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'How to Party Safely'
by Annette Marlow
Get Zest For Life
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Australia, alongside USA and UK, are experiencing a rapidly growing health crisis.
Modern culture, fuelled by major corporations driving disceptive marketing campaigns has turned Australians into a nation of refined, sugary and non-food eaters.
We dont need to look very far to see the copious amount of ill health that riddles our population.
The foods that children ate 40 years ago was much lower in sugar and additives than what lines our supermarket shelves today. Before modern processing, foods were much more nutrtious and wholesome.
Once upon a time, a sugary 'treat’ was enjoyed 'occasionally', and was often baked fresh at home or local bakery.
Sugary treats have now become 'everyday foods'. Sugary treats are our cereals, our yoghurts, our drinks, our snack bars and the multitude of sugary cakes, biscuits, ice cream, chocolates and lollies than line our supermarket aisles.
The ingredients that make up most packaged food have minimal nourishment - mostly made from highly refined, cheap, often altered in some way, pumped with chemical additives to make them smell and taste good.
In children we see the short term consequences of this 'modern' eating - ezcma, skin irritations, sore tummies, runny poos, low energy, poor mood, behavioral concerns, learning difficulties, astma, constant coughs, colds and weakened immunity.
In older children and young adults, we see the longer term effects, weight gain, diabetes, depression, irritable bowel, chronic astma, chronic allergies, heart burn, tooth decay, aches and pains, chronic fatigue.....
In older adults we see the long term effects - obesity, type two diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, chronic depression, lifelessness.
Is LOVE really in the sugar?
Parents, grandparents and carers shower their children in lollies and treats to show their affection and 'love' for them! How is feeding your children and their friends with copious amounts of sugar loving them? Their poor little bodies have to work so hard to eliminate the toxins, leaving them tired without nourishment.
Children have little control over what they eat; they are less informed than the adults around them and therefore rely on adults to make informed decisions and take precautions to protect their precious lives.
The fact that children have higher nutritional requirements, smaller body masses and their diet is less varied than those of adults, suggests that they may have the greatest susceptibility to toxic effects and sugar overload.
Children need nourishment to grow, to thrive, to survive.
Making better CHOICES is not rocket science!
With the quantity of children’s birthday parties, festivals and celebrations that our community celebrates, parents, carers, teachers and hosts should take a much more mindful healthier approach when catering.
Providing foods free of nasty additives, toxic fats, and reducing the amount of sugar will make an enormous difference to the current and future wellbeing of our children (and adults).
There are a host of wonderful alternatives available when feeding children and adults.
1. Read labels and avoid dangerous additives (cut out the list!)
2. Provide REAL food
3. Make treats accessible, as sometimes foods and choose your treats wisely.
How provide healthier foods at celebrations.
Being mindful of deceptive marketing on packages and learning to read the ingredient list before purchasing a food item can make a huge difference. Just because a package, for example, says ‘no artificial colors’, does not mean it does not contain unsafe additives or copious amounts of sugar!
The deception of sugar
“100 years ago the average intake of sugar per person, per year was 1.83kg. AUSTRALIANS are now consuming 44kg of sugar each year, with high-sugar breakfast cereals and soft drinks fuelling the trend.” (The Sunday Age, Extra: 21/08/05, Australia idle: a call to action our habits)
Excess sugar drains and leaches our children’s precious bodies of important vitamins and minerals through the demand of its digestion, detoxification and elimination.
Excess refined sugar has been associated with kidney disease, liver disease, heart disease, ADD and ADHD, behavioural problems, violent tendencies, overgrowth Candida, yeast and fungi, cancer, bone loss - osteoporosis, tooth decay and chronic fatigue.
Reactions to food additives are related to dose, so the more additives you consume, the more likely you are affected.
50 of the 400 currently approved additives in Australia have been associated with adverse reactions in some people.
Often the additives that are used to give food a marketable quality, such as the colour cause reactions.
Well documented side effects from food additives include:
Irritability, restlessness, difficulty falling asleep
Mood swings, anxiety, depression, panic attacks
Inattention, difficulty concentrating or debilitating fatigue
Speech delay, learning difficulties
Eczema, urticaria and other itchy skin rashes,
angioedema or swelling of the lips etc
Reflux, colic, stomach aches, bloating, and other
irritable bowel symptoms including constipation
and/or diarrhea, sticky poos, bedwetting headaches or migraines frequent colds, flu, bronchitis, tonsillitis, sinusitis;
stuffy or runny nose, constant throat clearing,
cough or asthma joint pain, arthritis, heart palpitations, racing
The following list is a summary of the recognised additives to avoid in packaged foods you buy.
AVOID THESE ADDITIVES ()
ARTIFICIAL COLOURS (in sweets, drinks, takeaways, cereals and many processed foods) 102 tartrazine, 104 quinoline yellow, 110 sunset yellow, 122 azorubine, 123 amaranth, 124 ponceau red, 127 erythrosine, 129 allura red, 132 indigotine,133 brilliant blue, 142 green S, 143 fast green FCF, 151 brilliant black, 155 chocolate brown
NATURAL COLOUR 160b annatto (in yoghurts, ice creams, popcorn) PRESERVATIVES
200-203 sorbates (in margarine, dips, cakes, fruit products)
210-213 benzoates (in juices, soft drinks, cordials, syrups, medications) 220-228 sulphites (in dried fruit, fruit drinks, sausages, etc)
280-283 propionates (in bread, crumpets, bakery products)
249-252 nitrates, nitrites (in processed meats like ham)
SYNTHETIC ANTIOXIDANTS (in margarines, vegetable oils, fried foods, snacks, biscuits etc)
319-320 TBHQ, BHA, BHT (306-309 are safe alternatives) FLAVOUR ENHANCERS (in tasty foods)
621 MSG, 627, 631, 635 disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, ribonucleotides, Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein
No numbers since they are trade secrets
There are countless examples and testimonials of families that have resolved physical and mental health issues with their children once additives were removed from their diets (see ).
When TV chef Jamie Oliver introduced fresh, natural, additive-free school meals (Jamie's School Dinners) after four weeks, teachers at Wingfield Primary School reported behaviour, reading, writing and concentration improved, children were calmer and asthmatics improved.
In 2003, when an entire class of six year olds at the Dingle school in Cheshire avoided additives for two weeks, nearly 60 per cent of their parents reported improvements in behaviour, cooperation and sleeping.
Australia still uses many additives that have been banned for use overseas. However, slowly Australia is making some progress. Aldi supermarkets, for example, as of this month, are no longer stocking food with artificial colorings (beware however of the natural additives that have been identified as unsafe that can still be found in many of their brands).
Simply changing brands can be enough to eradicate the unsafe additives. The example below demonstrates the difference between standard ‘snake’ lollies and ‘Natural Confectionary Snake Lollies’.
Snake Lollies (typical brands)
Commonly found ingredients include: Glucose Syrup (wheat), Sugar, wheat starch, water, gelatine, Food Acids (260, 330), Flavours, Glazing Agents (vegetable oils, 903), Colours (102, 110, 122,129, 133).
Flavours – there are several thousand flavours permitted for use and they don’t have to be named on the label because their chemical composition is so complex. Natural flavour and artificial flavour is an exact science and there is not much difference between them Vegetable oils – contains antioxidants. While some are ok (310, 319, 320) are associated with negative health impact and often are not listed due to a 5% loophole.
102 – linked to hyperactivity, skin rashes, migraines, behavioural problems, thyroid problems & chromosome damage. Banned in Norway, Austria, USA and UK
110 – suspected carcinogen, allergies, hyperactivity, upset stomach, skin rashes, kidney tumours, and chromosomal damage. Banned in Norway, USA, UK
122 – suspected carcinogen, mutagen, skin rashes, oedema and hyperactivity. Banned in Sweden, USA, Austria, Norway and UK
129 - suspected carcinogen, skin rashes, hypersensitivity. Banned in Denmark, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Norway, USA, UK
133 - suspected carcinogen, linked to hyperactivity, asthmatics should avoid. Banned in Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, & Norway
(Taken from ‘Lets Party Additive Free’, Melanie Avery)
Snakes – Natural Confectionary Co. Lollies
Ingredients: Wheat Glucose Syrup, Cane Sugar, Wheat Starch, Water, Gelatin, Food Acid (Citric Acid), Natural Flavours including orange essential oil, Fruit Juice Concentrate, Natural Food Colours extracted from Fruit, Vegetables and Plants (Turmeric, Anthocyanin, Paprika Oleoresin, Grape Skin Extract), Glazing Agents (Vegetable Oil, Carnauba Wax).
Here is an example list of foods to AVOID and what they can be replaced with as safer options.
AVOID THESE FOODS!
SAFER FOOD OPTIONS
Most flavoured chips, rice crackers etc (e.g. cheese flavoured corn chips, salt & vinegar etc), contain MSG (621,635, Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein (HVP) and added flavour
Aldi Kettle Chips, Kettle Sea Salt Chips, Coles Organic Plain Chips, Doritto Plain Corn Chips, Macro original organic potatoes chips (Woolworth’s), EatRite Brown Rice Crackers, Sakata Rice Crackers sesame, Eskal & Beigel Pretzels
Lollies that include numbers from the included avoid list
Natural Confectionary Co lollies, Artisse lollipops (in health food section of many supermarkets), Pascal’s white marshmallows, Nestle Chocolate Chips/buttons Lotus Organic Food – Organic Jelly Beans
You’ll love Coles Organic Popcorn, Cobs popcorn range
Bakers Delight, Brumby, Edwards Sourdough and Rye, Healthybake range (available at wholefood stores, some IGA and selected fruit shops), Mountain Bread Wraps, Khobz Pita Bread
Sweet– avoid if they include any additives from the avoid list.
Dry Biscuits – avoid flavoured dry biscuits (for the same reason as flavoured chips).
Arnotts Teddy Bear, Milk Arrowroot ,Farmland butter shortbread
Lavosh Kurrajong Kitchen (Coles, Woolworth’s), Arnotts Plain Salada, Carrs tablewatercrackers, Vitawheat sesame, Arnotts Cruskit original & rye & Clicks
Ice cream - Most plain vanilla still contains a natural color 160b, which has been identified as an unsafe additive. 160a is a safer alternative.
Icy poles - avoid if they include numbers from the included avoid list
New Zealand naturals classic Vanilla Ice cream (contains 160a - a safer option),
Cones – Coles 12 pack Waffle cones, Funtime cones 24 pack (Woolworth’s), Belmont biscuit Co 30 Cones (ALDI)
Avoid all fruit juices, cordials, soft drinks
Water or Fresh Squeezed Juices
Cheese / Cream - avoid if contains numbers from the avoid list
Devondale Tasty Cheese Devondale Organic Australian Tasty,
Dried Fruit – most dried fruit contain sulphur 220 and vegetable oils which may have antioxidants that are undisclosed
* dried apricots and coconut have high levels of these undesirable additives
Woolworths have Naytura Natural Sultana, Clyne organic sultanas
Lotus Fine Coconut
Fruit Wise Fruit Straps – 100% natural fruit only
Avoid QUEEN food coloring except Natural Vanilla Extract
Hullabaloo Natural Food Coloring () and Hopper Natural Food Coloring )
( or (
Avoid Packaged cakes & muffin Mix
Try a simple homemade recipe or locate local bakers and ask if it is additive free
Healthy Party Food Ideas
Children can still have loads of fun at parties without eating harmful food.
By limiting the sugar and harmful additives kids can leave parties without experiencing a restless night, mood swings, rashes, belly aches and runny poo!
Providing healthy savory and nourishing foods at parties is a great starting point. Here are some example ideas;
Home-made popcorn – add pure butter, parmesan cheese, paprika, sea salt, olive oil.
Platter of fresh cucumbers and veggie sticks with cut up cheese cubes and/ or hummus dip and or healthy choice savory crackers and sulphite free sultanas
Mini home made meat/chicken meat balls or burgers
Mini chicken drummettes – cook in oven with tamari, olive oil wrap ends in foil for easy eating!
Shaped sandwiches – use additive free bread and fill with chicken and avocado, tuna and yoghurt dip, sliced cheese etc (use cookie cutters to cut out stars, hearts shapes etc)
Home-made mini beef/chicken sausage rolls using butter puff pastry and organic tomato sauce.
For home-made treats, as long as pure ingredients are used such as butter (not margarine and vegetable oils), and no artificial food colors are added, will help make the treat safe.
Home-made Pear Muffins / Banana Muffins
Chocolate Fruit - dip strawberries, bananas in
melted dark nestle chocolate
Fruit kebabs with Pascals white marshmallows
Mini chocolate muffins
Home-made Anzac Biscuits, Gingerbread Men,
Chocolate Chip Biscuits
Take Home Bags / Treats
Most kids have eaten enough sugar by the time they leave a party.
Consider filling take home bags with non food items such as stickers, bubbles, small cars / fairy wands, notepads, balloons, pens, crayons, pencils, erasers, rubber balls etc.
The Birthday Cake
This is the best part of a party for children and we would not want to deny any child from that excitement.
Birthday cakes can easily be made into safe cakes by baking them yourself or checking with your baker that the cake does not contain additives. By selecting natural food coloring (e.g. hullabaloo or hopperfoods coloring) and using additive free foods for decorations, you can still achieve a colorful exciting cake!
Cakes can also be decorated with non-foods such as using plastic animals, cars, superheroes, butterflies, barbies, bratz dolls, mini lego packs etc.
The following demonstrates the difference between the artificial coloring BLUE and the natural choice BLUE.
Queen Artificial Blue coloring:
Ingredients: water, blue food colouring (133), Food Acid (330) Preservative (211)
133 – suspected carcinogen, linked to hyperactivity, asthmatics should avoid. Banned in Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria & Norway
211 – hyperactivity, asthmatics should avoid, nettle rash, behavioral problems
Hullabaloo Natural Blue Food Colouring:
Ingredients: Concentrates (spirulina), Fructose, Invert Sugar, Citric Acid, Water
Make a difference!
The benefits of considering healthier alternatives will have a huge impact on the future health of our children.
As a parent, carer or teacher, every effort should be made to educate yourself about the importance of good nutrition for children, and join the fight to stop the plethora of toxic additives and sugar going into our children’s tiny bodies.
So at your next party, please consider making it additive free and reduce the level of sugary foods.
MAKE EVERY BITE COUNT!!!
Great resources and references
- i-Phone application available that helps identify nasty additives
- The Chemical Maze Shopping Companion, Bill Statham
- Additive Alert, Judy Eady
- Additive Free Kids Parties, Tegan Benfell and Rachel Davies Burrows
- Obesity Policy Coalition
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