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How Food Dyes Almost Ruined Our Lives

How Food Dyes Almost Ruined Our Lives

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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.

Having an emotional meltdown from food dyes

Melt down after the teller at the bank gave her a lollipop.

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 by guide here. 

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

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Blythe

Friday 11th of September 2020

People should be aware that these same reactions to artifical colors happen with adults as well. Like ADD/ADHD, it is not always something that children outgrow. I'm 46 and discovered only 3 years ago that Red 40 has been the lifelong culprit of my rage episodes. The day we figured it out, I was so unreasonably angry that I'm pretty sure my head spun all the way around like I was possessed. The reason I'm commenting here is because kids can't express to you what it does to them, so please understand that they really cannot control what is happening. While I looked like a awful child/adult when dosed, I felt worse on the inside because I couldn't stop the reaction. I thought I was crazy and felt as if someone else had taken control and I could only watch the episodes happen. It's a very difficult thing to explain, but just be vigilant about removing any trace of the dyes and it will get so much better. I just wish I hadn't lost so many years being unaware of the food dye sensitivity.

I have found safe replacements for nearly all of my favorite foods and as long as I always read the ingredients and avoid food with unknown ingredients, I'm just fine.

The Potentially Harmful Effects of Artificial Food Colors in Ice Cream | Nature's Organic Ice Cream

Thursday 16th of July 2020

[…] topic to discuss, children can have trouble sleeping due to AFC’s while many times, as shown on mommylew, a blog run by Reesa, presents one of her articles concerning the hyperactive behavior of her […]

The Potentially Harmful Effects of Artificial Food Colors in Ice Cream | Nature's Ice Cream

Thursday 14th of May 2020

[…] topic to discuss, children can have trouble sleeping due to AFC’s while many times, as shown on mommylew, a blog run by Reesa, presents one of her articles concerning the hyperactive behavior of her […]

We Tried It

Friday 21st of February 2020

Add us to the huge list of people that are having problems with food coloring! For us, it was the all-natural annatto. We even wrote a short blog post about it: https://wetried.it/toddler-night-terrors-annatto/

Hope everyone here finds what's causing their little ones to not sleep!

momma lew

Friday 21st of February 2020

WOW!!!!! This is intriguing. I have never heard of this before! My daughter eats gold fish like they are going out of style. hmmm!!!

JTown

Friday 10th of January 2020

Hey there- just wanted to pop in and say that this article literally changed our lives. I first read it about three years ago, after doing some searching on the internet involving my son's complete emotional meltdowns. We've since banned all food dye, we do not allow treats, we do not allow 'ok but just this once' because it's a nightmare. We've also banned artificial sugars and certain preservatives and the difference we see between our son and other kids is astounding. I share your article with everyone I know who mentions emotional or behavioral problems. Thanks so much :D

momma lew

Saturday 11th of January 2020

Thank you for sharing this with me! I love hearing this and it makes this blog totally worth it knowing this!