Preservative Diet

Reporter: Sophie Hull

You wouldn't expect to find a toy in a toy shop that wasn't suitable for children - yet that's exactly what's happening in supermarket aisles all over the country. Food blatantly aimed at children - but in many cases completely unsuitable for them to eat. Everything we need to know about packaged food is right there on the label - but to decode that information you practically need a science degree - there's a myriad of colours and preservatives that just don't agree with our kids. Even food that claims to be free of artificial additives can contain natural preservatives which are harmful.

Tracey Sheppherd thought her son was just one of the difficult ones. Doctors advised ADHD medication but Tracey felt there had to be another option. She stumbled on Sue Dengate's book - Fed Up:“I started reading it and I thought this just what I've been looking for it's incredible I actually cried when I was reading it I thought how can she know all of this about our family.”

By following the book to the letter Tracey was able to eliminate all of the additives and preservatives from Aidan's diet and while it means a great deal more time spent in the kitchen - it's changed life for the whole family.“He is a completely different person he doesn't get very angry very often. Certainly he's a teenage boy and he has his moments but it's nothing like what he used to be.” Tracey says.

A quick look around the supermarket with author Sue Dengate and it's staggering to find just how many products aimed at children and even claiming to be free of artificial colours, flavours and preservatives are packed with added extras that could pose a problem for some children. It's an in depth education process - but those who've taken the time to decode food labels say it's worth the trouble. Thirteen year old Michael Parker was frustrated with his poor concentration and "foggy" brain - so he decided to try a diet free of preservatives - he says the difference is profound and now he's trying to convert his class mates.“They'll whip out a muesli bar or something and they'll say it's healthy and then I'll go through the ingredients with them and they're actually quite surprised what's in them.” Michael says.

Though she's now a very careful shopper Belinda Eighan can't control what other people give her daughter Katie to eat and she says the consequences of straying from the additive free path can be dire for children as food sensitive as hers.

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