Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I wish

I wish more people understood the negative effects of food dyes on children. I wish my kids were not the only kids in their classes who are not allowed to have food coloring. I wish food companies would stop putting chemicals in everything. And I really wish I could make a meal for my son that didn't need to be free of wheat, dairy, and sugar. Sigh, it's only temporary.

OK, that said, I can move on to the good cooperation from teachers. The 3rd grade teacher sent an email asking for Trix and a few other things for a math project. I emailed her and offered to send in an organic equivalent, Barbara's Wild Puffs that are dye free but still colorful and good tasting. They even come in fruit shapes. My son spotted them at Kroger a few months ago and read the ingredients to check for the forbidden stuff. I sent a whole box in to the teacher so this time around everyone eats the same thing.

I also got an email from the 1st grade teacher. Their class is doing a fun map activity decorating sugar cookies with blue frosting and green M&Ms to make little edible earths. Poor Alex, being on the "no sugar, kill the yeast" diet is going to get a rice cake with blue berries and Snap Pea crisps. The Snapeas sound strange, but are surprisingly salty, crunchy and tasty like a potato chip. Then he'll get a few Xylitol candies to round it off. Not quite the same, but it's about the best I can come up with.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

why do I care about food dyes?

It seemed like a good time for a summary of why I started this blog. My son went on a red antibiotic for 10 days and seemed to go crazy. He was impulsive and uncontrolled in such a dramatic way, I wanted to figure out why. That was 2 years ago. There wasn't very much online about food dyes back then. Nobody seemed to know what I was talking about and people looked at me like I was nuts. I started to pay attention to my son's reaction to food coloring. First I got rid of red#40, then yellow #5 and #6, then Blue #1. It was gradual at first. But I realized more and more that his behavior spiked when he ate things with dyes. I also realized that the problems always lasted 3 whole days.

Since then, more research has come out and more people are understanding how significantly dyes can affect children. I saw one estimate that 1/3 of all cases of ADHD could be eliminated by taking away dyes. When I started realizing the implications for other families, I started this blog to make the path easier for other families wanting to learn about dyes, and hopefully putting more consumer pressure out there for food companies to get the chemicals out of our food.

It was only after I stopped buying any products with food dyes that I realized how much calmer things were with my other 2 children as well. Looking back, I think taking my oldest son off food dyes is the single best thing I ever did for our relationship. I used to feel like I was at war with him. I was afraid for his future and dreading the teen years. He argued and tantrummed on and off. He complained more, defied more, yelled more. I yelled more too.

Now we all seem to have more stable moods. I'm calmer and happier too off the food dyes. I see life more negatively when I've eaten the chemical dyes. But don't take my word on it. Try it yourself and see. Stay off dyes for a whole week, then try something with dye, just one thing, go ahead and make it nice and red if you want. See what happens. Pay attention for a whole 3 days after eating food dye. Try it a few times. It's hard to believe at first. But when you see the same thing over and over again, eventually you start to see. Feel free to comment here on what you see.

Friday, March 20, 2009

What a week

We received the dye free medicine but I have not had a chance to call and check on our prescription plan. At least I finally know how to get medicine compounded without the nasty colors. I can't imagine if my kids need medicine and I couldn't tell if it was the real ingredients or the dye that was making them react. Thank goodness I didn't have to worry about it this time around.

Here is my response to questions that came up about how I ended up on the "sugar free" path to eliminating yeast with my son. He has always had digestive issues. He has a history of lots of ear infections and triple courses of antibiotics several times before he was 2. We have been told he is lactose intolerant rather than allergic to milk. His bowel movements were always inconsistent, either too loose or too hard. He had rashes for several months last year until I took him off wheat and dairy completely. Being off wheat and dairy has helped a lot. The rashes have gone away and the all the "poop" problems got better. But I still suspected food allergies or something else seemed to be at play. My gut instinct has been that things are not quite right.

I finally found a specialist who does a lot of extra testing through Great Plains Laboratory. I've suspected either "leaky gut" or yeast in the intestines for a while, but didn't think my regular pediatrician would address that. She referred me to an allergist, but when I called the allergist they told me they don't do that kind of testing. So most of the test results aren't back yet, but initial results look like it is yeast in the intestines (possibly from as far back as when he was 1 and getting all the antibiotics).

So this week we managed no sugar, and virtually no carbs except rice milk and a a few bowls of organic brown rice cereal. It was tough, but we survived. I'm still researching online about yeast/candida diets and how to best kill off the yeast. Most sources say I need to keep him off corn, potatoes and peanuts. Every meal seems like a new challenge. But we did it. With that said, I'm exhausted and ready for the weekend.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

dye free meds are coming

I heard back from the compounding pharmacy and they are shipping me the medicine. Here is a link in case you need to try to get dye free meds: Lee Silsby Compounding Pharmacy. The lady I spoke to was very helpful and checked with the pharmacist several times to answer all my questions. She said it is not common for people to request dye free, but maybe we just need to get the word out that this is possible. WE DO HAVE A CHOICE!
They had 3 options. I could get capsules, grape dye-free liquid, or plain liquid sweetened with Stevia. So, there is a choice, you just have to be really really persistent. My pharmacy and regular pediatrician never told me about this place, they may not know about it. And, oh yes, of course, we are going to pay a lot for it too. The first prescription cost $50.00 for the month supply of red #40 pills. (My son is great at swallowing pills.) The liquid or the capsules both cost $75.00. I'm doubtful our prescription plan will cover the cost of the 2nd prescription, but I'm going to try to make some headway on that later today. Otherwise, how can I know that a medicine is doing it's job when I have to sort out the mess that red #40 turns my son into?!

Monday, March 16, 2009

We should be able to get dye free medicine

My doctor's office was very helpful about our medicine needing to be dye-free. I called and explained that the prescription we had filled contained red #40. I explained that my son is highly reactive to dyes and that he can't take a medicaiton that contains them. The nurse indicated that they routinely work with a special compounder who could ship the medicine from Cleavland. I made sure to specify that it needs to be free of all artificial dyes so that they wouldn't avoid the red #40 only to put in some yellow or blue dye instead. Hopefully it will all work out.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Frustrated and overwhelmed about dyes in medicine

I've seen this moment coming, but now that it's here, I still feel caught off guard. I learned early this week that my son has high levels of ammonia in his blood, probably from a long standing yeast infection in his intestines. The quick search shows that this can be really really bad (could cause liver damage or brain damage). I somehow managed to settle down about all of that and focused on getting the rest of the testing done and treating the yeast. It could be the yeast and leaky gut issues that make him more susceptible to the food dyes.

In addition to being dye free, gluten free and dairy free, my son now needs to be completely sugar free. He also probably needs to be off fruit, potatoes, corn and peanuts as they could all contribute to yeast growth. I stocked up on things he can eat (meats and veggies) and decided to experiment with new things like squash, pumpkin seeds. I felt like I got over the initial stress of "OMG! what is he going to eat?" and was handling it all OK until my husband got back with the prescription for Nystatin (anti fungal to treat the yeast). IT HAS GUESS WHAT ---RED 40!!!

My husband called the pharmacy and they checked it out. It seems to be the only way it is made by all three manufacturers. We may have one option to have it specially compounded in a liquid suspension, but I can't check into that until the doctor's office is back open Monday. I seem to recall the liquid being bright yellow when my daughter took it for thrush as an infant. So I might get a great choice of red pills or yellow liquid. I am SOOOO MAD about the lack of choice in this. I need to get my thoughts together and write to some politicians.

Friday, March 13, 2009

maybe it was the Doritos

Well, the ingredients said there wasn't any red dye, but after Lindsey and I finished off that bag of Doritos Wednesday, we both have the tell tale signs of dye induced grumpiness. It seems like the same effect we get from dye free candies that are still manufactured in factories with lots of red #40. Traces sometimes still get in.

Lindsey's back to frequent screaming and some spitting. It is such a contrast to the sweet child who usually walks up to me, hugs me and says, "You're mine Mommy and I love you soooo much." Hopefully tomorrow should be the last day.

Monday, March 9, 2009

some fun finds

We had a great weekend enjoying the warm sunshine. We were happy to see that one of our favorite ice cream places, Young's Dairy, is now promoting many all natural flavors that are free of artificial flavors and dyes. The poor teens serving the ice cream probably hated us for making them check to see if Lindsey's cookie dough ice cream had yellow #5 or #6 in it. It sure looked yellow, but Ed found a carton in their freezer case that listed ingredients and it was fine. So here is my new suggestion for being informed but not making a pain of yourself: check the the ingredients in the "take home" freezer products at ice cream places. Then you are not at the mercy of someone else to read the ingredients label.

We also found that Doritos actually has a "spicy sweet chili" flavor that is also dye free. Sure they are not exactly good for you, but it was nice to have some spicy red junk food without all the side effects of the red 40.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

rough week

I have not been posting much because my week has been spinning out of control. My refrigerator stopped working so we had to go buy a new one without any warning. Threw out most of my food because the fridge went from being less cold than usual to not cold at all in 24 hours. We've had a mild stomach thing passing through.

And I could swear my 3 year old is high on dye again. Lots of spitting, kicking and overall disagreeable behavior much of the time. It's been going on all week, but it just dawned on me that I let her have a few bites of Greek salad last night after I had removed the banana peppers. In case you don't know, banana peppers and most pickles are soaked in yellow dye. Clausen makes pickles that are dye free (the refridgerated ones). I posted about banana peppers before. You would think I would learn my lesson, but, well, we all have our moments of stupidity. Maybe if I share mine with other readers, you can chose a wiser path.