“Red 40 is not an essential part of our diet, it’s quite the opposite. Red #3 and Red # 40 are the two food coloring additives approved for use in food (by the FDA) yet if they were sprayed on weeds, they would work as pesticide”—Yahoo voices article
My beautiful daughter went through her transition to our home just before her 2nd birthday. As you moms and dads know, that is already a tricky time – “the terrible twos.” I had to pull out all of my patience and take lots of deep breaths as everyone around me said, “Well, she’s 2, that’s how they are.” And the poor girl was transitioning to a new home with new parents and a new life. It was very difficult.
As she neared age 3, I thought that the worst would be behind us, but I was wrong. Her behavior got even more unpredictable and anytime I worried about it, I heard, “Well, she’s 3, that’s how they are.” At this point, I thought – I teach 3 year olds, this is not how they are. I also heard, “Well, she’s just stubborn and difficult and she will be her whole life.” So, I’m just supposed to sit back and throw up my hands and say, “oh, well?” She couldn’t sit still and couldn’t look you in the eye, she lost control all the time, it was exhausting.
The pinnacle came on Halloween night when my daughter was 3 years old. She had been partying all week in her dance classes and at school and had consumed more candy that week than she did her whole life. While trick-or-treating, she had a melt down to top all melt downs. I had to fight back tears.
As I was talking to a good friend about my issues one day, she told me about her step-daughter’s behavioral problems and that they had recently been told that her diet may have an effect on her behavior and to try to eliminate different things one at a time to see if any of it was the culprit. She had discovered that red 40 contributed to her daughters “craziness.”
I looked it up and found oodles of information about it, but not a whole lot of scientific evidence. Livestrong.com has tons of articles about it and described the side effects as “…hyperactivity, attention problems, irritability, learning problems, aggressiveness, and restlessness.” BINGO. I told my family that I wanted to try to take red 40 out of her diet and see what happens. It has absolutely no health benefits and would help the entire family to eat better. Looking through my pantry – I didn’t find much with red 40 ingredients, but her grandparents had a lot, which may also be the reason she turned into the incredible hulk a day or two after being there. My family, husband included, thought I had gone off the deep end. I heard from other people, too, about how crazy I was and how nothing that the FDA approves would be dangerous. That “she was just 3” and I had to just deal with her. My family, however, did say that they would try it.
After about 2 weeks, they all ate their words. It was amazing. My little girl, who I was ready to diagnose with ADHD and who would turn into a monster with no warning, started to become a focused, kind and generous kid. Anytime she ate anything with red 40 in it, she would go bonkers. No one could believe it, her teachers commented on her improved focus and her new ability to solve problems rather than falling apart every time something went wrong. She started refusing to eat anything with the dye in it – she would say, “it makes me feel crazy, I don’t want it.”
Taking the dye out of your kid’s diet isn’t hard, but you have to pay attention. First of all, read those labels! Red dye #40 can also be called Allura Red and can be found in things that aren’t red – like waffles, pancake mix, cakes and cookies, and some brands of milk chocolate and chocolate milk. With more parents “eating clean” and taking this dye out of their kid’s diet, more and more companies are responding by using natural dyes.
Here are some brands that we love to support due to their natural dyes –
*Both Motts brand and Ocean Spray brand fruit snacks have no artificial dyes.
*Goldfish brand snacks have removed dyes from all of their flavors – EXCEPT the cake flavored goldfish with the sprinkles.
*Berry Kix has chosen to use natural dyes to color their cereal.
*Stretch Island Fruit Co.’s Fruitables doesn’t contain red 40 or any other unnatural dyes.
*You can also find dye free versions of fruit roll ups and gogurt with the name “Simply” labeled on the package.
*Walgreens has an extensive supply of dye-free medicines – almost all of regular brand meds and vitamins have red 40.
So, give it a try. Taking out these dyes doesn’t hurt and maybe it will force more companies to provide us with more natural alternatives to this and other potentially harmful additives.
Are you dye conscious?
Do you have any brands that I can add to my dye-free list?
Have a healthy day!