Saturday, November 12, 2011

Could Food Dyes be Affecting Your Kids?

Okay, I will be the first to admit that I normally brush off these rumored things that has such an impact on kids. I try not to make excuses for my kids' bad behavior. I am all about them being held accountable for their actions. With that being said, I have a very hyper little boy. And sometimes I have noticed that he cannot control himself. Its almost like he's vibrating. His daycare has already brought up having him tested for add/adhd. I refused, he's only 4. But still I have been aware that he is a lot more active/hyper/irritable than most 4year olds for a long time. Sometimes he will be the sweetest best behaved child...others he can turn into a monster in the blink of an eye.

I had heard some of the talk about red 40 dye and how they can effect kids. I never gave it much thought. Until my son developed a love for Grape Soda. This kid was obsessed. The week he fell in love with this sugary drink he had been sick and I was giving him grape advil too. I learned a trick...mix the grape advil in the grape soda and he didn't even know it was in there. Worked like a charm. When he got hyper and wanted to play we were just glad to see him 'feeling better' and back to his old self. This child had ran a high fever that week and was piteful. Then after he got better and off the advil, he kept asking for some grape soda. I would give him a cup and a straw. I started noticing that within 10-15min of drinking it he was a wild uncontrollable child. It was an instant change. My hubby put his foot down and said NO MORE GRAPE SODA....ever. Then I got to noticing that it wasn't just the grape soda. I tested his beloved blueberry pop tarts. He normally would eat these before daycare while I was getting ready for work. By the time we left the house in the mornings the child was all wound up! So for 1 week I cut out the pop tarts in the mornings. I fixed him waffles and baked him muffins. He had no dyes before school. His teacher commented in the middle of the week how well he had been. He even got a sticker 2 days in a row. The child has only ever gotten a sticker one other time in the whole time he's been to this daycare. He was so proud of those stickers. At home in the evenings I cut out red 40 the best I could. I replaced his colorful snacks for some organic dye free snacks. It was like someone flipped a switch in my child. He was calm. He was pleasant to deal with. He was able to sit still, something I have told people was impossible. He was nicer to his little brother. Now, don't get me wrong...he has always been a sweet kid. But he's always been temperamental. He is very emotional. And sometimes the smallest things would send him over the edge. I would often think to myself 'This can't be normal.' But like a lot of moms I chalked it up to his age.

So after my week trial of limited to no red 40 I could tell a difference. His teacher could tell a difference. His grandparents said he was like a different child.

I am still in the process of testing this theory. I am reading up on all the dyes and possible side effects. I want my children to be able to to be the best they can be. What if what we are feeding our kids are keeping them from being able to do that? Sometimes I would ask Eli, WHY on earth did you do that?!?!?!?! His response one day startled me. He looked at me with those big blue eyes and said 'sometimes Mommy, my brain just goes crazy. I don't know why I did it.' Now he has heard me make the comment that my brain goes crazy once or twice. But in that moment I knew his behavior had been out of his control.

I encourage you moms to educate yourself on the stuff your kids are eating. I am guilty of having junk food junkie kids. I admit it. I don't encourage healthy eating like I should. But now seeing the effects these foods are having on my child...I am revamping our pantry. I am throwing out the foods with these dyes in them.

In my research I found a great blog! Its a mom...just like me and you, who also noticed the changes in her kids after consuming these dyes. Check out her blog at:

Food Dye Diaries


  1. I don't currently have kids, but I have been research toxic food ingredients and additives over the past year and have tried to cut out as much as possible. I pretty much had to start shopping at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's and I stil READ EVERY SINGLE LABEL. It's amazing how not only artificial flavors and artificial colors, but so many other additives are toxic.

    I believe that children show the side effects more because their bodies are not as developed yet and they cannot withstand the toxins! I am happy for your that you figured out what was making your child "go crazy." Please continue on your journey!

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  3. Food dyes absolutely affect your body! Eric's mom won't eat anything with Red 40 in it. She said it it linked to overexcited of brain cells...(she also eats a super organic and alkaline diet, which she believes helped cure her of cancer and keeps it from coming back.)

    She told me though that Red 40 is banned as a food additive in many European countries because of it's harmful effects, not sure if that's true or not but I wouldn't doubt it!

  4. The foods with artificial food dyes (not just REd $40)in the UK and Europe must carry a warning label. This was brought up in a UK study in 2007 that ALL children react to them and sodium benzoate. Too bad the US isn't.

    There is an excellent parent group in the US, however, that helps families know how to shop. It's called the Feingold Assoc. I'm a member. Check out its website:

  5. Thanks- I have thought about limiting food dyes but never researched it. Very good info.

  6. Both the soda and the pop tarts are also full of sugar - so how do you tell if it is the sugar or the dye?

  7. @madeline- we have tested this in other ways to. We gave him a small hershey bar. To which he had no reaction like he did when we gave him M&Ms. I have always noticed how wound up he gets after taking meds with red dye in them. (i.e. grape advil) And a lot of his snacks w/out red dye have sugar. He can drink sprite and the sugar doesn't bother him. I was skeptical at first, but after cutting it out of his diet I can tell a difference.