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Elizabeth Street


Step Away from the Sprinkles & Other Dangerous Food Additives To Avoid

Nov 01, 2013

Step Away from the Sprinkles & Other Dangerous Food Additives To Avoid

There is so much information (both fact and fiction) about what is healthy and unhealthy for our children. We all want to get our families on a healthier path, but it can be overwhelming to figure out where to even start. That's where Robyn O'Brien comes in. The former food analyst and mother of four, known around town as "food's Erin Brockovich," laid out small changes we can make in our homes today that will lead to healthy benefits for our family in the long run. Here's what she told us:

"It all boils down to one thing: Eat less fake food. Our food supply is now hopped up on artificial ingredients that are meant to mimic the taste, texture, and intent of real ingredients. The problem is that we have no idea what all of these additives, artificial dyes, and artificial growth hormones are doing to us over the long-term, or what happens when they're combined."

So what’s a caregiver to do?

"Pay attention to these five ingredients that have been swapped in while the real stuff got swapped out. Something to note: They aren’t used in kids’ foods in other countries, so avoid whenever possible."

1. Artificial dyes: Our American companies removed them from things they sell overseas after consumer concern grew around links to hyperactivity and ADHD behavior.

2. Artificial growth hormones: The U.S. is the only developed country in the world to allow growth hormones in our dairy. Look for "rbGH-free" on the label.

3. GMOs: A lot of these new genetically engineered ingredients, also known as GMOs, are now regulated by the EPA as pesticides. Look for "USDA Organic," which isn’t allowed to contain them, or products with the "Non GMO Project" seal. Go to Just Label It to learn how to figure out what exactly is in your food. 

4. Aspartame: This is a common artificial sweetener banned in kids' foods in the U.K. So why are our companies using it here?

5. High fructose corn syrup: Much of our corn is now regulated by the EPA as a pesticide. And who wants to eat a pesticide?

By Dr. Lindsay Heller, Psy.D.

Dr. Heller is a mother of two sweet girls. When she’s not playing “tea party,” she’s a professional nanny consultant known as The Nanny Doctor. She blogs, tweets, and Facebooks endless nanny wisdom. Check her out here at or on Twitter @thenannydoctor.

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