Salt

Children’s food shouldn’t have salt added. After your little one’s first birthday, the daily recommended maximum amount of salt until they are 3 years old is 2g a day (0.8g sodium). 4-6 year olds should have no more than 3g a day of salt. All Little Dish meals are classed as “low in salt” under EC 1924/2006 regulation. Some of our ingredients, such as cheese or breadcrumbs, contain very small levels of salt, but we work hard to source the ingredients with the very lowest levels possible, and never add any extra salt when we make the meals.

When cooking for the family, be wary of ingredients like stock cubes and gravy as they are notoriously high in salt. Reading food labels is a great habit to get into, and remember that ‘salt’ and ‘sodium’ are not the same. 2g salt is the equivalent of 0.8g sodium.

Sugar

Little ones should have a limited intake of sugar. This will help to ensure they don’t develop a preference for ingredients that can contribute to poor health in later life. We never add sugar to any of our meals. We let the natural sweetness of vegetables, especially ones like butternut squash, sweet potato, carrot and petit pois, do all the work.

Remember that sugar comes in many different forms. Processed, or refined sugars are derived from sugar cane or beets and should be avoided as they can be harmful to teeth and overall health when consumed in excess. White table sugar, cakes, biscuits, confectionary, sugary fizzy drinks and fruit squashes can contain high levels of processed sugar. “Natural” sugars on the other hand are a better choice. Fruits and vegetables have natural sugar in the form of fructose, and dairy contains natural sugar in the form of lactose. Fruits and vegetables also contain vitamins, minerals and fibre which slow down the digestion of their natural sugars, leading to more stable blood sugar levels.

Additives and preservatives

Food additives are ingredients added to foods for several reasons, for example to enhance flavour or to give them colour. An E number is a reference number given to food additives and these can apply to both ‘good and bad’ additives. We do not use additives in our products as we only make our meals with ingredients that you would have in your store cupboard at home.

Preservatives keep food safe for longer to stop moulds and bacteria growing on them. However, our meals do not need to have preservatives added to them because:

• We cook our food in a pressure cooker which seals in the goodness and keeps out the nasties
• Our meals are kept chilled from the moment they come out of the cooker

Common food additives

• Colours are used to make food more attractive. They can be natural in origin such as curcumin (E100), a yellow extract of turmeric roots, or artificial such as tartrazine (E102). There are six colours that are linked to hyperactivity in children and should be avoided: E110 (sunset yellow), E102 (tartrazine), E122 (carmoisine), E124 (ponceau 4R), E129 (allura red), E104 (quinoline yellow).
• Preservatives such as E211 (sodium benzoate) and also been linked with hyperactivity and E220 (sulphur dioxide) has links with asthma.
• Sweeteners are used with or instead of sugar to make food taste sweet. Examples include aspartame (E951), saccharin (E954) and sorbitol (E420). Aspartame in particular has been linked to health issues.

 

However, let’s not be alarmist here. Everyone deserves a treat sometimes and the occasional fizzy drink and bag of sweets is not going to harm anyone.

 

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