Anything bright and colorful is attractive. The same principle holds good in the case of food products too. Food manufacturers sometimes use color additives to boost naturally-occurring colors or to make the food alluring or simply more fun to eat for the customers. But the question here is whether food colors simply serve the purpose of just adding color to the food. Parents are under the impression that color additives are responsible for behavioral problems in their children or add to the existing problems related to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The relationship between food dyes and ADHD has been under scrutiny by scientists for quite many years. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the use of both natural and artificial food coloring. Registered dietitians claim that the FDA thoroughly checks the composition of the substance, the amount of substance consumed and any immediate or long-term health effects and safety factors. In 2011, the advisory committee to the FDA came to the conclusion that there was no clear direct link between artificial food color additives and hypertension or other behavioral problems in kids, but the converse is true. Some children with ADHD are intolerant to compounds in foods that may increase behavioral problems.
Similar conclusions were given by a recent analysis of 34 research studies that confirm that artificial food colors affect about eight percent of children with ADHD. Not including these food additives in the diet has a small, but significant effect on ADHD symptoms. Further research is crucial in determining the section of people who might benefit from dietary changes and the foods and ingredients these people must avoid.
Dietitians also feel that diets that remove a variety of foods may also unnecessarily remove nutritious foods from the diet. RDs also complain that parents sometimes remove foods than necessary as they wrongly identify the culprit. Hence utmost care is essential in providing a nutritionally balanced diet. Parents can work along with registered dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com who expertise in children’s feeding challenges and elimination diets to spot the problem-causing foods while maximizing nutrient-dense foods.
To minimize the trauma of curbing favorite foods, we can focus instead on adding nutritious foods rather than the “avoid this” approach. Target on whole foods. Consume a varied diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, cereals and fish. Work along with your RDN and pediatrician to keep your child’s growth in check and ensure that it stays on track.
Make dietary changes together as a whole family. This ensures that the child does not feel left out, different or succumb to the feeling that he/she is being punished with a special diet.
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