Artificial food dyes

Discussion in 'Healthful Living / Natural Treatments' started by Ann85, Sep 19, 2008.

  1. Ann85

    Ann85 Ann

    I am interested in hearing from other people who have identified food dyes as a trigger for their children. My oldest daughter had been difficult from the age of 18 months. I said she hit the terrible two's early and never came out again. About two years ago I was starting to be concerned (she was 6) that her outbursts were too extreme and lasted too long. She would have outbursts that were aggressive and lasted for hours. In addition she was very sensitive to tags in clothes and nubbies in her socks. She would tantrum and scream over clothing that irritated her. I had reached my limit with her and was starting to wonder if she was developing a mental health diagnosis. I am even a child therapist. I had tried multiple behavioral interventions. I was getting very frustrated. At the advice of a friend I stopped giving her red and yellow food dye. I heard it could take up to three days to get it our of her system. I noticed a BIG improvement. I didn't believe it at first. I would wait a few weeks and let her try something again. Each time she fell apart again. I started to realize that this was really happening. After a while off of the dye I realized that her clothing sensitivities had also gone away. This summer she was riding in the car and screaming about some clothing issue. I had allowed her to have dye at a friend's birthday party! Last spring I finally stopped all artificial food dyes. Up til then I had still allowed blue dye. When I took away the blue I noticed even more improvement and more stability. I found a blog that talks about dye and I am posting a link.

    I have contacted several food companies trying to encourage them to produce more healthy food choices. I figure if the demand is there they will make it. The M&M company told me that the customers in the US do not demand healthier choices. I also have taken my other two children of of the dyes. After doing so I realized that my 5 year old son was much calmer. Behavior that I used to see as occasional, normal, child excitability was often due to dye. I took my 2 year old off because I now believe it can not be good for a developing brain. When he took a red antibiotic, he was whiney and clingy until it was out of his system. What experiences have the rest of you had? What foods have you eliminated?

  2. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    I've complained to companies, such as Purdue for putting food coloring in their chicken nuggets. They send a coupon and tell you that they'll make a note of it. I have eliminated all food coloring from Missy's diet. Mighty Mouse can handle small amounts of it. His behavior will deteriorate some if he's had too much and if he's had a lot, he's not pleasant, but totally different from the case with Missy.

    Sunspire makes M&M like candies that use only natural food colorings. There are other options out there. I go to Whole Foods every few months and stock up on snacks for the kids.
  3. Ann85

    Ann85 Ann

    We just bought a bag of the sun spire chocolate m&m candies. My kids love them. I thought they tasted like cheap chocolate. My kids also love Ymmy Earth Organic lollipops. I have also contacted a few companies. A few weeks ago I called M&M. They make naturally colored M&M's and Skittles in the UK. The US company admitted that but says the customers in US do not demand healthier options. Today I called Frito Lay. This summer they had a wild white cheddar crunchy Cheetos as a limited time only offer. We bought every bag I could find. They were awesome. I called to ask for them again and to complain about the dyes in most of their products. Everytime I think I have everything accounted for I find dye in a surprising place. Did you know the bread at the Outback steak house and the Cheesecake factory have red dye in them? When I get a chance I'll call Pudue too. I buy Tyson nuggets.

  4. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    I've seen organic lollipops for years, but the majority of them had corn syrup in them. I noticed they are finally making them with cane syrup. My kids love them. Miss is thrilled that she can finally have lollipops. I keep them in my pocketbook for those times that other kids are given candy that she can't have. They are a Godsend! Natural coloring in Skittles would most likely have corn syrup.

    I've found natural licorice (cherry or strawberry) at Whole Foods and also natural cotton candy, which my kids just went nuts over.

    Don't forget Kellogs...Pancakes and Waffles both have food coloring in them. The only ones that don't are the Nutrigrain whole grain waffles. If they have blueberries, they have dye in them. Sick isn't it? Why, in the world do they think they need food dye in waffles, for crying out loud????
  5. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    We've eliminated red dyes (most of the time). M&Ms was going to get rid of the red candies a few yrs ago but it didn't work very well so they're back to the usual. You can order a specific color with-a specific initial on it, online, for a high price (great gifts, though). I'd be happy just to eat the brown ones.

    Why would cane syrup be better than corn syrup?

    Good catch on the Kelloggs pancakes and waffles. Didn't know that. Also, didn't know the blueberries had dye.

  6. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    Because corn syrup is chemically altered corn starch. Cane syrup is just made from sugar cane.
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    My oldest couldn't hanlde the food dyes, though for the tags and sock problems Occupational Therapy helped more for us. I get severe migraines from artif dyes and preservatives. They are so pervasive in our foods, it is scary.

    I strongly recommend reading The Tightwad Gazette for some natural food coloring ideas, and a book called Make a Mix Cookery to help you get the convenience foods with-o the additiives (and saves a TON of $$ too).
  8. sara125

    sara125 New Member

    Hi everyone. I am new to this site. I can use all the help I can get. My 4.25 year old son has recently been diagnosed with ODD. I have been reading your threads about the dye. Do you know if the dye has effect on kids with ODD?

    Thanks for your input.
  9. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    ODD is (in my opinion) generally a symptom of another disorder. It is not a stand-alone diagnosis, regardless of my opinion. It is also my opinion that food dyes definitely affect the behavior of a lot of children. I see it in my daughter. I see it in other children as well. Even my easy child son is effected by it, though not as severely as my daughter who has behavioral issues. My daughter rages when she sneaks a lollipop. She gets extremely emotional when she has corn syrup.
  10. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    I too see a significant deterioration in my children's behaviour when they're exposed to certain foods. I'm not sure if it's entirely related to the dyes or something else.

    For example:
    Anything with citrus sends my difficult child into full-on mania, with paranoia. Same effect from tropical fruits, cranberries and yellow mustard (but not dijon).

    My little easy child shows a marked increase in ADHD behaviour when he eats ketchup.

    I've found that tracking food by food with reactions, behaviour etc. has been the only way I've been able to pin it down.

    Hope this helps,
  11. sara125

    sara125 New Member

    Thank you for your input. Just based on what I have read and my connection with other parents, regardless of what is causing our sons ODD to "flare", we are making a choice to go to more healthy foods, i.e. organic. ADHD has not been a diagnosis at this point due to his still young age. It maybe a factor in a few years. Doctors are reluctant to diagnose ADHD in younger children.

    This is still new water we are treading. I am thankful for support groups like this one to make it a little easier.

  12. allhaileris

    allhaileris Crumbling Family Rock

    We took the food dye out a couple years ago. Our daughter was trained before she could read that ingredients with numbers in them meant she couldn't have them. She's totally fine with it and will ask if she can have something brightly colored now (because she knows it's not all bad and if she asks she might get it). I realized it made her a mess the first time she got children's motrin, the red type, kept her up until 3am. I thought it was her cold, but the next night she was up just as late. It made for a horrible mama!

    Read up on the Feingold diet. This is one of the key areas of that diet and the ony rule I can really follow. We also keep away apple juice and milk due to a natural preservative that causes hyperactivity. My daughter is mostly a vegitarian, so I don't have to worry about chicken nuggets or lunch meat! But the cherries in tropical fruit has dye in it :(

    You can buy ANYTHING at Whole Foods and it'll be safe for this. I got her last birthday cake there with pretty flowers on it and no food dye.

    There *is* a group here in the US that is trying to get the FDA to ban dyes. I emailed myself the article but it's way back in my email and I'll have to dig for it. I think writing the FDA, your congresspeople and senators will do more than writing the companies (which reminds me I still need to do that).

    And for the effect is has on my daughter, she just gets non-focused and hyper. It becomes impossible to get her to latch onto me and she has to run it out of her system. She's been diagnosed with ODD, but we're leaning towards Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and are working on another evaluation.

    I know that I'm lucky being in the area I'm at, there are lots of natural type people and lots of options for food so I can usually find something without food dye. But there have been plenty of times she gets a sprite instead of "lemonade" at a restaurant because I'd rather have her only have one bad thing (the high fructose corn syrup) than two (the dye and hfcs).
  13. Carole Pinell

    Carole Pinell New Member

    Okay, so the Mars company says there is not a demand. So, now we need to figure out what we need to do to get the point that we are DEMANDing a healthier choice...not only for our children but for all of the kids in the US. I'm ready to hit this full force, and would love to have anyone who'd like to help with me. Both of my boys are extremely sensitive to the artificial coloring (one loses control of his actions, running himself into the wall over and over again, and the other becomes violent) and it's ridiculous how they 'hide' it in odd places. Any one with me????

    The oddest I found so far? Pickles and pickle relish.
  14. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    Carole, welcome. Yes, I found that artificial colors in pickles seem ridiculous. I joined your facebook group. Awesome! Thanks for sharing.
  15. politicalsky

    politicalsky Guest

    All three of my youngest daughters (8,8 and 6) have extreme sensitivity to artificial food dyes, flavors and a preservative called Sodium Benzonate.

    I have found that the Feingold organization ( has tons of information on how to avoid these things in your food as well as a naturally occurring chemical called salyicalyte (sp?) . Some people are very sensitive to it and it can cause ADD and behavior symptoms. It can take up to 4 weeks for some dyes and up to 8 weeks for some other chemicals to be eliminated from your body and stop causing issues.

    There was just a big research study in the UK on food dye and Sodium Benzonate causing ADHD symptom in "normal" children. Stores in the UK have stopped carrying food with these items in them but the American public has not given an outcry loud enough for the manufacturers to care.

    Another good place to get information is the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Their website is:

    Good luck and keep smiling.