Being a mother of two young children, I can empathise with the challenges of preparing a lunchbox that ticks all the boxes: it should be fulfilling, healthy, and nutritious. However, I also understand the struggle of convincing your child to actually eat it; these two goals can often feel worlds apart!

In today's fast-paced world, we find ourselves consuming more processed and packaged foods than ever before in history. Supermarket shelves are brimming with artificial, or what we like to call "food-like" products. It's the reality of the society we live in.

Another hurdle we face is ensuring our kids don't feel like they're missing out or being different from their friends. But when did we reach a point where packaged food became the norm, and homemade items drew teasing? It's a bizarre concept, isn't it? Yet, that's where we find ourselves, and unless we make a change, that's where we'll remain.

In 2013, I began researching food additives. My motivation stemmed from our three-year-old daughter, who was grappling with numerous behavioural issues. While attending a Thermomix cooking demonstration, the consultant mentioned that custard powder contained "additive 102," which she avoided due to its potential links to behavioural issues in children. This piqued my interest, leading me to search for the side effects of additive 102 online. To my shock, I discovered a disturbing list of potential issues associated with it:

  • Behavioural issues
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irrational behaviour
  • Caution for asthmatics
  • Carcinogenic properties

This discovery set me on a path to seek more information. The deeper I delved into my research, the stronger my desire grew to make a change. As a family, we made the decision to transition towards consuming more real food and striving to live an additive-free life.

Almost overnight, our little girl underwent a transformation. She became calmer, more focused, and her sleep patterns improved. Even better, she stopped falling ill so frequently!

Previously, our child battled constant bouts of chronic tonsillitis, leading to their removal at a tender age of 20 months. She suffered from ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, a perpetually runny nose, rosy cheeks, and frequent hospital visits due to asthmatic wheezing. She was even put on a steroid preventer, which she took every morning and night. However, after years of gaining knowledge about additives, reducing the toxic load in our home, and adopting a healthier lifestyle, all her health issues became a thing of the past.

Over a decade of learning about additives, toxins, the food industry, and regulations has broadened our perspective. It's not just about behavioural issues and asthma; it's about the overall longevity of our lives.

Living an additive-free life varies from one person to another. For our family, it means that around 90% of our home is great. Our fridge and freezer are stocked primarily with foods that nourish us. I say "primarily" because we still keep some packaged options on hand. However, we approach these choices mindfully, reading ingredients carefully and limiting processed foods as much as possible. Nevertheless, when we're at a BBQ or out and about, we don't stress too much because life is too short to worry constantly!

You might even spot us enjoying a mint green ice cream at the beach, savouring the little joys of life and holding no guilt what-so-ever!  

Now, let's circle back to the topic of lunchboxes...

Once you've finished reading, head back to Instagram where you'll find a handy guide outlining our top five additives to avoid in lunchboxes - things such as MSG or other flavour enhancers can be particularly challenging to steer clear of, since they often lurk in most flavoured packaged food options. There are numerous names and numbers for flavour enhancers, which you can identify using our additive-free lifestyle app. Simply scan the ingredients, and it will flag any additives for you!

At the end of the day, as parents, we all want nothing but the best for our children. Our top piece of advice is this: if you decide to reduce additives and make a change, involve the kids. Don't hesitate to share what you're learning about additives with them. Our app even comes with a family sharing feature, so feel free to install it on your partner's phone and any devices your children may have. Encourage the kids to scan the ingredients and read about the additives that are detected.

This is empowering!

We've found that when we give kids the power to make choices, they often opt for better options. The additives listed in our app are rated with a green smiley face, yellow caution face, and red risky face, providing a quick visual representation of their safety.

We also have a free podcast show called 'Thrive by Additive-Free Lifestyle,' which you can find on all major podcast apps.  We cover a whole range of different topics to help us ‘thrive’.

And, for days of extra free content, including many recipes, please check out our website -

Enjoy the journey!

Jo x

October 20, 2023

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