By Jackie Rainford Corcoran EBS Health Columnist

Kraft Lunchables are a brilliant idea. Manufactured by Kraft Foods, these ready-made inexpensive lunches are sold in compartmentalized plastic containers, each with a variety of foodstuff.

The problems with them, however, are many.

First and foremost, they contain ingredients that are harmful to human health, and I’ll list just a few. Carrageenan, which has no nutritional value but is added to improve food texture, has been linked to cancer and inflammation. Sodium nitrate, used as a preservative, is linked to increased risk of heart disease. Red dye No. 40, the most commonly used coloring agent in processed foods, can trigger hyperactivity in children and is linked to cancer and allergic reactions.

More obvious culprits are high levels of poor quality fats, sugar and salt.

Kraft Lunchables also contain genetically modified organisms. Many countries have banned the cultivation and/or the importation of GMOs, though research is often inconclusive on their long-term effects. Most countries that ban them are waiting for concrete results before taking unnecessary risks with the lives of their citizens, animals, land and water.  It’s worth noting that Kraft has contributed more than $2 million on lobbying efforts to prevent straightforward GMO labeling.   

The ingredients they lack make Lunchables equally detrimental. For example, most of them contain 0 grams of dietary fiber, which is important for gut health and regular bowel movements. Healthy fats, which actually help lower the risk of high cholesterol and heart disease, are also missing. They don’t contain anti-cancer and anti-inflammation properties. What they lack is found in abundance in fruits and vegetables.

And then there’s the disposable packaging. Our planet needs a lot less, not more plastic waste. Did you know there is a giant island of plastic swirling around in the ocean called the Great Pacific garbage patch, estimated to be about the size of Texas?
Buying these products sends the message to our children that fast and cheap are what matter most, regardless of the product’s negative consequences. In reality, we need to eat food that nourishes our minds and bodies rather than deplete them and potentially kill us.

Here’s the good news: We can make fast and cheap Lunchable-style meals at home that are delicious, beautiful and healthy.
There’s a bit more time investment but if it means ultimately having more energy, focus and mobility, it’s actually a lot less time in long run.

Here’s how to get started: Purchase a compartmentalized reusable lunch box. I like PlanetBox stainless steel lunch boxes because they’re very durable, don’t leach plastic byproducts into your food and don’t hold on to stains or odors. Visit planetbox.com to view different sizes and accessories. There is an upfront cost, but this lunch container will last for years to come.

If you’re concerned about raising healthy eaters, get your kids involved. They will take ownership of their meals and learn the habit of preparing food. The more they learn healthy habits early on, the less chance they have of struggling with weight and diet-related issues later in life.

Need inspiration on what to put in your DIY Lunchable? A few websites to give you ideas include planetbox.com, hungryhobby.net and dontwastethecrumbs.com.

Jackie Rainford Corcoran is an IIN Certified Holistic Health Coach and Consultant, a public speaker and health activist. Contact her at jackie@corehealthmt.com.