Before becoming a parent I remember hearing the warnings about E numbers and children.
Apparently the 2 don’t mix well. I remember anecdotal accounts of little ‘Johnny‘ suddenly bouncing off walls like he’d downed a pint of rocket fuel and I distinctively remember thinking “well don’t give it to him then!”
It seemed like a very simple solution until I had children of my own!
Irrespective of what any parent argues; education begins at home. Children learn what they live before going out into the big wide world to live what they’ve learnt, more over, what you’ve taught them.
We don’t have a television. I decided a few years back that it added nothing to their intelligence, knowledge of the world or well being. I explained this to them as best as I could and they agreed.
Mum 1. TV 0.
We no longer do Pizza Hut, never did Burger King/Kentucky/[insert other quick fix takeaway here], weaning them off MacDonalds (once a month) and fizzy drinks have always been a no-no. Fortunately I’ve met little to no resistance here.
Mum 2. Junk food 0.5
Then along came aspartame. Well, it’s been around since the early 80′s, but along it came into my line of sight.
My boyfriend mentioned it a few times and gradually it’s crept into my view. Being the information hound that I am I’ve had to spend hours looking it up and it turns out that it’s everywhere! Drinks, cereals, jams… everywhere! Oh, and it’s one of those blasted E numbers too.
Grrrrr. Cereal is a staple in our house, I encourage the children to go for jam over butter and occasionally treat them to a bit of Robinson’s concentrate fruit juice.
Mum 2. Sneaky food corporations 3.5
I know the word on the street is ‘everything in moderation‘ but my information searching frequently throws up as many horror stories about aspartame as it does articles about how officials have approved its use.
The problem is we’re frequently beginning to realise that there’s a big gap between what officials say and the truth!
Banking scandal anyone?
How about a major tax debacle?
Whilst some may roll their eyes, chug their cola, and chomp their chewing gum in defiance, the recent GlaxoSmithKline fraud scandal highlights how big businesses can behave when big money is at stake. Aspartame is big money. It taps into the diet industry which is worth well over $50 Billion, props up the soft drinks industry (worth over a staggering $440 Billion), and is a mainstay of the artificial sweetener industry, worth a heart stopping $1.5 Billion (and growing). Businesses may crow about CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) but I think we all know which bottom line carries more weight [Insert quote here about profit being king].
The video below is one of countless on YouTube [and the WWW] warning about the negative side effects of aspartame.
On one hand you question why anyone would consume 1 can of fizzy drink a day let alone 9! On the other you recognize that if the powers that be have sanctioned it as ‘ok’ most people will trust this judgement and indulge!
So back to the children. While their little bodies are (relatively) toxin free I don’t fancy pumping them full of E’s. I’m sure they’ll discover the addictive properties of things that are bad for you in their own time. However, one thing I have taught my children is to think for themselves, take responsibility for the choices they make and, subsequently, to live with the outcome. It took a while to explain the “you make your bed, you lie in it” idiom but I think they get it now!
Ultimately all I can do is pass the information to them, explain what I think and let them come to the same conclusion that I have.
If all else fails I know that they know mother [nature] knows best!