Wholesome Child : Wholesome Child full
261 260 step 8: avoid nasties hen I think about what motivated me to start Wholesome Child and what continues to drive me to keep making changes in my own family’s diet, the diets of my clients and those that I reach through my website, it’s that I believe we all deserve to eat real food. To do this, we need to be informed so we can make the right decisions for our families when faced with multiple options. Many of us don’t have the time to cook every meal from scratch and we have to rely on a certain amount of packaged food. My ultimate aim is to help you navigate the supermarket shelves to ensure you choose the most wholesome options available, free of the nasties that are present in many foods. I believe a child’s diet should contain a variety of different foods (of course the less healthy items deserve far less of a place), but my main concerns are the preservatives, additives, artificial colours, GM ingredients and excessive sodium in many of our foods. If your child ate seven tablespoons of sugar in the form of a few slices of homemade chocolate cake or brownies, it would still be far healthier for him than if he ate five tablespoons of food colouring or three tablespoons of an artificial sweetener like aspartame – substances that can be really detrimental to our children’s behaviour, moods and general health. Some food additives are even listed as possible carcinogens by the World Health Organization yet manufacturers continue to use them. What is a food additive? Additives are substances allowed in food because they perform a technical function like reducing the tendency of food particles to clump or stick together, restoring colour or enhancing the texture or taste, without contributing significantly to its calories. Many food additives are listed by their class name followed by the number – eg beta-carotene (160a) – but some are only listed as numbers, which means you need to play detective if you want to know exactly what is in your food. Additives to avoid Look out for these potentially harmful nasties: ➊ FOOD COLOURING Artificial food colourings have been controversial since the 1970s, when paediatrician Benjamin Feingold published findings suggesting a link between food dyes and hyperactive behaviour. However, scientists have yet to reach a consensus on the extent of this risk. While the 2007 Southampton study in the UK found a link between food colouring and hyperactivity in children, there is ongoing debate around the validity of this finding and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US believes more research is needed to warrant a warning. Norway first banned the use of synthetic colourings in food back in 1978 and other EU countries now require products containing the worst offenders to carry the warning: ’May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children’. A 2010 report by the US Center for Science in the Public Interest called for artificial colours to be replaced by natural colours. And in possibly the biggest stand taken to date, global supermarket chain Aldi has removed all artificial food colouring from its products. However, in Australia and many other countries, additives and artificial colourings are still widespread in food products, especially confectionery marketed to children. What to look out for: Tartrazine (102) Quinoline yellow (104) Sunset yellow (110) Azorubine (122) Ponceau (124) Allura red (129) Brilliant blue (133) Found in: Processed coloured foods such as cakes, biscuits, chocolate, ice-cream, soda and confectionery. Potential effects on children: • Hyperactivity • Irritability • Loss of concentration • Allergic response (rash, hives, asthma) Top tips for reducing additives and preservatives ➊Focus on fresh produce. The best way to eliminate or reduce additives and preservatives from your family’s diet is to eat fresh home- cooked food that is prepared by you and kept fresh in the fridge or freezer. ➋Learn to read labels. If your family relies on pre-packaged foods, read the ingredient list carefully and avoid foods that have harmful preservatives (see page 266). ➌Reduce your family’s reliance on packaged foods. By taking this one crucial step, intake of chemicals can be dramatically reduced. ➍Go organic. It’s the easiest way to avoid preservatives, as certified organic packaged foods have little or no artificial colours or preservatives. Always read the ingredient list to be sure. ➎Do some detective work. Ask if bread and bread products are preservative-free at your local bakery.