Just like you limit the amount of sugar in your child’s diet, you should also keep an eye on their consumption of food additives. Chemical additives in food and drinks have been identified as culprits behind children’s temper tantrums and bad behavior.
Scientists in the United Kingdom found three-year-old children were “more likely to lack concentration, lose their temper, interrupt others, and struggle to get to sleep” when they drank juice containing food colorings and preservatives
Irritability, temper outbursts, oppositional defiance, restlessness and difficulty falling asleep are the main behavioral effects of food additives. But parents rarely realize that food chemicals can be associated with many other effects including arguing with siblings, making silly noises, speech delay, anxiety, depression or difficulty concentrating. Additive-free children are generally calmer, happier and more cooperative.
Pediatricians developed a list of five additives you should avoid:
1. Artificial Colors – anything that begins with FD&C (e.g. FD&C Blue #1)
2. Chemical Preservatives – Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), Sodium Nitrate, Sodium Benzoate
3. Artificial Sweeteners – Aspartame, Acesulfame-K, Saccharin
4. Added Sugar – High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), Corn Syrup, Dextrose, etc .
5. Added Salt – Look at the sodium content and choose foods with the lowest amounts.
Identify what your child eats. Keep a food diary for a week, noting everything that is eaten – including at school. At the end of the week, you should have a good idea of your child’s exposure to food additives. Food additives are largely present in processed and packaged foods, candy, soda and other “junk” food, so if you limit those foods, you’ll cut down considerably.
Opt for whole and organic foods. Eating a balanced diet of fresh produce and whole grain foods will go a long way towards keeping additives out of your child’s system. Organic packaged foods have little or no added synthetic colors or preservatives.
Chose products that are labeled “preservative-free.” Be wary of labels that claim “no added preservatives.” These products may nevertheless contain ingredients that were already preserved prior to inclusion in the final product. For example, almost all lard, used in baked goods, is treated with BHA or BHT.
Read labels! Particularly keep an eye out for the following. Some of these cause allergy-like symptoms or are suspected carcinogens.
- Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT).
- Propyl Gallate
- Sodium Nitrate/Nitrate
- Sulfites (Sulfur Dioxide, Sodium Sulfite, Sodium And Potassium Bisulfite, Sodium and Potassium Metabisulfite)
- Potassium Bromate
- FD&C Blue No. 1
- FD&C Blue No. 2
- FD&C Green No. 3
- FD&C Red No. 3 (Erythrosine)
- FD&C Yellow No. 5 (Tartrazine)
- FD&C Yellow No. 6
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
(in sweets, drinks, takeaways, cereals and many processed foods)
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