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.