Saturday, January 31, 2009

Let's hear it for red licorice

I was all set to spend a bundle ordering dye free candy online for Valentines Day. I happened to go to Target today and actually found a dye free red licorice on sale, 2 for $4.00. It tastes really good, it's naturally flavored and colored and does not have HFCS either. Its called Australia's Darrell Lea Soft Eating Strawberry Liquorice. I'm hoping we can use the power of our dollars to keep stores stocking more natural products. Please share if you have found other good items.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

is there mercury in corn syrup?

My friend just told me about this article about a study that found Mercury in US corn syrup
What I find interesting is that once again the FDA was informed about a potential risk and ignored it. It's the same as with the food dyes. What is the point of having the FDA if they refuse to do their job? Here is another article about mercury in corn syrup that explains a little more and this article lists that products testing positive for mercury including ketchup and jelly. Uhg. I guess it's eat at your own risk these days. Regardless, my family will definitely be avoiding HFCS much more diligently. Iguess I'll keep you posted on what we do about ketcup and chocolate syrup.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I would not have guessed it was the milk shake

Yea, here we go again. It is so darn hard to stay off food dyes. So we've had another slip. My kids don't know, but all the signs are there. Lindsey got up 4 times last night. All other nights she has been going to bed calmly and quietly with no problem and staying there until morning. We decided to eat out Saturday. We hardly ever do that anymore. Our first choice restaurant had a 90 minute wait so we went to Shake N Steak, more out of desperation than preference. We splurged and got milk shakes. I was careful to request no cherries. They brought mine with cherry juice dribbled on top. Since Ed feels he is immune to the effects of dyes he got a strawberry shake. I scooped all visible signs of red off my shake and dumped it on his. I still felt very very grouchy all day yesterday. I figured the trace of red in my shake did it. It seems like my thoughts get more negative. It amazes me how much I don't feel like myself. I want to obsess on one little thing that didn't get done right rather than all the good things in front of me.

So this morning I decided to investigate the ingredients. Doesn't it figure that their ice cream has yellow #5 and yellow #6. Big sigh. I have to remind myself not to say what is on my mind because it is not rational or accurate.

My friend called to tell me about her terrible weekend after her daughter ate the yellow cheesy chips at school. I can relate. I wish there was more that could be done to help people realize these ingredients are a problem and that children shouldn't consume them. I shouldn't consume them either. I'm not proud of the parenting that comes out when I do.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

dye free candy for Valentine's Day

We've made it through Halloween and Christmas, now it's time to gear up for all the red and pink concoctions that will be flowing in the classrooms for Valentine's Day. I have vivid memories of last year's kindergarten party cupcakes with no less than an inch of dark red frosting. Yuck! The kids left with red faces, lips, tongues, hands, you name it. It stained everything in site. But just because my kids can't have that doesn't mean that they shouldn't have something special. I'm sure I'll get some good chocolate.

I also tend to shop at the local health food store for organic candy. I went to the sites of the brands I like and found some extra items too. You can even get red candy hearts that are all natural. check it out:

Natural Candy Store I like the Surf Sweets swirls. They taste good and have calcium and Vitamin C.

Yummy Earth We love their lollipops. I keep them in my purse.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

cost of going dye free

I've had a few people ask about how much it costs to go dye free. The cost is not really in the food. A few items may cost more, such as the candies like Sundrops that I mentioned in a previous post. But for the most part, it really involved looking closely at products and picking the natural one. Kroger generic white mac and cheese is cheaper than the name brand. Plain chips and pretzels don't usually cost more than Doritos. Natural microwave popcorn goes on sale just like the fake butter ones with yellow dye. The organic cereals I buy may be a little more costly, but watching the sales I seem to do OK on those too.

The cost is more in the initial time involved in reading every ingredient label when you shop. That takes a long time at first. But for me, the worst cost was watching my kids' behavior "bottom out" and having to spend a couple hours dealing with a tantrum or some broken toy when impulsive actions made things break.

The cost of not going dye free seemed huge in comparison. So I spend a little more on some things, a little less on others. It takes a lot of energy and diligence to keep up with it all. But the reward is seeing my children at their best more often: more peaceful morning routines, calmer meals, more enjoyable outings, better quality of life. How can you put a price on things like that?

darn that red chapstick

We've been doing really well for the most part. But once again Lindsey is on the downward spiral with yelling, hitting and spitting at times this week. Dinner times have been a struggle and she has spent more mealtime in time out than at the table. I think it's the red chap stick she was smearing all around her mouth the other day. She pulled it out of a drawer and put it on when I was busy doing something. I'm guessing she ate a little since it was strawberry. Well, maybe now I've finally got all the red dyes out of the house.
On the other hand, Ben has been great about avoiding dyes in any form and he is really doing great. I can't remember the last time he had any complaint about homework. He reads at least 30 minutes daily and enjoys it. He practiced piano today without any reminder. He was surprised when I reminded him how he used to tantrum and say that he hated piano. He can't believe that he wanted to quit. I can't even describe what a relief it is that his tantrums seem to be a thing of the past.

Friday, January 16, 2009

How to calm an ADHD child

I'm probably sounding like a broken record. My kids act ADHD times 100 when they consume foods with food dyes. They are incredibly better off the food dyes. I think foods with salycilates contribute too. Check out the Feingold site for more on salycilates and other food connections.

But I've also been learning that there are also lots of other non-medication options for children with ADHD. I'm not completely opposed to medication. In my practice as a Professional Counselor I've seen lots and lots of children benefit from taking medication. Unfortunately, I also see a lot of trial and error and a lot of unwanted side effects. Doctors also seem to think that if one medication doesn't work, then 2 meds are better. That's my primary reason for not considering medication for my son, despite his attention problems. I think there is a lot of irresponsible prescribing going on with children and I want no part of that for my child.

That's also a reason I am so excited that I finally got Alex into an Occupational Therapist for Sensory Integration. I've been on waiting lists in 2 agencies for 10 months. My son's balance and coordination problems probably go all the back to his early ear infections and 2 sets of tubes. The OT suggested lots of heavy work for Alex. You would not believe how much a little of the right activity can do to calm a child. I could see the effects taking place after 10 minutes in our first appointment.

Since the kids are all home from school today (its' -14 outside) I decided it was the perfect time to test out the "heavy work" idea. I had the kids do an obstacle course in the basement with all kinds of pushing and pulling tasks requiring upper body muscle work. They loved it! They had fun, worked up a sweat, and best of all, they were much more calm than usual. Alex even did great playing the cello afterward.

Here are some more links to Sensory Integration Info
Sensory Processing Disorder site
another SI site

Thursday, January 15, 2009

winding down another dye free week

Lindsey had her best day in months on Monday. She was calm and sweet and enjoyable. I'm hoping to have more dye free days to enjoy with her. Her Preschool teacher is really being diligent about the food dyes. She let me know on Tuesday that they had an M&M activity coming up. That gave me time to get to the health food store to buy the organic equivalent, Sundrops. It's nice when I have advance notice so I can get dye free products for my kids. I just wish it didn't cost so much. But it's well worth the extra couple dollars to have an agreeable calm daughter.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I just had to say it

I opened my big mouth and had the nerve to say, "gosh it's nice that no one's been sick in our family" So it was only fitting that I came down with the flu the very next day. I'm mostly better now that it's been 4 days. Now I'm just finding myself a little short tempered. Probably all the red ibuprofen I took for two feverish days.

Alex has calmed down considerably since we switched back from soy milk to rice milk. We never did figure out for sure why everyone else was so wired. After a lot of retracing I suspect the vanillin in the chocolate chips. Ed made chocolate chip pancakes New Years Day and we had more on another day. I've been buying Ghiradelli chips (which have real vanilla) but he used Nestle (which have vanillin-fake vanilla flavor). I guess it makes sense that if my kids react to petroleum in food dyes, they may also be sensitive to petroleum in vanillin.

Monday, January 5, 2009

I'm about to loose my mind

It started off as a major case of "the grumpies" for Lindsey and I. But now my kids have been totally "off the hook" for 4 days and it's getting a little old. I can't figure out what is causing it. They are like their hyper wild dye induced selves, but I really don't think they've had any food dyes. We were all home together until they went back to school today. No restaurant food, no new foods. Tonight was the worst. They are all so wound up, loud, impulsive and silly it makes me really wish I had some Ritalin. Either that or something a little stronger for me lol.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

another new article

Happy New Year!
I'm still busy with relatives from out of town, so I haven't had much time to post.

Here is another new article from the Feingold Association.
Letter to our leaders