Processed and packaged foods are a convenient choice for today’s busy families, but they’re loaded with strange additives to control color, flavor, smell, nutrition, texture, and shelf life. (Thus, the impossible to pronounce ingredients lists!) Some are okay, and some should be avoided, especially with kids since they are uniquely vulnerable.
Limit your child’s intake of food additives by following these easy steps:
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.
Eat whole foods
Eating a balanced diet of fresh produce and whole grains will go a long way towards keeping additives out of your child’s system. Whole foods are much healthier than processed and packaged. But, if you do buy processed foods, look for the organic options which have little or no added synthetic colors or preservatives.
According to pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene, be especially attentive to the top five risky additives:
1. Artifical Colors - anything that begins with FD&C (e.g. FD&C Blue No. 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.
Additionally, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, some of following additives have been associated with negative health impacts:
Sulfites (Sulfur Dioxide, Sodium Sulfite, Sodium And Potassium Bisulfite, Sodium and Potassium Metabisulfite)
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
If you have a question about any food ingredient, dietary supplement or cosmetic contact the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Nutrition, 888-SAFEFOOD.
Report Adverse Reactions
Alert your health care provider to any adverse reactions to find out if your child has special sensitivities or allergies. These reports are also often compiled for health agencies to monitor the safety of ingredients. If too many adverse impacts are reported, regulatory action may be necessary.