I am stunned that there are some food additives that may cause weight gain. We all know about calories, fat and carbs now we have to know about food additives too!! I mean you think you know something. To me food additives are pesky chemicals the food industry insist on putting in our food. I get it. The population demands convenience and unfortunately that means preservatives, colours and flavours for food to taste, smell and look the way we want it to. Of course I could ramble on about all those chemical for hours! I really looked into it properly a few years ago someone suggested one of my stepson’s might have a food allergy because of his ALWAYS snotty nose!


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I uncovered hoards of information about preservatives, colours and flavours and their effect on our bodies. It is particularly interesting to see how chemicals affect kids behaviour! Those who know me know I don’t tolerate kids on good days let alone if they’re pinging around like a pinball machine ball! I hunted down the additives that were known to contribute to hyperactive behaviour in kids and I did a HUGE clean out of our pantry and overhauled the shopping list every week. It was a lot of hard work, received lots of backlash from mother, mother in law and of course the kids themselves. Luckily, hubby was on board with it (not that he had much choice) so I could pretty much ignore the others!

It was all worth it though and I greatly recommend you go and read Sue Dengate’s book “Fed Up” cover to cover or simply check out the website here.   As a parent, I think it’s our obligation to not feed our kids crap that has such bad effects. Effects you don’t even notice until you STOP feeding them the crap. And by crap I don’t mean Maccas and Hungry Jacks either! Foods contain these chemicals even the ones you think are healthy such as yogurts and cereals.

food additives that may cause weight gain




food additives that may cause weight gain




Anyways, totally going off track here because what I really want to talk about was about the food additives that may cause weight gain! If you haven’t read my post on artificial sweeteners you can catch up on reading it right here now. That goes into how they can have a real harmful effect on our health in general but they can also have the opposite desired effect of helping us lose weight! Artificial sweeteners are actually one of the food additives that may cause weight gain.




The other additives you need to know about, are emulsifiers! You will find them in most packaged food!  Go scan your pantry now, and I bet you’ll find this food additive that may cause weight gain! It’s often labelled as a number in the 400s.


What are emulsifiers I hear you ask? Like me you’ve probably heard of them but are not really clear on what they are. An emulsifier is basically a substance that is  in foods to keep their ingredients well mixed together so they don’t separate. You will find emulsifiers especially in foods like salad dressings and mayonnaises otherwise the water and oils in them would separate and look disgusting!  They have molecules that are hydrophilic (attract water) and hydrophobic (repel water) and therefore keep this combination well mixed together. Emulsifiers keep food products at the right consistency and volume and have a preservative affect. You’ll find emulsifiers  in breads, margarines, ice cream, chocolate and other processed foods.




There are 2 particular emulsifiers tested.  Polysorbate 80 and carboxymethylcellulose are the emulsifiers or food additives that may cause weight gain.  They change the bacteria in the gut and cause inflammation. Inflammation  leads to metabolic syndrome and obesity. Apparently changing the bacteria in the gut can change appetite levels and lead to overeating( and you need that like a hole in the head if you’re trying to lose weight).  It also is associated with inflammatory bowel disease. There are only 2 emulsifiers in this study but it is likely others will produce similar results. You can read about other emulsifiers here by Catherine Saxelby, the well-known nutritionist.

You can read more about the study in these two articles here and here.

I really focus on foods in regards to weight loss and weight gain, so this really concerns me. I’m sure a lot of us are also using ‘health’ foods to help us lose weight. I know I’m often checking labels for calories, carbohydrate, fat and protein levels but emulsifiers isn’t really on my radar. Until now! I know I don’t need any extra help in putting on weight especially from foods I’m eating to help me lose it.

food additives that may cause weight gain


But let’s be sensible of course. You’re not going to become obese simply by eating food that has emulsifiers but if you need extra convincing that eating unprocessed food is best, then this it! Everything points to sticking to foods that are as natural and organic as possible. Eating whole natural foods in season will ultimately be a better choice than any processed ‘health’ food or processed food in general. Sometimes though, we do need the convenience of packaged foods so reading labels with a magnifying glass is key!










  1. Wow that’s some real perspective on clean eating. Didn’t knew emulsifiers are something I have to be so watchful about. For my son we try to avoid the processed food as much as we can.

    1. I think it’s really important for kids. They only eat what we provide usually so it’s good to know what’s in it.

  2. Great information! I try and be careful and read labels. Buy as much in the produce section as possible. Not always perfect but progress 🙂

    1. Same here. I don’t think I would ever be on a ‘perfectly healthy diet’. Sometimes convenience just takes over.

  3. No way!!! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I love your Instagram feed – it’s so inspiring!!! The one about trying again and again even if you fail has been in my head all week. Thanks! Iris Lillian

    1. Thanks Elissa! You can’t read those labels closely enough these days! Glad you’re enjoying my instagram feed too xx

  4. I had no ideas that emulsifiers were so bad! I hate feeding my kids processed foods – and I’m so grateful that I’m aware that what’s marketed as healthy (muesli bars and yoghurts and fruit juices) are often far from it.

  5. Wow, we have become clean eating nuts, and this is one reason why! I hate the effect of chemicals in our bodies! Very informative thank uou

    1. I hate to think what years of eating chemicals has done to my body, but late than never!

    1. So true. Its recommended to go for one ingredient foods that don’t need labels!

  6. Yes it’s so important just to eat real food that way you know what’s going into your body! Great read 🙂 x

  7. Great Post Dee! I think its easy to “forget” or “ignore” these things listed in our foods. They’re always in those easy on the go foods, but it’s so worth slowing down and passing on these things.


    1. Convenience is such a big thing, especially as busy parenting, wife-ing and working women but it’s worth paying more attention to what’s in our food in the long run.

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