researching for better quality meal replacement shakes and high calorie boosters for children and honest to God could not find something I feel truly good about recommending to you (other than a few products which are sold through network marketing distributors which are way too expensive in my opinion).
So instead, I’ve created a 10 page document where I show you how easy it is to make your own delicious meal replacement shakes at home with simple ingredients you have at home in under 5 minutes!
Click HERE to download your free guide.Download Recipe
Homemade PediaSure© Recipe
12 ounces of Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake:
- 1 cup whole organic milk
- 1/2 cup silken soft tofu
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter (or any other nut butter)
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1-2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1-2 tablespoons honey
Blend all ingredients together in a high powered blender until smooth as milk! Store in the fridge and serve cold.
Recipe adapted from: superhealthykids.com