It has been some time since I have posted any content on my blog that is actually related to the title – however I do hope that in the next 12 months I will be able to progressively begin to produce content related to healthy kids once more. One such topic caught my attention on the radio recently and really managed to impact me to a point where I felt compelled to speak out – because if we as parents don’t know about how government decisions make an impact on the health of our children then how do we have any hope of raising our healthy happy kids ?
Food Labelling has been something that has been on my mind lately because my youngest child has been having some digestive issues that we are trying to get to the bottom of. We were giving littleB a restricted diet to assess for FODMAP (Fermentable, Oligosaccharides Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) intolerance. Basically that meant restricting him from many fruits, lactose, wheat, legumes, the onion family and sugar alcohols. Throughout this process I tried to find alternatives to some of the food choices that he and his brother would normally eat – so that he didn’t feel as though he was missing out. As you can imagine this was quite a challenging task as when a 3 year old is used to being able to eat whatever he wants (within reason), to suddenly be told he can’t have a chocolate milk as a treat is a little bit difficult for him to understand. Some of the options for foods that he could eat (or so I thought) – included those in the ‘health food aisle’ marketed as gluten free (ie. Wheat free) products. It wasn’t until I read the ingredients list on the label of some of the food items that I realised that most of these we made with either Apple or Pear juice concentrate. What’s the significance of that you may wonder?
Apple and pear juice concentrate is extraordinarily high in fructose – remarkably similar to it’s evil cousin – High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)- but hey – it’s marketed as healthy right so it must be OK? Yes it is a natural alternative to HFCS but the sugar content – and sugar in a form that is not well processed in the body – is still very high. I won’t go into the details of how fructose is processed in the body in this post, that is a whole post on it’s own, the point I am trying to make is that the highly processed nature of the fructose present in these products that are marketed as ‘healthy’ is something that we as parents should know about and be aware or – so that we can make informed decisions about what we are feeding our children.
In Australia we often hear horror stories about the evils of HFCS but our fears are allayed by the comforting words of marketers that most convenience foods in Australia are not manufactured using HFCS – but with the processed food industry on the rise in Australia (see this recent report from Deloitte – number 11: Food Processing) – will this always be the case? I really think that we as parents need to voice our opinions loudly on this point – vote with our wallets and avoid processed food at all costs – much easier said than done I know! What we should be more concerned about is these highly processed food components that are sold to us as healthy and good choices for us to give to our children – when in reality they are nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
I have more to say on this topic – however I will save that for another post later in the week – I would love to hear you opinions on this topic though – please leave a comment telling me about your experiences with food labels.