2. TV dinners and prepackaged lunches. Another much-cited selection, these were banned due to high sodium and fat, and minimal nutritional value (vitamins, minerals, and whole grains).
3. Packaged breakfast pastries. These ranked high due to large amounts of sugar and minimal fiber. Though they are better than nothing in the morning, experts preferred granola bars made with whole grain oats, fruits, and nuts.
4. Sweetened and artificially colored cereals. One dietitian said, "if I gave my kids the options of rainbow-colored cereals with marshmallows and sprinkles, or a brown whole-grain cereal, guess which one they'd pick every time? That's why they don't get the choice." I couldn't agree more. Another option: Make sugary cereals a dessert option only, and serve them in a small bowl.
5. Canned pasta meals. Refined white-flour pasta mixed with tomatoes, preservatives, and canned meats? There's not much good about this. Consider making extra servings of your own spaghetti and meatballs, mix in some vegetables, and freeze in single-serving containers for easy reheating.
6. Fruit cups in syrup. These drew an absolute no from the experts. They were more acceptable if pack in water or juice.
7. Canned meats. These highly processed items were typically too high in fat and sodium. An alternative: canned fish in water.
8. Chips (of all kinds). Puffed, fried, or kettle-cooked, these were rejected due to the empty calories and ease of overeating.
9. Hot dogs. The parents of younger kids said this was a big-time choking hazard. Parents of older children avoided them due to high fat and sodium.
10. Packaged desserts. Store-bought cookies, cupcakes, and other baked goods often contained trans fats and heavy sugar. The alternative? Baking treats with your kids so they can learn family recipes and you know the ingredients in the product.
This was not the complete list, but a great place to start. What do you avoid for your family?
Beth Wallace, a registered dietitian at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, helps write the philly.com/kidshealth blog. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org