A topic that directly relates to myself and any mother of an energetic child, is Additives.
My son is two years old and as a parent I try my hardest to provide a diet that is natural, raw and as organic as possible. However, we are human and yes we do attend social outings where the food available contains excessive amounts of additives (yes, chocolate birthday cake turns him into Spiderman!).
A food additive is a substance that is added to food to enhance its flavour and appearance or to extend its shelf life. These additives in both food and drinks, have directly been linked to temper tantrums and other bad behaviour within children. A study conducted by scientists in the United Kingdom found three-year-old children were more likely to have concentration issues, interrupt others, lose their temper, and have problems falling asleep when they consumed juice containing food colourings and preservatives.
Fortunately, Dr. Alan Greene, a paediatrician and a Healthy Child Healthy World advisor, developed a list of five key additives to avoid:
Anything that begins with FD&C (e.g. FD&C Blue #1)
Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), Sodium Nitrate, Sodium Benzoate
Aspartame, Acesulfame-K, Saccharin
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), Corn Syrup, Dextrose, etc.
Look at the sodium content and choose foods with the lowest amounts.
Some additional tips to help minimise your food additive intake:
Choosing whole and organic foods. A great way to teach your children where ‘real’ food comes from whilst purchasing local organic and whole food produce (Organic packaged foods have little or no added synthetic colours or preservatives) Eating a balanced diet of fresh produce will go a long way towards keeping additives out of your child’s system.
Keep a diary for one week, noting everything that your child eats – including at daycare/school. At the end of the week you should have a good idea of your child’s exposure to food additives. They are largely present in processed and packaged foods, lollies/sweets, chips, fizzy drinks and other “junk” food. Through limiting these foods, you will reduce the amount of additives considerably.
Marketing is a tricky one here- be wary of labels that claim “no added preservatives.” These products will still contain ingredients that were preserved prior to inclusion in the final product. Almost all lard (fat used in baked goods) is treated with BHA or BHT.
Its inevitable to avoid everything, however, keep a watch for ingredients on the list above and you will begin to reduce the amount of additives consumed.
Growing a vegetable garden lets children taste the wonders of fresh food whilst creating a valuable nutrition lesson on the importance and joys of eating fresh foods. Best of all, children can pick their harvest and consume a meal that is entirely additive free.
(in sweets, drinks, takeaways, cereals and many processed foods)
104 quinoline yellow
107 yellow 2G
110 sunset yellow
124 ponceau red
128 red 2G
129 allura red
133 brilliant blue
142 green S
151 brilliant black
155 chocolate brown Natural colour
160b annatto (in yoghurts, icecreams, popcorn etc, 160a is a safe alternative)
Preservatives 200-203 sorbates (in margarine, dips, cakes, fruit products)
210-213 benzoates (in juices, soft drinks, cordials, syrups, medications)
220-228 sulphites (in dried fruit, fruit drinks, sausages, and many others)
280-283 propionates (in bread, crumpets, bakery products)
249-252 nitrates, nitrites (in processed meats like ham)
Synthetic antioxidants - in margarines, vegetable oils, fried foods, snacks, biscuits etc
310-312 Gallates 319-320 TBHQ, BHA, BHT (306-309 are safe alternatives)
Flavour enhancers - in flavoured crackers, snacks, takeaways, instant noodles, soups 621 MSG 627, 631, 635 disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, ribonucleotides
Table compiled by Sue Dengate, author of the bestselling book and film 'Fed Up: Understanding how food affects your child and what you can do about it.'