Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Why is my child so angry?

My obvious answer to that question is FOOD DYE, FOOD DYE, FOOD DYE.

Sorry to be redundant to my regular followers, but I'm hoping that a few more parents looking for answers will stumble across my page if I address anger problems. For those who haven't heard, I probably sound completely crazy. How could my food make me or my child angry? Well, don't take my word for it. Food dyes are banned in Britain. That's right. You can't buy food there with artificial colors like red#40 or yellow #5. That happened as a result of a study that came out in 2008. Check my links to research at the right hand side of this page. I'm not making it up.

Still not convinced, then just try it for yourself. Start paying attention to what your child ate for the 2-3 days prior to an outburst. Was there red or yellow food coloring in it? Hmmm, I know it seems way too simple to be a real issue. Better yet, take your child off all food dyes for a few weeks. Summer is the best time to try this since you don't have school lunches and snacks to worry about. Then after you are sure you have cleaned out the dyes for a good week or two, indulge in some nice red #40 colored something. See what happens for the next 3 days after that. It could be the most enlightening experiment you ever do in your family. Or you could live with tempers flaring, outbursts all over and relationships frustrated and failing.

Now I'm not to say there are not legitimate mental health problems that cause anger. If your child has a trauma or abuse history or your family is going through lots of stress then you may need more intervention than diet. I'm really talking to all those families whose children have a pretty good life but still seem angry or grumpy all the time and no one knows why. Those are the ones who could benefit from being dye free. But on the other hand, if perfectly normal healthy children in intact stable families show dramatic behavior changes just by taking away a few ingredients, isn't it more important for children facing other stressors to have the same benefit?

I hated the way my son and I were always at odds. He acted like he hated my guts. I was sending him to his room a lot and he would yell, scream, cry, threaten, etc. Rewards and punishment didn't seem to change it. It wasn't until several months after I weaned my family off food dyes that I realized how much better my son was. He doesn't get angry or explosive any more. He stays calm and accepts the ups and downs without loosing it. I never would have believed it if I had not lived it with my own 3 children.

I didn't even start my quest to avoid food dye due to anger or irritability. I started because the dyes made my other son wildly hyperactive. The calming of the storm in my other 2 children was a completely unexpected but very real blessing. It was almost miraculous when I think back to how crazy things were. I just wish more people knew about this. Others, feel free to comment on your own stories.


mary Ann said...

A friend of mine mentioned to me one day that i should keep my 5 year old son off of red and blue dyes. I didn't really focus on this until one day he ate a package of sour punch straws. The next day I noticed his extremely contrary behavior which was something that would occur occasionally. I just thought it was normal boy behavior. I spoke with a friend of mine who is an occupational therapist and asked her if red dye could be affecting my child. She said, "Absolutely!" and then told me a story about a patient of hers: a little girl who was 5 years old and suffering from autism. The child was totally nonverbal. She had been working with this particular child for a couple of weeks when the mother mentioned one day that the only way her daughter would drink milk was with Strawberry Syrup in it - the really pink kind. Well the therapist suggested removing dyes completely from the child's diet and with in a week the child was talking. My son has been on a dye free diet now for a few months and the difference in his personality is amazing. He is happier and calmer and not contrary at all. I am still trying to convince my friends to do the same for their children - sadly, their responses are, "there is nothing wrong with my child and we don't really eat much food with dyes." Although I saw the extremely obvious changes in my 5 year old son once dyes were removed from his diet, my 13 and 10 year old daughters seem to have benefited from these changes as well. They love the taste of the dye free candies and seem happier and calmer too. Thank you for creating this blog!!!

K said...

I wish more people knew about this also. We've been dye-free for 6 months now and the difference is amazing. My children sleep better and their outbursts and anger have been cut drastically.

food dye diaries said...

Thank you for your comments. It seems so many families have a story of how dye free eating has improved their life, yet way more families don't know or don't care. Keep spreading the word!