Steps to reducing red food dyes (hyperactive child)

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by jessfamilyof4, Apr 11, 2012.

  1. jessfamilyof4

    jessfamilyof4 New Member

    Okay so I have a daughter that is 12, hyperactive, extremely impulsive and very immature. I have heard wonderful changes take place when removing red food dye from childs diet.

    What are the steps to do this?
    Is it hard to do?
    Is there a website that is reccommended to get info from?
    Does it help children with anxiety as well?
    Is it more than just red dye that needs to be removed?

    Where do you see the biggest changes when doing this?
    Are there a combination of things that need to take place; like still take medications? natural medications?

    I am willing to try this but need some help folks!
    Seems extremely hard to do so thanks for ya'lls imput : )

  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Other than the Feingold diet, which has been around for decades, I haven't heard much about this. BUT I don't have a child at home with adhd anymore, so I haven't been looking at the most recent research.

    I CAN give help for reducing/eliminating most artificial food color/preservatives, because I have severe migraines and have had to do this since my teens. One of the key things is to stop buying mixes and convenience foods. Even foods labelled organic and/or dye free should not be assumed to be okay, and you have to read the recipes. this does NOT mean you are chained to the kitchen or cannot ever eat out again. how? By making your own mixes and convenience foods and planning ahead. if you plan, and make your own things, you can actually SAVE money once you are used to a routine. I made our mixes for well over a decade, including 3 years spent cooking for 8-9 people nightly as we lived with extended family, and I was NOT chained to the kitchen or grocery store.

    HOW to make mixes, esp for cake mixes, breads, etc...??? I use a great cookbook called "Make a Mix Cookery" by Eliason et al, and I have created some of my own based on recipes that I love. I have a super easy chocolate cake recipe that is from scratch, and if I am out of mixes, I make a cake and measure out 3-7 more, based on what we will need for the next 2-3 months and the amt of storage space I have. It is a recipe where you don't have to beat the butter and sugar together to start, and is tender, moist, won the county fair twice, and gets raves from everyone who tries it. Even biscuits are really easy if you have a basic recipe and the right equipment, esp after you get used to the process. The other book that is a HUGE help is The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Dacyzian. It is 3 books in one, and has help living a frugal lifestyle including really great recipes, but has help for every aspect of life. you don't have to do everything in the book, and it was written in the 80s so the prices are a bit out of date, but the way tehy were figured can be done pretty easily. Even if you never use anything in the book but the recipes, they more than are worth the price of the book. of course I recommend buying it used from amazon marketplace (starts at $2.61 plus $3.99 shipping, used) or another used bookstore, but that is my personal thngs because I am a major tightwad and always have been.

    Another way to nOT be chained to the kitchen is to always cook 2-3 meals worth at once, and freeze the extras. i use some of the 'cook once a month for the entire month" cookbooks for recipes, and only make one at a time. it works a lot better for my family.

    A huge thing to think about is the girlfriend/cf diet. this is the gluten free/casein free diet. MANY people here have had HUGE positive changes n their children AND themselves when they try/stick to this diet - the stories you hear about it are not made up, at least not the ones on this site. the difference can be astounding if food intolerances are the issue. I say intolerances because our allergist says that they are not technically allergies most of the time, but they still have a significant impact on behavior and on the body. My kids were not significantly helped by the elimination diet and challenges, but I do know people who have been. You NEVER know if it will help unless you try it, and when it works it can seem like incredible magic. if you are going to make a change, it might be interesting to try the elimination diet and include food color and preservatves in what you eliminate, and then you can try adding them back in. I will say that for ME the food color/preservative difference is NOT something that showed well on the elim diet because it takes a few hours after the food color or preservative to have the migraine. I know there IS a difference because I did a three month study in college wehre we analyzed everything I ate and drank, and those were the one thing that statistically made a huge difference in the number of migraines I had. That and over 30 yrs of migraines and migraine treatment lets me be sure, but it isn't as clear cut to everyone.

    I hope this helps. I am sure googling "elimination diet' and checkign the healthy living forum of this board will give more help. Even if you don't go to making all your mixes and cooking from scratch, the 2 books I listed are excellent. Other books to really really ehlp with the 'deprivation' part of cutting out food color and preservatives are the various copycat and "top secret" or 'america's most wanted recipes' cookbooks, the ones with make at home versions of grocery store and restaurant food and drink. You would be ASTOUNDED at the amt of food color in restaurant food. did you know that the wonderful bread from Outback Steakhouse take 30 drops of food color for a breadmaker loaf?!?! or that red devil cake recipes often call for 2-4 teaspoons of red food color? It tastes even better with-o that, because food color can add a VERY bitter taste. Interestingly, for cake baking they used to have to sell TWO types of red food color - one was called "no taste red" because red food color has an esp awful taste that is VERY noticable in frosting. I think they finally stopped making the old nasty tasting version, or at least it is hard to find anymore, but isn't that interesting? I know bakers who still used the old, bad taste version because it "looked better" in their red velvet cakes. even as a kid before I ever heard of food color causing problems I thought it tasted yucky when food had a bright color from food colorings.

    i hope this is somewhat helpful, or at least informative. I do, very much, think we would see changes in our chldren if we did not feed them so much food color and artificial preservatives. You can also make natural food colors. the tightwad gazette has instructions that work.
  3. allhaileris

    allhaileris Crumbling Family Rock

    We do kind of a modified Feingold diet. The big part is taking out ALL food dyes. This is actually pretty easy once you've read every single label in the grocery store :) We also do no apple juice, no milk (whole milk is fine, not 2%) because of a natural preservative in it. We do allow her a bunch of the fruits and veggies on it, as the whole versions of the foods don't seem to react with her (some fruits and veggies are a no-no on this diet).

    I believe we're lucky, living in a foodie area, that we have a lot of choices in our selection of foods. When I visit my mom or sister, I have a hard time shopping for some basics. But my daughter is also a vegetarian.

    Artificial food dye is banned in the UK and many European countries, and there are more and more companies that are using food to dye their foods rather than chemicals. For example, yogurt used to have very little selection, and now I can get mostly what we want. Just look at every label. You'd be surprised at what doesn't have food dye. We get a lot of lemonade, usually the Simply or Newman's brands. Yoplait yogurt. Annie's bunny snacks or Target's organic snacks so she can have the fruit chews in her lunch like the other kids. We don't eat a lot of processed junk, but there are options even for junk, like getting Kettle potato chips instead of Doritos. Chocolate candies instead of just candy, and even then, Trader Joes has some inexpensive non-chocolate candy that she can eat. We give her almond or coconut milk (this is kind of new, not sure if it's in your area, but it's the closest thing to milk I've had, it's decent tasting, and will be right with the soy/rice/almond milk). Even if you're at a fast food place, get a sprite instead of a coke or minute maid lemonade, at least there is only one evil in Sprite (HFCS).

    Your questions:
    1. Just read the labels, find alternatives to your favorites (or read the labels and realize it's actually grosser than you thought and will stop eating it)
    2. Nope, not once you know what is safe and what isn't. Even pre-reading my daughter could pick something up and look for the numbers and know if it was okay or not.
    3. There is a Feingold website, but I think they want you to buy things. You can find most info online, there was a great article in Mothering magazine maybe a 6-8 years ago.
    4. Not sure, results vary by child, but it doesn't help mine with anxiety.
    5. All dye, the natural preservatives I can't remember the name to, and there are some other additives that trigger some kids, I'm just bad with remembering the names of things.
    6. No more totally uncontrolable freakouts (her freakouts are a lesser degree, and she communicates through them, rather than totally going off the deep end). The worst case of food dye freakout she had was 2 years ago and she accidentally got red. We were camping with friends, I left her with 7 men and 1 woman in the middle of the freakout so I could take a break, breathe, cry a little and pee. I came back to find her tied to a chair with the woman sort of sitting on her. They couldn't control her. husband gave her some gatorade a couple months ago when she was sick, and I could see her eyes bugging out like she was on speed. He felt so bad.
    7. I don't know yet, no natural medications have worked so far. Fish oil helps her in school a little just for a brain boost. She needs to go on medications now, but it's not for hyperactivity.

    Doing this is WAY more easier than the girlfriend/CF diet (tastes better too). But again, I'm in NorCal, total foodie heaven and liberals galore who actually care what we eat and do something about it :) We have a Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Raleys/Nob Hill, Safeway, Lucky, real butchers, fish markets, cheese shop, farmers market, local foods all right here in town.
  4. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I have noticed my son going manic after eating red sweets - probably the dye - and also (especially) Spanish strawberries, which are said to be covered with pesticides. Wish I had the steel and commitment to do something like the Feingold diet but... I don't.
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    "Ah, red cordial - the drug of choice for millions of children around the world!"

    Seriously, folks - if you're trying diet to see if it helps someone with ADHD, eliminating just one colour is not a lot of help. The individual might have a problem with more than one colour, or other additive, and you need to remove them all in order to see benefit. And diet only works in 30% of spectrum/ADHD cases (figures from Sydney's RPAH Allergy Clinic).

    We raised our kids to be generally additive-free. This has meant checking labels in the stores, doing our best to minimise purchase of "meal solutions" and convenience foods. We eliminate not only artificial colours, but also preservatives. We also found fairly early on, that difficult child 1 reacted to oranges, and caffeine. If you have a kid with ADHD, watch out for caffeine, it sneaks in everywhere. And being a natural substance, it often is missed. difficult child 1 used to get violent when he had caffeine. He knew this, was cooperative about it, we would buy caffeine-free brands as an occasional treat. Then a new chocolate bar came out - it had guarana in it. difficult child 1 bought one, thinking it was a safe alternative to caffeine. We found out the hard way, guarana IS caffeine! Similarly, commercial iced tea, even the all-natural ones, have a lot of caffeine in them.

    These days both boys are able to tolerate some caffeine. However, I do my best to limit their intake. Not easy with difficult child 1 now living elsewhere.

  6. Marg's Man

    Marg's Man Member

    I'm surprised Marg didn't mention it.

    We had a definite problem with easy child 1 when she only a baby (about 6 months I think) with Tartrazine which is the yellow of choice in a great many foods. We lucked out because it was in the infant formula of a medicine she was taking for thrush and could not have come from elsewhere. She went from easy child to difficult child in about 72 hours. 30 years ago most people didn't believe us when we told them it was a food colour although some of the reds were starting to be recognised as problems. With easy child 1 we found that we had to be really careful because she was so sensitive to Tartrazine that the smallest amount would set her off; and it was everywhere because yellow is used in green, orange and many other colours as well. We got very adept at spotting it on food labels.

    Identifying which colour is setting your kid off calls for eliminating ALL colours and reintroducing them one by one. You might short cut the process by seeing if she gets worse after eating some particularly strongly coloured food and eliminating that colour from her diet.

    Just my $0.02 worth.

    Marg's Man
  7. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Some of the artifical flavors are a big issue too. Eeyore would get a little hyper/irritable after a bad of Skittles. One week he was having a meltdown every day at 2:05pm -- major on the ground tantrum and he was 13. He was helping out at the cub scout camp -- found out that the helpers all got their choice of candy at 2:00pm -- and Eeyore picked Sour Skittles each day. When I gave them a heads up that he was only to be given a chocolate bar, no more meltdowns. It was eerie.

    That led us to trialing more food issues. Both boys are now gluten-free, consume minimal dairy and minimal dyes/preservatives. Huge improvement!