Through the smokey haze of a happyholscampfire laboriously tended to by overly enthusiastic kids (yes smoke always follows beauty!), it’s dawned on me that I promised some tips on how to have an additive free holiday with kids.  So here ‘tis!

Ok – the following may be a little biased, based on our recent ventures to the amazing vibes of the northern NSW coastline (shouldn’t everybody’s office be on a camping table under the shade of a tree with the sound of waves crashing in the background?!), but you’ll still get the gist of how to do things a little differently and have maximum results….Strategies for calm receptive kids even when on holidays!

Step 1  Choose your location wisely
Pick a place that has options… food and activities. Who can pass up (excuse the pun) the glorious sun and surf of Byron?!  And to help things along, there are plenty of additive free options for food and beverages for holidayers of all ages…. (yes even preservative free beer ☺)

Outside your accommodation budget?
Choose a location just outside of Byron, or wherever your destination may be, and perhaps go one step further and camp (like we did)!  Much easier to monitor costs and what’s being ingested.  If Byron isn’t your destination, but you’re still aiming for the ‘pricier’ areas, the same principle applies – go just a little outside the ‘zone’…. We were 40 mins away, discovered plenty on the drive, and it also gave us time for reflection on just how awesome life is whilst making it to our destination!  Yes!  It really is about the journey and not the destination!

PS I’m not being paid by Byron tourism, I just love the place and the vibes.   There are a gazillion awesome spots in Australia and elsewhere in the world to holiday.  My point is, choose somewhere that isn’t focused on fast food and associated lifestyle choices… Pick a place that embraces balance – in people, activities, food and everything else.  Gives a greater opportunity for experiences outside the ‘norm’, which is the essence of all good childhood and family memories.  Camping is ideal for this as it also eliminates electronics and encourages new friendships and socializing with all those kids racing around the campground looking for things to amuse themselves.

Oh – and if camping isn’t your thing, then choose a cheaper motel or self contained accommodation with a kitchen and fridge to help combat the cost of eating out.

Step 2  A little planning goes a long way
Before heading off, there’s always planning and packing to be done… especially if camping.  Now I know I’m a freak when it comes to lists and organizing (another one of my ‘things’ ☺), but ultimately, it doesn’t take much to plan for additive free eating amongst all the other holiday planning.  Sure, “BC” (before children), we could be all spontaneous and free loving and just jump in the car with a spare pair of boardies and a few soy crisps and take what comes our way, but with kidlets in the picture a little more forward thinking is required.  Going additive free is not an extra burden here – it just means doing a few of these preparations a little differently.

What to plan?    additive free snack ideas
Food of course!
For starters, the notorious ‘snack bag’.  We don’t go many places outside our home without the ‘snack bag’ (cue the angelic music in the background and a slight halo glow over the calico bag or cooler bag filled with additive free goodies).

What to put in the snack bag?  
Well, the options are quite endless, but here’s a list of some of our favourites…

  • Organic cheese slices/pieces
  • Organic carrot, capsicum, celery and snow pea sticks
  • Organic yoghurt (put into snack portions in reusable pouches or containers)
  • Organic dried fruit
  • Junee chocolate coated raspberry licorice (for a treat)
  • Organic gummy bears (another treat)
  • Rice crackers (especially fond of almond rice crackers at the moment, but as per usual with kids, the cracker tastes change on a regular basis)
  • Organic popcorn

Other food planning tips:

  • Pack some ‘easy’ ready-made meals from home for the first and last night of camping.  This means planning a bit of a cook up a few days before going so you can have a homemade meal solidly frozen and ready to go.  There’s nothing worse than arriving at your camp spot just before dark, setting up in a frenzy and then realizing you now have to cook a meal.  Grabbing a pasta sauce, stew or some other quick meal from the freezer to pop in the esky for the first night solves all problems.  It also eliminates the desire to quickly grab a takeaway meal (full of additives and nasties to haunt you for days in the form of little werewolf-ish behavior) at the last minute.  And it’s a great iceblock in the esky for the drive.
  • Breakfast for dinner is always a great novelty!  If you haven’t got a ready made homecooked meal for the first night on a camping holiday, the humble egg or baked beans can fill a hole with little cooking or preparation time and is always a great novelty for kids to have breakfast at dinnertime.  In fact, it’s a staple go-to meal for us any time we’re in need of a quick dinner….
  • Shop additive free when stocking up the camping esky or food box.  For example, when getting the staple camping food – sausages – go for the preservative, additive free options (major supermarket chains and plenty of great stores now offer sausages without additives).  Choose water and soda water rather than softdrinks and juices for drinks.  Buy fresh veges and fruits for snacks instead of processed foods high in additives.  Choose breads from reputable bakers who avoid additives in their ingredients (again, some major supermarkets bake some breads preservative free or opt for organic breads from health food stores and bakeries).  (NB: I’m sensing another need for a blog entirely focused on this rather large topic of shopping and foods/products to buy… stay tuned!  In the meantime, opt for additive free foods on your camping shopping list ☺)
  • Step 3   Make good food choices when eating outeatingout
    With The Food Werewolf unspoken motto being to maintain balance in the real world, with real families and real food, I totally recognize that there’s times where things just aren’t perfect and completely additive free or organic choices can’t be made.  Sometimes, we just have to make the best of the situation.  This is particularly relevant if eating out with kids and wanting to be additive free as much as possible.  (NB: this is of course, assuming your child doesn’t have an allergy or intolerance which causes life threatening reactions).  And the best way to maintain additive free eating as much as possible, is to make the right choices in restaurants, cafes and bakeries.

    This is a massive topic, and worthy of greater detail at a later date, but for now here’s a few tips to get you on the right track when eating out.

    • Choose the fresh, raw ingredients – salads, fruit, steamed veges, stir fry, etc – over the sauced up meal options.
    • Opt for vanilla flavoured milkshakes or icecreams instead of caramel, chocolate or strawberry (with more chance of colouring), and if choosing desserts, go for vanilla icecream without toppings, sauces or sprinkles. (NB Vanilla ice-cream most likely still have colouring in it, but less than a trio of additives if choosing coloured ice-cream with topping)
    • If choosing a sandwich, go for salad wraps or sandwiches without cheese or mayonnaise to cut down on the number of preservatives (then it’s only the bread and not three different varieties of preservatives and usually also colouring in mayo).
    • If succumbing to the hot chips, choose normal salt instead of chicken salt, and opt for no sauce.
    • Go for grilled rather than fried, crumbed or battered meat or seafood.

    Step 4  Get the kids involved!
    Whether it’s the packing, the cooking before leaving, or the preparing and cooking whilst camping or holidaying, get the kids involved in the process.  They are more likely to eat something they’ve had a choice in or have helped prepare.  This includes educating the kids to have an awareness of food ingredients and how they can affect them.

    Step 5  It’s ok to be human
    Another favourite point of mine – we are only human, there’s no such thing as ‘perfect’ and we can’t expect ourselves or our children to be additive free 100% of the time.  Not many of us can commit to complete raw, organic pure living 24/7, and that’s ok!

     It’s important to not chastise your kids or yourself for ‘slip ups’ during the holidays and it’s better to make an attempt to be additive free as often as possible than give up for making one or two mistakes.  The effects of an occasional additive will be much easier to deal with (for the child and the parent!) than a cumulative overload from a chemical cocktail over days of eating additives.  Allow yourself and your child to be human, and embrace and praise the good choices and behaviours, letting go and learning from the less pleasant choices and experiences with foods.

    Step 6  Remember what holidays are all about!spendtime
    Whilst we have a bit of theme with our holidays to always include great food, awesome music, diversity in people and places and mother nature in all her glory, one thing is for sure – holidays are about so much more than food!!

    Put the emphasis back on the important things – fun, family and relaxing on your holidays!  Spend less time thinking about the food and more time on the fun experiences to be had when on holidays and your kids will follow suit and be too busy being active and showing you nice behaviour to think about nagging for foods laced with additives.

Holidaying additive free is really quite easy.  A little planning and change in thinking is all it takes.  You wouldn’t go camping without a tent or esky, so add to your list some additive free options and you’re sorted!  The benefits – calm happy kids – make the holiday all the more enjoyable!

Happy holidaying!  Please feel free to share your holiday experiences and additive free tips on facebook or comment right here!

Loren x
The Food Werewolf