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Kids' food expert: additives

Ask our expert: How far should I take the news that additives are dangerous for my children? Should I stop my children eating all sweets and treats? Jenny Briers, Maidstone

Beverley Glock writes:The occasional sweets and treats are fine providing your children have a healthy, balanced diet and are getting their Five-a-Day portions of fruit and veg.

You know your own children best and you are in control of their food intake so you have the final say. Treats don't have to be sugar-coated additives - a punnet of strawberries can be a wonderful "treat" especially as they are just coming into season.

I'm a great believer in "a little of what you fancy does you good". I've seen children who are banned from eating certain foods just crave them all the more. This can lead to binge eating habits and other eating problems in adulthood.

I'd prefer my children to have one glass of full-sugar squash a day with a meal, and make sure they brush their teeth well afterwards, than allow them to have multiple glasses of squash with various sweeteners added. I know what effects the sugar has on them but I don't know what the long-term effects of artificial sweetners are.

Some supermarkets, notably Marks & Spencer, are introducing additive-free ranges, using either natural or nature-identical food colourings, such a beetroot for red and turmeric for yellow. Blue smarties have even reappeared and are "safe" to eat as my son pointed out.

"Does that mean they won't send my friend loopy anymore?" he asked, and was slightly disappointed when I said "yes". He found it quite funny that his friend had to be "allowed" outside to run around the garden for an hour after eating one.

Instead of buying sweets and treats, use it as an opportunity to get together and do some cooking, make some flapjacks, fruit or savoury muffins, scones and fruit leathers.

Always read the labels and if you would like more information on additives, what is allowed and how to translate E numbers there are a number of websites that can help.

Source: Times Online

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