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How Food Dyes Almost Ruined Our Lives

My story on how food dyes almost ruined our lives. And how I fixed the problem. Plus, how to make natural food dyes.

A few years ago, I wrote an article about how I felt like I was failing as a mother. Although these days were the norm in our house. I was tired, worn out and emotionally a mess. So was my daughter.

You see for a good part of her 4 years on this planet, she didn’t sleep. If she was sleeping, she was attached to me in our bed. It was never a peaceful sleep. It included kicking, flailing, screaming, night terrors, hallucinations and more. It was scary.

Our pediatrician recommended her to a sleep clinic to do a sleep study twice. Our insurance did not cover the costs. Deep inside I knew there was nothing medically wrong with her.

But what WAS wrong?

On top of not sleeping, we spent most of the day bouncing off of the walls. I would tell her to calm down. She would tell me she just couldn’t.

How could she not?!

The hyperactivity, followed by the extreme emotional fall out was mind blowing.

Someone recommended I look at my daughter’s diet and what was in the food she was eating. Thinking back, our roughest time at that moment came after a birthday party that included a Tie-Dye themed cake with rainbow frosting.

rainbow cupcake

Ingredients in the cake included:

FD & C Blue No. 1 & 2
FD & C Red No. 40,
FD & C Yellow No. 5 & 6

In short, FOOD DYE.

Made sense. Being how these ingredients are banned in different the majority of the world, except the United States there had to be some validation.

In case you didn’t know, food coloring is basically chemicals that have been added to your food to add or enhance color.

Day 1, was full of tantrums over getting used to not being able to have the lollipops we used as rewards, the cotton candy flavored ice cream she liked, the Eggo waffles she ate for breakfast. 

That night, she said “good night mommy” and was fast asleep in her own bed. Read that again. HER. OWN. BED.

Day 2 was calmer. It wasn’t like living with the Tasmanian devil.

People have asked me, how long did it take for you to notice a difference. Immediately. It was noticeable by everyone, friends and family immediately.

My husband wasn’t a believer at first. Until he filled our grocery cart with food dye filled foods my daughter loved that she conned him into buying. Within 10 minutes she was completely hyperactive and he understood.

After a few days the whole family was on board, including my daughter who at just 4 years old declared she felt so good and her belly no longer hurt. You could imagine how that hit me when I realized that 1) She could NOT control the behavior and 2) That she had been living with a stomach ache this whole time.

I do my best not give her Food Dyes. But unfortunately, it’s very difficult. It isn’t just candy and sweets. Food dyes can be found in things like bread, frozen waffles, an assortment of baked goods and cake mixes, sauces, fruit cups, cold cuts, canned vegetables, soups, chewing gum, condiments like relish, mustard and ketchup, even in fish like salmon. Even in things like the over-the-counter fever medicines your doctor prescribes, vitamins, cold & flu tablets, Metamucil and cosmetics.

It’s hard when we are in situations like birthday parties, road trips, and honestly, times when I just forget. It’s the moments when I forget that are the hardest. I am unprepared for the fallout. The times I have to think back to what my daughter ate that caused the hyperactivity, followed by the emotional fallout.

The only way to usually remedy these situations are by sleeping it off.

It’s amazing to think our children’s doctors, the ones who should have their best interests in mind, never even think to bring this up to parents like myself who are at their wits end. Instead, ADHD medicines are shoved down their throats.

Food dyes are known to be carcinogens, they cause chromosome damage, tumors, allergies, asthma, and hives. In children, they cause behavior disorders, ADHD, hyperactivity and learning issues.

macarons on a plate

If you are looking for ideas for natural food dyes, be sure to read my natural food dye guide here where I share a ton of natural food dyes and recipes!

Share your experiences with Food Dye in the comments! I’d love to connect with you! 

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