Thursday, February 3, 2011

Our Dye Free Adventure

YES!  I am now one of "THOSE" moms.  Oh hush, you know that crossed at least half the minds of those reading this.

After much thought and research I have decided to try eliminating dyes from our kids diets.  I sincerely think (hope) that this will help calm some of the hyper active and obsessive-compulsive behaviors that both Monkey and Little Man exhibit.

For the past two years or so we have been slowly but surely switching over our diets from commercially over processed foods to more wholesome nutritious homemade items.  It has been a slow process and we are not 100% complete yet.  There are still some "questionable" items in our kitchen and I think that giving up dyes will help to eliminate most of them.

To start out this process I spent over 45 minutes looking and reading every single label on everything in our kitchen from bread, spices, even frozen veggies to look for any hidden dyes. I don't exactly have blue ketchup ,  bright red sports drinks or florescent green yogurt in my kitchen but I was surprised by a few items that did contain hidden dyes.   Once I was finished I must say I was pretty pleased to find so few items, I honestly thought we would have more than we did.  I contribute this to the over all shift we have been making with our diets and views on what real food is.

Here is the complete list of what I found:
1. Blueberry Pop Tarts- DUH!   My kids love pop tarts but this one did not surprise me in the least.
Contained red 40 and blue 1

2. Fruit Snacks-  Red 40, blue 1 and yellow 5

3. Ovaltine- this is one that shocked me!! WHY?? Has red 40, yellow 6 and blue 1. I do not see the purpose of dyes in this but whatever.

4. Quaker Fruit & Cream Oatmeal-Assrt flavors- only 2 of the 4 flavors have dyes and again I am like WHY!?!? Why do they have to put stuff like that in there. The strawberry has red 40 and the blueberry has blue 2 and red 40. The peach and banana do not have any.

5. Hershey's Butterscotch Baking Chips- this one was a shocker to me! Has yellow 6, yellow 5 and blue 2

6. Jello Pumpkin Spice Pudding Mix-  nooooooooooo. Yellow 5 and yellow 6

7. Mission Jalapeno Cheddar Wraps- nooooooooooo, again WHY!!!! Has yellow 5 & 6

8. Fruit Chillers Freeze & Eat tubes- Silly me, I thought these were pretty healthy for the kids. This is what I give them as Popsicles/ice cream. Has red 40

9. Sun Chips- Garden Salsa Flavor- another shocker, also thought these were pretty healthy!  These are the only chips I eat! Yellow 5 & 6 as well has red 40.

Now my kids do not get any of these daily so I am not sure how much eliminating dyes will help. Most of these are only occasional treats/meal items. I am willing to give it a shot though to help get some normalcy back in this house!

food dye chart from the CSPI article:
Food Dyes Pose Rainbow of Risks
I am not going to lie, some will be hard to give up for my kids.  They LOVE pop tarts and fruit snacks.  Thankfully over at confessions of an earthy young mom she has an awesome home made pop tarts recipe that I plan to try out.  I will also be on the lookout for more all natural alternatives to fruit snacks.  I really want a dehydrator and I know that you can make your own fruit roll ups in them.  I could easily pass those off to my kids as "chongas" as they are called in our house. 

What are "chongas"?  Fruit snacks silly, just ask my kids.  "Chongas" is one of several words that Little Man made up around 18 months of age.  He made up words for things that he didn't have words for and some have just stuck and been passed down kid to kid.  "Peep" is another.  Peep = Vacuum.

Many have asked me why I am trying to eliminate dyes.  The answer is simple really, to help save the last shreds of sanity I have. Being food label junkie that I am I have recently discovered that some studies suggest artificial food dyes can be linked to ADD, ADHD and even Autism like symptoms in children (they are also linked to cancer and allergy risks).  Little Man is extremely hyper active.  I am not saying this in an "I'm an exhausted mom of 4 who can't keep up with my normal 4 yr olds behavior" I say this as in "he is bouncing off the wall, ultimate sugar high x 100, I am worried he will be stuck with a "label' once he enters school" hyper activity. 

Even his behavior is overshadowed by Monkey though, if you have followed my blog for any length of time then you are all too familiar with her behavior.  I swear that girl has insomnia.  Is it possible for a toddler to have insomnia?  How about a toddler that was exposed to harmful drugs by the birth mother while in utero?

I have the same bedtime routine as always.  At 8pm we warn the kids bedtime is approaching and try to calm them down.  TRY being the keyword there. They get bednight drinks and snacks-that's what Little Man dubbed them when he was 2 and again the name has just stuck ever since.  We get PJs and night night diapers on about 8:30ish.  Then there is book time, snuggles and "bednight" kisses, prayer and tuck in by 9.  Once I close the door though Monkey is right back up and the battle begins.  I spend the rest of the night fighting with her to get her to stay in bed and go to sleep.  She can't be in a crib because she climbs right out and she has not been able to sleep with us since Tubs was born, queen size bed is just not enough room.  I battle with her most night until 12-2 am.  Yet she still wakes 8-9 am and either refuses naps all together or tries to take a nap right about dinner time, which I do not allow her to do and fight with her to stay awake for hours.  The rare occasions she does fall asleep at 8-9pm she wakes a few hours later and treats it as if it was a nap.  It has been really bad for the last month or so and she has even started keeping Little Man and Smunchkin up with her on many nights. 

Its a battle I am so wary of fighting and I am hoping that by making some dietary changes her body will be able to regulate itself better.  I have read that the "sugar high" so many parents observe in their kids after candy/sweet consumption has nothing to do with the sugar itself and can be attributed to the dyes in the treats.

I will keep tabs on here on how the elimination is going and if their behavior is improving.  I will give it a few months and if there is no change I will look into eliminating gluten and/or dairy as both of those can also have the same effects on kids with unknown/undiagnosed allergies to them.

Even if the dyes are not the triggers its still a good idea to eliminate them, they provide no nutritional value what so ever and to quote one of the articles I found:

"Dyed foods should be considered adulterated under the law, because the dyes make a food "appear better or of greater value than it is"--typically by masking the absence of fruit, vegetable or other more costly ingredient."
Food Dyes Linked to Cancer, ADHD, Allergies
by Laurel Curran.  July 08, 2010

I find it so sad that many countries in Europe ban dyes in their foods but the good ole US of A still allows it.  Why this surprises me so much I am not sure, the US also loves and embraces HFCS (high fructose corn syrup); overly processed, chemically laden, barely passable as food like substance and GMO (genetically modified) food!
colors the way nature intended

Here are some links to some great articles/blogs I found while researching dyes:

CSPI Says Food Dyes Pose Rainbow of Risks

A Naturally Colorful Life » Autism is a Trip

The color of trouble | Spoonfed 

Food Dyes Linked to Cancer, ADHD, Allergies

So goodbye Blueberry Pop Tarts, so long Dora Fruit Snacks.  Sun Chips, you and I are going to have to have a talkin to and you may have to hide in my bedroom where the kids cannot see you.

Is it hard to give up convenience foods, YES!  Do I enjoy making everything from scratch all the time, not always.  I do love cooking but sometimes I really want to just open up some pop tarts and say "here you go", especially in the morning.  In the end though, I know its better for us all so its something I am willing to do.  Would I make these changes if I was not a mom?  I do not know for sure as evidenced by the fact that I continue to drink my Jones soda that's full of dyes.  I am trying to give up the soda.  Baby steps, baby steps!

a confused and overwhelmed but determined mama,


  1. You can do it, darlin'. It's hard, it sucks, and you won't enjoy it... but after a couple of months, once the chemicals have worked their way out of your kiddos' bodies, you will suddenly realize that things are BETTER this way, and you don't regret the extra work AT ALL.

    As far as dehydrators go, DO IT! We use ours all the time to make nutritious things (who knew Chrissy's Goddess Kale Chips could convince us to eat two entire heads of kale in one sitting?) and it's been worth every penny we spent on it.

  2. Are you aware of the Feingold Association? It is a parent organization that will make your journey an easy one. Our family also avoids dyes and other bad additives and have found great substitutes for most everything. There website is

  3. Marcia, I had not heard of that site, thank you for sharing. Going to the grovery store for the first time tomorrow since deciding to go dye free, should be interesting.

  4. How is this the first time I've come across your blog. I'm a mom of 4 adorable kiddos, ages 5 and under and I'm getting closer to insanity each minute. I've recently started my own war against food dyes in hopes that my 4 yr old can calm down enough to not start school with a "label" as well. It's always healthy for me to find someone in the same situation, so thanks for this blog. I'll be checking back often. Thanks again.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...