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Common Additives in Your Child's Food

Posted by Katie Serbinski on February 2nd, 2018 under General
Contrary to what many parents think, additives beyond table sugar are being called into question due to their effect on children’s mood and behavior. Food additives are chemical substances that are artificially created in order to improve color, taste, preservation, and appearance of certain foods. Studies have shown that these substances may be the cause of certain issues including behavioral problems, respiratory problems such as asthma, and allergies in children. Therefore, it is important to be able to identify the culprits so that you can eliminate (or at least reduce) additives in your child’s diet.
Common Additives in Your Child's Food | EnviroKidz
When looking at labels and packaging on your child’s favorite food products, here are a list of common food additives look out for:
1. Artificial Sweeteners
These include aspartame (also called NutraSweet or Equal), acesulfame-K, sucralose (marketed as Splenda) and saccharin (Sweet ‘n’ Low). Today, artificial sweeteners are found in products labeled as “sugar-free” or “diet” - this includes diet or sugar-free sodas, sugar-free gum, packaged baked goods, some cereals, fruit juice, ice cream, and even yogurt. 
2. Artificial Colors
Studies have found that artificial colors in sweets, drinks, cereals, and many other processed foods are linked to behavioral problems in children. A good rule of thumb is to avoid foods that have colors listed as an ingredient, and instead choose foods that get their coloring from fruits and vegetables.
So, what additives do you need to look out for?:
  • tartrazine (E102)
  • quinoline yellow (E104)
  • sunset yellow (E110)
  • carmosine (E122)
  • ponceau 4R (E124)
  • allura red (E129)
  • sodium benzoate (E211)
3. Trans-Fats
Common Additives in Your Child's Food | EnviroKidz
Trans-fats are used to enhance flavor and preserve foods, but this “bad” cholesterol can increase risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other diseases that are affecting people of all ages, even children. You can find trans-fat in products like chips, baked goods, certain granola bars, coffee creamers, margarine, and many fast food items. In order to help limit your family’s intake, read the nutrition facts label and make sure that it promises 0 grams of trans-fat.
4. Chemical Preservatives
These additives are used to extend a product’s shelf-life and help a product remain fresh for a longer period of time. These chemicals can be present in many foods including: dried fruit, potato chips, some cereals, packaged rice, candy, and soft drinks. To limit intake of chemical preservatives, avoid processed foods or choose minimally processed foods, and read the food packaging to look for products that include nitrates, benzoates, sulfites, and dioxides. 
Common Additives in Your Child's Food | EnviroKidz
In order to limit or avoid your family’s intake of food additives, you can:
  • Decide what food additives you want to terminate from your family's diet. They're added to many products, so do your research and chose which ones you want to avoid. The above list may be a good place to start!
  • Scan the entire ingredient list. Manufacturers are required to list every ingredient in a product. The only way to guarantee there are no food additives is to read the entire list of ingredients. A general rule to follow when looking at the ingredient list is if you cannot pronounce the ingredient, don’t buy the product.
  • Choose unprocessed or minimally processed foods. Pick fresh foods rather than pre-cooked options.
  • Talk to your children about food additives. Let them know what foods they should avoid and why - when they are old enough to buy their own food, they know what to look out for.
Get Your Free Animal Coloring Booklet | EnviroKidz
And lastly, one of the easiest ways to navigate the grocery store for food additives is to choose organic foods. In order to be classified as an organic food (according to USDA standards), the food item cannot contain most food additives. Cereals, like EnviroKidz, are not only organic, but they are also lower in sugar than conventional children's cereals, and just as delicious!
Your family shouldn't feel the need to be on a perfect diet, but you should feel confident in the fact that you are making food choices based on a decision that feels right for all of you.
Common Additives in Your Child's Food | EnviroKidz
Katie Serbinski

Author Bio


Katie Serbinski, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Mom of two boys under two. She’s the founder of Mom to Mom Nutrition, a healthy food and lifestyle blog where she shares her “me time” with other health-minded parents. On her blog, you’ll find simple, family-friendly recipes, tips for new parents, and realistic nutrition advice. Connect with Katie through email or Twitter @MomNutrition