Ingredients to Avoid in Your Toddler's FoodEmily McClements
I recently talked about how healthy and organic eating looks different for different families based on their priorities and the choices they make. And while I do believe that there are no hard and fast rules about how to eat or not eat, I do think there are some suggestions which we all would be wise to follow.
The reality is that there are a lot of things added to our food, or used as ingredients in our food, which really are not food at all, and should try to be avoided as much as possible. Especially for our children, who are more vulnerable to effects from chemicals and toxins on their developing immune, neurological, and hormone systems.
So, I wanted to share the five ingredients and food additives that our family tries to avoid as much as possible.
5 Ingredients to Avoid in Your Toddler’s Food
Trans Fats: Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils 1 of 5I'm sure we've all heard by now that Trans Fats are bad for us. They increase the risk of coronary heart disease, raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol. And while partially hydrogenated oils were once common in foods like margarine and fried foods like potato chips, food companies are moving away from their use of these deadly fats. But be careful! Just because an item says, "Trans Fat Free" on the package, does not mean that it does not contain partially hydrogenated oil. Take a look at the ingredients. If you see any kind of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil on the label, then it does indeed include trans fat, but just in an amount small enough per serving that they don't have to list it in the Nutritional Information. Sneaky, huh?
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High Fructose Corn Syrup 2 of 5HFCS has been linked to obesity, high blood pressure, high LDL (bad) cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver disease, cancer, and can even deplete our bodies of the vitamins and minerals it needs! HFCS is the most common form of sugar now consumed in America, mostly in soda, but it's also found in condiments, salad dressings, sauces, candy and many, many other places.
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Artificial Colors and Dyes 3 of 5These have names like Blue 2, Green 3, Yellow 5 and Red 40 basically any color with a number after it is artificial coloring. They are made from petroleum, contaminants, coal tar, and other things you probably don't want your children eating, and have been linked to hyperactivity and other behavior problems in children.
Read more about why it's important to avoid artificial dyes.
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Artificial Sweetners 4 of 5Artificial sweeteners are man-made chemicals and most of them have been linked to cancer. If you are trying to eat more whole foods, then it would follow that you would want to eliminate chemically processed, fake sugar from your diet, especially for children.
Please read more about the dangers of artificial sweetners.
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MSG 5 of 5Monosodium Glutamate is a flavor enhancer — it's added to foods to make them taste better. The reason the food tastes bad to begin with? They remove the actual food, and replace it with flavor enhancers. Not really something I want to be eating, or feeding my kids. MSG also has a long list of side effects, like headaches, nausea, and difficulty breathing, which are found in people who are sensitive to MSG.
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The best way to begin avoiding these additives and ingredients in your family’s food is to read the labels on everything before you buy it. You may be surprised to find some of these ingredients in places where you would least expect them, including “healthy” and “diet” foods.
Also, avoiding processed foods in general is another good place to start. As you begin reading labels, you’ll find these ingredients prevalent in processed, boxed, canned, and essentially “fake” foods. Choosing real, whole and organic foods, while still reading the ingredient labels, is one of the best ways to eliminate these dangerous food additives from your and your children’s diet.
Are there any specific food ingredients or additives you avoid for your family? What would you add to my list?
Photo Credit: DOH4/flickr