I recently had the pleasure of attending the Fed Up roadshow, run by Sue Dengate. If you haven’t heard of Fed Up, it is an Australian movement/support network concerned with the effects of food on behaviour, health and learning.
I love the message of Fed Up and how Sue has worked tirelessly over many years to educate parents about food additives. She is a champion and deserves much praise for that. She has campaigned to spread the message about what’s really in our foods, and has influenced companies to change their recipes and formulas. The Fed Up message empowers parents to take control over the food choices for their families.
I know of parents who have put their families on the failsafe diet and have seen significant changes in their children’s behaviour. There is no doubt that the diet and recommendations are revolutionary for some families who have previously never given much thought to the ingredients of their foods. Sue is a hero and a champion.
I want to also add that despite the overwhelmingly good messages delivered at the Roadshow, there were a few things that were highlighted which made me sit upright in my seat and pull a funny face.
1. Sugar does not affect behaviour.
Okay, this may be accurate (it also may not, depending which studies you believe). But let’s go with it being accurate in this instance. Sugar may not affect behaviour in the way that artificial flavours, colours, additives and preservatives can, but it is still a poison. No I am not being radical and fanatical and I’m not sensationalising things. Look into it. Sugar is highly addictive, it suppresses the immune system, feeds cancer cells and pathogens in the digestive system allowing them to proliferate, and triggers weight gain. It is fairly impossible to avoid in our modern diet, and I’m not suggesting that we never consume sugar in any of its myriad forms, but I am concerned that parents will walk away from these sessions with the message that ‘sugar is okay’ and continue to shove food down their children’s throats that is free from artificial additives, but loaded with sugar. A better message would be, ‘Sugar may not negatively affect children’s behaviour, however it has other harmful effects and should be minimised or avoided’. It’s easy to substitute sugar into recipes with other natural alternatives that don’t have the same negative effects on the body.
2. White bread is okay.
There may be a few brands that sell white bread that is free from nasty preservatives etc., but that does not mean that white bread is nutritious on any level; in fact it is detrimental to our health. The refining of the wheat grain to get white flour removes the husk, the bran and any trace of goodness. It’s then bleached and dried at high temperature, killing any possible remaining nutrients. White bread has a high Glycemic Index, so the sugars are released quickly into the bloodstream , triggering the body to release insulin. Frequently imablanced blood sugar levels leads to Type II Diabetes, among other things. White bread lacks fibre, so clogs up the digestive system and makes it difficult for the colon to function effectively. Ever heard the saying The whiter the bread, the quicker you’re dead? It’s not far wrong.
3. Canola oil is recommended for cooking.
I ummed and aahed about posting this because it’s a curly one, especially because canola oil is also recommended by the Australian Heart Foundation (mind you, the AHF also recommends processed and synthetic margarine spreads). As far I’m concerned, the jury is still out on canola oil. There are lots of negative claims about canola oil floating around the internet, with some being dismissed as urban legend. I choose to know what I put in my body and what effect it can have. If something is wildly controversial and difficult to obtain unbiased factual information about, then I choose to not to put it in my mouth. I cannot be certain that it is not doing harm. I cannot find any culinary or nutritious reason to use canola oil, and lots of ‘possible’ issues with it. For this reason, I would not promote it as safe. I think any food recommendation needs to include the reason why, and this was not provided at the Fed Up Roadshow.
**UPDATE** March 2013 – since writing the above I have learned that canola is a genetically modified (GM) crop, which is devastating on so many levels. I am relieved that I have chosen to rid it from my diet! Read more here.
Many parents are completely desperate and need support when it comes to changing their shopping, cooking and eating habits. I see Fed Up and the failsafe diet as an excellent opportunity for these people to become conscious food consumers who feed their children thoughtfully, but if they are told that things like sugar and white bread are okay, then the message about wellness is distorted. Let’s not just cut out the additives, let’s promote health.