Wednesday, December 1, 2010

FDA to hold hearings

Well it's about time. Follow this link to see the press release from Center for Science in the Public Interest indicating they are finally getting a response to their petition to the FDA on food dyes.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Update of my favorite dye free foods: candy

In case you are new to my blog I have to break it to you. It's not just the sugar that is making your child act "that way." It's the coloring. REALLY! Don't just take my word for it. Look at all the research articles I've found on the right hand column. Food coloring causes all kinds of behavior problems and even serious health problems in some people. Moms have written to me from all over the country describing hyperactivity, asthma, motor tics, hives and other issues that are probably diet related.

So you think you don't have time to read labels and go dye free? I didn't have time not to do that. I've learned the well being of my family depends on eating real foods, not chemicals. Sure my grocery trips are a little longer and I go to different stores to get some things, but I spend most of my days in peace with my children, a gift I will never give up. We will never go back to the way my kids were when they ate food dyes. My son yelled, screamed, tantrummed and literally spent several days each week hating me. Going natural has given back the kind, thoughtful, responsible, affectionate boy I had hoped he would be.

We have found many great tasting candies that are all natural, without dyes. Although most chocolates do not have food coloring listed, be aware that chocolate often contains artificial flavor or vanillin, which is also petroleum based, so it can have the same effect as the food dyes.

Here are some of our favorites:

  • Fruit Jellies
  • Salt Water Taffy
  • Gummy Bears
  • Gummy Tummies Penguins
  • Gourmet Jelly Beans
  • many more in the store

SURF SWEETS: (I go to the health food store for these)

  • Sour Gummy worms
  • Gummy Bears
  • Gummy Swirls

YUMMY EARTH: (We buy from the health food store or on Amazon)

  • Lollipops --lots of great flavors I keep these in my purse
  • Gummy bears in individual packs


  • Darrell Lea Strawberry Liquorice (yes, you can still eat red licorice!!!)

AUNT ANNIES BRAND (find it at Kroger, Toys R us, health food stores, etc.

  • Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks (Individual packs)

With all these choices, it's easy to eat dye free and still have special treats. I keep these kinds of treats on hand for teachers so my kids have something that tastes good when there are parties at school.

Why don't more families go dye free? Well, the main reason is they don't realize how much difference a few chemicals can make. Food dyes affect my kids for 3 full days. Most food companies don't want to have to use more expensive ingredients to make natural foods. Food dyes and other petroleum based chemicals are cheap. And the FDA doesn't want to get involved or to acknowledge research like the Lancet study (2007) linked at the right, which made Britain ban artificial colors from their food a couple years ago. So tell your friends and family members too. If you have not tried your children on a natural diet free of chemicals like food dyes and preservatives, you may have never known the joy of how pleasant your real child is. The only way to know your REAL child is to feed him/her READ FOOD.

Friday, November 5, 2010

So proud this week

My 5 year old handed over a large, unopened pack of Skittles after the morning bus driver gave them out Monday. I praised her, gave her some Sour Gummy Worms from the "good stash" of stuff I let her eat, and let her have a few pieces of chocolate left from the Halloween goodies. That's about triple the usual amount of sugar I would normally allow, but it was a special occasion. I reward big for turning in what I don't want them to eat.

I forgot for the next 2 days and suddenly wondered what happened to the candy my older boys got. When I finally asked them if they got the same candy, they both had put it in their backpacks and forgot about it. I had 3 kids all produce large bags of Skittles without having eaten any or even trying to open them. Big hugs, big rewards, big praise. Skittles are added to the bag of candy getting sent to the troops. I just can't imagine that dye free eating is a priority when stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan so I figure they'll really enjoy them. I'll enjoy the peace of my kids not going ballistic all week.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Making a statement this Halloween

Wonder why your kids have a hard time listening, behaving, or keeping basic self control? Does your child get hyper, defiant, or have lots of tantrums? It could really be the foods they eat. We made a statement this Halloween to try to get the word out. Read on below for more information about what is really in your food. It's kind of SCARY!

We went to Chipolte tonight for dinner to participate in the "dress to kill" contest inviting customers to "dress as your favorite scary processed food." Well you know we couldn't pass that one up. Here we are:

My kids as their favorite color not to eat.

My wonderful husband as a grumpy old man

...and me, food dyes make me feel like this

Here we are, ready to enjoy our meal.

Here is our whole family of scary food dyes.

You probably can't read the info on the signs, but it's all stuff I've been putting on this blog for the past couple of years. I was surprised by some of the tid bits I found when I was looking for good information to put on the signs. Such as: Red 3 is banned from cosmetics but you can still eat it. Oh, and on that idea, you can just image my delight when my 9 year old came home from the fall party with a HUGE green alien sucker on a glow in the dark stick. He was eating it in the car before I even saw it. I knew we were in trouble as soon as I smelled it. I think it had every color we dressed as on the ingredient list. UHG!!!!!! Somehow we survived the weekend anyway.

I found all the information for our costume signs at CSPI:
Here's what our signs said:

Scary food dye
RED 40
Acts like a neurotoxin and excites the brain.
Causes hyperactivity, mood swings, irritability
It’s hidden in everything from vanilla ice cream, mayo, chocolate, brownies, cake, bread, yogurt….
It’s not just the really red foods like strawberry, blueberry, or fruit punch
They use this chemical to mask when they’re too cheap to use real fruit/berries or real food

Yet it’s still often in candy and sweet treats
It’s in fruit roll ups and Kid Cuisine
Found in lots of other food marketed to children
Banned from cosmetics, but we still eat it?

(yes! Like feeding your kids a little gasoline)
Causes hyperactivity, mood swings, irritability
It’s in your pickles, ice cream, candy, mayo….

It’s in mac and cheese, dressing, sauces, popcorn, cakes, cookies, pickles, frosting, etc.
Some studies show chromosomal mutations
Can cause sudden severe allergic reactions

Linked to tumors and neurotoxicity
Studies showed inhibition of nerve cell growth
It’s in your marshmallows, candy, sport drinks
Face it, bodies weren’t meant to eat bright blue

These signs were on our backs:
What’s so scary about Food dyes ?
Synthetic chemicals are in many common foods
Made from petroleum, usually produced in China
Many are known carcinogens, can cause highly allergic responses
Research shows they increase hyperactivity
Banned in Britain and other countries
Behavioral effects in children last 3 FULL DAYS
These signs were on our kids' backs
Why we don’t eat any food dyes:
We get more hyperactive, impatient, impulsive, argumentative, irritable, angry, defiant for 3 days
without dyes we stay more calm, happy, focused
research linked dyes to behavior problems, hives, cancer, asthma, motor tics, chromosomal mutations
we like the taste of real food better
people weren’t meant to eat petro-chemicals

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dye free after trick or treat

Kids had a great time getting lots and lots of candy. We immediately took all the food coloring stuff and put it in a bag to donate to the troops overseas. For local folks, there's an organization that takes up collections at Town and County Shopping Center every Saturday until November 20. That seemed like the perfect way to give someone the candy who would like it. We're allowing some chocolate for the weekend, even though I think the artificial flavor and vanillin will be likely to get some reactions. I have plenty of other things to trade, but with all the candy left over, I really don't feel like there's any shortage and neither do my kids. They've learned not to get possessive about the things they can't eat and to enjoy what they can have.

What's interesting to me is, for the first time the candy does not hold much appeal to me. I've always been a terrible chocoholic, but now it seems like all those fresh fruits and veggies I've been eating really have diminished my cravings for sugar. Part of me is sad, but the other part says, wow look how my body is looking for the good stuff. I'm going to go snack on something with no sugar.

Monday, October 25, 2010

How to get kids to eat healthy

I have to admit that I was pretty much programmed to feed my kids processed junk until I figured out how crazy it made all of us (me included.) It has taken some time to get used to cooking differently, but I really think we see huge benefits.

One of my favorite new ideas is simple, but life changing. I have to give credit to Dr. Sears. It was a DVD of his that I saw at a nutrition training that got me going. Dr. Sears recommends making a nibble tray or grazing tray of healthy, bite sized fruits and vegetables for small children. I found a couple divided Rubbermaid containers (about 12 by 12 in.) and bought 2. I keep cut up raw veggies in one, cut up fruit in another. When the kids get home from school, we pull that out first. When we walk in the door on my work days and I need some time to get dinner going, we pull those out and nibble on good stuff. When we want a snack, we all eat from our fresh stash of produce. Having it already cut and ready to eat is the key. It comes in handy when we need one more thing to fill out a meal. I just pass the box around and tell everyone, take 2-3 things from each one. In a pinch I grab what's in there for lunches. When we had pizza for dinner, I still got out the boxes and I'm sure we all had a few extra servings of fruits and veggies. It's been that easy. So buy some extra produce, get it cut up and accessible and see what happens. Real healthy food really does taste good.

I used to be reluctant to buy some produce as it seemed pricey. I've since re-thought this. I used to think 1.99 was expensive for a bag of raw sweet peas in the pods, yet I spend 3.99 for a bag of chips. Hmmm. I now buy a combination of which organics look good, which produce is in season, and what sounds appealing or different. We also focus on getting lots of different colors. I'm trying to buy different things too.

The great news is, my kids love it. They have fought for the last red and yellow pepper strips, enjoyed crunching pea pods and celery, and generally seem to enjoy the taste of vegetables more and more. It's the same with fruit. My 10 year decided that mango is really good. It's because now I actually cut the whole thing up instead of letting it rot in the bottom drawer of my fridge. We have loved the organic apples and oranges I found. (By the way, I prioritize organic on these foods as sometimes companies inject coloring into the skin to make it look better.) Yes, the bright orange orange looks better, but I have to tell you we loved the last bag of organics that had some yellowing and dents in the skin. They tasted wonderful.

I encourage everyone to check out Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution if you haven't already. I also found a blog that talks about cooking real foods:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Our new challenge to eating dye free food: scouts

All 3 of my kids jumped into scouts this fall and we've had a flurry of camp-outs, den meetings, and misc. activities. It seems each new gathering presents both opportunities and challenges. The challenge is the same since a started blogging a few years ago: what to eat, what to bring, how to plan food. The opportunity is huge to educate a lot more families about how they can help their own kids enjoy healthy eating with fewer problems in the mood, behavior, impulsivity department.

And with all of this comes the mishaps. It figures we were due for something to sneak in. It's been a very long time. I had almost forgotten how hard it was to be around my kids when they were "high on dye." This time it was all 3 at once (triple ouch). They had a great family scout camp-out with lots of fun activities. I thought I had played it really well since DH took the kids out in the tent and I got to stay home to "let the dog out" and go out to dinner with my girlfriend. I met up with my family the next day to go through the games and help with dinner. when I saw the fruit cocktail, I explained my kids wouldn't be eating it (Red cherries). I told several interested Moms our story about food dyes.

Later I noticed they were also serving canned peaches so I gave some to my kids. It was a few minutes later I realized the peaches had been dumped into the container that originally had the fruit cocktail and there were still red cherries floating around in all the syrup. Uhg! Who likes canned fruit anyway?

Well, that did it. We were fine that night, but the next 3 days I had a hyper hyper boy who couldn't stop drumming all day, a grumpy arguing kid who wanted to pick a fight, and a little miss with a huge attitude who started hitting and kicking and screaming all the time. Figures we had an extra day off school in the midst of that so I got to "enjoy" my children even more intensely for a dye exposed day. We survived, somehow, and I gave repeated thanks that this is not how my children usually are. Once again, it seemed to last 3 full days. Then it was like a magic switch was flipped. I had a compliant agreeable 10 year old who said "please" and "thank you" and "OK" again. My little drummer boy could sit still and focus on homework again. The screamer stopped fussing and peace returned to our household.

If you have not gone dye free yet, you have no idea what you might be missing: the joy of pleasant, well controlled children.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Scary food for Halloween

Hey, I'm back after another long absence. I was glad to see all the new comments. Halloween is tricky for those of us who want to be dye free, yet we still want our kids to have fun. In the past we have given out non food trinkets, pretzels, or dye free candy. We have also let the kids go get lots of food dyed candy, brought it back and dumped it into our "give away" bowl and had them go back out. Last year I let them get loaded up on candy, kept what was dye free, and sent the rest to my husband's office. I have exchanged their candy for Yummy Earth Lollipops, Surf Sweets, or chocolate. Since I thought we all reacted to too much artificial flavors in the chocolate last year, we'll be keeping that to a minimum too.

This year I will be giving out Yummy Earth Lollipops, purchased in bulk on amazon. But we are also going to have some fun with our costumes. Chipolte restaurant is inviting people to come in dressed as a scary processed food ingredient. Well of course, I can't pass that up. Our family will be going as the scary family food dyes. I'll keep you posted on our costumes as they progress. So far we've assigned colors and have hoodies for each one of us. We're working on whether we will also do scary masks or face paint.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back to School and Dye free Benadryl


Maybe now that my youngest started kindergarten I'll get back to posting more often. I spent last week sending emails to all the teachers to explain how my kids can't have food dyes and then I took a bag to each teacher of drinks and snacks that my kids can have instead of birthday treats with food dyes.

I also wondered if anyone else has had any recent luck finding dye free medicines. With the big Tylenol recall, it's much harder to find the basics. I usually stay stocked on dye free Motrin and Tylenol as well as Dye free Benadryl. I often buy the Meijer brand dye free Ibuprofen, which is not recalled and still available. I've been holding my breath hoping that my kids would not get poison ivy or bad bug bites needing the dye free Benadryl, since it's recalled. I was quite relieved that my friend told me today that CVS now has a dye free generic for Benadryl.

I also can't remember if I've posted on Gatorade and Powerade. A neurologist recommended my son drink sports drinks at the onset of migraines. It actually helps quite a bit and both come in a clear flavor if you look hard enough.

Thanks for all the recent comments to various posts. Sorry it took so long to get them to show up. I appreciate knowing my blog has helped other families.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Oh Happy Happy Day

Nothing like one of my favorite dye free foods to bring me back to my blog after a long busy baseball season. Actually, baseball's still not done since my son made the district play off team, but the schedule is finally calmer this week.

However, the big celebration is all about Graeters' ice cream. If you're not from Ohio, and if you missed Oprah's endorsement several years ago, you may not have heard of it. Their black raspberry chip ice cream may very well be the best ice cream on earth. Even Oprah thought so. I gave it up about 4 years ago when we went dye free because of the red #40.

My awesome husband noticed tonight that the container in the take home case said "all natural." They actually took out the red #40!!!! I am so excited. We can eat black raspberry chip ice cream again. Life is good. I may need to go back tomorrow just to get some.

I have faith that consumer pressure will keep driving these changes, so keep asking for your favorites to be made dye free. It can work.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

taking the good with the bad

We had some highs and lows this week. My 4 year old went to a birthday party for a pre-school friend. A relative works at the preschool and knows about our food dye restrictions. The parent went to great effort to make treat bags with individually wrapped bags of cookies so they would be dye-free. They also got a cookie cake and requested that part be left un-frosted so my daughter could eat it.

That was all great... One of the best efforts that has been made on behalf of any of my children. There was only one problem. When they cut the cookie cake, they dragged the knife through the red frosting to get to the plain part for my daughter. Yeah....well, so much for all that effort. I may have spoken up if I was there, but I had to send my husband to the party since I was in a professional training all day. Needless to say, I saw a lot of behaviors pop out over the next 3 days that are not normally part of the routine. Hopefully we're winding back down now.

The other great news was my 10 year old had a classmate bringing in a birthday treat. The mom actually called me ahead to find out if a plain glazed donut would be OK. The rest of the class had donuts with sprinkles, but they kept a plain one separate.

So all in all we are even making progress with birthday parties, one family at a time. It's nice when thoughtful parents think about my kids and try to make sure they are not left out.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

baseball season

Welcome to my new followers! Sorry my posts are not nearly as frequent as they used to be. My boys are already deep in the practice part of baseball season and having my husband coaching means I've been super busy lately. The real fun starts in May when the games will be 5 days a week. We have the unfortunate spacing of ages that results in my boys always playing on opposite days. It's the only sport they play, so I'm willing to endure the craziness for a limited amount of time each year.

With baseball comes an array of food challenges. First, how do you have a healthy dinner consumed before 5:30 and get something for my husband who I end up meeting at the ball park? In years past I've made my own wraps: southwest chicken wraps, Greek chicken wraps, Thai wraps, you name it. We wrap it in flour tortillas or Asian rice wraps and take it to go. It saves a lot of money and ends up being quicker than fast food and sooo much better for us. On my two work days each week, I honestly don't even have time for the drive through. I need to bring dinner that can I keep in the small office 'fridge and eat at the ball park. We do lots of fruits and veggies as sides too.

But lets get real too. We are not complete health nuts and my kids sit there and watch other families eat lots of concession stand junk food and candy. With 3 kids, I end up at the park watching one play and entertaining the other 2. I've learned to stock up on my own candy ahead of time and always keep a tote bag ready in the car.

Most of the other kids drink Gatorade and other florescent colored sports drinks. Gatorade makes a clear one that I keep on hand on recommendation from a pediatric neurologist specializing in migraines. Yes, we have a very strong history of migraines and my boys have had more headaches the past year. So far a dose of dye free Ibuprofen and a drinking a whole bottle of clear Gatorade seems to help take care of it. I'll have to stock up on the clear Gatorade for games, but usually a Capri sun and a bottle of water is just as good and also dye free.

My candy favorites to take to baseball:

Surf Sweets gummies, sour worms, swirls, etc. (from a local health food store)
Yummy Earth lollipops (ordered a 5 lb bag on Amazon)
Yummy Earth gummy bears (ind bags, also ordered on Amazon)
Darrel Leas Australian Licorice (dye free red licorice from Target or on Amazon)
Mentos chewy mints or fruit chews (some have dyes and some don't so check carefully)

On our away games, families take turns bringing snacks. I make it really clear at the beginning of the season that my boys have an allergy to dyes and can't eat things with them. I end up educating several new parents every season about the benefits of going dye free. Usually parents have been good about planning dye free snacks.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

giving it a go with the garden

Before I had children, and my own business, and a husband who coaches 2 baseball teams, and a dog to tear up the yard... I had a garden. Once my boys both started playing baseball every spring, I have really not been able to keep up with the garden and we've really let it go. So this year I am probably being ambitious in thinking we will do better, but we've got the seeds planted (indoors) already.

We're going to try the Square Foot Gardening method. I'm hoping for it to be a family project that we will all work on. But it is also a way to celebrate our own real organic foods grown the old fashioned way on our own dirt. I think it will be fun for the kids to be involved in growing their own food. They are already excited about the possibility of growing our own broccoli, spinach, peas, peppers, etc. Yes, my kids really eat those foods willingly. It's amazing what happens when you keep the junk out of your diet.

I was inspired by a local mom who has a blog called The 5 dollar dinner blog.
She has some awesome dinner ideas and uses lots of foods she grows in her garden. I enjoyed her posts last summer and thought I should give it a try. I also wanted to suggest her blog because when you start going dye free and finding you may need to pay a little more for candy or other things, it's nice to have a way to save money. She also mentions organizing her coupons in a binder. I thought it was a good idea so I tried it in January. I'm not sure how she does it since I haven't got her book yet, but I took plastic pages used to hold baseball cards and picked a page for each category. I organized the pages by the way I go through the store. I'm averaging more than $10.00 in extra coupon savings every week now. It's great so I can use some of that extra money to stock up on our favorites that don't usually go on sale like Yummy Earth Lollipops.

Happy Spring!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

When they think you're crazy

Taking my children off food dyes was a radical step. I'll admit it, if a parent had come in and told me about food dye reactions more than 5 years ago, I would have thought I was dealing with a nutcase. If I had not seen the difference in my own children, I would never believe how drastic the difference can be.

So what do you do when friends, teachers, relatives don't believe you? For the friends and parents of your children's friends, simply start by talking about your experience. I find myself getting in conversations at all kinds of places with other moms. Waiting rooms, birthday parties, school events, you name it. Tell other moms about how your children are better off food dyes. What do they do off dyes, and which behaviors pop out only when food dyes have been on the menu.

Every mom wants to know how to have her children behave better. Many are not willing to believe that food can make such a big difference. But each time you get another family to try it, we slowly win the battle of having better leverage on a consumer basis. The more people shopping for natural products, the cheaper the natural foods get, the more people that can buy them.

For teachers it's a little harder to convince, especially if they do not have children, or their children are grown up. Send them links to the research or to my blog. Encourage them to see that it really isn't just you. The 2007 Lancet study was a key factor in prompting Britain to ban colors in their foods. Many people are very surprised to learn that other countries ban the same ingredients we readily feed our American children. The only way to stop seeming crazy is to get this information out to more families.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Oh, the darn artificial flavors

I thought my kids could handle small amounts of artificial flavor, but I now think I'm going to put the ban on that one too. Recent combinations of granola bars and root beer seemed to bring out the scary symptoms in my 10 year old. I realized it's in the hot chocolate too. Hmmm, with 3 storms in the past 10 days, we've been hitting the hot chocolate heavy too.

In case you have not read my other posts on the subject, artificial flavor and color both come from petroleum based chemicals manufactured in China. I haven't always noticed lots of problems with the flavors, but it's starting to look like my kids react the same as they do to food dyes.

SIGHHHHH. It really is easier to steer clear of all the petroleum based chemicals. At least the attitude, angry outbursts, and that "I can't get to sleep because I keep hearing noises and think something's coming to get me" stuff really does go away again in a few days. I just feel blessed that I know my true son and not just the scary petroleum overloaded kid who sneaks out every once in a while.

Guess I'll be experimenting with making my own hot chocolate from scratch since it's still snowing outside.

Monday, February 8, 2010

meals with friends

I've pretty much got a handle on everything that gets eaten in this house, everything that goes on the skin, and even all the medicine, candy and gum that could be chewed, swallowed or otherwise ingested. I pack the lunches and take alternate snacks to school for parties. There's just one last area I haven't quite conquered: going to friend's houses. My 10 year old has become much more social this year, getting invited to friends houses almost weekly. He had better Friday night plans than me for almost the past month straight!

Parties haven't been much of a problem since he passes on birthday cakes. The kid honestly doesn't have much of a sweet tooth. The other day he ate dinner at a friend's house after finishing up their science project and came home to say he had macaroni and cheese. Uhg! I'm still not sure it had food dye in it, but I'm trying to figure out how to make sure he doesn't eat anything without being a total "pain in the butt" kind of mom. I'm usually pretty direct and just tell parents, "My son can't eat anything with food coloring, He gets a bad reaction." I specify the main ones: red 40, yellow 5 & 6, and blue 1, and leave it at that. They don't need to know the gory details of how he turns into a half crazed angry maniac on food dye. Sometimes I think they take it a little more seriously if they think it's more like the allergies where kids have immediate symptoms.

This past weekend, we arranged the play date last minute and I was trying to have a little bit of a life and go on a date with my hubby, so when the other mom offered to have my son stay for dinner, all I cared about was whether she could bring him home when the sitter was there. I forgot to even ask what they were having for dinner, so it was to be expected it would come down to some sort of food with dye. Guess you can't win them all.

Feel free to comment on ways you mange the food at friends' houses issue.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

what color is your ADHD medicine

Call me a hypocrite. As a child mental health professional, I've worked with hundreds of kids on meds. I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to psychotropic medicaitons of all kinds. When it came down to my own child's hyperactivity, I just didn't think meds were the right course of action. Taking away the food dyes was probably a lot more difficult and time consuming, but really a better course for our whole family.

Lately, I've been researching side effects of stimulant medications prescribed for ADHD and had to share some of what I've been finding. What bothers me is that most of these medications state that they have not been tested for longer than 6 or 7 weeks. REALLY?! The multi million dollar drug industry can't afford to test their stimulants longer than that, or is that they can't get good long term results and therefore, won't publish those results? I'm guessing the latter. That would be consistent what I have seen.

I did come across an interesting 40 month study of the Daytrana patch. There was a 46% occurrence of anorexia with another 4% in the subjects who dropped out before completing the 40 months. So, there's a dye free patch that sends a stimulant straight into your skin, but you've got a 50/50 shot of your child ending up anorexic. How can they sell something with that kind of side effect?

Don't get me wrong, some kids are helped tremendously by their medications, but what I've seen more commonly is that many children look great for a few weeks up to a few months and then decline back from there. Many other children experience terrible, even life threatening side effects, with no real alleviation of their symptoms. If you have experienced this frustration, I strongly suggest you look at your eliminating additives (food coloring, artificial flavors and preservatives) from your child's foods first and then figure out if you still need any meds later.

Since this is already getting long, I'll go more into the side effects in another post. I wanted to share the main color ingredients. There are some color free options (in bold), but for the most part, these medications have many colors not allowed in food. OK, call me crazy, but if it's not safe for a food ingredient, usually because it's been shown to cause cancer or other health problems, they why in the world do drug companies put these ingredients in meds to be taken several times a day by children?! With how my own children react to one pink jelly bean containing artificial coloring, I now understand why so many children get so agitated and irritable on their meds. How much stronger of a dose is needed to counteract the effect of the food dyes? Hmmmm.

Well, here are medication colors I copied from I did not copy all the other inactive ingredients to make the lists easier to read.

Last updated on RxList: 6/26/2007

The inactive ingredients in ADDERALL XR® capsules include: The 5 mg, 10 mg, and 15 mg capsules also contain FD&C Blue #2. The 20 mg, 25 mg, and 30 mg capsules also contain red iron oxide and yellow iron oxide.

What are the ingredients in RITALIN®?
Active Ingredient: methylphenidate HCL
Inactive Ingredients: D&C Yellow No.10 (5-mg and 20-mg tablets), FD&C Green No.3 (10-mg tablets)

What are the ingredients in CONCERTA®?
Active Ingredient: methylphenidate HCl
Inactive Ingredients: synthetic iron oxides, titanium dioxide. (wonder what synthetic iron oxide is?)

What are the ingredients in FOCALIN®?
Active Ingredient: dexmethylphenidate hydrochloride
Inactive Ingredients: FD&C Blue No.1 #5516 aluminum lake (2.5 mg tablets), D&C Yellow Lake #10 (5 mg tablets); the 10 mg tablet contains no dye.

What are the ingredients in FOCALIN XR?
Active Ingredient: dexmethylphenidate hydrochloride
Inactive Ingredients include: , FD&C Blue #2 (5 mg and 15mg strengths), FDA/E172 yellow iron oxide (10 mg, 15 mg, and 30 mg strengths)

What are the ingredients in STRATTERA?
Active ingredient: atomoxetine hydrochloride.
Inactive ingredients: FD&C Blue No.2, synthetic yellow iron oxide, titanium dioxide, red iron oxide, and edible black ink.

What are the ingredients in Vyvanse?
Active Ingredient: lisdexamfetamine dimesylate
Inactive Ingredients: one or more of the following: D&C Red #28, D&C Yellow #10, FD&C Blue #1, FD&C Green #3, and FD&C Red #40.


Now I think I'll be looking up iron oxide, especially the synthetic iron oxide. Is it just me or is that code for more food dyes under a different name? If I find any information on that I will post it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Food dyes and fast food

We stopped at McDonalds while out shopping with the kids today. I don't think we had any accidental food dyes, but I did find some surprises while I was checking their ingredients.

You can download the ingredients from their website

If you don't have time to read it all, or because you might be upset to see how many additives are in there, here are some highlights:

Their pickles are dye free ?!
Stay away from the shakes! The chocolate syrup has red 40, vanilla syrup has yellow 5 &6, and strawberry syrup is an obvious red 40, so all the shakes all dyes
That means the hot chocolate and many coffee drinks also have red 40
The fries have TBHQ--my kids definitely wind up on that one
Honey mustard sauce has yellow.

I guess we should just eat at home.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

getting ready for a dye free Valentine's Day

It just hit me that another "red holiday" is right around the corner. My friends and I have found lots of strategies that help so I thought I would share them ahead of time, in case you need to order stuff.

Here are some candy options I've come across:

If you want to bake for Valentine's day, I have not ordered these, but the pictures looked so good, I'm really tempted

There are also options on Amazon:
Yummy Earth
India Tree

Here is last year's post about what I made:

One of our favorites continues to be Darrell Lea's Australian Licorice from Target--great tasting dye free red licorice. I couldn't find it on Target's web, but they actually have different colors (green and yellow) at amazon. I might order that with a friend some time since you need to get large quantities:

Happy party planning!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Eating out and food dyes

We've had some surprises with eating out with dyes in foods you would not expect to have any colors. I thought I would share so you can avoid some of the same pitfalls.

Wendy's chili--red 40
pickles on every burger and sandwich everywhere--yellow 5 &6, blue 1
mustard, mayo and other sauces--yellow 5 and 6
vanilla ice cream (yellow 5 and 6 at Steak and Shake, but the vanilla yogurt was OK)
brown loaves of bread in steak houses and other restaurants--red 40
seasonings on fries, especially curly fries--red 40
popcorn--yellow 5 and 6
blueberry bagels or muffins --red 40

That's in addition to all the obviously red or yellow stuff out there like strawberry flavored things, fruit punch etc.

A good rule of thumb is ask the waiter whenever you order anything in question. We double check seasoned rices, salad dressings, rice, cranberry juice cocktail, etc.

Monday, January 11, 2010

how do food dyes affect your child?

The new year seems to be a good time for a refresher on why I started this blog. In case you are new, food dyes can cause behavioral and emotional problems in children. This is so true that I am inviting other mom's to share their experiences in the comments section so readers can see it's not just me that sees this.

I am trying to get this simple truth out to more families. Doctors, teachers, mental health providers and other professionals may still be oblivious to this information, but there is research out there to back it up.

I also have my own trials and tribulations watching the reactions of my 3 children and their reaction to dyes. Read through my blog to see what I mean about this. My own children are so drastically different when they eat anything with food dyes, it is hard to describe. We see everything from anger, irritability, defiance, aggression, hyperactivity, frustration, yelling, hitting, spitting, etc. Most of these behaviors all come out in my 4 year old, but to some degree all three show something worse when they eat dyes, so we avoid them.

So, in short, if you want to see better behavior in your kids, better self control, and less moodiness, watch the foods and get rid of additives. It's worth the effort.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

good news about natural foods

Natural foods are getting more and more popular and more easily available. My husband confirmed this with a buyer for Kroger. They are consistently increasing their shelf space for naturals and organics such that prices are also coming down with higher demand.

I also made a nice discovery this week. I have tried to be more aware of artificial flavors as well as the colors. My own children seem to be able to tolerate low levels of artificial flavors a little at a time. I notice problems mostly if we eat lots of chocolate with vanillin (like after Halloween). If you watch the Feingold videos on youtube, Jane Hersey explains how the artificial colors and flavors are all made from the same petroleum products.

Here are the links again in case you missed them:

I have changed my buying habits over the past 6 months or so to avoid things like vanillin. I was surprised to see that Nestle Chocolate Chips have now gone natural and do not have the artificial flavor any more. I had stopped buying them for a while, so I'm happy to be able to get back to an old favorite. That makes me more confident that we can keep using our consumer power to get companies to make our food without all the chemicals. Yay!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Watch the hot cocoa!

I just checked my hot chocolate ingredients, not sure why I had not looked previously. Thanks to a follower who sent me an email and mentioned it. Doesn't it just figure, yet another product where you would not think there would be food dye ingredients. My kids love the mini marshmallows, but low and guessed it...there's blue #1 in the marshmallows.

Our solution: buy the mix without the marshmallows and get the Great Value brand small marshmallows from Walmart (they are dye free). Not quite the same as the little tiny marshmallows that come in the mixes, but good enough to still enjoy it without all the behaviors of adding food dyes to the diet.