January 7, 2010 1:35 am
In case you missed it, we’re completely artificial food dye free in the HAGAY household. Read the back story here. I’m linking up some of the articles I’ve come across so read them if you’re interested. I’m also eventually going to keep a link up in my right sidebar with foods I’ve found to be Dye-Free. Hopefully, it helps.
Up until we had a problem with Graham, I had never considered the source of food dyes and blindly fed them to my kids. I just assumed that the FDA wouldn’t allow something unsafe into the food supply. Right? Well, they banned artificial dyes in the UK back in 2008. Several groups in the US have urged the FDA to follow suit but so far they maintain that the dyes are safe. I also found out that dyes are made from petroleum, crude oil which is also the source of gasoline. What.the.fuck. There’s a group called the Feingold Association who teaches parents how to eliminate artificial colors, flavors and preservatives from their kid’s diets to resolve behavioral issues. We haven’t gone that far yet, we’re starting with dyes and going from there.
Jamie and I decided to test the food dye theory by removing all traces of dye from Graham’s system. Sounds simple, no? We scoured the pantry, reading labels to determine what products had artificial dyes in them. The answer was pretty much everything the kids were eating. Not just the obvious mac-n-cheese either, things like pickles and syrup and even Eggo Waffles. Vitamins, toothpaste, Motrin. It’s amazing how everything they consumed was loaded with artificial crap. A few trips to the hippity dippity health food store and a lot of money later left us stocked with dye-free vitamins and toothpaste along with safe food options. All of the sites I read told me that it would take three days for the artificial dyes to get out of their systems so we kicked back and waited…
On the third day, they played. Graham woke up bright eyed and happy and his scowl was gone. He and Elliot played together for most of the day, something that had literally never happened here before. The kids were happy and independently playing for the first time in their lives and I was giddy with excitement. I felt like a badass for having discovered the dye problem and removing it all from their diets. Things were looking up in the land of HAGAY.
Then we had a setback. I picked Graham up from school the next day with a smile on my face. “He was better today, right?”. His grim teachers looked back and told me that no, he was still not behaving or following the rules. I was baffled, he had played so well with Elliot the day before and was so happy for that one day. There had to be an explanation. Turns out, there was. Graham and I had whipped up a batch of pancakes that morning and used Egg Beaters instead of real eggs. Egg Beaters with yellow dye in them, those motherfucking Egg Beaters. Eggs are yellow, why the fuck do they need dye to make them even MORE yellow? But there it was, our answer. The next setback came when the kids went on antibiotics. The pharmacy ASSURED me they were dye free but hell if the kids didn’t turn into monsters when they were on them. Then Graham had potato latkes at school instead of the snack I sent in for him. Methinks Egg Beaters were the culprit again but at least we knew why he was acting like such a little asshole. He was, and I can say that since he’s my kid.
The seven permitted food dyes in the US are: FD&C Blue No. 1, FD&C Blue No. 2, FD&C Green No. 3, FD&C Red No. 40, FD&C Red No. 3, FD&C Yellow No. 5, FD&C Yellow No. 6. I have noticed the strongest reaction from my kids when they eat red or yellow dye but all kids are different. There is also a “natural” dye called annatto that causes the same adverse effects in behavior for some kids. Namely, mine. This eliminated a lot of the remaining foods from the kid’s diets like Goldfish, French Toast Sticks, Taquitos, Hot Pockets and American Cheese. A lot of products listed as having “No artificial colors” have annatto in them so we have to read the labels very carefully. We’re basically at the point where the kids can eat cardboard and nothing else.
Enter Betty Fucking Crocker.
It’s widely known that I don’t cook. I don’t bake, grill, cook, anything. I can microwave like a mofo but anything beyond that requires great concentration from me. Having gone dye free, I’ve had to reach my inner Betty Crocker and start baking. I stay in communication with the kid’s teachers about any class parties so I can send in a separate dye-free cupcake for my poor kids. The class Christmas party came and went and I made sure my kid’s plates were dye free, even if it involved baking cupcakes and gingerbread men for both kid’s classes. I even pulled off a dye-free birthday party for Graham:
Those cupcakes were possible using an all-natural food dye I found online, Dunkin Hines all white cake and Wilton’s decorating icing. Just because my kids can’t have artificial food dyes, it doesn’t mean they should miss out on all of the fun. We’ve gone to a few birthday parties where I brought my Tupperware with a cupcake for each kid, along with a dye-free Capri Sun. Sure, people openly mock me and think I’m nuts but fuck them, my kids are happy and that’s all I care about. Yesterday, I spent $50 online buying lollipop molds so I can make the kids special treats for Valentines, St Patty’s Day, Easter, July 4th. I went a little overboard but I want to be prepared.
Dye free isn’t for everyone, I get that. It’s damn hard to make sure every single morsel of food going into my kid’s mouths is safe for them to eat. Having seen the adverse reactions first hand though, I don’t understand why people aren’t shouting from the rooftops. WHY is this shit in our food if it’s not healthy? Hopefully me blogging about it will open someone’s eyes, even if it’s just one person who gets help for their kid. Studies in the UK found a link between food dyes and ADHD. Can you imagine what that would mean for kids struggling with ADHD if the answer were as simple as a few drops of food coloring? I can, I’ve seen the changes in Graham. These days he has his normal three year old meltdowns but those I can handle. Gone are the days of him acting like Linda Blair, he’s night and day from our dye-filled past. I plan on staying dye free and spreading the word. I implore you to do the same.
Some Dye Free Foods We’ve Found:
Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter
Polymer All Fruit Jelly
Surf Sweets Organic Jelly Beans
Nordic Naturals Vitamins
Yummy Earth Lollipops
Animal Parade Toothpaste
India Tree Natural Food Coloring
Wiltons Decorators Icing
Snyder’s of Hanover MultiGrain Cheddar Cheese Puffs
CHEETOS® Natural White Cheddar Puffs
Kraft White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese
DANNON All Natural Yogurt, Plain
Taquitos (chicken only, NOT with cheese)
Tyson Baked Chicken Tenders
White American or Provolone Cheese
Orville Reddenbacker Natural White popcorn
Eggo Whole Grain Waffles
Ray’s Whole Grain Bagels
What the fuck foods with dye:
Most chicken fingers (in the breading)
Waffles (Nutrigrain are safe)
Most Juices (Capri Sun and Dole are safe)
Marshamallows (the all have blue dye)
Oranges – Some are dyed orange to look more appealing for sale.
Hot cocoa – Mixes with marshmallows have dye
Taquitos With Cheese – Have Annatto coloring
American cheese – Have Annatto
Most salad dressings
Most flavored chips
Condiments (honey mustard, bbq, etc)
Motrin and Tylenol
Hand soap (some kids react to dyes on skin)