The Dye Made Her Do It

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I have been hesitant to write this for quite some time. Writing and sharing my thoughts online isn’t new to me. I have been posting my opinions and personal experiences on my website since 2013. But I have learned something in the last three years.

The moment a person makes a decision to share their opinion online, they must also be prepared for those who will undoubtedly disagree.

So before I continue, I must preface what I’m about to say with these quick facts (still understanding that there will be those who do not agree with what I write).

First, I’m not a doctor or nurse nor do I have any medical background by which I can offer any professional advice. I am, however, a mom and an author with the opportunity to share with anyone interested in reading the events that have taken place in our family over the last few years.

That’s my goal. I want to share our personal experiences with the hope that perhaps someone else will realize they aren’t alone in their experiences as well.

As always, if you have any health or behavioral questions regarding your child or a child in your care, you should always consult with a medical professional.

Now, since we have that out of the way…  Here is our story.

About two years ago, we began to notice some behavioral issues with our then three-year-old daughter, Kadence. I have always described her as my strong-willed child, but in addition to her normal desire to self-govern her own life, there seemed to be moments when she had trouble listening or obeying more than others. She was moody, irritable, and angry at times.

I was pregnant with our third baby, and I equated her mood swings to normal anxiety any young child might display when they experience big changes in their home. Also, let’s be honest. She was three. They don’t call three-year-olds threenagers for no reason. They’re moody little things as they learn their boundaries, figure out the world around them and understand the emotions within them.

But Kadence wasn’t your normal strong-willed three-year-old. She had moments when she just couldn’t settle down. She yelled or threw fits that didn’t make any sense, crying uncontrollably or becoming very angry about very simple situations. Kadence also had a hard time focusing. There were moments when she was so hyper we couldn’t calm her down no matter what we tried (and I mean more than the average three-year-old).

I’m a praying momma, and so I would pray. I would pray while she was throwing a fit, and I would pray for her after she had calmed down. Because when the tantrum was over, she would crawl into my lap and tell me how sad she felt. Once, she even told me, “Momma, I tried to stop feeling angry. I just couldn’t.” I would also pray that God would show me what to do. Thankfully, He did.

It was about that time that my mom started asking if we had noticed a trend in Kadence’s behavior. Because while Kadence had moments where she was overly emotional, or had trouble focusing, or couldn’t calm down, she also had just as many moments where she sat and colored and played and interacted very politely and well-man

nered. She had moments where she could take instructions and obey them easily. She had moments where she could be silly without being out of control.

Truthfully, I couldn’t put my finger on what was triggering the difference in her behavior. I wondered if it was too much screen time or not enough one on one time with me. I had a lot of mom-guilt in that season. I felt like I wasn’t helping my daughter in the way that she needed to be helped. I just couldn’t figure out what she needed so I could help her.

About a month before my third baby was born, my mom mentioned that she had read an article about some children having adverse reactions to food-dye. I remember thinking that I had read something about that too. Something about other countries banning (or wanting to ban) certain dyes from their food products… but I hadn’t read why. I hadn’t done any research of my own.

I was curious. I hopped online and began to comb the internet for anything I could find about children having adverse reactions to certain food-dyes. I didn’t have to look very far. The information was overwhelming, and what I found astonished me.

In 2007, a UK study reported children behaved impulsively and lost concentration after consuming a drink containing certain food coloring additives. Children acted aggressively or displayed symptoms of ADHD. You can read more about that here.

The results of that study and others like it were compelling enough for the Food Standards Agency in the UK to push for a voluntary removal of dyes from all products. In 2010, they required a warning label be placed on color containing products because of the confirmed reaction in children.

A current article published on the FSA’s website states, “A European Union-wide mandatory warning must be put on any food and drink (except drinks with more than 1.2% alcohol) that contains any of the six colours. The label must carry the warning ‘may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children’.”

WHAT?!

I came across article after article with case studies and testimonies of how dyes have adversely effected children and families across the world. The statistics concerning the amount of dye the average American child consumes were overwhelming.

I thought about the fruit drinks and the fruit snacks and the breakfast cereal and all of the other foods that my daughter consumed regularly. How could it be that simple? How could the answer to all of her behavioral issues come down to simply removing the artificial color from her diet?

It was worth trying. And I will admit, food dye was in more items than I realized. Being an allergy momma, I was used to checking labels. But there were dyes in products I never would have expected: crackers, pickles, yogurt… The list went on.

While it wasn’t easy, it was worth it. As we began to remove the dye from her diet, Kadence changed before our eyes. She became mild-tempered. She didn’t become angry like she had before. She could take direction and focus and obey without resisting. She was happier. We were all happier.

It was as if our entire home breathed a collective sigh of relief. We didn’t have to brace ourselves for any major meltdowns. I didn’t have to strategically plan how I would tell my daughter, “No.” I still had a strong-willed little girl… don’t get me wrong. But she was able to take direction and process moments of discipline, learning from them and moving on.

Today, at five-years-old, Kadence is our living proof that food dyes effect behavior. It’s not always easy telling her that she cannot have certain foods, but there are entire companies (both local and online) that we can partner with to expand Kadence’s naturally colored food choices. Aldi and Natural Candy Store are two that we personally love. (And no. They aren’t paying me to say this.)

So what am I hoping to gain from writing this? Why did I want to share our story? Well, many of you know me. Over the last few years, I’d like to think that you have learned that you can trust me. And often, we trust the experiences of those we know more than we trust the experiences of a stranger.

I wrote this (unusually long post) for the same reason that I write everything.

I believe that somewhere there is a momma or daddy or teacher or caregiver who needs some help. I believe that there is someone who feels hopeless. I believe that there is someone who feels just like I did and wonders what they can do.

And maybe my story will be the starting point for healing to begin in someone else’s home. Maybe our family can set another family on a journey toward hope.

Is this the answer for everyone? Probably not. I never said that it was. But this is worth considering. It is worth researching. It’s at least worth wondering.

And if one family realizes they’re not alone and sets out to find answers… then it was definitely worth every word.

What about you? Do you have any experience with food dye related symptoms?

As always,

with-love-becky

 

I try and stay in touch with my readers on a personal level over on Facebook. Come join us!

 

Comments

  • George S says:

    It is absolutely astonishing what is in our food today. And what additives the food manufacturers add to preserve freshness, and to add appealing color, etc. My wife and I decided that our oldest son, currently 2 1/2 and our youngest, currently 11 months will not be drinking sugar filled drinks like Kool-Aid or even fruit juices. Because they have no nutritional value, they’re just sugar that decays the teeth and makes kids hyper.

    We buy organic milk from Whole foods for them to drink, and generally limit any sort of junk or processed foods for them. That’s the real thing. If you eliminate your processed foods (like crackers and most cereals, chips, etc.) then you pretty eliminate any food related issues in your kids. We’re not completely crazy, we allow our sons to have some wheat crackers occasionally, or a hot dog, or a home made cookie, etc. But mainly we avoid the processed foods. Good luck with your food regimen for your kids.

  • Kelly says:

    We have to watch food dyes with our 3 year old son. Specifically the color red – juice, candy, hot dogs, etc. I completely understand!

  • Beth M. says:

    Food dyes are the devil!! WHY must they be in everything? I didn’t remove them from my daughters’ diets bc I noticed behavior problems, but I can definitely tell a difference when they eat foods containing them. If food needs to be dyed to look appealing, then we don’t need to eat it! Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Kristen says:

    My daughter also had severe reactions to food dyes. She would get full blown hives all over after eating certain foods. Once we went dye free with everything, she hasn’t had them for about a year now. Also, once you start reading how they make the dyes, it makes you want to completely avoid them anyway! My mom was a kindergarten teacher and saw the effects of food coloring in her students for years. It’s so not worth it! We love Aldi too! :)

  • Alex says:

    I’m happy to read this. I sit here with my 3 (almost 4) year old perfect boy. He’s sleeping now but it won’t last long..he’s acts the exact same way as your described your baby. Every time I bring this up with someone, they will say “no, he can’t beADHD because he can sit through a movie prolly a game” but I know in my heart he is just a little different. I’ve heard about the dye thing and I have friends who restrain their children from orbit I’ve always been skeptical and have felt judges by other parents (even family) when I think about trying it on my son. I appreciate your experience because I do trust you. It’s your transperency on your blog. I will be trying this immediately. Thank you!

  • Anna cook says:

    I have definitely had the same experiences with my current 3 year old. Red 40 was the dye that I noticed caused the most problems with her for being hyper active, and acting out. I due my best to avoid this color and tell other please don’t give this to my daughter. I think some people think I’m crazy, but it’s the truth for my little one.

  • Courtney says:

    This is a great article for parents. My brother is now 30 but when he was a child he had fairly severe ADHD and other behavioural issues. He became incredibly agitated after consuming or coming into contact with blue dies. It was even in our laundry soap. That many years ago there was little to no research on food die issues so it was a trial and error search. I now even have an adult coworker who can’t consume orange food die without breaking out in rash. As a person with a gluten and dairy intolerance, I know how hard it can be to completely remove something from your diet but it can be sooo worth it.

  • Susan says:

    My mom discovered this way back in the 60’s with my older brother. He was never angry but just extremely hyper. Removing the dyes helped and she kept him on that diet into his teens. There were other things she avoided too, I think it was called the fine gold diet. How awesome though to find the answer and that changing her diet worked, and that your mom saw that article…………………….that’s a God thing!! :)

    • Faith says:

      The Feingold diet is a food elimination program developed by Ben F. Feingold, MD. following research in the 1970s which appeared to link food additives with hyperactivity; by eliminating these additives the diet was supposed to alleviate the condition.
      Feingold diet – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
      Wikipedia › wiki › Feingold_diet

  • Aleesha Bake says:

    We have been dye free for the same reason for several years now- our discovery was much the same as yours, happened gradually after I started noticing a pattern. With my oldest son the behavior manifested in anger and yelling and disobedience- he wouldn’t listen to me and would argue endlessly- it was horrible because it was so random- he would be an angel for 3 days in a row and then randomly act out, I couldn’t figure out how to correct the behavior, because it only happened sometimes. We had already cut out a lot of processed foods so he wasn’t getting the dye often, which was why it was random. When we finally made the decision to take dye out of our diet the effect was AMAZING. Particularly with my 2 yr old. I just thought that was how she was going to be, hyper and crazy, and was startled by how often she was getting yellow dye in products I didn’t even know contained it!
    Now we are vigilant with 2 out of 4 of my kids. The other 2 have NO reaction to the dye at all. It really does just affect some kids. We get a lot of crap about this choice from friends and family. They think I’m just crazy and depriving my children. But I always stop the argument with 1 simple question. “name one thing that is healthy that contains dyes” – it doesn’t exist. Other than maybe pickles….lol 😉

  • Katie says:

    Thank you. Worth it. This momma doesn’t feel alone. I will be researching more about this and checking some labels! Many of your descriptions are familiar to me. If I have the same outcome, how simple to help my son feel better.

  • Valerie says:

    Thank you for writing this article! I have a dye allergy as well and everyone is different on how their symptoms manifest. Thank you for raising awareness. I’m glad your daughter is doing well.

  • Felicia says:

    Yes, we are right there with you. Luckily, it’s something my own mother discovered when I was little. It was mostly the red food dye. When I begin to notice the difference in my own child, I was so puzzled at first. I then did the same thing as you. The only difference was the fruit snacks! Thank you for sharing your story. I am so glad you guys figured it out!

  • Patti says:

    We are just beginning this journey with my grandson. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  • Jessi says:

    I am that mama that needed to read something like this! Reading your description of your little one was like hearing my own thoughts and worries about my soon to be 3 year old. Thank you for sharing!

  • Kim says:

    Thank you! I have a very strong willed son who has meltdowns and anger and everything you described and I have tried at moments to watch the whole food dye thing but just gave into his wants. This article is confirmation for me that this is exactly what I need to do! Again, thank you!

  • Jenn says:

    OH.MY.GOODNESS
    This is my answer!!! We’ve even tried adhd meds! Thank you for this! If you don’t mind, would you please email me any other info on foods and places to get food that don’t have dye in them? Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  • Nancy Brandt says:

    My son is 14 now and for the last five or six years, we’ve known that Red Dye #40 turned him into a crazy person. He has ADHD anyway, but if he’d eaten something with that dye in it, he was out of control. He would giggle like a literally maniac, be unable to sit for more than few seconds and not be able to focus on anything we were saying. It was a great day (relatively speaking) when we figured it out. Now that he’s a teenager. we’ve seen some of those reactions dropping off, meaning he often eats junk food without going off the deep end. I do read labels too, and was stunned to discover that Red Dye 40 was in chocolate chip Poptarts or allergy medicine! I even found it in sugar free strawberry jam (which you’d think would be red already). One day at the grocery store, he was helping bag my stuff and the clerk offered him a lollipop that was orange, red and purple swirls. I reacted badly, yelling No! She thought I was talking to her, which I kinda was, but that reaction was for him reaching for it. I had to explain that he can’t have it and I apologized for yelling. Then I told her why. She said she wondered how many parents didn’t know that was affecting their kids and thought their kids were just normally out of control.

  • Kate | Simply Savory by Kate says:

    This happened with my nephew! I’ve done a lot of research about this as a health food blogger, and my sister in law came to me after her 3 year old was having the same symptoms and behavior issues. I helped her come up with a plan and fine alternate options and easy meals (she’s got 3 kids under 4) and he became a different child!! This does not happen to all kids, but for the kids who we can identify have issue with food dyes and help them, it’s a LIFE changer! Great job taking control and doing what’s best for your family! As always, love you content!

  • Stephanie says:

    So good Becky!! Great, informative post!

  • Lori P says:

    We removed dyes from our house about 6 years ago. Prior to that we spent years visiting every specialist on the planet trying to figure out what was causing a plethora of seemingly unrelated symptoms in our then 7 year old daughter (but symptoms had been occurring her whole life). She didn’t have behavioral reactions (although I know many children who do have this reaction to dyes), but she had nausea and vomiting, hives, migraines, etc. Thanks to a suggestion from another allergy mom, we experimented with removing dyes and saw an instant disappearance of ALL of her symptoms. Dyes were the culprit – she is allergic to them. Different colors cause different symptoms. Yellow gives her migraines and hives, red and blue make her vomit. I shudder to think about how many parents are accidentally poisoning their kids by feeding them foods that contain dyes. It’s horrible stuff and should be banned from our food supply – it’s a petroleum by-product, who wants that in their food?! BTW, it’s not just in food. It’s in vitamins, medicines, make-up, shampoos, toothpaste….the list goes on. Removing it from our food choices took effort but is now easily managed because it forced us to eat healthier and make more of our meals from scratch. Our biggest challenge has been medicine – it can be really difficult to find dye-free options, especially prescription meds like antibiotics. She’s now 13, so we’ve been at this for many years. Becky, if you ever need any advice, feel free to reach out to me. (BTW, kids who have reactions to dyes also often have reactions to preservatives, so keep an eye on that with Kadence.)

  • Sabrina Dierksen says:

    We have the same issue with our son who is now 4. We can tell when someone gives him something with red dye and it flips a switch in him. He has the same behavioral issues your daughter has. We figured it out when he was on an antibiotic for an ear infection when he was about a year old. He was so out of control I was researching child psychosis. My friend shared an article with me about it. We switched antibiotics and cleaned up his diet and he was back to his sweet loving self. We have friends and family who don’t believe it and will let him have snacks with red dye and boy do we pay for it later. We then get judged for having an out of control child. We love Aldi’s and ordering from Amazon for dye free products that taste just as good!

  • charlotte says:

    I feel a breath of relief reading this, it’s like you’re describing our son to a “t”! I’m ready to cut out his dyes starting today. I should’ve suspected, I’ve heard some of this before but got distracted trying to manage his allergy meds to see if any changes. And there were some but not a total turn around. I’ve had issues myself with dyes after a particularly unpleasant couple years fighting an issue with my gut. I would get violently “sick to my stomach” after having a certain fast food chain’s cherry limeade. Through process of elimination I figured out I could only ingest non-dye food products. Like you, i found the inclusion of dyes in random stuff to be ridiculous! BBQ sauce, salad dressing, salmon, etc. Once the good bacteria (thankfully) returned to my gut I stopped having to limit my diet.
    Thank you for sharing your experience, i feel much more confident in something else we can try to help our son. Our drs at our new base aren’t too receptive to discussions/possibilities of meds or foods having behavioral effects on our son.

  • Adrienne says:

    M&ms gave my daughter a terrible rash on her hands! I chalked it up to eczema. But after experimentation, it’s obvious it was the dye from the candy (potty training with m&ms as the treat…). She can tolerate chocolate just fine. Thank you for this post!

  • Jennifer says:

    Thank you for posting this! I have ADD like symptoms and I am always on the lookout for symptoms in my 2 yo daughter. This information, should it work, might be helpful for myself as well.

  • Jenny says:

    I easily believe this ..We are gluten intolerant and have milk alleries in family. Accidently having gluten makes me want to scream at the world and I get super irriatable..like have really bad PMTetc Milk doesn’t make me feel good either. Yellow colouring especially use to hype my kids up.

  • Lisa M says:

    This is so similar to our own experience! In our case it extends a bit further than only food-dye but otherwise this was us!
    My oldest daughter was maybe 18 months when she had to be on antibiotics for a bad ear infection. She was prescribed the suspension and I diligently gave it to her morning and night just like the doctor told me. Within a day or so we noticed that our sweet, kind toddler had turned into a monster! I could not speak to her, nor touch her without her screaming at the top of her lungs. The ear-piercing kind of scream that could shatter glass. It was heartbreaking as a new mom to see my child act like this and not know what to do!
    I called my mom and I was expressing my frustration and she asked me if anything had changed lately. I told her my daughter was on antibiotics and she then asked me if it might be ingredients in the medicine. I read every tiny word of the leaflet that comes with the medicine and a couple of things stood out. Red Dye #40 and Sodium Benzoate, a preservative. My mom told me that my younger sister had severe behavior problems as a results of all food dyes, as well as all preservatives….Sodium Benzoate being the worst! (And my sister was little 20+ years ago!!!) By this point I could not take any more of my daughters screams and behavior and against all recommendations to always finish a course of antibiotics… I stopped the medicine.

    Within a day I had my kind, sweet, cuddly and happy toddler back! It was surreal and a true eye-opener for us.

    Fast forward some months… we were noticing that she would have these tantrums, not the usual toddler/pre-schooler tantrums but the throw herself on the floor, kick, scream and foam at the mouth kind that would sometimes last for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Again, I turned to our food and though she was not eating dye or sodium benzoate there were still things that were questionable. Now we have removed citric and ascorbic acid, all preservatives, all flavors (natural and artificial), all artificial sweeteners, all things like yeast extract or dough conditioners etc. and she is doing so much better! It has been years since she had a tantrum like those and overall she is much more even-keeled and happy.
    Don’t get me wrong, she still throws fits (now 7) but they last much shorter and are not as intense as the ones she used to have and they are usually a result of over-stimulation or lack of sleep.
    Though I never had the exact same reactions from my 5 and 3 year old, I keep them on the same diet as their sister and they too are generally even-keeled and happy kids :) It is not an easy position to be in with most packaged foods containing these “allergens” but it is worth it in the end!

  • Tiffany Severa says:

    My DS4 can not have dairy and red dyes. Dairy is mostly for stomach issues as well as body aches. But the red dyes…… Oh my it’s like a light switch goes off. He literally will scream at me and he’s is completely inconsolable. I have been removing it for 2 years and every once in a while it’s in something that I never would have thought of!!!! Thank you for writing this.. Awareness!!!!

  • Alegria Williamson says:

    Thank you so much for writing this! It is hard writing about food stuff we can be so judgmental. :(
    But this has sparked me to strart watch and exploring the foods my 5 year old eats. She will be calm and happy then moody and not listening. Thank you so very much again! I also am looking forward to getting you book one day! As a mama of 4 I desperately need to be reminded of hope :)

    • Michele says:

      We noticed the same thing in our son around the same age. He was the perfect child one minute and having an emotional melt down, screaming and angry beyond a normal level the next. He had two extremely opposite sides that made no sense. After we removed all possible food dyes, life was amazing. We still have to keep him off of it today, even though he’s 14. He loses the ability to think and behave rationally when he’s had Red 40. Life is good if we can just keep his diet controlled. His brother and sister don’t have the same sensitivity that he does and make him wish he could eat their cereal, fruit snacks and candy that they can.

  • Krystal says:

    Absolutely agree with this and suggest you do the same research for sugar in child and adult diets! It’s heartbreaking we don’t have the same policies to protect consumers from the dangers producers put in our food. Really enjoyed That Sugar Film documentary, rented on Amazon for $.99.

  • Courtney says:

    YES!!!!!!! Spot on Mama! 1 of my 4 has the same reactions. And it was so! Hard to figure it out..but amazing when we did! Adli is out safe shop! Love it! Thanks for being brave. I still have people who scoff as I once did. But you did the best thing writing. Believe that. Information is power. Someones little one and thier family will be forever changed.

  • Jamiee Bryan says:

    I totally agree with you. I have a one year old and hesitate giving her kool-aid and certain types of cookies and foods for the simple fact that I know there are those dyes in there. Now I didn’t know the dyes could cause adverse effects on kids, I am just very health conscience with myself and that carried over to my daughter. Thank you so much for sharing your story, I truly believe you will help someone who reads this!

  • Robyn says:

    I love your post. This was us as well. I have 5 kids and we avoid food colors like the plague. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the whole answer for us as we also found other foods we need to avoid or have on moderation. But I have seen it so strongly that I can’t ever deny that food (especially petroleum based products ) alter behavior. I hope that people read your post and take it to heart.

  • Brittany says:

    Needed to read this today! Thank you for sharing. Maybe you can share how you started to switch over the foods in her diet and how long before you noticed the difference.

  • Jenny Campbell says:

    Becky – I am an RN and I also have an autoimmune disease. I believe it was caused by exposure to insecticides, pesticides and other additives, including dyes, that have been added to our food. Since I have started eating clean, my symptoms have begun to lessen. It is amazing the things that are banned in other countries but allowed by our government. Amazing is not really the word for it. It is irresponsible and criminal. Read some of the things about Monsanto. It will make you ill to know how little our government cares about our health and the health of our children. I wish you and your family well. Continue to fight! Jenny

  • Audrey says:

    Becky this is so true! We discovered this when our second daughter was about 4 years old and she is now 37 so it was over 30 years ago! It changed our world immensely when we removed food colouring from her diet. We also discovered apples made her grouchy as well. It wasn’t easy because so many products have added colouring but we discovered that different brands will sometimes have different ingredients so being an avid label reader is important. Because we are aware of this we try to limit foods in our house that have added dyes and that is better for all of us including a couple grandchildren who also exhibit the same resulting behaviour. It is definitely beyond their control to behave if this is the cause and I think many children are being disciplined for actions that they can’t control. As with your daughter our daughter felt she wasn’t able to stop her reactions and that must be an awful thing to experience at a young age. For sure I do not think food colouring is to blame for all inappropriate behaviour so parents and caregivers, teachers, etc need to be willing to discern the differences. We were frustrated and at our wits end trying to figure out why our daughter could be calm and in control and the next while out of control – and believe me once we figured this out we noticed that our daughter would react within 30 minutes of consuming food with colouring – so parents it is definitely worth a try if you find yourself in this situation!

  • Mary Mellone says:

    Yes, I have experienced this with my husband of all things! He was mistreated in elementary school and was labeled with Turrets, which he in no way has at all. When I met him in college he would consume large amounts of red fruit punch at our cafeteria meals. After a few minutes he would start acting hyper, crazy, and erratic. I saw a correlation and mentioned it to him and after he refrained, he returned to his normal, silly self again. After my son was born, I had bought some baby Tylenol for teething episodes with fever and instead of calming down, relaxing, and possibly going to sleep, he would become hyper and agitated. I realized that the flavor was cherry and grape and thought, could it be a hereditary resistance to red food fye? Sure enough, I switched to dye-free Tylenol and have not had a problem since! It makes me wonder if all the dyes effect them, just red dye is more prominently used and noticed by more drastic changes in behavior. Now I’m going to have to do more research myself; unless you can give me what you were able to find? It’s crazy to think that foods that don’t even need dye like crackers and pickles would have to be colored to make them more aesthetic to the eye. Such stupid, American, self-satisfying decisions throughout the last century in our food provision industry with life-altering, life-changing effects!

  • Debbie Wolfgang says:

    I NEVER reply to anything or anyone online, but your story was brought to my attention by my daughter and it sounds exactly like what she is going through. I’m going to do all I can to help her through this change with the kids food and am looking forward to her life becoming a little more harmonious. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sharon Collins says:

    Becky, I have been an RN for over 30 yrs and I strongly believe that one should ALWAYS listen to the patient!! A Momma knows her children! ! It does not matter if you have a degree! Some things you learn thru experience and with your heart!! I am do glad to hear you have found an explanation for the problem so your little sweetie is not labeled ADHD or another negative label!! It’s good that Grandma is watching out also! Good luck to you!!

  • Rachelle says:

    We have been dealing with the same problems you have experience with your daughter. This last year we thought our son had ADHD. He becomes extremely hyper, angry at certain things, can become emotional at bed time (don’t even get me started on bedtime) but he has moments when he is amazing, sweet, calm, and wonderful! He is extremely picky eater so his main foods our juices, fruit snacks, yogurt, applesauce, chicken nuggets, cereal, and those microwave meals! I would have never thought to look into dye but after this article I’m calling my husband and we are going to try this!

  • Kate says:

    I’m so glad you shared this! I personally haven’t tried removing dyes from our diet yet, but you’ve reminded me that it might be something to try. I do have a “threenager” with some of the behavior you mentioned and it certainly couldn’t hurt to remove some of the harmful additives like dyes from his and our family’s diet. I don’t think you should worry at all about offending anyone; this is simply an honest personal story that could help other parents.

  • Summer says:

    This was us with our oldest. We had no idea. 9 years of such ridiculous heartache and pain because of “Oppositional Defiance Disorder” or being “Extremely strong willed”. All because of food coloring. He still prefers only cereal (he’s 14 now, so I suppose ‘grab-n-go’ like cereal is their preferred go-to), but he is so much more mild-mannered and we LOVE him. Really and truly just adore the kid. When he was younger I would cry and cry and cry and ask God what he was thinking giving me a child who was so hard (not because I didn’t love him or want him for my son, but because I had NO IDEA how to help him. I was not equipped or able on my own to give him what he needed so why did God choose me for his mama?!). Praise God for opening our eyes and letting us see His good plan for our boy… and for all of our kids. Thanks for sharing your story, Becky. I hope it helps others too!

  • Kris says:

    Yes! This needs to be spread all over the web. We have been living this for the last eight years. We finally put two and two together when my then three year old son spent an entire night trying to bang his head on the wall after drinking root beer. He has a medical history of seizures so it took us awhile to figure out that it wasn’t seizures or his medicine. But after research and lots of trial and error we believe it’s artificial colors and flavoring. We are very careful with his diet and he does very well until someone gives him a handful of colored candy.
    I am glad you figured it out quickly for your daughter.

  • Brandi Douglas says:

    Hi Becky, great post! We also have had negative experiences with diets full of food dyes. I spoke to my child’s pediatrician (reluctantly) after her teacher insisted that she had ADD or ADHD. I knew my daughter was on the hyper side and did seem to have more trouble than her peers when it came to paying attention. Her doctor did not even suspect ADD/ADHD but went straight to the food dyes. We began the process of removing them from her diet and we witnessed an amazing transformation. Her teacher also reported back that she seemed like a different child. That is where we are at currently. This all came about last school year and it is now summer and I have relaxed some on what she eats. There is still a lot of research I would like to do and more of like to learn. I’m no expert either but in our experience food dyes were an issue.

  • Dye-free family says:

    We also avoid dyes – and take it as far as no temporary tattoos and hand stamps after classes… because those are dyes too and the skin absorbs… I get some strange looks and some folks take offense when we politely decline the tattoos (which are everywhere) or my child produces a notebook to collect her stamp at the end of class (instead of extending her hand) – but so it goes. Awkward but healthy LOL.

  • bek says:

    Dyes are so aweful! I can almost pinpoint kids in public who are eating artificial clots at the park. Now that I am educated on this issue, I try to (lovingly) share my knowledge just like you. There are those who will scoff or argue but that just tells me that they are trying to cope with the guilt of knowing it is true and refusing to do the hard work to make their kids berter. The sad part is, making the changes is so worth it later!

  • Emily says:

    Yes! We just made this discovery. Our daughter specifically cannot have red food dye, but we think the others might be OK at this point. We are removing them some at a time. I am officially now a food label reader… And I am OK with that! Happier toddler = happier momma!

  • Sonia Jenkins says:

    Thank you for sharing Becky. My son is also sensitive to food dyes, red 40 is the worst for him. It causes anxiety and vomiting for him and it is so sad. It was such a journey to figure out what the culprit was, but now that we avoid them, wow! What a difference! Everyday is a learning experience on what foods to avoid….

  • Beth in TX says:

    My youngest tore his jeans with his bare hands and then got on all fours and repeatedly banged his head against the wall after having a cupcake when psychedelic colored frosting. He was 7. It is the last times we have had dyes. We now follow the food list that we receive thru our membership at http://www.feingold.org. Two weeks after starting with their program, teachers were telling me how the circles were gone from under his eyes and how much happier he seemed.

  • Angie Cover says:

    Wow! This is almost the exact experience we had and exactly what we did! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Stephanie says:

    We had this same issue with our son when he was 2 years old. We first noticed it after he had ibuprofen (the orange colored one). He literally went crazy afterwards. He was very angry and just screamed and cried and even tried to bang his head on our wall. This was not the way our son normally acted and it scared us really bad! We tried to calm him down and hold him, but he just cried and screamed hysterically for several hours. We don’t eat food colorings on a regular basis, so it only happened a few times before we realized there was a connection. We didn’t put it together until after he had a strawberry cake with strawberry icing (think Pillsbury-with food dyes). After he ate it, he had behavioral issues for 3 days straight. He went ballistic again. It has only happened a few times (probably 3 times total), but it was such a change from our sweet, mild little guy to a fidgety, irritable, angry little boy that we realized there was a definite connection. We haven’t given him any food dyes since and he has been great! We have two other children and one of them has had food dyes with no problem, so I know it doesn’t make all children act this way, but it definitely did for our son. Thanks for posting this and I hope it helps others!

  • Michelle says:

    Interesting read! My dad is always giving our (almost)3 year old daughter those “fruit” snacks and she’s just so difficult afterwards. Like yours, she’s extremely strong-willed. We’ll be giving this a try and hopefully it makes a difference. Thanks :)

  • Kait says:

    This sounds all too familiar at home and I may want to try and see if removing dyes work for us.

    Did you remove all of the dyes or just like red dye???

  • Heather says:

    This is very similar to our story!!!

    http://dyefreetreats.com/blogs/blog/14183821-our-dye-free-experiment

    If you ever have questions, or need help finding something, please reach out. If live to chat. Hopefully your message helps one more child. Thank you.

    Lots of love and support!

  • Betty Caywood says:

    I’ve enjoyed your article. I knew about preservatives, but I didn’t know about food dyes. What trigger words do you look for as you read labels?

  • Christa says:

    Oh wow.. i must have been meant to read this! My husband and i have been struggling with our 3 year old son. He has never been a bad kid. For the most part he obeys and when we had to discipline it would work. We have been to a point where absolutely nothing works and he actually has started to hit me and slapping my face when he gets in these moods. We have tried discipline every way we can think of and nothing works in those moments. This is NOT our son and it can be so hard! I have felt the exact same way you did. I have felt like a failure of a mom or that he isnt getting enough attention from me because he isnt the only child anymore. Our second child is also a year old now so i dont feel like it could possibly be adjustment to having a sibling because i felt like he has done very well with that. Better than i anticipated from all the stories people tell. So how do you control her not getting any of the dyes or other people (grandparents, caregivere, etc) giving her stuff containing dyes? I feel overwhelmed thinking about buying stuff without dye.

  • Heidi Wildman says:

    I love that you wrote this! This is so my 6 year old son. We barely made it through kindergarten this year at a private school and had to move him to a smaller school halfway through when his behavior and tantrums became too distracting. We decided that he has Sensory Processing Disorder and Oppositional Defiance Disorder. After doing some research this Summer I’ve decided that most of his behavioral problems are related to his diet and the food dyes are most likely the main culprit. We will now be eliminating food dyes from our home.

  • Carolyn Farrell says:

    This is brilliant and strikes a chord. Thank you. I am a firm believer that environmental pollutants and nutrition are a huge cause for so many of the illnesses and behaviors we see in our families. Thank you so much.

  • Tytti Brumfield says:

    Very interesting read as you sort of just described my 3yo son :) I always notice his behavior after he drinks apple juice (and a host of other things) that his behavior is amped up-always thought it was sugar and had not thought about dyes. Is it all dyes? A particular color? You are really inspiring me to sort of buckle down and make some changes :)

  • Trisha G says:

    I find this very interesting! My 5 yr old acts much the same way and some days I just want to break down and cry, especially in public places like the library and church. I wonder if dyes are having the same effect on him? Would you be willing to write a post about the process you took to eliminate dyes from your diets and which dyes in particular you avoid? I would like to try it, too, but I’m a little overwhelmed at the thought of what we would need to cut. Thanks!

    • Becky Thompson says:

      Trisha, absolutely! I’m planning it already! I’ll have it up (hopefully) in the next week or so.

  • Kathy Price says:

    Please make sure if your child has to take medicine that you ask if there are any dyes in it. We found out that both over the counter and prescribed drugs had dyes which were horrible for our son.

  • CJ says:

    Becky,
    I’ve been a mommy for two years now, and a teacher for 5 years. I can’t say that my daughter has shown any of the “symptoms” that your daughter has as of yet, but I can tell you that for the last few weeks, the Lord has really been convicting me about the way that I nourish my daughter. It’s my sole responsibility to make sure she is eating healthily and that she develops healthy habits for her future. I have been entirely too lax on this aspect of parenting as of late, and this post has encouraged me to do better, to be more informed about what my baby is eating. Also, the teacher in me is anxious to find out if I can pass along any of this to my future parents this upcoming school year. Thank you for sharing!

  • Kirby Carespodi says:

    I have a long story about this that I wish I could tell you, but just know that you are justified in your beliefs and you are right to eliminate any additives from your child’s diet.

  • Lauren says:

    Where can I get more information on what to avoid??? This is my story with my son and the guilt is overwhelming!

    • Becky Thompson says:

      Lauren, I’m planning a follow up post, but you can start by reading the ingredient list on every product you feed your son. It seems tedious, but it’s worth it. Food dyes are usually listed at the end of the list.

      • Beth says:

        I am allergic to yellow. Not only do you have to check food, but other products too. For example, I can’t use lots of soaps, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc.

  • Amy says:

    I have a strong willed child and when he’s “on food dyes” he’s like Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. We cut that stuff from his diet and he too is now more reasonable, predictable, healthy and happy! He’s truly a delight to be around now. I’m so glad you found the information you needed to help your daughter and in turn bring peace into your household too.

  • Candy says:

    Thank you for writing this article. I have been trying to figure what is causing my 4 year old son to act out just like what you explained. I’ve been trying to pinpoint the issues for over a year and a half. He’s started to have an issue with shrimp, but I think I want the dyes tested on him too. I’ve been crying at the Dr’s office thinking I was a horrible parent, since I have 2 kids aged 7 and 4.

  • Kim says:

    Thank you for sharing. This is something I discovered several years ago with my kids and not just with dye. There is msg in a lot of processed foods that are geared towards kids (snack foods, etc) also gluten was a big trigger in my daughter’s behavior. There are so many things our kids are eating that may be contributing to behavior problems, hyperactivity and so on. All of it affects my children, some more then others. My daughter who is now 11 years old was 3 years old when I started looking into dyes and gluten. Within 24 hours of changing her diet she was a completely different kid. I was amazed and honestly shocked at the diffence

  • katrina hintze says:

    I had similar experiences with my child. We first started by taking out sugar, and it helped a ton. But looking back, I think it helped a ton because it took out a good source of food dyes with it. My child gets suicidal (since she was 7) angry, aggressive, moody, impossible to live with for weeks…..after she has had food dyes. Certain ones have worse reactions, like caramel coloring for us is the worse! She is still strong willed. We still have issues. But it is not every second of every day. So glad I had a friend with a child who was sensitive to dyes so I could finally piece things together. Not many doctors think food is the reason for behaviors. But we are proof that what you eat makes a huge difference. Thanks for sharing. I know in my beginning stages, I felt soooooo alone. I am sure this will help someone find answers to their prayers.

  • valeria says:

    Wow thank you am going to try this I have a son sounds just like you describe your daughter he’s seven my house is always in crazy mode cause he cause so much turmoil he is in counciling but that’s not working so far so am going to start taking. Away the dyes and see how that works thank you so much for this writing hope and pray this works

  • gloria says:

    did kadence also smack her self un the face or arm and throw herself on the floor thats what im experiencing.

  • Fawn stender says:

    Your so spot on with this!!! I also have a daughter who is very intolerant to food dyes…it took us much longer to figure this out..strong willed was my excuse..and I’d tell people she has an “enhanced personality”…it took us a year and half to figure it out..mostly holidays were a tell take sign! She is 8 now and we have come a long way! I try to have stuff on hand in case something pops up..(like a neighbor offering Popsicles) we love Aldis! I avoid red40, yellow 5 and 6…basically if it has color and God didn’t make it…it’s off limits!!! I have been told they out grow this.,,sominhope it’s true…but for the most part we avoid artificial colors/flavors the best we can! And seriously..,”pickles!!!!” Lol!

  • Carolynn Markey says:

    Yup. This mamma here does all organic food…no vaccines, no preservatives in anything. I don’t like putting unnatural ingredients in mine or my children’s bodies.

  • Emily Lofgren says:

    Oh, Becky! Thank you for sharing this. It’s an important message because many people have no idea the affect dye can have on behavior. I was that “strong-willed child” who would have complete meltdowns and then feel so bad about it later. I never felt like I could control myself. Since going through other health issues, I have done an elimination diet and tested dyes to see their affect on me and it’s bad! There have been definite reactions. Another contributing factor for me was Kryptopyrrole Disorder, but it’s not a very widely known condition. Getting answers for why behavior changes is incredibly important! So glad you have found the culprit of your daughter’s behavioral issues now! It will save her years of heartbreak later.

  • Donette says:

    I had the same experience with my daughter. She was highly sensitive to red dye 40, and that’s in everything kids love….even the yogurt she loved. She had angry outburst, lots of crying, and uncontrollable rage at times. I eliminated the red dye, and she became a perfectly pleasant child who actually slept all night. She didn’t sleep through the night until she was 6 and I eliminated the dye.

  • Jennifer Hallum says:

    Your story sounds exactly like mine! We now know, if our daughter has anything with food dyes, it is going to be a rough day, until she detoxifies it from her body. I often wonder how many other kids are being medicated for behavioral problems when their lives could be transformed through diet!

  • Jess says:

    I am allergic to food dyes, it was confirmed when I was in my late twenties, but I remember my Mom limiting my little brother and I from a few specific ones. As a child I personally avoided certain soft drinks because I would feel sick and unable to control my energy. My siblings generally avoid foods full of dyes and are all happy to do so.

  • Barb says:

    I had the exact same experience with my 3-4 year old (Now 30). The difference was amazing her hyperactivity disappeared, though she did still have some attention problems. This was a miracle for her AND me!

  • Diane says:

    My daughter struggled through school with several issues and one was with red and yellow dyes. If she ate anything with these dyes she would have a hard time reading or she would not be able to do math. They really seemed to scramble her mind. I, too,was amazed at how many products have dyes. I changed many foods she ate. So sad we have to have things in our food that is not good for any of us

  • Denise K says:

    I have two children and one is allergic to synthetic food dye, particularly red 40. He is now 12 and has been on the Feingild diet since he was 3. I read all labels if everything but some things must have synthetic food dye or preservatives and are not labeled. Lately TBHQ and BHT preservatives have been a problem. Even when a cereal manufacturer puts BHT in packaging for cereal, it leaches into the food and we can tell a big difference. Carmel color is also tricky. There are four kinds of Carmel coloring, some are really bad and some are not so bad. There is no criteria for more specific labeling other than just “Carmel coloring”. For tummy aches, I give my son one white antacid. That usually helps him. However, if he eats something with synthetic food dye, he will have a bad tummy ache for 3 days. I wish the FDA would ban synthetic food coloring like Great Britian did. It would make his diet choices so much easier.

  • Lee says:

    I just wonder how many of these kids, who are reacting so negatively to the dyes in these foods, are being labelled :ADHD” and being given very dangerous drugs, and at such a young age? Thanks for writing this article I hope that many parents will see it, and discuss the possibilities with their doctors, or simply act on their own to cut out these dyes from their child’s diet and see if they don’t see a difference in the negative behavior .

  • janet halliwell says:

    Our daughter who is now 37 reacted badly to tartrazine. She was a very placid happy 5 year old. We were out & she had some chips with sachet of tomato ketchup. Her behaviour changed almost immediately & she developed a pinhead rash under her chin. She became unruly, loud & nasty. A week later we had lunch in a cafe & chose chips again. With great trepidation I allowed the ketchup again. This time she was worse. Became aggressive, in fact she threw a rubics cube at her sister & took a flying kick at her because she laughed at the rubics cube incident. Diet is everything, I wish manufacturers would get their act together.

  • Sarah Meaders says:

    Did you remove ALL food dyes, or just a few specific ones?

  • GinaR says:

    20 years ago the access to this information wasn’t as easy to find or share, but I went through this same journey with my son. When I mentioned the idea that food dye seemed to be the culprit, His pediatrician told me there was no evidence to support that idea (regardless of the food journal/behavioral incidents I shared). I eliminated food dyes and salycilates from his diet, added a vitamin B supplement and one week later his kindergarten teacher thanked me for starting him on Ritalin…yes, food dye poisoning is very real! As a teacher I have shared my personal experience over the years, but I am glad to see you are getting the word out for others as well!

  • Emily M says:

    I’m a chronic migraine sufferer and someone told me about food dyes yrs back. Since being diagnosed, and with keeping a food diary, I found that items that contain blue & red food dyes are a HUGE trigger for me. I no longer eat or drink artificially colored items and am much happier. To the nay-sayers out there- these dyes and artificial additives DO affect us

  • Kayla Nelson says:

    We have friends that have dealt with this same thing – particularly the red food dye affected their child. I personally haven’t noticed so much with my kids but have still chosen to avoid foods with artificial colors. I am so thankful for an Aldi close by to do all of my grocery shopping at!

    Thank you for sharing, I believe it is so important to share stories like this. I have to wonder, why on earth has the United States not jumped on banning things that are clearly affecting our children poorly and adding to the health issues that we see here…Maybe one day, keeping that in prayer for our country! :)

  • Jen Amis says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing this. I remember at the end if the school year last year one of my son’s teachers talking to us briefly about this as my son was having trouble focusing and comprehending. But, then summer came and the lazy yet crazy days and I had forgotten all about it until this morning when I happened across your article. Thanks for sharing this. I think it can help my son, but I’ve also been noticing all of my kids not focusing very well, and my 5 yr old is very high strung and busy. People like to tell me that they think she has adHD but I’m just not willing to label her with that yet. I wonder if just making some changes in the foods we buy can help her as well. Thanks again for being willing to share your story.

  • Emmy Griffith says:

    Becky, I could have written this post myself…in fact, I did write something on the same exact subject 3 years ago while having similar struggles with my oldest son. My husband and I felt defeated by everything and like we were failing as parents until our pediatrician suggested that maybe we try eliminating food dye…our world (and our son’s world) were completely changed within just a few days. It was astounding the difference it made for him, and continues to make today. Thank you for sharing your story!! Hugs.

  • Angie Joens says:

    I started on this journey about 13 years ago. The book that confirmed my belief that it was food causing her extreme erratic behavior is called, Is This Your Child, by Doris Rapp.

  • Tracy says:

    So grateful you played this! My daughter went through the exact same thing. She was a completely different child when we kept her from red dye 40. Not sure why our country allows this poison in Our food. Good job momma!

  • Tina says:

    Every time I write “sensitive to artificial food dye” on a form I know that people think I’m one of *those* Momma’s. And I am… To a point, because of what my daughters have gone through when eating food with red 40, yellow 5, blue 1, caramel coloring, etc.
    Not to write a book but she was regularly in the principals office in vpk… Sent home due to behavior a few times, kicked out of a summer camp 3 days into the summer with the counselor being given the option to file a police report. (We found out later she had consumed 3 bags of skittles while during the last 2 days at this camp – she was 8 year old) That’s the one that helped us figure out that food dye was causing her inability to control herself. After she finally (hours to days later) comes out of her fit, she is remorseful and upset that she couldn’t stop doing the things that got her in trouble.
    My other daughter was in the middle cognitive therapy when we stopped eating food coloring. She scores went up 20 percent on average.
    A year later and I can tell when they have accidentally had food with artificial food dye. It hurts to see your child become “the hulk” (her description of what happens to her) and behave in a way she can’t control.
    So, I’ll be *that mom* and provide teachers with organic lollipops and cookies they can have during birthday celebrations at school and I’ll give the cheer coach honey sticks to replace the pixie sticks before a cheer competition. Whatever it takes to help my girls…

  • Sharon says:

    I had the same problem with my now 15 year old daughter, when she was about 4 years old. I had begun removing all dyes from her diet (especially red dye) when she came down with an ear infection. Het pediatrician prescribed the pink “bubble gum” medicine, and after one dose she became violent. I called the doctors office to have them call in a script for something else and the doctor on call made me feel like there was something wrong with my daughter. She “had never heard of such a thing” and told me there was no way it could be the dye. She told me if I felt that strongly about it I should stop giving her the medicine. When I asked her what good that would do, it would only make the infection worse, she said I should “do what I had to do”. The next day, I took her to our regular pediatrician and she said she had heard of some children having a reaction to dyes, and called in a script for something with less dye in. Low and behold she was fine. A year or so later (and a new pediatrician) she ended up on another antibiotic so I told the doctor about our experience on the pink stuff. He looked on line and found a completely dye free liquid antibiotic for children. It still tasted sweet, but we had no behavioral issues!

  • Kristi says:

    This is exactly our story with my (now 10 year old) son. Almost word for word. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Kimberly L says:

    I love this article and I sympathize so so much. My children, but especially my 5 year, sounds just like how you described Kadence. I’ve heard of food dyes being bothersome so for the most part I pay attention and don’t allow those foods but it can be hard since they are everywhere. We try to eat mostly organic and I’ve found that those brands tend to not have dyes added or have natural foods used for color which help a lot. Thank you and I’m so glad you all got past that hard time and found a solution. <3

  • Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for writing this! Our family has a very similar story. My daughter was about 2 when we noticed that she was having major hysterical episodes for what seemed like no reason at all. When I finally came across the information about dyes I told my husband we had to give this a shot and eliminate dye to see if it helped. He thought I was crazy. After a week the difference was remarkable, and after a month we couldn’t believe this was the same child. We are now a much happier, more functional family. But we struggle constantly with getting others to understand the importance. So many think we are exaggerating the effect dye really has on her, and tend to “forget” and give her candy and things. I hope that by telling your story on a wide scale it will help others understand. Thanks again!

  • Shelley Tzorfas says:

    I wrote about this in my book.”Recovering Autism, ADHD, & Special Needs.” So few connect the dots as you have. Imagine an ABA therapist who periodically rewards or withholds rewards from an Autistic child and has No knowledge on the root of an out of control child ? A child might have had food dye during dinner and begin to have outbursts and chemical reactions the next day. All the rewards or punishments are of no value until the physical chemical reaction is over. Different children metabolize the chemicals at different times. Some children might have an immediate reaction while it could be the next day for others.

  • Mary says:

    Our daughter began extreme behavior at around 18 months right when she started to eat “normal foods”. Eventually we discovered a “natural” colorant as the culprit. Annatto is often used as a replacement to artificial colorants it is technically a natural product; but it has horrific effects upon many children. Irrational rages with halmark head banging. Please be careful to watch for this ingredient when avoiding the synthetic dyes.

  • Lauren G says:

    Thank you for sharing! God bless you and your family!!

  • SM says:

    I was wondering if you have read anything about food dyes in nonfood products. For example, I just discovered that our cocoa butter hand and face cream has two reds (including red40) and two yellows in it. Why the manufacturer chose to slightly color the cream, I do not know. But I now wonder if it could cause similar reactions to foods with dye.

    • April says:

      I believe my other comments are still awaiting moderation but I mentioned in them as well about markers, play dough, soaps, crayons all having similar effect when she uses them and then sucks her fingers (5-year habit) or gets on her skin. Worst meltdown ever after using pink Dora shampoo. Finger crayons. Eating play dough or just playing? Hard to know sometimes what goes in the mouth versus doesn’t…

  • Brandy says:

    Our son, now 8, can’t handle red dye. We were lucky enough to have a family friend who was familiar with food dye sensitivity clue us in when our son was two. It was life-changing for our family. It is hard for people to grasp if they haven’t experienced the reaction for themselves. It is the terrible twos on steroids.
    While many things have improved within the food industry over the last six years, one thing that continues to puzzle me is why the pharmaceutical industry is so behind the times. Finding simple things such as childrens’ ibuprofen and antibiotics without red dye is almost impossible. Also, many doctors are completely unaware about food dye sensitivity, which is problematic with prescribed medication.
    I’m so glad you made the connection and your daughter is doing well.

  • Donna says:

    I am sure your story will help a lot of people, it needs to be told, and maybe it will help other people in the same situation. I am sharing this with my friends. I am happy your daughter is doing better.

  • Katie Hamilton says:

    I would really enjoy some help with this and getting a type of diet plan. What types of foods do you substitute?

  • roma says:

    Dr Benjamen Feingold identified this problem back in the 1960’s, that food additives…..preservatives, dyes, etc cause ADHD & hyperactivity in children. He authored a book, Why Your Child Is Hyperactive in 1974.

  • Jennifer Olson says:

    we try to avoid all dye when possible … but red dye 40 is our enemy in this house! it’s in virtually EVERYTHING. medications are what gets me the most. my son initially had a reaction to a med at three age of 1. Dr said to give benadryl. his rash kept worsening. held the bottles together and they both had one similar ingredient. red dye 40. he reacts most to meds still… because it’s a constant level in his body. so, we now order our antibiotics from the UK. (they don’t allow dyes). we pay hundreds of $s … even with insurance. it’s scary. I follow the http://www.red40.com website to find foods/meds that are ok for us. what terrifies me … is that schools are dealing with these behaviors …. and they are causing it, by what they feed the kids for snacks and lunch. (and what parents are feeding at home). it’s scary when you start to look at where they use dyes. marshmallows! white marshmallows! I cannot wait until this epidemic is realized in our country. thank you for saying something. I’ve been trying to educate people for years.

  • Louise Gagne says:

    Boy, does this strike a note! Thank you Becky for posting this. It’s so difficult to try to explain these types of issues to people when they have no idea what is causing these types of things in their children. We have a 3-1/2 yr old grand-daughter just like this and I’ve sent your article to our children to read and take note of.
    Thank you again Becky. Bless you.

  • Morgan says:

    Hi Becky! I just read this article and it fascinated me.. I am a regular ALDI shopper, and while I have not always been ingredient-conscious, I would LOVE to know some of the foods you have come across at this particular store that satisfied the ‘no-dye’ change with her diet. My children don’t have particular allergies (thankfully, I can only imagine the extensive research and preparing you have to do to feed a child with a food allergy) but I would love to take a positive step towards my children’s diets and try the no-dye foods! :) thanks for sharing!!

  • Carrie Dolan says:

    Thank you for sharing this Becky :)

    I love the fact that Mom’s like you exist and feel so blessed to read your blogs. My LO is 15 months and I am always on the look out for constructive information that can help us on our journey. We try to feed him a whole food diet but do live in the real world. I’m definitely going to be mindful of the dyes companies are putting in the foods we eat. I take great solace in knowing that I am not alone and very much appreciate all you’ve offered over the past few years. Xoxoxo

  • Norah says:

    My daughter actually threw up anything that had red dye in it. She couldn’t keep down froot loops, applejacks juice or koolaide. Nothing with red dye at all. It was quick finding that out so the behavioral problems didn’t really ever appear. So thankful for that!

  • Kate says:

    When my younger son was 3 (who is now 10) we noticed the same behaviors that you described. My oldest brother had the same behaviors at age 2 (who is now 42). My mother started my brother on the Feingold diet and it did wonders for him. I started my son on the Feingold diet, as well. We eliminated all foods with dyes, artificial colors and preservitives from our diet and it has made a world of difference. Dr. Feingold also found that fruits have a natural pesticide that some children may have an aversion to. We cut out all fruits and reintroduced them gradually. I will send him with his own dessert to Birthday parties and his own meal, if they are serving lunch or dinner. Some would say I’m over the top but he knows and I know it makes him feel better. We have been on this “diet” for years and to me it’s the way we all should eat anyway. Anot her little tidbit, my ex husband was a chronic kidney stone producer and he has not produced a kidney stone since we started the diet. Thank you for sharing. I share my story every chance I get.

  • Renee says:

    My daughter is 3 and over the last 6 months we’ve experimented with ridding her diet of dyes. I am happy to see this article as I believe wholeheartedly it is the same issue we’re having with our little one!

  • April says:

    Someone just posted this to my Facebook wall as I’ve been sharing elements of our own experience the last two years with our now 5-1/2 year old. I will comment again soon with more specifics and will be so interested in continuing a conversation about this heat and reading new comments. Here was my quick response to my initial reading on my Facebook wall, just removed a few names:

    “Wow. This could have been me writing this about our daughter. I sat up late last night lamenting whether or not I should tell her teacher or try to just cover it up with Zyrtec as one pediatrician suggested we do. I met her tonight at meet the teacher and had an opportunity to share a little bit about the dye situation with her and felt very relieved that I did as she seems like a capable lady who I would rather understand my kid than not. Our issue is that it also seems to come with contact with art supplies, but we will work together on figuring that out… It’s so crazy to me how differently she can act when exposed versus not, and the Zyrtec does NOT fix the problem, just tames the symptoms a bit. Thank you for sharing this with me!”

    Aside from yellow crackers and other sneaky dyes, we’ve seen some of the worst reactions also from colored kid shampoo, tattooes, markers, and even contact with crayons taken out of their paper. I’ve actually tried having her wear vinyl gloves. With small exposures, she just gets extra antsy and doesn’t listen. With big exposures, she will wake up screaming in the middle of the night, saying she is cold and is totally inconsolable for about 30 minutes. It’s terrifying and would be worse if we didn’t know it was the dye as it is in everything. I’m so grateful for Aldi and Trader Joes for removing “all the stuff” from their products. It felt amazing to me the day we walked into TJ’s, and I said “hey kids, you can each pick out a fruit, a veggie, a cereal, and any special treat you WANT. In this entire store.”

  • April says:

    My biggest question is what do we do? How can we create awareness? How can we suggest to all the parents who have their kids on ADHD meds to consider removing dyes and seeing if they still need the meds? Why do we need blue dye in white marshmallows, yellow dye in white cakes and frostiness? Why is the FDA not doing anything about it like Europe has? What would it take? How can we make it happen?

    We noticed it the day we tried Benadryl instead of Zyrtec for seasonal allergies. Total meltdown. Why put dye in antibiotics and Tylenol and allergy med? For kids?!

    I have only had a chance to scan a handful of comments but will read all when I can. If anyone knows of a place with answers to any of my questions, please reply and send links! We have appointments ordered for meeting with a GI consultant and allergy specialist but haven’t formally scheduled yet. I’ve been told that I probably won’t find help if it’s a behavioral reaction and not anaphylactic response (like hives or throat swelling), something about IgE versus IgG, and that most docs don’t recognize any studies that have to do with IGG as they aren’t scientific enough. I have a local chiropractor who is offering to do some sort of laser acupuncture on my 5-year-old to cure her of her allergies, and I think this falls into the category of not scientific as they don’t have any research to back it up other than their own patient testimonies. I’m married to someone very interested in scientific evidence so, starting with more traditional investigation. Just expecting to hit dead ends. Our primary doc said they will probably do psychiatric assessment as well. But it just seems so strange to me that her behavior is soooo directly linked to things she eats and touches…

  • molly says:

    A friend sent me a link to this entry in your blog.. because she saw my son in this. She’s spent a lot of time with my family & has seen the different sides of my son, that most have not. The description of your 3 year old is very similar to what we’ve seen in my now 9 year old son. We’ve been trying to figure out how to help him since he was 7. We’ve seen numerous psychologists, done lots of testing and still don’t have a diagnosis that fits. Some well known psychiatrists in our community refer to him as, “the mystery that is (his name here)”. They’ve seen kids for many years & are highly recommended. We haven’t looked at dyes. I want to hank you, from the bottom of my heart, for giving us another path to look down, because we’ve been down so many! Even if it isn’t the path that fits him, I still appreciate this post a LOT.. as I’m sure you can relate to. Thank you.

  • molly says:

    “thank you” not hank you. :)

  • Cellas says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this story of yours Becky. I have a 3 yr old beautiful daughter and I feel like you just described her to a tee. Can I ask where you found good truthful information on what types of food contains dyes? Where can I look for good information? I know I can’t believe everything I read online. TIA. and God’s most beautiful blessings to you. X

  • Heidi says:

    How long until you started seeing a difference in your child?

  • Brandy Burnette says:

    My son was diagnosed with Asbergers at the age of 2. He’s a very bright and loving child, and around the age of four I discovered his sensitivity to food dye, red dye #40 specifically. Now that he’s almost 7 his put of control behaviors are coming back, we’ve had to switch daycare twice already. As a single, working Mom it’s so hard to keep these harmful additives out when they’re in SO many things! I’m still getting to get his diet under control, do you have any tips on planning a (budgeted) dye free menu for kids? I could use all the help I can get!

  • Christina says:

    This is very interesting. I’ve noticed I’m getting lax with my daughter’s diet and her behavior is becoming more unruly. So much so that I am doubting myself as a mother. I may have to eliminate some dyes and see if that will help. They sure are in a lot of foods, could you do a post on meal & snack ideas that do not contain dyes??

  • Kayla Thompson says:

    THANK YOU BECKY for sharing this! For the last couple years we’ve been paying attention to this but right when you posted this God was sharing all kinds of things with me and this post was what made us know it was time for a change. Within a day of less red and blue dyes, my little nephew was a new kid and each day has only gotten better. I’m excited to see us all thrive instead of just survive.

  • Rachel says:

    As a child, I had a different, but also severe reaction to Yellow #5. I would promptly get ear infections, within hours. It’s crazy what dyes can do to your system.

  • Vanessa says:

    Thank you so much for this article
    My daughter is now 7 and at around 2/2,5 we realized that sugar and colourants affected her behavior… And it was as bad if not worse than you describe. The hardest was to watch the remorse after her episodes
    We also had her tested (after I had done all of my own research) – and was confirmed by an amazing doctor who specializes in ADD (and how good affects behavior)
    What’s so interesting is that many doctors out there don’t agree or buy into this – and I guess those are the ones that we need to walk away from… But as parents we know our children and need to be confident in that.
    As long as people, like you, and me are talking about it we will get the word out to those parents who don’t know where to turn … Thanks again for putting this and yourself out there !!

  • Jenelle says:

    Same story here. My three year old was seriously the exact same. His loving preschool teacher suggested we consider ADHD but before we looked into medicines she suggested we find out more about food dyes as she didn’t know much but that would be where she would start. I credit that Godly woman with saving my son’s and my relationship. It was hard to like him most days with food dye in his system if I’m being honest. I loved him so much but I was ready to put him in daycare just to get a break. Through a lot of errors and carefully tracking his diet, we discovered it’s only red 40 for him. And he’s eight now. He still loses all self-control when he accidentally gets some. And the next 2-5 days are really emotional for him. Depressed. Sad. Mood swings to rival a pregnant woman. He’s recognized it for himself and makes the choice himself to avoid Red whenever he’s away from me, (which is often as he’s in public school). Thank you for sharing your story Becky. I hope Kadence continues to thrive. Oh, we’ve also found Omega 3-6-9 vitamins really help him personally too. Something to consider for anyone reading that might like additional ideas to try. Eliminating Sodium Benzoate was another thing we tried, but that didn’t seem to effect my son.

  • Wendy says:

    Hi there.
    We discovered our daughter’s food allergies in a physical way. Anything with orange burns her skin around her mouth. She gets a severe rash from things like the lady fingers biscuits. When she has had an unsupervised food day we deal with a child that is completely out of control. She also has an ADHD diagnosis which makes it even more important to watch her diet and stimulation level very carefully.

  • LD says:

    What do you do in social situations? Or even at school? My kids are given so much junk food (full of artificial food dyes) every day at school! It’s appalling but I don’t feel like I can say anything!

  • Carrie says:

    Totally agree with your Article! Our youngest son has an allergy to food dye, particularly Red 40. It’s absolutely crazy how he behaves when he has had a considerable amount. A small dum dum lollipop doesn’t do too much, but red gatorade should be banned from existanxe!

  • Lauren says:

    I appreciate that you wrote this. Learning about our food is a bit of a daunting task. If you haven’t heard of Prep Dish, it is an awesome service that I use to help me with meal planning real food. It was kind of my families Step 1 in learning and course correcting our diet. I love sharing it with people since it positively improved my families life. Thank you for sharing!

  • Sarah Green says:

    Wow!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! My son sounds like your daughter. Meltdowns just because his truck won’t hook up to his trailer, sister looked at him funny, among other things. We have tried everything! Everything except this.

  • Tamara says:

    This is overwhelming to see how many others have this problem too, and yet Red 40 hasn’t been outlawed yet?!?! When my 2yo would have red dye it was like a demon was invadikng her body. Extreme meltdowns, MEAN, fighting, attacking her sibling, crying, running around like a crazy pwrson & the list goes on. She is now 7.5. We stopped giving her red 40 at about 2.5, by the suggestion of my sister who had the same issue with her son who was 4 years older, and my grandma confirmed that when she cared for my cousin, 30 years ago, his teacher suggested cutting it out of HIS diet & it made a HUGE difference. I can’t comprehend how many people have no idea what I. Talking about when I take my daughter somewhere & say “no food dye”or “no red 40” & RARELY does anyone even know what I’m talking about. My daughter is old enough now that she knows she gets severe headaches from it & can’t stop crying, so she avoids it. She is a typical oldest child who always strives to be good & never causes trouble at school, etc. Yet the first time this last school year she had red 40 & ended up punching someone in the arm bc he didn’t show her his milk carton :-O. Now I have to educate everyone, even teachers on this. And even just provide special snacks for just her when there isn’t a good option. I shop a lot at Aldi, as they have committed to no food dyes in their brand foods. If i shop elsewhere, i have to be a thorough label reader. General Mills also recently stopped putting dyes in their cereals too. Kraft also stopped putting yellow 5 in their mac & cheese. I just wish everyone would realize this!

  • Sabrina Wallace Garmany says:

    How did you find out which colors to remove? Is there a test or was it a process of elimination?

  • Lb says:

    My son reacted to Red dye when he was younger. He is 32 yrs old now. Sadly the research on this has been suppressed for decades really. Just because things are FDA approved doesn’t necessarily mean they are good for us.

  • Amy Williams says:

    Thanks for sharing the food dye story. It is so important that parents know how food dye can affect behavior and the physical body!

    When my oldest child was turning 2 years old he had terrible red rash like eczema on his toddler cheeks. I did not know how to help relieve him from the discomfort he was experiencing. I even gave him many different over the counter allergy medicines hoping that would help. The doctors prescribed soaps. But nothing helped clear his face. Right after his second birthday, and a Winnie the Pooh decorated cake I proudly made for him, as well as a trip to the bank complete with a cherry lollipop, he had a terrible flare on his cheeks. I casually mentioned this dilemma to a friend and she gave me life changing information– her husband had the same issue from an allergy to red food dye. She suggested I cut it out from his diet, which I quickly did, and his face soon went back to a beautiful complexion for a young child.
    Years later my sister’s little boy developed the same issue, and I quickly passed on the knowledge: cut out red food dye! And his eczema was relieved as well.
    Red food dye is in many foods– some obvious and some not so obvious. Spend time reading food labels. Do your best to cut this out of you and your children’s diet, and your family will benefit in better health, on the inside and the outside.

  • Kari says:

    Thank you for this post! My family went through something similar and have noticed amazing changes in both our children (and ourselves) since altering our diet. Cutting out atificial ingredients is hard at first, but so worth it when your child excels at school, can concentrate enough to process information, and responds to discipline! It’s a win for everyone. We use the Feingold program and are so thankful that there’s an organization that has done the research for us so we don’t have to read labels!

  • Deena says:

    I’ve been scrolling through the comments and, while I’m saddened by the number of children suffering from these symptoms, I’m so blessed by how everyone has responded to Becky. I could sense a very tender heart in her words, and you are so encouraging!

  • Missy says:

    We removed red 40 from my son’s diet and noticed a difference. I’ve been starting to wonder if I need to look at other food dyes as well because he still struggles with attention, anger and behavior problems.

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