Wednesday, October 26, 2016



(Written by Sheila Gail Landgraf)

We have been pondering the following scripture passage found in Nehemiah 2:11-18:  

11 - So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days.  

12 - Then I arose in the night, and I and a few men with me; I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem, nor was there any animal with me except the one on which I rode.  

13 - And I went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and The Refuse Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire.

14-Then I went on to The Fountain Gate and to The King's Pool, but there was not room for the animal that was under me to pass.

15-So I went up in the night by the valley and viewed the wall;then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned.

16-And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done; I had not yet told the Jews, the Priests, The Nobles, The Officials, or The Others Who Did the Work.

17- Then I said to them:  "You see the distress we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire.  Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach."

18-And I told them of the Hand of My God which had been good upon me and also of the king's words that he had spoken to me.  So they said, "Let us rise up and build."  Then they sat their hands to do this good work.

 After a very careful survey and a look at every detail of the walls and gates of Jerusalem; Nehemiah turns and reenters the valley through the same Valley Gate from which he came.  

Jesus Christ, now having ascended into heaven is sitting at the right hand of The Father.  He is there taking surveys; looking down at the walls of our lives.  He is examining us, talking with us, pointing out the things that He wishes us to see and do to those walls that surround His Church, His Bride.  

He sees how broken we are.  

He sees the decay and the rot of sin.  

He knows what shape we have let ourselves become, a shape unfit for protecting a righteous kingdom.  

Now is the time to hear what He is saying to the churches.

 Now is the time to listen and obey.  

He speaks of a vision of restoration, oh that our hearts might be willing to hear!

We must speak with Him now, this moment, while He is sitting in the place of Peace, because the day is coming when He will leave the place in the Heavens again and He will reenter this earth.  

He will walk again through the dark valley and through the earth full of forgiven sinners, those like you and me, those He willingly died for.   

When He begins to re-enter that Valley Gate again, there will be times on earth of trials and tribulations like there has never been before, or ever will be again.
Right now Christ is moving like Nehemiah as he was surveying the walls.  He is busy looking things over.  He is examining the situation.  He is listening to the voice of The Father.  He is asking God what SHOULD be on this earth.  He is thinking of restoration and new life in the midst of  all the rubble and chaos.

 In verse 16 Nehemiah says "The officials did not know where I had gone, or what I was doing, because as yet, I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work." 
In the same manner as Nehemiah with his few good men at his side; Jesus did not speak to the Pharisees and the religious rulers of His day.  He spoke only to his little band of followers, those earthy men who trusted in Him.  He revealed things to those who believed the truth He brought from heaven.  

Even today, as He speaks from Heaven, He doesn't always speak to the rulers and famous religious leaders, but often He speaks to the poor, the humble, the gentle, the common, loving people of God who are following His lead and listening to His voice in their lowly every day lives.  He reveals His truths to His faithful followers, the ones who stay with Him till the end through thick and thin and trials and tribulations; he continues to speak to the true ones that He has called.

When Jesus Christ returns to earth, just as when Nehemiah turned around from following and surveying the destruction of the walls; one of the first things Jesus's eyes may see, will be the same picture that Nehemiah saw back in those days -  He may see Jerusalem lying in ruins.  

That Holy City that He loved will be destroyed and it will lie in ruins.  Jerusalem's gates may again be burned with fire, but Our Lord will turn to His people and say (just as Nehemiah said to his men)  "Come - let us rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace!"

 And "So they began the good work," in the days of Nehemiah - in the days of Christ, and so God's work continues in the days of our lives.  

What a beautiful picture of the face of Nehemiah, reflecting the face of Christ, in the hope of restoration of a Kingdom and a Nation.

 All this is amazing to think about and wonderful to look forward to; but how can we apply this story in a practical way to our own lives in this present age?

 Nehemiah put much prayer and thought into this work of God.  He only listened to what the Lord had to say, so he only did things the way the Lord wanted them to be done.  He told the people to start right where they were living.  They each were instructed to build the walls along the portion of the city that they lived the closest to.

Where are you living?  

How do you need to build?  

What walls are broken in your own life?  

You need only to look at your own front door to find the starting place you have in The Kingdom of God.  

Start today, right where you are living.  Follow the great instructor, Jesus Christ; and begin to repair the walls of your life.  

If every man in every city did this, the cities of our country would be healed.  

If every city did this the states of our country would be healed.  

If every state did this the country would be healed.  

If every country did this the world would be healed.  

If we want to repair the world it all has to start at each individual believer's front door.

What an inspiration for the church today.  This isn't a complicated and complex plan as many might think!  

We just have to start with our own place in the wall.  We live out a witness in our own homes and our own families, and our own neighborhoods.  We stand for God in our work places, and our social activities in the community.  

We simply have to start in the place where God has put us, and we can begin to grow out from our own home base.

Have you been waiting?  


Jesus says "Come - Let us rebuild!"

Monday, October 24, 2016


(Written by:  Sheila Gail Landgraf)
There is hardly a story in the Old Testament that does not shadow the story of Jesus Christ.  We can see Christ in the stories of all of the ancient people of God; Moses, Abraham, Joshua, Joseph, David, and believe it or not - Nehemiah; that little minor prophet that people mistakenly find so boring.

 My Mother always told me; "if you think someone is boring it is because you do not know them very well."  So one day I got to know Nehemiah.  How surprised I was to find The Face of Christ revealed through his obscure personality.   It really hit me one day as I was reading the following scripture passage:

Nehemiah 2:  11-18
11-So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days.
12-Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me;  I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem, nor was there any animal with me except the one on which I rode.
13-And I went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and The Refuse Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire.
14-Then I went on to The Fountain Gate and to The King's Pool, but there was not room for the animal that was under me to pass.
15-So I went up in the night by the valley and viewed the wall;then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned.
16-And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done; I had not yet told the Jews, the Priests, The Nobles,The Officials, or The Others Who Did the Work.
17- Then I said to them:  "You see the distress we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and
its gates are burned with fire.  Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach."
18-And I told them of the Hand of My God which had been good upon me and also of the king's words that he had spoken to me.  So they said, "Let us rise up and build."  Then they sat their hands to do this good work.
Nehemiah was a cupbearer to the king.  He got word that the walls of the city containing the temple where his ancestors had worshipped were destroyed and in need of restoration.  He spoke to the king and obtained permission to leave the king for a while in order to supervise and oversee the repairs to the walls of Jerusalem.  Nehemiah agreed to return to the king once the work was finished.
 Jesus Christ - The Greatest Cupbearer of All - had knowledge that the lives of the people of God had been destroyed by the enemy (satan), and He grieved to know that the people of God were in need of a great restoration.  He spoke to God The Father (The King of Heaven), and obtained permission for The Incarnation.  Changing from God to God in Man, (in comparison to Nehemiah changing from Royal Cupbearer to a common day-laborer), He left the Kingdom of Heaven for awhile to come to earth to oversee the restoration of a nation.  He promised God The Father, The King of Heaven, that he would return to The Kingdom once His work on earth was done.

 Referencing the scriptures we see in the sequence of events that after a long and tiring journey Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem and felt compelled to stay in Jerusalem for three days and three nights before beginning the restoration of the walls.  Again, we glimpse a shadow of Christ spending three days and three nights in the grave before arising to restore the walls of salvation for the people of God.

 Nehemiah is quoted many times saying "I will arise and build."  Jesus Christ rose from the grave and began the work of building The Kingdom of God.  His one desire was to arise and build a nation of people with hearts for God.  
As the story progresses verse 12 speaks of Nehemiah setting out at night with a few good men at his side.  He notes "I had not told anyone what God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem."  This brings to mind the parallel of Jesus Christ setting out in the black night of a sin filled world with a few disciples at His side.  Jesus is quoted in The Gospel of John, Chapter 14, speaking to His disciples:  "And now I have told you before it comes, that when it comes to pass you may believe."  The few men surveying the walls of Jerusalem at night with Nehemiah were the first to see and understand his plan for restoration.  As these men walked through the ruins with him, Nehemiah prayed to God about the walls and sought God's help and guidance in this restoration.  The men at Nehemiah's side saw the "before" picture of the walls, a picture of wreck, ruin and devastation.  How patiently Nehemiah showed the "before" picture to these "few good men" knowing that when they saw the "after" picture of the restoration of the walls they would remember this day and give glory to God because they would come to believe in the God of Nehemiah during the whole process.  In walking with him, they saw how Nehemiah openly trusted in God and consulted with Him even before the first day of work for the plan of restoration.

 The disciples, living at the feet of Jesus, were the first to see His plan of restoration.  As they walked through life with Jesus they heard Him pray to God for help and guidance in the restoration of the world.  The disciples living and working with Jesus saw the "before" picture of mankind; a picture of brokenness, wreck, ruin, decay and devastation, so similar to Nehemiah's first glimpse of the walls of Jerusalem.

 Jesus wanted the disciples to see and understand how broken mankind had become.  He spoke of this while He was with them, so that in the day of His resurrection they would remember all that He had taught them and give glory to God and believe on The Name of Jesus.

 Moving on through the scripture passage, Nehemiah records something that seems insignificant at first.     He says in verse 12 "there were no animals with me, except the one I was riding on."   Considering the sacrifice of Jesus Christ makes this sentence much clearer to us.  All of a sudden this passage becomes very significant.  Of course there were no animals.  No animal sacrifice would have been sufficient.  Only the sacrifice of a perfect One, Jesus Christ, could restore us to God and recreate the kingdom that God had first created and planned for us from the foundation of the world.  There were no animals sufficient for the sacrifice that Jesus provided.  He came bringing His own precious life, and He rode into the city on the back of a donkey.  In this triumphant entry he rode the animal that signified peace, but the animal only bore him into the city, it could not replace Him as the sacrifice.  He rides into His own City as The King of Peace, but only a few faithful men recognized Him as Who He was, much like Nehemiah riding at night with his few good men.

Nehemiah comes on his horse to the Valley Gate.  Verse 13 states; "by night Nehemiah went out by the Valley Gate."  Many years into the future, beyond the days of Nehemiah, Jesus too goes through a valley gate.  He goes through The Valley Of The Shadow of Death, as mentioned in Psalm 23.  Nehemiah's horse is symbolic of war, much different from the donkey of peace.  Jesus was riding a donkey, He could not ride the horse of war through the Valley Gate.  He did not fight against the death that He knew awaited Him.  He laid down His life willingly without a fight.  So, we hear that "the horse could not pass through."  It was not the time for the horse of war.  Jesus walked to the cross and to a gruesome death.

 The passage in Nehemiah's story mentions the Jackal Well, and the Dung Gate, and in almost the same breath; Nehemiah is pictured "examining the walls" of Jerusalem.   One can't help but to see Jesus in this act.  We see Him on the cross, examining our sins, taking them upon Himself, letting them become a weight laid upon Him that brings about His death and suffering.  The Dung Gate represents the dirt and filth of our sins that were laid upon Him.  

     Nehemiah looks around in the place where he is standing and observes the walls that are broken and the gates that are destroyed by fire.  Jesus on the cross looked around at the ugliness of mankind while He hung there for hours with all of us mocking and laughing and taking no pity on His suffering.  He sees the brokenness of our lives.  He sees the weak places in our walls.  He sees where we have fallen down and been divided.  It is so ugly that no one else could have bared to look upon it.   He gazes down from the cross with His eyes full of love.  He does what He must do while He is here in this moment of history.  He comes to us just as we are and looks straight into our ugliness and examines our hearts.  He does not see the ugliness.  He does not see the brokenness.  His eyes are special and full of mercy.  He sees like Nehemiah examining the walls, only what God originally intended to be.  He sees us as God first designed us.    

God gives Nehemiah a glimpse of how the walls will look when they are fulfilling their true purpose and design.  God gives him hope of the future of the walls of his beloved city returning to their original state of glory and majesty.

 When we can get a glimpse of hope from God, anything is possible.

In verse 14 Nehemiah begins to move toward the Fountain Gate and The King's Pool.  Here is a new turn of events.  Jesus came to a time of turning too.  In His Ascension, He rose up to Heaven and sent us The One He had promised, The Holy Spirit.

 The Fountain Gate of Nehemiah's time represented the refreshment of The Holy Spirit.  The water was known for its freshness, its clear, pure qualities.  Now Jesus has shown us the living waters of the fountain of heaven, where we can drink freely and be restored to life everlasting, just like the restoration of the walls around Jerusalem in the story of Nehemiah.

 Nehemiah mentions that animal that he was riding again;  "there was not enough room for any mount to get through."  At the Fountain Gate there is peace, the Peace of The Lord, and there is no need for the horse of war.  It is here that the horse of war must be left outside, because it cannot squeeze through into the heavenly places where war has been defeated.  Here at the Fountain Gate, many come seeking the waters.  It is a crowded place.  People are pushing and crowding to get nearer and nearer to Jesus and to the living Water that He brings.  Jesus waits patiently by the Fountain, waiting for each one who comes.  He will meet you there, if you just push on through the crowd and find him. 

Finally, Nehemiah turns back toward where he started.  After a very careful look at every detail of the walls, he turns and reenters the valley through the same Valley Gate.  Jesus Christ, having ascended into heaven is sitting at the right hand of The Father now.  He is there looking down at the walls of our lives.  He is examining us, talking with us, pointing out the things that He wishes us to see and do to those walls that surround His Church, His Bride.


Sunday, October 23, 2016



(Writing and photography by 
Sheila Gail Landgraf)

"It is the summer's great last heat, 
It is the fall's first chill:
They meet."  
(Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt)

This old favorite verse of poetry reminds me that we are officially beginning the  Fall Season.   This lovely season always feels just a bit too short.  

I never grow tired of enjoying the time and every day feels like a fresh new gift from God. 

 Fall is my favorite season. 

The Irish love to say “Autumn days come quickly, like the running of a hound on the moor.”  

It is so true; one day you are standing in the heat of summer, and a few days later you begin to hear the snapping and cracking of the trees as they adjust to the cold and say hello to autumn.   You know it will not be long before “the frost is on the pumpkin.”   

Even the rain changes to a soaking kind of wet instead of a blowing pounding kind of wet.  Autumn rains can be soothing falling on the rooftops at night.  

You begin to smell smoke from wood stoves and fireplaces burning off the chill of their owner's houses.  

The sky becomes busier with the sights and sounds of birds migrating to a warmer place for the winter.  If you live in one spot long enough you will come to recognize the birds that have fall flight patterns through your area.  They light in ponds to rest and you know it is a sign of Fall.  So is the apple harvest, with its lovely rolling hillsides full of apple crates just brimming over with luscious fruit.        
It seems as if the trees enjoy taking turns changing their colors.  

The poplars like to go first, then the maples, then the others follow suit until they all stand vividly together, as if dressed for some elaborate banquet that we all have suddenly stumbled upon.  They  wave and invite us to their dance and we feel so honored to be their guest.  

Delicious fall recipes are spread on tables across the land, using the bountiful pumpkins, nuts, maple sugar and apples.  It is a feast for the table and a feast for the eyes as well.  Everything has a festive flavor.

Local fall customs come out to play.  Football teams and small town festivals and carnivals.  

Do you have a favorite thing about Fall that you find yourself doing or seeing or looking forward to that let’s you know for sure the season has truly arrived in your heart as well as the calendar?  

My list is full of so many things; I doubt I could even name them all.  
The fall foliage color tops my list of favorite things. My camera will get no rest during this season.  Fall is heaven to a photographer.  I love capturing the color and I love capturing the festive community events.  Each festival seems to bring a new work of art, a fresh way to recognize the beauty of the local people against the landscapes they call "home."  
My artistic soul is captured by the way the sun shines this time of the year. Technically this is called the Autumnal Equinox, but I would rather have the same 'kindred spirit' as Anne Shirley from Ann of Green Gables and make up a much better name.  I want to label this lovely autumn sunshine “The Dance of The Sun Through A Swirling Pool of Colors.”   Even those words seem not justified by the actual beauty presented.  

The word equinox comes from the Latin words “equal night.”  I like to turn that definition toward the positive in my mind and think of this season as a time of “equal light.”  At any rate, the slanted sun crosses the celestial equator and the temperatures begin to drop.  Slowly the days start to get shorter than the nights, but the hours of slanted sun daylight that we do have to enjoy are dazzling with vivid and brilliant colors and delightfully crisp air.   This all tends to make the earlier evenings seem more peaceful and relaxing.  

Fall is especially beautiful in the South as the sprawling mountainous landscapes silently explode with red, yellow and orange flames.  The leaves begin to jump off the trees and from your car windows you see people raking their yards.  Children take turns jumping into the leaf piles, until their parents take note and begin to teach them how to rake too.  

Football season totally occupies the locals of the land, and college towns create and cater to all types of personalities that best present their beloved teams.   Enthusiasm runs rampant.  Whole towns are dressed in team colors on certain days.   People bring out their sweaters and hoodies and warm socks.  They roast marshmallows and tail-gate and carve pumpkins and fill vases with flowers of rust, yellow, purple and orange.  Door fronts across the nation become much friendlier.  Friendly scarecrows appear everywhere.  Yards are full of busy squirrels scampering around trying to hurry up and finish storing their food for the winter.  If you simply watch the behavior of the animals and the plants, you will know that Fall is in progress.

Poetic love songs tend to happen during this season more than other seasons.  Tired poets are refreshed and inspired again.   Artists bring their canvases out of storage, to capture the beauty of the moments that will quickly fade and never be again.  Chefs inventing new soups are glad of the chance to turn from the challenging meals of summer to the more creative yet traditional meals of Fall.  School children suddenly seem to be on display everywhere you go, with their books and lunch pails and hair ribbons and flannel shirts.  Yellow buses bring traffic to a creeping halt as if to say “step aside, this is our season.”   Goblins and ghouls roam the streets evidently looking for food and are soon favored with sweet sticky candy apples and candy corn and chocolate. 

It is a time of great thankfulness and a time to share the bounty of the gifts that God grants to us in abundance.  It is a time for families to gather together and share the harvest that comes from loving one another.

The magic is everywhere. 
This is Fall. 

Friday, October 21, 2016


(Written by Sheila Gail Landgraf)

This article won’t tell you the usual truth about how sweet and wonderful grandmas are and how blessed you are to have them looking after your kids while you are away.  Nope!  Being a grandma myself, I must boldly proclaim the truth, because until recently I had not known how dangerous we can be to children! 

Go back and read it again.  I DID say that Grandmas can be very dangerous to their grandchildren! 

In their defense – it is totally out of ignorance and not a deliberate act, but; it is high time that a few grandmas became educated about the dangerous foods they are giving to those that they love to spoil. 

I will include myself among the guilty; but my ways are changing!  I have become a MORE AWARE GRANDMA; and I’m begging you to do the same.  Those wonderful treats you are giving those precious children are not good for their health!  Grandmas; you must educate yourself and change your ways!

What on earth am I talking about? 

Even a few Moms, Dads and Grandpas are going to be shocked at some of these facts! 

All I can do is break this down for you product by product. 

Are you ready? 

We all grew up with a dated food pyramid and our nutritional education amounted to “eat your vegetables” and “don’t’ eat too many desserts.”   We actually thought it was good for our kids to have a million snacks a day!  The times have changed right around us.  We must come into the world that we are living in NOW and open our eyes a bit wider.  We didn’t worry about chemicals, pesticides and prepackaged meals.  We never realized that bread, potatoes and rice turned to sugar later on inside our bodies.  We were used to a whole different way of approaching our meals; but fortunately our children have picked up on these things that we often thought “unimportant.”  Now WE are the ones needing to be re-educated and re-trained on proper nutrition and how to eat healthy.  Yes, we did all of these wrong things and lived through it; but let’s face it; our generation is facing more obesity and heart disease and diabetes than ever before; not to mention cancer and chronic diseases.  We have all become old enough and sick enough to understand that some major health changes need to happen.  Most of those come in the form of proper nutrition.

Maybe you better sit down because once you discover what you have been feeding the grandkids you may have a hard time forgiving yourself.  What has been done in the past can’t be changed; but there is hope for the future with a little education.  Here are the products you must be aware of right away:

OREO COOKIES:  I hate to spoil your good memories about Oreos, and I understand how you want to pass on those “feel good” moments you enjoyed as a child!   I know – you want to see the joy when they discover the fact that you need to open them and eat the middle first!  You want to see them realize how good they taste when you dip them in milk!  Then there is the fact that you can make a million and one CUTE crafty food treats out of Oreos! 

Sit down and listen carefully, because I’m going to ask you to quit buying Oreos for your grandkids.  Please don’t send me e-mails!  There are several good reasons for saying this!   I’m telling you:  Oreos contain polysorbate 80 and Titanium dioxide which are ingredients that are also found in paint and sunscreen.  If that isn’t enough to make you stop buying Oreos for those innocent little babies, then consider the fact that studies have shown that Oreos have the same addictive characteristics in our brains as cocaine and morphine.  The reason your grandchild wants to eat the WHOLE box is because these little cookies are extremely addictive.  The “pleasure center” of their brain is activated whenever they eat an Oreo cookie!  Now you wouldn’t give them cocaine or morphine (I hope) which would actually make them feel the same way; so why should you be feeding them boxes full of Oreos?  Stop and think about it.  This just isn’t a good practice! 

The next problem with the world’s most popular cookie that has been with us for over 100 years is the partially hydrogenated oils they contain.  As much as I hate to pass on the news, it seems that partially hydrogenated oils are found in about 40% of the food products we buy in most grocery stores.  That is a high percentage and you probably won’t hear a lot of people talking about the fact.  It would clearly cut into the profit margins of many food products if it became a more widely known fact.  You find partially hydrogenated oils in almost every cookie or cracker product on the shelves.  It is also in most microwavable popcorn products.  Many recent studies have shown that partially hydrogenated oils are linked to debilitating diseases.  The typical American consumer is not educated or aware of this fact.  We have been consuming tons of this stuff over the years.  These “trans-fats” seem to be a huge factor in heart diseases.  One researcher showed that eliminating the amount of trans-fats in our diets could prevent 7,600 to 17,000 cases of coronary heart disease and 2,500 to 5,600 deaths each year.  So all those Oreos you ate as a child didn’t kill you?  You were one of the lucky ones!  You won’t be hearing that on your local news channel though.  Most Grandmas are simply unaware!  The food labels are very deceptive about trans-fats.  They either don’t report them or they disguise them in some unobvious way.   These are simply the facts about the cute and adorable cookies that the schools love to promote that have fascinated us for a long time.  The truth is they are very dangerous to our health. 
If you aren’t worried about all of the above, then just look at the common sense fact that they contain too much fat and sugar with no real nutritional value.  This fact alone can lead to high cholesterol and heart disease later in life.  Ever dealt with that problem Grandma?  Then you know you don’t want that for your grandchild.  S-T-O-P the Oreo machine!

GRANOLA BARS:  I know, everyone thinks that granola is the healthiest thing around.  I have news for you – some of the brands of granola bars contain almost 20 grams of sugar per bar!  The Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxident bars that SOUND so healthy contain 14 grams of sugar and 2.5 grams of saturated fat (which is actually nutritionally worse than the above mentioned Oreo cookies!)  If you are going with granola make sure you do not serve the prepackaged ones that contain all of the wrong things.  There really isn’t much health value to them at all!

Along with the genetically modified dairy you will find modified corn starch and WAY too much sugar.  The thickener is carragenan which is known to cause intestinal problems.  Another product used is potassium sorbate.  Potassium sorbate can cause allergic reactions, nausea, diarrhea and DNA damage.  A good alternative treat to substitute in place of Go-Gurt would be Stonyfield Greek Plain Yogurt.  It is pure and organic, high in protein and low in sugar.  You can blend it with some fresh fruit for more flavor or freeze it to create a healthy Greek yogurt popsicle.

YOPLAIT FLAVORED YOGURT:  The original flavors contain 18 grams of sugar per container (which is bad enough), but the FLAVORED brands contain 31 grams of sugar per container.  So why am I so against things that contain a high content of sugar? 

Since you asked: 

SUGAR IN GENERAL:  You really should check the sugar content of all of the snacks you provide.  It DOES matter.  Most of us know that too much sugar and fats with no real nutritional value leads to high cholesterol and heart disease.  We DO NOT want to be the cause of this for our grandchildren.  Health risks from sugar overloads include obesity, increased chance for heart disease and type-2 diabetes.  Also; more recent research by the Mayo Clinic has proclaimed that there is some evidence consuming large amounts of sugar is associated with increased risks for certain cancers.  Please don’t overdo the sugar; it just isn’t a healthy practice!

M&M’s:  In 1976 the red M&M’s were taken off the market for a good reason.  It was thought even back then that carcinogens could be found in FD&C RED #2 (the artificial dye used in red M&M’s) .  The red M&Ms stayed off the market for 10 years because of this theory; then in 1976 they were added back into the mix once more.  Everyone seemed to have forgotten the health concerns and we have all been consuming these candies since that time.  Now we are concerned with more than just one artificial dye.  It is now known that the RED #40 causes damage to DNA.  It can cause swelling around the mouth, give you hives and produce hyperactivity in children.  Cancer is also suspected from this dye.  (Ever notice how the red ones are the ones they like the best?)  The Yellow #6 artificial dye also causes cancer, hyperactivity, allergic reactions, diarrhea, vomiting, nettle rash, migraines and skin problems.   The Yellow #5 artificial dye used has some of the same problems.  Blue #2 is also used as a dye.  It is a petroleum based product with a chemical formula (C16H1ON202.)   It increases hyperactivity in children and has caused brain tumors and abnormal cell developments in rats.  The Gum Acacia found in M&M’s is a dietary fiber from the Acacia tree.  This fiber has glue-like binding qualities.  It is very bad for the digestive system.   It causes gas, bloating, nausea and loose stools.  It has been noted that these petrochemicals found in M&M’s worsen the behavior of some children.  The soy lecithin in M&M’s is genetically modified.  Soy lecithin can cause breast cancer, has negative effects on fertility and reproduction.  Soy lecithin also may lead to behavioral and cerebral abnormalities.  Most of the dye colors are labeled as “Lake” colors.  This means that salt has been added to the dye and that means the color would be insoluble in liquids.  The Blue #1 dye is said to produce malignant tumors in rats and has side effects such as asthma, hives, hay fever, low blood pressure and allergies.  These artificial dyes contain benzadine which is a well known carcinogen.  So you have eaten M&M’s all your life and you are still alive.  I hate to tell you this but chronic diseases and cancer have never been more prevalent in our society.  Why not consider what is causing some of them?  Looking the other way and ignoring the facts isn’t healthy for our children and grandchildren; or us either for that matter.

GRAHAM CRACKERS:  Maybe you consider Graham Crackers to be a fairly healthy snack.  I know I thought this in the past.  They are not!  Most of these “crackers” are made of refined flour and not the whole wheat flour that most people just assume they are made with.  Refined flour is very bad for your health.  So!  We have been eating refined flour for years; what could possibly be wrong with that?

Glad you asked:

REFINED FLOUR:  White or “refined” flour raises your risk for diabetes.  It is stripped of its original fiber lessening the nutritional value and it is processed heavily with chemicals that bleach.  Refined flour also contains gluten which is a problem for many people.  The main food to avoid when we are speaking of “refined” flour is white breads, cakes and cookies.  That would include biscuits and rolls!  These foods simply turn into sugar later and create circumstances that often lead to diabetes.  They are said to be the main factor that contributes to the American problem of obesity.    At our house we have started substituting whole wheat pita bread for white bread.  It tastes very good and we haven’t missed the unhealthy breads at all.

POP TARTS:  Speaking of refined flour; let’s discuss pop-trats.  They usually say they contain real fruit.  The filling is actually about 10% fruit and the other 90% is something else altogether!  It consists of enriched flour, soybean and palm oil, and GMO after GMO.  There are artificial colors and LOTS of sugar.  These processed treats contain dextrose, sugar, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup.  All are made with GMOs.  The sugar usually comes from genetically modified sugar beets instead of cane sugar.  The refined sugars spike insulin levels and feed cancer cells.  The “real fruit” listed is actually dried apples, strawberries and pears that have been sprayed with pesticides.  (Apples are now the most contaminated item on the EWG’s dirty dozen list because of pesticides. Please buy organically grown apples!)   These Pop-Tarts also contain artificial dyes such as Red 40, Yellow 6 and Blue 1.  These dyes create toxins and cause cancer and other symptoms that you do not want to see in your grandchildren.  The caramel coloring often used is noted for causing lung cancer in mice. 

A good alternative to these treats might be Nature’s Path Frosted Maple Brown Sugar Toaster Pastries.  They are certified organic non-GMO products that are trans-fat free.  An even better alternative – make your own sweet treats from scratch and limit the servings.

FRUIT LOOPS:  You have probably noticed that most cereals for children are loaded with sugar, in the case of Fruit Loops; they also contain all the dangerous artificial dyes mentioned above when speaking of M&M’s.  These dyes are very dangerous and should not be eaten, especially when you are a young child and your body is forming, growing and changing. 

CHERRIOS:  The GMO company that produces Cheerios claims that it is a healthy food made from oats which is low in sugar and full of fiber.  That is very misleading.    Cheerios are thought healthy because they are said to contain “natural” oats.  In the seven out of twelve varieties of Cheerios sold, oats are not even listed as the main ingredient.  They DO contain whole grains, but whole grains ground into flour do not have the same benefits as natural unprocessed whole grains.  Cheerio’s whole grains are PROCESSED.  Only three brands of Cheerios out of the twelve brands sold have less than nine grams of sugar in a serving.  The serving sizes also vary according to the type of Cheerios you are buying; so the sugar content you are getting for the nine other flavors, though they sound very healthy, is MUCH too high.  Back in 2009 the FDA sent a letter to the company that manufactures Cheerios because of “unauthorized health claims” and because said claims would mean that Cheerios would fall under the label of an “unapproved new drug.”  Cheerios has reworked their marketing programs because of this and have changed their message to read that Cheerios CAN be a part of a healthy diet that COULD reduce the risks of heart disease. 

The new words used in marketing and commercials are based on the cereal’s fiber and whole grain content.  The whole truth of the matter is that ONLY Regular Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios and Yogurt Burst Cheerios contain soluble fiber.  Cheerios have just 1 gram per serving, Honey Nut Cheerios have 0.75 gram per serving and Yogurt Burst Cheerios have “less than 1 gram of soluble fiber.”  That really isn’t much fiber at all, and as we said before, it isn’t whole grain fiber but processed whole grain fiber.  Only regular Cheerios would provide the adequate amount of fiber required to start a healthy day. 

Cheerios also contain BHT a possible carcinogen.  Other ingredients that are not healthy in Cheerios are Trisodium Phosphate, artificial colors (mentioned above under M&M’s, vanillin (which is synthetic Vanilla), corn syrup, soy lecithin (see details under M&M’s), maltodextrin and glycerides.  Each of these ingredients have been linked to negative health issues in various studies. 

A huge issue is that the corn comes from fields in the US that have been genetically modified.  The Vitamin E content of Cheerios comes from mixed Tocopherols which are commonly derived from soy, corn or cotton.  Soy corn and cotton are the most extensively genetically engineered crops out there.  You won’t find this information on the labels; you just have to know your cereals and foods!

CAP’N CRUNCH:  Aside from the small amount of added vitamins in this cereal, it is full of worthless empty calories, food-like particles and chemicals.  The bulk of this brand of cereal is made up of corn flour.  It is held together with sugar, brown sugar and coconut oil.  It is coated with loads of food colorings.  A good substitute would be Cascadian Farm Clifford Crunch. 

GOLDFISH:   These are thrown at kids everywhere they go!  I’ve seen them in the church nursery, kindergarten classes and diaper bags everywhere.   The popular ones are made by Pepperidge Farms.  They usually all contain “enriched” wheat flour.”  Here is how they have been “enriched”:   The added iron is the metallic form of iron which the human body cannot fully absorb.  They have added folic acid also.  At first the folic acid actually sounds good, but research now shows that the fortification of foods with folic acid is linked to cancer.  The cheddar cheese is not organic.  This means that the cows that produced the cheese used in the product ate genetically modified grains and then produced the milk for the cheese.  More than likely these same cows were injected with genetically engineered hormones that stimulate milk production.  Best plan; eliminate the constant consummation of goldfish! 

AUSTIN CHEESE CRACKERS WITH CHEDDAR JACK CHEESE:   These snacks have been labeled “the worst packaged snack” by many food experts.  Each package contains 2 days worth of transfats.   

APPLE JUICE:  Did you know that one glass of the typical apple juice marketed for children can contain as much sugar as a Krispy Kreme Donut?  Not only is this much sugar a risk for heart disease and diabetes; but it can also cause tooth decay and other dental problems down the road.  Most toddlers tend to walk around with a sippy-cup full of some type of juice all the time!  A good solution to this problem is to use filtered water for their drinks and flavor it occasionally with just a few spoonfuls of natural organic juice.  Diluting the juice if it must be served is a great idea.  They hardly notice when you do this!  I have bought the cute little animated drinks that come in containers of their favorite characters, poured them out and repackaged them with filtered water and a tiny bit of healthy juice.  The kids never know the difference and they are delighted because they are served in containers of their favorite characters.   Please don’t tell my secret!

SUNNY D ORANGE DRINK:  This is definitely not REAL orange juice!  There is only 5 percent of real juice in each bottle.  The other 95 percent is sugar water.  The sugar left is equivalent to a dozen Chips Ahoy cookies.   A good substitute might be Capri Sun’s Tropical Fruit Roarin’ Water.

NESTLE NESQUICK CHOCOLATE MILK:  Most schools are still serving this one.  It is loaded with sugar.  One bottle contains 48 grams of sugar!  Excess sugar consumption leads to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, obesity, reduced brain power and liver problems.  The term “natural” is used a lot on their ingredients list and it is deceiving.  These drinks contain hundreds of chemicals with side affects ranging from allergies to behavioral issues in children.  It contains the thickening agent carrageenan which has been shown to cause animals to have gastrointestinal inflammation, intestinal lesions, ulcers and malignant tumors.  There is a high possibility that MSGs are in the carrageenan.  If you must allow your children to drink chocolate milk use Organic Valley Chocolate Milk.  There is still a high amount of sugar even in this pure product.  Best solution; encourage more water!

SOFT DRINKS:  Most Grandmas are already on to this one.  We pretty much know how harmful soft drinks can be to children.  For those who have not yet caught on, I’ll just say that sodas act as dehydrating diuretics and can inhibit proper digestion.  Drinking soda can upset the fragile, acid-alkaline balance in the stomach and create an acid environment.  A prolonged acid environment can lead to inflammation of the stomach and duodenal lining.  Diet soda is especially bad (for ALL people – not just children.)  Diet drinks usually contain aspartame which is a potent brain toxin and endocrine disrupter.  Drinking soft drinks every day can lead to blood sugar disorders and diabetes.  These drinks contain caffeine which is known to create physical dependence and upsets the normal balance of neurochemistry in the developing brains of children.  There are 35 to 38 milligrams of caffeine in most 12-ounce cans of cola.  A can of Pepsi One has 56 milligrams of caffeine!  If caffeine is the only issue you are concerned with a good alternative choice in drinks would be Sprit, 7-Up, Ginger Ale or some brands of Root Beer; which are all caffeine free.  Another thing to consider about soft drinks is the link to tooth decay.  The sugar causes cavities and the acid erodes the enamel of your teeth.    The citric acid found in soda may contain traces of MSG.  MSG is another potent brain toxin.  The artificial flavors found in sodas may also contain traces of MSG. 

If the above isn’t enough to convince you just realize that soft drinks contain zero nutrients, are high calorie and contain LOADS of sugar.  They are probably the heaviest contributor to childhood obesity.  Sodas tend to suppress the appetite so kids are less likely to crave nutritious foods at regular meal time.  Phosphorus is a common ingredient found in soft drinks.  Phosphorus can deplete bones and calcium.  Girls who drink more soft drinks are prone to broken bones.  More and more doctors are becoming very concerned about the health impact of carbonated beverage consumption on teen-aged girls.

I’m sure you are convinced.  Just remember that our children and grandchildren tend to imitate every move that we make.  If you are forbidding soft drinks to your toddlers and teens and not giving them up yourself; you are not only unhealthy; you might also be a hypocrite!  Just don’t buy soft drinks!

PROCESSED CHICKEN NUGGETS:  This is typically the first thing you will see on children’s menus when you eat out.  Who erroneously proclaimed that all children want to eat is chicken nuggets and mac and cheese?  They are bo so unhealthy!  I’m speaking here about the PROCESSED chicken nuggets; not the freshly cooked unprocessed ones.  Unfortunately most processed chicken nuggets are stripped off the bone and then ground up into a chicken “mush” then combined with a variety of stabilizers and preservatives.  These are usually pressed into shapes.  They are then breaded and deep fried, then freeze dried and shipped to somewhere.  The “mush” they call chicken is usually about 50% fat and contains about 360 mgs of sodium.  They contain a very low percentage of calcium, protein fiber, vitamins and antioxidants.  A steady diet of these would mean your child isn’t receiving anywhere near the nutritional value they need at meal time.  Most fast-food chicken nuggets contain a high content of chemicals and preservatives.  One thing that is especially bad is the TBHQ found in the hydrogenated soybean oil that they fry with (in the vegetable oil.)  This is a chemical preservative the FDA only allows processors to use SPARINGLY in food.  It can comprise no more than 0.02 percent of the oil in a nugget.  We now know that ingesting a single gram of TBHQ can cause nausea, vomiting, ringing of the ears, delirium and a sense of suffocation and collapse.  Ingesting five grams of TBHQ can kill. 

Citric acid is also added to preserve freshness.  Have you ever read how citric acid is processed?  It is highly educational reading.  Any time you see citric acid beware; it isn’t very healthy despite the deceptive labeling.  The antifoaming agent added into your usual fast food nugget mix is dimenthylpolysiloxane which is the same form of silicone that is also used many of your cosmetics.  It is a suspected carcinogen and an established mutagen, tumorigen and reproductive effector (it is also flammable.) 

I guess that is enough about fast-food chicken fingers.  I would highly recommend that you save this treat until you can cook it yourself inside your own kitchen using fresh whole ingredients and carefully selected chicken pieces.  Your grands are worth the effort. 

A good way to make your own chicken fingers is to marinate strips of chicken breast in 1 percent buttermilk for 20 to 30 minutes.  Cover the strips in whole-wheat bread crumbs and bake them at 350 degrees for six to seven minutes per side.  Kids will love how they taste and you will too!

MACARONI AND CHEESE:  Kraft was stopped by the FDA from using the artificial dyes they put into their mac and cheese.  They now use turmeric, which was a smart move. 

There are still things about constantly stuffing a kid with macaroni and cheese that are disturbing.  One author I know described mac and cheese as “a serpent in a beautifully disguised package.”  I tend to agree with her!  This even applies to that mac and cheese that you make yourself using the noodles from a box!  Why?  Your mac and cheese and the prepackaged mac and cheese actually probably contain many of the same ingredients.  In terms of nutrition; they are also probably even.   So is cooking the cheesy dish yourself approximately the same results as using the box?  No.  The big difference is saturated fats, sodium and preservatives which can condition kids to crave more salty, artificial foods.  If you look on the label you will see a long list of non-food ingredients on the boxed products.  When you grab that easy box, you really don’t know what you are feeding them.  When you put in the ingredients yourself; you can be sure to know.  Also you should be using whole wheat organic noodles when you make it yourself.  One helping of most packaged or fast food mac and cheese works out to around 418 grams of fat and 1760 milligrams of sodium.  This definitely offsets the benefit of the mac and cheese being low in sugar.  Eaten to excess sodium has been tied to many hazardous health conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, cardiovascular disease and cardiac enlargement, edema, osteoporosis, heartburn and even death in the worst cases. 

Just be aware that mac and cheese is a very high calorie food.  If you eat it constantly, you are probably going to get fat. 

SALAD DRESSINGS:  They are loaded with untested Franken ingredients.  The bulk of oils in non-organic salad dressing come from genetically engineered soy or canola crops that have never been tested for their impact on humans.  They are crops that use massive amounts of pesticides and you know some of that may wind up inside the food that is produced from them.  Most of the popular brands of salad dressings are using high fructose.  Scientists have discovered that ingesting high-fructose for just six weeks could make you less smart.  The raspberry vinaigrettes sometimes harbor deceivingly high amounts of sweeteners.  Another thing that is happening with salad dressings is the use of titanium dioxide which is what people working in the paint industry use to make colors brighter.  This chemical is often contaminated with lead.  We all have used and loved the Hidden Valley Farmhouse Originals.  Some of the color in this company’s Pomegranate Vinaigrette comes not from real fruit, but Red #40.  I’ve already covered how harmful these artificial dyes can be to children, but I don’t think I’ve yet mentioned that this particular dye is also linked to ADHD in children.  Kraft’s creamy ranch dressing contains Yellow 5.  Many of the honey mustard dressing and the Ceasar of creamy balsamic dressings rely on caramel coloring to give them rich brown or golden hues.  Caramel colors have been linked to cancer.  Trans fats are those dangerous fats that your taste buds love but your body hates.  They are required to be labeled on food products but often they are not clearly labeled on salad dressings.  Monosodium glutamate is a food additive often found in salad dressings.  Animal studies link these food additives to nerve cell damage in the brain.  Humans ingesting MSG often complain of headaches. 

HONEY:  This one is tricky.  Local organic honey is usually good and healthy for adults.  Many do not know or understand that children under two should never be given honey.  This is because honey can contain a toxic bacteria causing botulism.  This bacteria won’t hurt adults; but young children do not have the immune systems yet to fight this off.  Honey, even local and organic, has recently been noted to contain pesticides that were brought in by bees feeding on heavily sprayed fields. 

KETCHUP:  Most ketchups are loaded with GMO-derived high fructose corn syrups.  They are bursting with sodium, yet no one ever thinks twice about using ketchup or the contents in its ingredients.  We put this stuff on everything!  Our children always imitate whatever we do.  The ketchup market is worth over $800 million strong, right behind mayonnaise and salsa.  I was once told this sauce was a good condiment to use because it is low in calories; so just how bad could it possibly be?  You might be surprised to learn (as I was) that about ¼ of the bottle is sugar!  It is also loaded with high fructose corn syrup and sodium.    

OTHER DIPPING SAUCES:  It is trendy these days for parents to use dipping sauces to convince their kids to eat more vegetables.  By adding the extra flavor of the sauce you entice them to get used to eating their vegetables, even if they have to dip them.  This is only a good idea if you want your kid to be hooked on that particular sauce for the rest of their lives.  If you must do this; try steering them toward healthy organic alternative sauces.  For instance substitute Greek yogurt mixed with organic seasonings for ranch dressing.  Make your own ketchup and honey mustard from natural ingredients. 

FRENCH FRIES:  The hard truth about French fries is that they are just TOO convenient, both at home and in restaurants.  We need to quit putting convenience ahead of health.  French frying at fast food establishments usually involves using saturated fats, or the bad fats that cause problems.  When our children consume these bad fats they make the platelets in their blood stickier.  These sticky little platelets then form clots that attach to the walls of arteries which supply vital areas of the body with oxygenated blood.  These sticky little clots create walls of plaque that can eventually lead to heart attack or stroke. 

French Fries, even when not fast food are made from white potatoes.  Once in the body white potatoes have been noted for converting to sugar.  When we continually consume quickly absorbing carbohydrates the high conversion of sugar causes a surge in insulin production.  When we continually spike our insulin we develop a resistance to insulin that has been linked to a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease. 

Not all fats are just “good fats” and “bad fats”  There are fats that are “damaged fats.”  Damaged fats act as carcinogens.  French fries have high levels of acrylamide, reported to be a possible cancer-causing substance.   This comes from the deep frying techniques used.   While there are not yet any conclusive studies in children that show a link has been established to consuming French fries and cancer, it has been reported that cancer in children is on the rise in children ages 2- 4 years old.  Why take chances?  Bake your fries from home sliced potatoes and use less salt (sea salt preferably) in order to eliminate a lot of the sodium.  Don’t serve them all the time with everything; but only on occasions when they are already properly filled to the brim with good nutrients to counteract any harmful activities.  If they are constantly filling up on fries; they will never want their vegetables.

CHIPS:   Kids seem to love spicy chips like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.  Doctors are now warning that many of the spicy chips have harmful effects.  They originally will cause stomach pain that can go on for weeks.  If your child is complaining of a burning in their left side it could be caused by eating spicy chips!  Doctors are reporting seeing five or six cases a day of kids with gastritis due to eating spicy chips.  Gastritis is an inflammation, erosion or irritation of the lining of the stomach.  It can come on gradually or suddenly.  Symptoms include bloating, burning, vomiting and hiccups.  Sometimes, if not treated, this can lead into ulcerations, erosions and peptic ulcer disease in children.  Several schools have already banned these snacks due to lack of nutritional value; but the stomach problems are an even more serious reason not to feed your child spicy chips.  The Frito-Lay company actually made a statement that they would no longer market these chips to children under twelve. 

What about chips in general though?  Kids love even the NOT spicy chips.   Scientific studies have been conducted on the foods that kids eat and what makes them lose or gain weight.  The kids who regularly ate potato chips tended to gain the most weight.  French fries, fried chicken and fish, processed meats and butter were in close to the same category.  Foods cooked in oil, whether fried, sautéed or roasted were linked to weight gain.     

We need to remember that chips are PROCESSED FOODS.  That means they are going to be made from things that are not all natural and nutritious. 

TWINKIES:  Most people already know that Twinkies are not very healthy.  The details though are that they include partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, shortening and beef fat.  All of these items contain trans-fats.  Twinkies are full of enriched bleached white four, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, MSG and artificial colors.  These are all toxic food additives that should be avoided at all costs.  Arrowhead Mills makes organic cake mixes.  This might be a good switch.  Make your own cake snacks using applesauce instead of eggs and oil to get a moist cake with fewer calories and fat.  Bake them in cupcake tins to make them smaller in shape and easy to carry.  It might also be a good idea to read up on the health and nutrition facts about Little Debbie Cakes.  I don’t have time to go into it here.

KRISPY KREME DOUGHNUTS:  A Krispy Kreme Original Glazed doughnut is made from at least 50 ingredients.  Most of these ingredients are artificial food additives that will increase your risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, allergies and digestive disorders.  It is well known that dyes, chemicals and synthetic hormones are causing serious health problems.  Since we have covered most of the problems with several of the following ingredients, I will just list the ingredients found in a Krispy Kreme doughnut and I think you will be able to analyze them for yourself:  Enriched bleached wheat flour-  (contains bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), dextrose, vegetable shortening (partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil), water, sugar, soy flour, egg yolks, vital wheat gluten, yeast, nonfat milk, yeast nutrients (calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate), dough conditioners (calcium dioxide, monocalcium and dicalcium phosphate, diammonium phosphate, sodium stearoyl-2-lacrylate, whey, starch, ascorbic acid, sodium bicarbonate, calcium carbonate), salt, mono-and-diglycerides, ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides, lecithin, calcium propionate (to retain freshness), cellulose gum, natural and artificial flavors, fungal alpha amylase, amylase, maltogenic amylase, pantosenase, protease, sodium caseinate, corn maltodextrin, corn syrup solids and BHT (to help protect flavor).  Glaze also may contain: Calcium carbonate, agar, locust bean gum, disodium phosphate, and sorbitan monostearate.

Convinced?  Me too!

GUMMY BEARS:  Gummy Bears are basically pure sugar!  Even the sugar-free Gummy Bears are harmful though.  Most brands of gummies contain high fructose corn syrup.  Over 78 different diseases and health problems are linked to fructose!  Consuming fructose is essentially consuming fat.  The metabolism of fructose causes toxins in the body.  It is now known that fructose and ethanol have immediate narcotic effects that lead to overconsumption and which eventually damages the internal organ systems.  Refined fructose has a worse effect on your metabolism than sugar.  Most food labels are misleading concerning fructose and the way it is mixed with other products that sound healthy, but are actually very unhealthy.  Most of these same facts can be applied to Fruit Roll-Ups and other “fruit” labeled snacks.  These days a lot of fruit snacks say “made with real fruit” or “made with real fruit juice” but these claims simply mean a lot of added sugar.  If you are looking for an easy snack with some actual nutrition just go with dried real fruit instead.

If you still want to give your grandchild gummy bears in spite of the above information – at least go visit a web site called Mommypotamus.  There you will be able to find a healthy gummy bear recipe that you can make at home containing all natural ingredients. 

SHREDDED CHEESE:  I hate to tell you this one.  You may already know.  Shredded cheese is usually manufactured with wood chips in the mix to keep the cheese looking fresh and not wilty.  Wood chips are not good for a child’s stomach.  They pick up enough stuff from the floor and put it into their mouths without you adding wood chips into the mix.  Solution:  buy blocks of natural organic cheese and shred it yourself.  It really doesn’t take that long and it taste better. 

PROCESSED FOODS:  (CAKE MIXES, COOKIE MIXES, PREPARED WAFFLES AND PANCAKES AND MIXES, CERTAIN SAUCES AND CONDIMENTS, ETC.)  Processed foods are usually all bad for nutrition because of the preservatives, GMOs, chemicals, etc.  Read your labels and do your homework and make everything you can from scratch.

KRAFT OSCAR MEYER LUNCHABLES:  The little prepackaged lunches have been very popular with the kids.  They are easy to fix and they save time.  I’ve often used them with my grandchildren in the past.  Then I had to stop and examine the ingredients.  The artificial coloring and flavors elicit behavioral reactions and a difficulty in staying focused!  These lunches are so processed that the cheese isn’t really cheese at all!  You’ll find GMOs, trans fat and even nitrites in these convenient little containers that are so easy to use.  There is an alternative to the Lunchables.  Just cut squares of organic lunch meat and cheese and pack them up in a food container along with an organic cracker.  You can pack these ahead and they will be just as quick and easy to use for fast lunches for on-the-go days.  My granddaughter loves the pre-packaged lunches that come in the Mickey Mouse shaped containers.  I have simply emptied a few of these pre-packaged containers into the garbage and filled them with natural treats and fruit and covered them with foil until she wants to eat them.  I wash the containers and re-use them over and over.  She is always delighted and hasn’t noticed one time that they are not the same ones you find in the store. 

This list, unfortunately, could go on forever.  I had to stop writing!  I’ll probably be bringing up more of these facts only one at a time in this column later.  For now; I think you are beginning to see how we grandmothers can go astray!

I’m so sorry to be having to tell all of the above to all the Grandmas out there!  I’m sure reading this has made your day; but did you know your daughters and sons are all noticing and discussing these issues when you aren’t around?  They worry that you might not know these things, and let’s face it….they are important facts to know.  Nothing is more important than the health of our grandbabies! 

Let’s just pitch in and do our part to help with this.  It has to start with the parents at home and the grandparents they visit.  Hopefully the baby sitter and the school lunch workers will follow suit.   Of course these things all take common sense and balance to work; just like everything else in life.  We don’t want to make a bunch of paranoid kids by preaching to them every time they put something unhealthy into their mouths.  This will only backfire on us and cause the kids to be anorexic or have food disorders.  Be silent about the negatives here; just try to reinforce the positives.  There will be times to smile politely and look the other way.  There will be times to remain silent and let some unhealthy things happen.  A LITTLE of all of these things will not harm anyone; it is when these things are ALL that a kid is consuming in their diet that it really makes a difference in their overall health.  Go ahead and have fun on the holidays and birthday parties!   Take them out occasionally for that special usually denied treat they are longing for (it will be even more special now); but for the most part find a way to present healthy snacks to them.  If you use your imagination they will never know the difference.  Simply saying “we don’t have any of that” is much easier than them looking at the unhealthy things in your pantry and being told they can’t have them.  Keep your kitchen stocked with healthy fruit and vegetables and alternative snacks.  Soon you will see strong and healthy grandkids.  You might be amazed at the changes in their behavior too.  They will grow up before you can blink and their parents will always trust that you are looking out for their best interest.  It is worth the effort. 

I intend to write more on this subject in the future and include some good menus and ideas for healthy snacks.  Keep reading!  Until then – enjoy those grandkids!