PARENTS who think “healthy” foods are better for their children’s health and behaviour should learn more about food labels, warns additive campaigner and researcher Sue Dengate.
Ms Dengate is speaking at Mornington Secondary College, 7-9pm, Monday 29 August, at the request of Mt Martha dietitian and nutritionist Joey De Backer, who is happy to share her experiences and that of her daughter Isla in the struggle against allergies.
“My daughter was a colicky baby, waking every hour overnight, often crying inconsolably and kicking her legs, and then she developed eczema when we introduced solids and always had rosy red, scabby, pimply cheeks,” Ms De Backer said.
“As a dietitian, I knew food could be causing these issues and so we cut out dairy foods early on, but that only helped a little bit.
“When Isla was 20 months I read Sue’s book Fed Up and realised food chemicals must be the problem.
“We did an elimination diet and within three weeks her eczema went from weeping, itchy and red to completely healed with no visible traces. Her sleep and behaviour improved immeasurably, she was a different child. And my partner’s hay fever disappeared, too.”
Ms Dengate says identifying and finding harmful additives and foods containing them can be difficult: “Parents really need to know what to look for.”
Dangerous additives may appear surreptitiously: “There’s a yellow tide of natural colour annatto 160b coming into our food which has been linked to a wide range of problems, including headaches, tantrums and headbanging in young children. Adults can be affected, too.”
Up to 129 “natural” substitutes for MSG are also hidden in foods and can affect consumers of all ages, she said.
“The bread preservative 282 is increasingly disguised as cultured dextrose or cultured anything in breads and wraps, even though it can cause irritability, fatigue or insomnia in children and adults.
“Reactions to additives build up slowly, so most parents don’t realise they or their children are affected.
“When the family avoids additives for a few weeks parents are often amazed to see that their children are calmer, happier, sleeping better and doing better at school – and they themselves often feel better, too.”
Some people can even be affected by natural food chemicals in healthy foods, like berries or tomato-based sauces, she said.
Ms Dengate’s Fed Up book series discusses reducing food chemicals for calm, happy families.
Booking details for talks are under Quicklinks at fedup.com.au
Entry is $15.