Wholesome Child : Wholesome Child full
263 262 step 8: avoid nasties Better choices: Choose foods that use natural food colouring, which is indicated by ingredients such as betacarotene, beet powder, paprika, saffron, turmeric and vegetable juice. However, take care with the following three ’natural’ food colours that are often marketed to unsuspecting shoppers with the label ’No artificial colouring’, but are not necessarily safer than synthetic ones: • Cochineal (120), derived from the dried pregnant bodies of scale insects – important information for people following a diet based on a philosophy (eg vegetarians) or on a religious belief (eg Kosher or Halal). • Annatto (160b), an orange-yellow colouring almost always found in children’s food products such as yoghurts etc. Safe alternatives include beta-carotene (160a). • Caramels (150a to150d), often described as ’natural colours’ but produced synthetically. Caramel I (150a) – plain Caramel II (150b) – caustic sulphite process Caramel III (150c) – ammonia process Caramel IV (150d) – ammonia sulphite process ➋ FLAVOUR ENHANCERS Contrary to what you may think, children don’t only go for sweet and salty foods. There are many who like sour and bitter tastes too – as well as the fifth taste, known as umami. A 21st century buzzword, umami combines the Japanese characters for ’delicious’ and ’taste’ to describe the strong, savoury flavour associated with foods. Glutamic acid, or glutamate, is a naturally abundant amino acid that creates the savoury umami flavour in many foods such as tomatoes and cheese. It’s little wonder then that food manufacturers created monosodium glutamate (MSG). This commercially produced sodium salt of glutamic acid gives many processed foods their moreish savoury flavour. While some people can safely eat food that contains MSG, many experience symptoms if they eat a large amount of MSG in a single meal. ’No added flavours’ does not necessarily mean there is no MSG in a food product – it is often listed as a ’flavour enhancer’ instead and can have up to 129 different names. Found in: Ready-made soup, stocks, seaweed snacks, flavoured crackers, seasonings, flavoured chips, dips, sauces, processed meat like sausages and fast foods. Potential effect on children: •headaches •numbness •tingling •digestive disturbances •drowsiness •difficulty breathing for asthmatics What to look out for: Glutamic acid (620) Monopotassium L glutamate (622) Monosodium glutamate (621) (MSG) ➊ Cook with fresh ingredients wherever possible. ➋ Avoid instant soups and store bought marinades. Try our quick, easy marinades on pages 278-9. ➌ Wean your kids off yeast extract spreads such as Vegemite or Marmite. If they are eating them five days a week, reduce to four, then three, and so on. Start to introduce healthier spreads such as almond butter, tahini, avocado, raw honey, low-sodium cheese, hummus or try our Fig or Chia Raspberry Jam on page 222-3. ❹ Choose plain crackers over flavoured ones. Make them more interesting by offering dips and healthy toppings. Check the ingredients even if you know a brand. Many well known brands offer natural wholegrain crackers which are free from preservatives but also a full range of flavoured crackers (rice crackers, corn cakes etc) which contain hidden MSG. ➎ Snack-size seaweed packs often contain plenty of unwanted additives and flavourings. A better bet? Purchase plain, unflavoured Nori sheets and cut them into small strips. You can also use them as wraps. ➏ Many packaged herb mixes contain yeast extract and other flavour enhancers. It’s best to introduce your child to a variety of fresh herbs from a young age. If you’re dealing with an older ’fussy’ child blend herbs into their food. Six ways to reduce MSG in your family’s diet Hydrolyzed soy/vegetable protein (HVT) Textured vegetable protein (TVP) Yeast extract Other flavour enhancers to avoid: Calcium glutamate (623) Monoammonium L-glutamate (624) Magnesium glutamate (625) Disodium 5/inosinate (631) Disodium 5/Guanylate (627) Disodium 5/ ribonucleotides (635) Better choices: If your child loves savoury yeast extract spreads then their tastebuds are craving the umami flavour sensation. Here are some alternatives you can try: ✓Spread a small amount of organic miso paste on wholegrain bread or crackers to replace savoury spreads that contain yeast extract. ✓Roasting, stewing or searing can enhance the natural flavour of chicken and meat without the need for marinades. ✓Pan-roast or caramelise tomatoes and mushrooms as they both contain naturally occurring glutamates. Add a touch of tamari and herbs. (Note: there are many individuals who will react to naturally occurring glutamates too. If this is the case, avoid both synthetic and natural forms). ✓Often soy is used to create the umami flavour. I prefer wheat-free tamari to soy sauce, however, if you are using soy sauce look for an organic, wheat-free version. ➌ ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS Often hidden in non sugar-free items to add sweetness without adding further calories, these are best avoided in young growing bodies. They have been linked to digestive disorders, hormonal disruption and even neurological disorders. And studies have found they can actually contribute to weight gain as they create a desire for more sweet foods. Found in: Chewing gum, fizzy drinks, yoghurts, low-fat desserts and milk, chocolate and hard candies. Potential effect on children: • While there is ongoing debate as to the detrimental effects of these sweeteners on adults, there is no doubt that children remain vulnerable. One or two low-fat yoghurts, a low-sugar jam on toast or a low-calorie fruit drink can contain enough aspartame, for example, to put a young child over the FDA’s recommended intake limit of 50mg/kg of body weight. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which regulates food additives in the European Union, recommends a slightly lower acceptable daily intake (ADI) for aspartame, at 40mg/kg. •Some studies in rats have found aspartame to be carcinogenic, but the findings have been questioned and the jury remains out on aspartame’s safety for human consumption. However, when it comes to children, it’s best to err on the side of caution and not offer them products containing artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame (for more on the safety of aspartame and other artifical sweeteners, see page 79). What to look out for: Acesulphame-K (950) Aspartame (951) – Nutrasweet and Equal Cyclamates (952) Sucralose (955) Saccharin (954) Aspartame Acesulfame Salt (962) – Twinsweet Better choices: The best option is to avoid artificially sweetened foods and drinks altogether. ✓Avoid foods labelled ’low fat’, ’diet’, ’low sugar’, ’lite’ or ’low calorie’. ✓If a member of your family is overweight or has a medical condition such as diabetes or candidiasis, choose products sweetened with natural stevia or monk fruit extract, both calorie-free sweeteners that do not carry the same side effects. Did you know? Even the term 'natural food' – once used to describe whole fruits, vegetables and unrefined grains – has now been expanded to include packaged, processed foods, many of which contain a wide array of chemicals. Did you know? Strawberry artificial flavour can contain up to 50 chemical ingredients. Consider this... A Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) survey found that 87% of Australian and New Zealand respondents worry about the mental health and behavioural effects of food chemicals on children.