Saturday, April 4, 2009

How do you convince people that food dyes are a problem?

I found myself in an interesting conflict the past couple of days. I attended a professional training conference for Play Therapists. (when I'm not blogging about my housewife days, I'm actually treating traumatized children at my private practice a couple days a week.) The conference was really excellent and I learned quite a bit. There was a tremendous focus on brain research that indicates that the use of multiple senses helps heal trauma.

There were lots of great examples of how to do this. However, it was frustrating that the suggested foods were almost all with dyes (M&Ms, colored and flavored marshmallows, gum drops, etc.) Then there were the conference snacks which also contained food dyes. I found myself repeatedly tempted to eat things I know could make me react. I didn't give in, but I wanted to. I was also pondering how to use the activities with my clients. I have set a new rule for my therapy sessions that I do not give out anything containing food dyes. I decided that if it's bad for my own "sort of normal" kids, it can't be good at all for children who have abuse histories and behavior problems.

Luckily, my friend is a "dye free mom" and fellow play therapist who attened the conference with me. We brainstormed and really ended up with good substitutes: mentos candy (only some flavors are dye free), Brachs fruit chews, Sundrops (dye free M&M like candy), chocolate candy. But I couldn't help feeling like there is so much further to go with getting the word out.

So, tell people about the research. Talk to them about what you see. Send them a link to this blog or other links on food dyes. Please keep spreading the word so that other families can feel the difference of being dye free.


Kara said...

This is the biggest hurdle in our start of purging our life of food dyes. I'm lucky that my mom had similar experiences with my brother - red dyes made him completely irrational, and she cut them all out of his diet. So at least the grandparents are on board. And some of my friends are already all-organic, so they're just happy I'm cutting out another "bad" thing. But in general, people are acting like we are crazy, making it up, or just looking for an excuse for our DD's wild tantrums.

Violets said...

It's really hard. There are people avoiding so many different things, for so many different reasons, that people struggle to take it seriously or even comprehend. I break it down to "don't feed my kid". Why is that so hard?

I am wondering why you need candies to stimulate different senses, though. Would salty snacks (fish cracker style, pretzels) work? Dried fruits mixed with chocolate chips? Berries and grapes (okay...I know; these spoil too quickly)

Other candy options are sunnyseed drops at Trader Joes, scottie licorice from TJs and chocolate covered raisins. :-)

food dye diaries said...

Different color candies were suggested to reprsent different feelings (say a mad feeling, eat a red M&M, say a sad feeling eat a blue one, etc) It was a nice idea, but I think I'll use a more limited dye free palette.

Ruth said...

A friend of mine told me about a company that sells organic dye-free candy that is going out of business. Here is the link:

food dye diaries said...

Ruth, thanks for passing this on.