Carol went shopping yesterday. Because attention disorders run in her family, she tries to stick with natural, healthy foods and usually reads labels to avoid unnecessary chemical additives. Let’s see how successful she was in selecting additive-free items:
In the produce section, Carol saw a tag on green grapes that stated they were a natural food, but she missed the small print on the back indicating they were treated with sulfites. When she put a bag of red potatoes in her cart, she didn’t know that a label verifying they had been dyed was on a cardboard box in the dumpster out back. At the dairy section, Carol passed up the whole milk in favor of a low-fat product — which routinely has the petroleum based preservative BHT hidden in the vitamin fortification. She didn’t bother to check the label on the “light” whipped butter, which she assumed would use only reduced-fat cream and a little salt — but it had artificial flavoring. String cheese is a favorite with her children, so she picked out the brand with “natural”written across the package, unaware that the inside of the plastic wrapping had been sprayed with preservatives.
By sticking with low-sugar cereals, Carol omitted a lot of extra calories, yet her selections contained BHA (another petrochemical), while two of the sugary varieties she passed up were free of this additive. Sometimes the BHA was in the cereal; other times it had been sprayed onto the inside of the liner, so that the chemical would gradually migrate into the cereal, prolonging shelf-life.
Frozen “juice bars” seemed like a good choice, even though the box read “natural and artificial flavors.” Carol assumed they would be mostly natural since ingredients are supposed to be listed according to amount used. Unfortunately, that rule doesn’t apply to flavorings, and food products of all types that are labelled this waycan contain a vat of synthetic chemicals to which a drop of natural flavor is added.
Carol felt on solid ground when choosing the little fish-shaped crackers. The package clearly stated “no preservatives.” Unfortunately, the crackers actually contain BHA, BHT, and TBHQ, three common antioxidant preservatives not found on the label! On to the pharmacy: Carol picked up a refill for the stimulant medication her sontakes for an attention deficit disorder. Ironically, it is colored with a dye that has been found to sometimes aggravate symptoms of hyperactivity. At the candy section, Mom passed up chocolate, since it seemed to make the kids bouncy. (What she didn’t realize was that it might be the synthetic vanillin in some chocolate, rather than the cocoa, that her children reacted to.) In place of candy, Carol opted for a healthful snack: raisins. Unfortunately, raisins, and some other foods, contain salicylates, a naturally occurring chemical similar to aspirin that can trigger learning, behavior or health problems in some people.
As Carol left the store, she saw her neighbor, Donna, entering. Donna buys many of the same types of foods as Carol, but she knows how to avoid the hidden additives by selecting brands found in her Foodlist, provided by the Feingold Association.. She has seen, firsthand, the dramatic changes in her two children’s behavior once petroleum-based additives and natural salicylates were removed from their diet. While they have been able to add most of the salicylates back into their diet, apple juice is still a big problem for one of the kids. Hard to believe, but her daughter can tolerate colas (regular, not diet) much better than apple juice! Some of the benefits Donna has seen in her children from the Feingold diet include reduction in ear infections, cessation of bedwetting, no more hives, improved behavior, and better grades in school.