Should PB&Js Be Considered Junk Food?

Most kids grow up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch almost every day. PB&Js are a win win for both adults and kids. They are easy to make and cheap as hell, what could be better than that? However, is it possible that America's favorite lunchtime staple could be fueling our childhood obesity problem?

Consider this, an average peanut butter and jelly sandwich contains 530 calories, 74 grams of carbs, 35 grams of sugar and 20 grams of fat. 

While one could argue that kids are getting a healthy dose of whole grains from the bread, healthy fats from the peanut butter and antioxidants from the jam... let's not kid ourselves. Sure, at one point PB&Js could be seen as a "healthy" choice, but now with our food being so overly processed, who knows what is hidden in our breads, peanut butters and jellies?

In fact, did you know that the peanut butter and jelly sandwich was first introduced to Americans during World War II? Due to lack of food supplies during the war, soldiers were fed PB&Js as an easy, high calorie meal. Once the soldiers returned from the war, they brought the sandwich home with them and thus, peanut butter and jelly became America's favorite sandwich.

The key argument to make here is that full-grown soldiers were fed these sandwiches as a way to fuel them and frankly, sometimes this is all they ate in a day. In contrast, most kids who are eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches each day will also be having breakfast, lunch, an after school snack and dinner, not to mention they have a much lower caloric need than grown men.

Is there a way to solve the problem? Sure, stop looking at something that contains 35 grams of sugar and 20 grams of fat as a healthy lunch option. Instead of feeding your kids PB&Js every day, try limiting it to once or twice a week. In addition, we can make the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that we feed our kids (and ourselves) healthier by choosing minimally processed bread, one ingredient peanut butter and swapping processed jellies for jams.