Last week I had the privilege of seeing Dr Peter Dingle speak for the first time at the Additive Free Kids event – and what a brilliant evening! I picked up a copy of his book: ‘The DEAL for Happier Healthier Smarter Kids: a 21 Century Survival Guide for Parents’ – and I’m determined to read it, not just add it to the two-foot pile of books to read which are gathering dust next to my bed. The event was organised by Tegan Benfell, c0-author of Additive Free Kids Parties. The evening was a gathering of like-minded individuals who all want to live healthier lives.
Tegan began the evening by talking about her daughter Amelia who was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 4. Her GP prescribed amphetamines but Tegan decided that she would rather put up with her daughter’s hyperactivity and tantrums than give her medication. Eventually a friend gave her a copy of July Eady’s Additive Alert and the change in Tegan’s daughter after cutting out common, yet harmful food additives was incredible. Four years on, and Amelia is now excelling at school and is a normal, happy eight year old.
Additives are on every supermarket shelf, hidden in the most innocent and healthy looking foods, even in the ‘health food’ sections in supermarkets. Some manufactures have become misleading or deceptive by omission in their labelling and don’t even have to list additives if they are present in an ingredient that comprises 5% or less of the product. Unless you are a biochemist or go shopping with Julie Eadys handy Additive Alert bookmark (which lists the worst of the worst additives to avoid) or just buy fresh fruit and veg, you are at risk of contaminating your shopping trolley with toxins, allergens and carcinogens.
In Australia, we are seriously behind the times. Additives such as tartrazine (102), quinoline (104), amaranth (123) and brilliant blue (133) have been banned in many other countries for years for being either suspected carcinogens or linked to hyperactivity, asthma eczema etc. Furthermore, the limits set for these additives are based on adult weights, so our kids are getting a much higher dose than us. Even worse, there has been very little research on the combined effects of these additives, and the results from the limited studies that have been undertaken are alarming. Click here to read about the studies undertaken at Liverpool University in 2005.
Peter had an important message to share: we are on the wrong track. Our medical system is not working. Our prescription medicines are not making us better. In Additive Alert, Julie Eady presents some shocking examples of how our health has deteriorated in recent years, with increases in cancers, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and even teen suicide. For a more detail list with some interesting statistics, click here.
So how do we get back on track? Peter explains all in the ‘DEAL’ (Diet, Environment, Attitude and Lifestyle), and breaks down each section into simple, practical steps. As I have recently realised, removing additives from your diet, and chemicals from your cupboard is an excellent start, but there are also other important factors to consider, such as lifestyle and a positive attitude. For example, you may not be a picture of health if you have a great diet but a stressful job.
If you do want to improve your diet, here are Peter’s 5 P’s to avoid:
4) Processed breakfast food
5) Processed Oil
According to Peter, we are simply not designed to digest grain. There are plenty of articles to support this theory, including an article posted on Mercola.com: ‘The Awful Truth About Eating Grains’. Personally, I have been avoiding wheat products for a few months now and have noticed a remarkable difference in general wellbeing. I won’t say that it has been easy to cut out bread, cakes, pasta and pastries etc, but I have been discovering many healthy and tasty alternatives. If giving up bread and pasta sounds too challenging, then at the very least, consider using whole grain and avoid ‘white’ varieties.
So how do we go about seeing a change on our supermarket shelves? How can we encourage a change in legislation to remove these harmful additives and improve labelling laws? Ultimately, for change to happen, we have to start voting with our $$$. We can do this by choosing to buy healthy, ethically produced products and avoiding products with harmful additives and misleading labelling. We simply can’t afford to wait for our governments to change the legislation and ban additives or chemicals that may be harmful (look at their previous track record with products such as DDT, thalidomide and asbestos to name but a few). Personally, I no longer want to expose my children to potentially harmful products and put their health at risk.
Peter had another important message: in order for change to happen, not only do we have to stop buying products packed with harmful additives and toxic chemicals, we have to share this important information with others. Shout it from the roof tops (or perhaps share through the internet). This information really can change lives……
There were some great local businesses at the Additive Free Kids event, including:
- The Healthy Shelf for a great range of additive and chemical free products;
- Organicngreen for organic veggie boxes, groceries, personal care etc;
- Edible Health for supermarket tours, nutritional cooking classes, seminars, consultations etc;
- Scarlet Eve for reusable menstrual products, breast pads etc;
- Fran Essential, for exquisite chemical free skin care;
- Natureco Centre for Natural Health for professional Naturopathic consultations, acupuncture treatments, counseling sessions and massage services, located in Victoria Park and Kinross;
- Simone Stuart Essntials for aromatherapy and essential oils;
- Health Protect International: sanitising specialists
- SolarShop Australia: solar energy specialists
Please support these businesses and follow them on Facebook, Twitter etc.
If you would like a summary of additives to avoid then check out our blog on healthy lunches for kids, or better still, pick up a copy of Additive Alert. For great healthy additive free kids party foods then pick up a copy of Tegans Additive Free Kids Parties. If you are looking for a 21 Century Survival Guide for Parents then I can highly recommend the ‘Dingle Deal’.
If you would like to help ‘spread the word’ then please share this on Twitter, Google or Facebook.
Together, we can make a difference!
This information is not intended as medical advice. Everyone should make their own health care decisions, with advice from qualified professionals.
Julie Eady, 2004. Additive Alert, Your Guide to Safer Shopping (reprinted 2010).
Peter Dingle, 2004, The Dingle Deal: a 21 Century Survival Guide for Parents.