A year ago we were having serious behavior problems with Monkey man. I had teachers, babysitters, and coaches telling me that he was being overly aggressive and easily distracted. He would not sit down for circle time. He was breaking all his toys. His fits often included hitting and kicking. Our house was full of yelling and I was on the verge of feeling like I completely failed as a mother. I hated to admit it but I was afraid of my own child.
I felt as if I was unable to control my child and everyone who didn’t know me believed I was not a good parent. There were parents that didn’t want their children to play with monkey man out of fear their kids would be hurt. My husband would come up with excuses to stay at work as late as possible. We would fight over monkey man’s behavior and would always end up with him saying parenting cannot be this hard. A lot of conversations with Monkey Man went like the one in this video:
I finally broke down believing I had and answer to his bad behavior after a school therapist mentioned ADHD. Immediately after that meeting I went home and got on the computer. What I found was surprising.
In the land of junk food, baked goods, and popsicles there is one common used product that is harming your children. Most of you would think that this is artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, or any of the other horrible things everyone is always talking about.
What if I told you that the worst part of these is actually the food dyes used to color these products?
Food dyes are linked to the rise in hyperactivity among children. That’s right ADHD is linked to food coloring. In particular Red #40 and Yellow #5. These are two of the most commonly used food dyes in the United States and they are linked to hyper activity.
If you go look in your cupboard at the foods that you regularly feed your children as snacks you will be surprised at the amount of them contain some type of food coloring.
What are some of the most popular foods that contain food dyes? Kraft mac and cheese, Doritos nacho cheese flavor, barbeque chips, and most candy.
Monkey man’s daily food choices were often:
Breakfast: Strawberry yogurt (red #40) and Cheerios (Yellow #5)
Snack: Cherry apple sauce (red #40)
Lunch: Mac and Cheese (yellow #5)
That very day I started to cut out food dye. Within a week we saw a huge improvement! Not just in our home but at school and sports as well. So much so that his teacher asked if we placed him on medication. When we told people we just eliminated food dye they thought we were crazy!
Well that didn’t last too long. Valentine’s Day came and at school each child was given a sugar cookie with pink frosting (red #40 and yellow #5). Within 20 minutes Monkey man was running around the room, not listening, and breaking things. I was called to come pick him up.
A few weeks later he was at my in-laws and had a twisler (red #40). He began to throw a tantrum with screaming so loud a neighbor came to check if everything was ok.
At his end of the season soccer party he had Dorito’s (red #40 and yellow #5) and was asked to leave early do to becoming violent when another player would not share the ball.
I could continue with all the experiences we have had but I think hard facts may help out more. You are probably asking why food dyes are in our food at all if they are so bad. Well, Europe has actually done studies on food dyes!! Unfortunately for us in the US the Food and drug administration (FDA) does not recognize these studies. Europe parliament actually takes these studies so seriously they require companies to put a black box warning on any food containing artificial sweeteners.
For more information on what Europe and food dyes please visit B in Real Life’s post.
You can read the FDA’s report on food dyes here where they state that “Some of the studies are difficult or imperfect. … But there is this body of literature that does suggest that food colorings are not as benign as people have been led to believe.”
So now your probably saying “Ok so I understand they are bad but what am I supposed to feed my kids?” “Are dye free foods more expensive?”
The best brand that I have found is Annie’s. They have all kinds of snacks for kids, and if you look at the right time you can get them on sale. This week Annie’s crackers were on sale at target 2/$5. There are plenty of foods out there that do not contain any food dye. It will take you a while to read labels and figure it out but eventually you will know what foods they can and can not have.
Have you tried eliminating food dye from your child’s diet? What behavior problems do your kids have?