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.