Becoming An Informed Consumer (to avoid BPA & other nasties)

BECOMING AN INFORMED CONSUMER
(to avoid BPA & other nasties)

As parents, it is always essential to ensure that our kids get the right nutritious foods. Healthy options for your little ones are available online. However, too much information can be overwhelming and misleading. 

Thankfully, we’re here to help you provide simple and clear information you need to ensure that your child gets the nourishment they need.


Preservatives in Packaged Food

Most leading and reputable baby product companies are cautious in their material choices. However, there is always room for skepticism when a parent isn’t present for every step of the production process. 

Today, we’ll give you the crucial information you need to read the nutritional labels properly and help you make the right choices while shopping for your family.

Although there is no easy way to spot additives, we recommend you to be aware and conscious of what to look out for. These are some ingredients that usually indicate that there are unhealthy additives in your child’s food.

Here’s a short list.

  • Artificial Colours
  • Preservatives
  • Antioxidants
  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • Flavour Enhancers
  • High fructose corn syrup and cane sugar
  • Trans Fats


Salt in Packaged Food

Salt has long been used for flavouring and for preserving food. The body uses salt to balance fluids in the blood and maintain healthy blood pressure, and it is also essential for nerve and muscle function.

However, excessive salt intake in kids is associated with higher blood pressure, increased risk for heart disease and stroke later in life. High-salt diets have also been linked to childhood obesity. Kids who eat a lot of salt have been reported to be more likely to drink beverages high in sugar and calories, increasing their risk for obesity.


What are the biggest contributors to salt intake in a child’s diets?

Sodium is found naturally in foods, but a lot of it is added during processing and preparation. Many foods that do not taste salty may still be high in sodium.

Large amounts of sodium can be hidden in canned, processed and convenience foods. Here are the most significant contributors to salt intake in children’s diets.

  • Bottled sauces
  • Take away foods and microwave meals
  • Processed meats
  • Vegemite sandwiches
  • Processed cheese sticks
  • Meat pies & Sausage rolls
  • Instant noodles, packet & canned soups
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Salted nuts, flavored popcorn and chips
  • Fast food.

Reducing salt intake in your family’s diet

If you are looking to reduce salt intake in your family’s diet there are some specific measures that you can take to achieve this.

  • Use fresh meats. Fresh cuts of beef, chicken, or pork contain natural sodium, but the content is still much less than the hidden extra sodium added during product processing.
     
  • Choose fresh fruit and vegetables, as well, since they are very low in sodium. 
  • When buying frozen vegetables, choose those labeled "fresh frozen" and do not contain added seasoning or sauces.
  • Begin reading food nutritional labels. Sodium content is always listed on the label.
  • Compare various brands of the same food item until you find the one that has the lowest sodium content since this will vary from brand to brand.
  • Select spices or seasonings that do not list sodium on their labels, i.e., choose garlic powder over garlic salt.


Sugar in Packaged Food

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that provides calories for your body to use as energy. There are two main types of sugar.

Natural sugar is found in whole, unprocessed foods. These include fruit, vegetables, dairy, and some grains. Fructose is a natural sugar found in fruit. Lactose is a natural sugar found in animal dairy products.

Added sugar is found in processed foods and drinks. It also includes the sugar you add to foods at home. Added sugar provides little to no nutritional value.

 

Why Too Much Sugar Can Be Harmful to Children

Too much sugar during childhood may lead to unhealthy cravings as kids grow older. In excess, sugar can lead to obesity, which puts a child at risk for developing high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, and type 2 diabetes.

And this only touches on the physical issues… behavioural issues is a whole other blog!

 

How to reduce sugar intake in your family’s diet:

  • If your child is used to juice, cut back gradually; try offering it less frequently, or dilute it with water. Pro tip: If your child doesn’t like the taste of water, try flavoring the water with some fruit slices.

  • Offer fruits and vegetables. Experiment with different preparations—oven-roasted vs. raw cauliflower, for instance.
  • Many parents, teachers, grandparents, and others use lollies, biscuits and other sweets as bribes or incentives to encourage children to do tasks. It’s better to use non-food rewards. When your child reaches a goal, praise his success and give him a hug or high-five.
     
  • Set an example. Children tend to mimic the habits of those around them, so if you want your child to eat healthier, you’re going to have to eat healthier too. 

 

What’s in Your Child’s Food Packaging? 

The challenges associated with keeping your child healthy and avoiding processed sugar and salt-rich foods go well beyond just the ingredients in these foods. 

Sometimes the containers they are packaged in and the containers we purchase in stores and online to use at home can also contain harmful chemicals.

What is Bisphenol A and Bisphenol S?

Bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA, is a chemical added to many commercial products, including food containers and hygiene products. Bisphenol S (BPS) is the lesser known cousin, arguably as bad health-wise, and has often been used in products with No BPA labelling. 

Studies have shown that BPA and BPS have been shown to cause reproductive, immunity, and neurological problems, as well as an increased likelihood of Alzheimer’s, childhood asthma, metabolic disease, and cardiovascular disease.

Manufacturers of some canned foods continue to use BPA in the can lining. BPA is also still used on the coating of many thermal receipts shoppers receive.

Plasticisers

Plasticisers are a colourless and odorless type of ether that contains mostly phthalates. This is used to help improve and increase the overall elasticity of the material to make it bendable. They have proven to be beneficial for many companies that produce packaging materials.

The Danger of Plasticisers

Exposure to large doses of plasticisers has been reported to increase developmental abnormalities such as the cleft palate and skeletal malformations and increased fetal death.

How can families avoid BPA & Plasticisers?

Keeping your family safe is crucial. With the growing number of industries using BPA and plasticisers infused materials, it’s sometimes difficult to avoid.

However, there are ways to ensure that your family is safe against these materials. Here are a few tips and recommendations from us.

  • Limit the number of canned foods you eat
  • Choose brands of canned food that are BPA free
  • Where possible, breastfeed your baby
  • Make your own baby food
  • Eat fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables instead of canned products
  • Do not use polycarbonate plastic containers, especially when heating products
  • Buy from trusted brands that manufacture using non-toxic materials.

 

Taking care of your family – especially your little ones can sometimes feel like an overwhelming task. But knowing what to avoid is a big part of the battle. 

Good luck!