By Lara Kimbrell of The SNSPost
Do your kid’s temper tantrums, lack of focus, hyperactivity, or bad temper drive you nuts? It might just be their diet that’s to blame. UK researchers, in a government funded study, confirmed what parents have suspected for years: colorings and preservatives in foods affect the behavior of up to 25% of children.
A group of 227 three-year-olds participated in the study in which they consumed fruit juice with coloring and preservatives for two weeks. Then for another two weeks, the children consumed an identical drink without the additives. The report said the results showed the artificial food colorings and sodium benzoate preservative had ‘substantial effects’ on behavior. Researchers stated the importance of removing additives not only for children who have displayed hyperactivity or food allergies. They stated that all children would show a benefit from removing these unnecessary additives.
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.
(You can watch Dr. Greene discuss food additives in this 2009 video of his interview with ABC’s Good Morning America)
The toddler years are tough enough without being compounded by the effects of food additives. Not all children respond to them the same. I discovered with my oldest child, that the “terrible twos” are mostly the fault of the child’s parents. Toddlers quickly learn to tune out often repeated words such as “no” and “don’t,” so when parents say, “Don’t throw that toy!” the child simply hears, “throw that toy.” What a great idea! I think I will throw my toy! The parent has just given the child an idea for misbehaving. A better choice of words might be, “Play with the car on the floor.” Telling a small child what to do is more effective than telling him what not to do. Distraction is the best method of discipline for a child this young. Removing tempting off-limit treasures from reach and being aware of triggers are also important. My oldest child was a breeze.
My middle child, now an energetic 2 ½ year old, is very different from his older brother. He is a rambunctious, race car driving, giggling little boy. As he approached his second birthday, the tantrums began. I was doing all of the right things, but at times he was still pretty cranky. We eat very few processed foods in my house, but a close look at the kids’ diets revealed that they got more additives than my husband and I did. One big culprit was the boys’ favorite orange drink. I call it fake orange juice. A closer look at the label revealed all kinds of additives that were on the no-no list, so I quit buying it. Almost immediately I noticed an improvement in my 2 year old’s mood. He still gets cranky when he is tired or hungry, but then so do I. *grin* He is one of those kids who are more sensitive to food additives.
A look at the average kid’s diet reveals countless sources of artificial colors and preservatives. After the research from the UK study revealed the effects of food additives on kids, advocacy groups in the UK are supporting the ban of certain food colors and additives in foods that children are most likely to eat. In the US, the FDA is slow to act on food additives.
What can you do to minimize the food additives in your family’s diet? Healthy Child Healthy World has a great checklist of steps to take and additives to avoid. An eye-opening exercise is to keep a week-long diary of your child’s food. Read labels and look for the additives that are on the list to avoid. Stick to whole and organic foods while avoiding processed convenience foods. Be wary of labels that state “no added preservatives.” This means that ingredients used could have had preservatives added before making the end product. A better label to look for is one that states “preservative-free.”
As you cut out these food additives from your family’s diet, pay attention to family members’ mood, focus, and sleep habits. You will probably notice an improvement in at least 25% of your family members and possibly more. Enjoy more fresh whole foods and start good habits from the earliest point in your child’s life. Habits learned during the early years will continue for a lifetime.
Lara Kimbrell, AKA GreenTXmom & Physicschick, is a wife & mother to three precious little boys. Her family is her whole world & inspire her in so many ways. Also a regular contributor to The SNSPost & a published childrens author, she’s a physicist w/ a degree from Texas A&M & taught H.S. physics for years. She became interested in environmental health due to her oldest son’s asthma & inspired by her curious children she writes to engage all children in the amazing world of physical sciences.