Tuesday, October 22, 2013

5 Reasons to Limit Dye

Linking up today's post to Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers for List It {Tuesday}

OK, I'll be honest. When everyone was jumping on the dye-free band wagon I was there shaking my head at the latest parenting trend. I mean, we all grew up with food dyes and we turned out OK didn't we? And then, a good friend of mine started researching it and taking dyes out of her children's food. She shared several articles and links with me. I still shrugged my shoulders and went on about my day. My kids didn't eat THAT much dye what was the big deal?

Many of you know that each of our children have different challenges that they face each day. From ADD to dyslexia and beyond... I took Eldest Cracker Jack off of his ADHD medication several years back and began teaching him coping skills. Most days he does well but some days he'd be bouncing off of the walls like an insane little monkey. After my dear friend (check her out at Learning Life with 3 Sons ) began telling me about the less-hyper behavior of her sons after the removal of dyes from their diet I began to pay more attention to what ECJ was eating and his behaviors when he ate food with dye in it. The equation ended up being: dye = more hyper days vs. no dye = less hyper days. That was enough proof for me. Not to mention the fact that for a couple of days when we had company it slipped my mind just how much cool aide the kiddos were drinking. Two whole BIG pitures of blue cool aide in less than two days! ECJ was in the bathroom physically ill for almost four days afterwards!

So... without further ado... here's our 5 reasons to limit dye in our home

1. Children are able to concentrate better with less dyes in their diet. Yup, you read that right. I said children, not just my ADHD child. I have seen an improvement in all three children's concentration since we began limiting food dyes around here. And on the days that they DO eat food dyes (yup, it happens) we have school days where I'd like to rip every hair out of my head. Needless to say we TRY not to eat food dyes at all on school days.

2. Hyperactivity lessons in proportion to the less dye you use. Do I mean that if you take food dyes completely out of your child's diet that they'll never be hyper? Nope. Sorry. Doesn't work that way. BUT all of the kiddos are LESS hyper the less dye we eat. Some days it doesn't matter their just little monkeys who look like they've eaten a six pound bag of sugar each ... but then, they're kids.

3. The FDA doesn't have a clue what the long term affects of food dye are. Yup, it's true. I don't have all the links right at the moment but if you do a search on it TONS of information on the matter pops up. There are a lot of chemicals (the thought of some of them make me ill when I realized we eat this) in food dyes and no one knows yet what affects there will be on such large consumption of them. Yes, I know we all ate food dyes when we were little and most of us are fine right now ... but there were LESS dyes in food when we were younger with less chemicals. Not to mention that there are American companies that make products for the UK and do not include dye in them for over there, but when the same product is sold here it has dye's added in! A few companies (Yoplait is one) that have heard our complaints and have gone dye free ... Activia is NOT one of them as my mother found out to her horror.

4. There are soooo many studies that link food dyes to health issues. I put just a couple links up above and I'll add one or two more below. These people state it so much better than I ever could.

5. Once we were given apples... OK, now you're going "What?!?!" But we were once given apples that whenever the children bit into the red from the skin would bleed badly into the white of the "meat" of the fruit. That's right, food dye is being sprayed onto apples (and other foods) to make them look better so you'll want to buy them. How do I know that for sure? Well, I found a simple recipe to clean fruit and tried it out. Here are the results:
Before cleaning.

After cleaning.

Cleaning the apples
with water and vinegar.
If you look into the issue it just makes sense to at least limit the amount of dye that goes into our children's bodies. We're not dye free here but we are dye limited. This means little to no cool aide is given, all fruit is washed, we pay more attention to food labels. If the kids just HAVE to have fruit snacks that are shaped like Dora then I buy them but they do not get to take as many as they want.

I'd like to be one of "those" mom's and ask you to try just one week with either going dye free or limiting your kiddos dye's and see if you notice a difference. If you do I'd love to hear from you about your experience either here in the comments or on our Facebook page.

*You can like us on Facebook here.

{{ The following is an exerpt from Learning Life ... and what she wrote about going dye free. }}

Before this past January I really never gave much thought to artificial food dyes or the effect they had on our bodies. I had heard tid bits about red 40 and yellow 5 & 6. The brighter and more colors, the more likely my kids would eat it, and they did. I chose to try dye free for a week to see if it would help with some behavioral problems I was having with my son. He had been having an increasing hard time focusing in school, almost no impulse control, extreme mood swings, and was only getting 3-5 hours of restless sleep a night (which probably contributed to his mood swings). Many of his problems were possible side effects to his ADHD medication. He was diagnosed in kindergarten (4 years ago) with ADHD and promptly put on medication. The medication worked wonders, and when it didn't then his dosage or medication was switched. However it seemed the meds have stopped working and his doctor had started talking about my son having more than ADHD going on, because he was out of ideas of what other meds to try. I had shared with Crystal some of what was going on and how I was at a lose for what to try next. I really didn't want my child diagnosed with a life altering label. She challenged me to try removing artificial food dyes for a week and to look into how food dyes effect behavior. Over the weekend, I looked into it and was first shocked then angry. There was so much research about the link between ADHD and dyes and hundreds of testimonies from parents. How could I never heard about this?! I couldn't believe there was a alternative to medication, and how could our doctor never offer this as alternative before he had me give my 6 year old pills. I decided it was worth a try, at this point I felt I had nothing to lose. That Monday school was closed due to extremely cold temperatures. I told me kids we were doing an experiment and that we weren't going to have anything that had a number in the ingredients for one week. I didn't tell them what results I was hoping to see. They helped me box up all the foods that had dyes. We went shopping to restock our cupboards and they actually had fun reading labels and finding new foods to try. We were all surprised my how much stuff has dyes. I was nervous about how they would do at school when I wasn't there to monitor what they were eating and about them feeling left out at snack time. The teachers were very supportive and had dye free alterative that I sent in. Three days into the challenge I saw the first sign of improvement! My insomniac child fell asleep only after and hour of being sent to bed and slept all the way to morning!! I was so excited, but still cautious that it may have been a fluke. The following days he continued to fall asleep easier and slept through the night. His teacher told me that he was more on track than he had been in a long time. At home little things that would have sent him into a tailspin didn't seem to phase him. The other boys had also calmed down, had more impulse control, and better ability to handle their emotions resulting in less arguing amongst them. My son's eczema had started clearing up. The changes weren't only with the kids; my migraines were gone, I had more energy. When I slipped up and had a Mt. Dew, I would get a killer headache and would be more irritable and short with the kids. Seeing the results removing dyes has made for us, we have chosen to stick with it. It didn't turn me boys into perfect little gentlemen. They still bicker and argue, the still run through my house and are loud; but they aren't completely out of control anymore. We have been dye free for just over 3 months.
I know there are many other reasons to avoid dyes, but I honestly don't know them. It helps with behavior in our house and headaches for me so we just go dye free. I have on occasion "lifted" the no dyes and my boys really don't care for the taste of dyed foods (mostly) and can feel a difference when they eat them.


  1. How do you make your fruit wash? I would like to see what "hidden" dyes could be on our fruits.

    1. 1 cup plain white vinegar and a bowl/sink/container of cool water. Let sit for at least 15 minutes and then rinse and wipe dry. I used a white towel and was amazed at the color that came off.