An estimated 0.6% of Americans have a peanut allergy and need to avoid peanuts. Thanks to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, peanuts—and other top food allergens including milk, eggs, treenuts, shellfish, wheat, and soy—must be listed on food labels. Be sure to read those labels—especially on commercially baked goods including granola and protein bars.
What can kids eat to replace peanut butter?
almond butter, cashew butter or other nut butters (if no allergies to tree nuts),
sunbutter (from sunflower seeds)
Hummus and low fat cheese are other options that, like peanut butter, are convenient, easy to make into a sandwich, and are inexpensive.
In schools, educating kids and parents is preferable to banning peanuts and peanut butter, because bans can give a false sense of security. Students need to be taught:
• do not share food.
• do not bring peanut-containing foods into classroom activities (like birthday parties).
• do not eat on the bus.
Schools can set aside an allergen-free table in the cafeteria.
Researchers are currently trying to figure out if early introduction of peanuts in childhood is preferable to avoidance, and if kids with allergies can become more tolerant by being given small amounts of peanuts over the course of months and years until they can safely tolerate a standard serving.
“I don’t keep peanut butter in the house”, reported Sarah, a working mom and fitness exerciser who wanted to lose about 10 pounds. “If peanut butter is there, I eat way too much of it.”
The solution I offered Sarah was scary – eat peanut butter EVERY day for the next week. Eat it three meals a day, if desired, and two snacks a day, as well.
Sarah left my office fearful she would gain several undesired pounds of body fat. When she returned a week later, she was amazed that her weight was the same. She had eaten a lot of peanut butter, but also had eaten less and less of it as the days went by. Peanut butter no longer “called to her” and no longer “invited her” to eat the whole jar. She knew she could eat it whenever she wanted, so it was no longer “forbidden.”
The best way to take the power away from a binge-food is to eat it more often— every meal, every day until you get sick of it. Knowing you can have it as often as you want makes it less appealing. Think about it. Do apples have power over you? Doubtful—because you give yourself permission to eat apples whenever you want. But what would happen if you were to ban apples? You’d likely start to binge on them when given the opportunity.
This week, how about surrounding yourself with a food that has power over you and make peace with that food? … Ice cream anyone?
For more information on how to find peace with food:
“Since I’ve given up meat, I’ve been eating lots of nuts and peanut butter for protein” reported my client. She thought she was eating TONS of protein, but the reality is, nuts and peanut butter are not as protein-dense as many people think.
While nuts do offer protein, only about 5 to 10% of their calories come from protein and about 70% of their calories come from fat. (The good news is, the fat in nuts is health-protective so is a positive addition to a sports diet.)
Most athletes need at least 60 grams of protein. Two tablespoons of peanut butter offer only 8 grams of protein for 180 calories. You could get three times more protein—26 grams of protein—in the same amount of calories of Greek yogurt!
Beans (as in kidney beans or hummus) are also lower in protein than many vegetarians realize. Beans offer about 6 grams of protein in a half-cup. While they are a smart choice for athletes because they offer a hefty does of carbs and can both fuel the muscles and heal/build muscles, they only offer about 12 grams of protein per 180 calories.
You also have to eat big portions of tofu and garden burgers…
The trick to getting enough protein as a vegetarian is to read the food labels for protein information. You'll discover you need to consume generous amounts of plant proteins at each meal and snack. Yes, you can successfully consume a balanced vegetarian diet; you just need to educate yourself about the protein content of the foods you choose. More information is readily available in the protein chapter of my Sports Nutrition Guidebook.
Q. The label says 2 tablespoons of Skippy peanut butter has 3 grams of added sugar. Isn’t that bad?
A. Three grams of sugar equates to 12 calories of sugar. This is far less sugar than is in the jelly that comes along with a PB&J sandwich! It's also a fraction of the sugar in sports drinks, gels and jellybeans. I would not blink an eye at three grams of sugar for an active person (or even an inactive person, for that matter.)
A standard nutrition guideline is that 10% of calories can appropriately come from refined sugar. That equates to about 240 to 300 calories (60-75 grams) of added sugar per day for most athletes. You can choose how you want to spend those sugar-grams. Some athletes like frozen yogurt, others like sports drinks, and some like Skippy peanut butter along with some jelly. Take your choice! Sugar fuels your muscles; it is not bad for you nor will it negate the healthfulness of other food you consume.
If you prefer all-natural peanut butter with no added sugar, that's fine. But I wouldn't choose it because it has less sugar. You might just end up adding more jelly, jam or honey?