Monday, June 24, 2013

I'm starting a food revolution. Wanna come along?

So here's the story from our pediatrician about her own son that has me re-thinking the way I've been doing things:

"When he was about 8, my son was diagnosed with extreme, off-spectrum ADHD and early precursor symptoms of bipolar disorder.  I have a friend who is an MD and a nutritionalist, and so we took him there in the hopes that we might be able to help him make some small changes that would help his behavior.  The nutritionalist told us that, often times, the preservatives and additives in our food can severely alter behavior as a child grows.  He put us on a strict no additive, no preservative diet, and the results have been amazing.  Now 12, my son shows absolutely none of the symptoms he demonstrated four years ago."

And I was all, whaaaaa?!  All that from changing his diet???  And then I was like, somebody should talk to all those parents with out of control 8th graders...

This story has me in something of a tailspin, and we're totally trying on a new way of living here in our house. 

You guys?  I'm not even buying my bread, I'm making it.  We're talking top to bottom, complete transformation. 

I've always felt like I do a reasonably good job of making wise choices for our family in terms of diet.  I'm not an extremist.  I go organic on the foods I know are pretty dirty, and I try to make informed choices for both budgetary and health reasons. 

But I've never been one to cut out everything.  Until now.

Those Goldfish I was buying?  Guess what little gem of information I discovered: After baking, they're sprayed with artificial color and preservatives that the FDA doesn't require them to include on their ingredients list, since "technically" they're not an ingredient.  Even though your child will be consuming them.  Tricky, right?

The Cheerios I was giving Logan?  Yeah, they have unlisted BHT in the packaging that totally rubs off on the O's.  Spectacular. 

So here's a list from my doc of foods that contain preservatives/coloring/salicylates etc that can have negative effects on kids as they grow, and what to do about them:

Instead of:                                 Try:
Store bread                                Rudi's or Ezekiel brands
Ritz crackers                             Late July, Sunshine HiHo, Back to Nature
Goldfish                                    Annie's Cheddar Bunnies
Kraft Mac&Cheese                  Annie's Shells and Cheese (or better still - make your own!)
Gogurt, Yoplait                       Dannon all-natural, Stonyfield Farms, Horizon portable yogurt
Rold Gold Pretzels                  Snyder's Pretzels
Cheerios                                  Cascadian Farms O's
Froot Loops                            365 brand, Cascadian Farms
Pepsi                                       Original CocaCola, Hansen's Natural

Also, most whole milk, organic milk, and cheeses made from whole milk are free of additives.  (In other words, if you're buying whole milk, no need to buy organic.  Hooray!) Many low-fat milks and cheeses use preservatives in their vitamin A, so instead try low-fat milk from the following brands: Horizon, 365 brand, Royal Crest, Market Pantry from Target (love).  Check your yellow cheeses for artificial colors ("annato" is usually fine).  Avoid pre-shredded cheeses as they have many preservatives; buy in blocks and shred them yourself.

Let's talk meat.  I asked specifically about lunch meat, because I've been giving Logan some and he loooves it.  I got the green light, as long as I'm buying meat without nitrates/nitrites.  Same goes for bacon and pepperoni.  The answer was simple, as Hormel makes a line of "Natural Choice" bacon/lunchmeat/pepperoni, even though they don't make the turkey pepperoni that I was loving.  It's all a bit more expensive, but worth it in my opinion.  For other meats, buy fresh or frozen meats with a minimum of added ingredients, and avoid any that list "broth added." 

In general, most foods labeled "organic" or "all natural" are free of additives, so this is a good jumping off point.  Another resource:  I think you have to actually purchase a membership to the site, though, to access the information. 

Whew.  Thanks for indulging my information overload.  I know that so many of you are already super educated about all these things; I'm just dipping my toe in the pool.  But we're making changes, and quick.  I have no desire to leave my children with the same legacy of potential health/behavior issues that my own generation is facing. 

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