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.