The Red Dye Free Store - Where to find products without synthetic Dyes

Monday, February 22, 2010

My Testimonial: Is your child out of control?

Looking back, I thought my role as a parent was going to be a breeze. Besides, how hard could parenting be after teaching a class of thirty children. Staying home and raising them would be a piece of cake. I have always been a positive person so my kids will most likely be easy going too- so I thought. After my second child turned two, my rose colored glasses began to get foggy. My role as a disciplinarian was being tested in ways that I wasn't prepared for. My children entered the world of artificially colored foods, preservatives in almost every bite, and a world of processed foods that could make any kid's head spin (or at least those children who were sensitive to the stuff). I was ignorant. I thought that the foods that I ate and that my family ate were safe and that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) was out for our best interests.
So I went on, wondering, crying, reading, and taking my child to an occupational therapist for having some sort of conduct disorder, an autistic spectrum disorder, or whatever kind of label that would help define my child so that I could fix what was wrong. Let me first say this, no label was going to change how I thought about my son, it might only help me to help him better, but it was in no way to be used to define him (he would never know any term that was given to me).
He was four years old at the time and he was easily frustrated, he would hit and kick at his brothers or myself for reasons that were unexplainable. He could not be calmed by time-outs and holding him would only induce more of the same. His motor-coordination was poor and his occupational therapist said that he could possibly have dysgraphia. It was odd to me since he used to (when he was two years old) draw pictures with nice detail and have good control of his pencil. That was not all she said, but it is not necessary to bring that up now. During the time I was acquiring all of the labels that my child possibly had, I learned something that changed our lives in the process. I mentioned to her that I was trying to eliminate sugars from his diet so that he might act differently. I was acting on a hunch. She mentioned casually that I might also want to eliminate red dye 40.
In a quest to make my son better, I tried just eliminating red dye 40. First, I eliminated his favorite drink - Strawberry Nesquick Milk. I noticed a significant difference in his behavior. My husband and I began eliminating everything with red dye and saw positive changes in our son's behavior. Each time he was accidentally offered red dye 40, his behavior was significantly worse. His eyes had a "dye-induced look" that I could detect after having seen his transition time after time again proceeding him eating something with red dye 40. He looked depressed and had trouble responding correctly to the stimuli around him. His perception of reality became distorted. This I came to realize by seeing how he handled minor disturbances and how his explanation for his behavior was exceedingly irrational.
With each month improvements were made in our search for healthy foods. We decided to eliminate all synthetically-dyed foods. Our reasoning was that the dyes are created using petroleum. It does not add to the value of the food and can in fact be harmful. We chose not to eat foods with carmine or cochineal because it is derived from the cochineal bug. These changes that were made helped our son significantly. He is now in first grade and has very beautiful handwriting. He has good drawing skills and grip of his pencil. He has good behavior and makes high grades in his subjects. He has many friends now. He shows empathy and understanding of how his behavior and communication effects others and can adjust his behavior accordingly.
If you know of a child who is suffering from low-impulse control or who acts aggressively and irrationally - perhaps kicking or punching, I recommend taking a look at his diet and eliminated all synthetic artificial dyes. I can only say that for our family it has been a blessing to get this piece of the missing puzzle to turn our child back into the person he was supposed to be.

28 comments:

  1. You described my son perfectly with this post. We've been dye free since November and it has resolved 100% of the aggression issues we were having with my son. His ENT told me that most kids with dye sensitivities also have wheat sensitivities and we're currently trying to rule out a wheat intolerance since my son's behavior is still a little "off" (listening/defiance). Apparently gluten intolerance presents itself in kids with the same behavioral problems as food dyes do.

    I've been spreading the dye-free word to anyone who will listen! It's made such a difference in our lives and I know it would in other people's too.

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  2. Hi Casey,
    I am glad that you found out how to help your son. It's funny how similar our boys' behavior was. However, that really is the effect of those dyes on their behavior. Luckily, we both found out what was causing it and it wasn't "bad" parenting on our part - like some others might have believed when our child acted that way. It's great that you are spreading the word about dye-free. It was such a huge difference for us too that I just want to help others get their children back. I haven't tried staying away from gluten, because he seemed to bounce back from just removing the dyes. For others, that will be a big help for you to share though. :)
    Thanks for your comment!

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    1. we just found out that my (adopted) 14 yo grandson has problems with red dye, very mean and disruptive behavior at times. he has asperger's a mild form of autism which we were told that was the reason for his behavior but his pediatrician says to remove red dye and see if this works. very hopeful after finding this site.....will update you in a few weeks

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    2. OH my goodness I can not tell you how much your situation hits home with me! I am an educator and felt I was failinga as a parent. My daughter was seriously loosing it! With a mental health history in my family I was alarmed and petrified we were going to have to commit my then 7 year old for a psych eval.
      I work with chldren on the autism specturm and began to see sensory issues in her as well and began to feel more of a failure as a mother. Gradually I began behavior plans and incentives with her and that seemed to help. My AHA moment was when she "earned" a water bottle after a specified consecutive days of no tantrums. She began adding flavor to the water and began absolutely loosing it. Refused to shower, only wore one pair of jeans, didnt want anyone near her etc. After removing red dye her sensory issues have disapeared and she is a pleasure to be with again.

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  3. Thank you for your post. We went through an amazingly similar experience with my son. Reading your post made me feel a little less crazy since someone else has had the same experience.

    I wanted to comment about Casey's comment. We, too, still had "off" behavior from our son after eliminating all foods with any synthetic dyes. (He can't tolerate any dye.) We realized it was still being absorbed into his skin when my sister asked me if I realized soap had red dye in it! No, I most definitely did not realize it! Since then we have eliminated soap with dyes, playdough, markers, stamps, hand sanitizer, bubbles (like the kind kids blow for fun) and paint and we no longer have off days! The milky-white soaps are dye free - go figure the clear soaps have 3 kinds of dye in them. Playdough is easily made at home and I've successfully made it colorful with making my own natural dyes (try boiling red cabbage for brightly colored water to use). Anyway, it's something else that might be the problem. If your child has dye allergies and since we know medicine can be absorbed in by our skin (think nicotine patch) it's not too far of a jump to consider, even though at first I couldn't imagine skin contact would affect him. Hope this helps someone! :)

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  4. Thank you for your post Lance. We had to do the same thing for our son and for all of our benefit! We noticed that he was still off and that we needed to look into what other things had synthetic dyes in them. We saw a complete turn around in his behavior too after eliminating them! Your comment is sure to help someone! Don't you just love having your child back?

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  5. Thank you so much for this article!!!! You have described the struggles I have went through for four and a half yrs now!! I grown very tired of trying to parent/discipline my son. My youngest daughter is now acting the same way. My son has been in Early Intervention programs, therapy of all sorts with no avail. I've had most people tell me it's my fault he acts this way, which is partly true. But I just knew that something else was going on. Your story gives me hope that I may start to enjoy my children again. That they may enjoy life! My son has had other problems since birth but I suspect that this will help him a lot, I just can't believe non of his health care providers suggested this. They all just slapped an Autism Spectrum Disorder on him. I'm wondering now too, if I may have some allergy to these dye's also. We'll see!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!!

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  6. Dear Anonymous from May 30,
    I hope that you found this to be a huge transformation for your son. I hope that this site will help you find alternatives. I feel bad that people have judged you and made you feel like a bad parent. I remember crying some nights wondering how to help my child as I am sure you have too. Please let me know how you and your children are doing. I wish you all well.

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  7. Children? Thats not all...the elderly! My mom is in her eighties and believe you me after having eaten anything with red 40 in it....the reaction is the same as what you describe the children do! Only problem she is of age and decides for herself and refuses to believe that red food coloring is bothering her! So sad....I do try to make meals without it but sometimes her favorite gets eaten...whats that? orange jello salad and it has red 40 in it of all things! so sad...

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  8. That's true. Children are not the only ones effected by red dye 40. Many adults never heard of or aren't willing to check into their diet to see if the things they are consuming are having an effect on them. I wonder how many marriages can be saved by people learning to stay away from the dyes that they are sensitive to. It can cause behavioral problems in adults. I believe that the best way to help your children is to find out more about yourself. I realized that I was effected by red dye 40 as well. I would feel almost immediately irritable and I felt angry without a rational reason. People have the tendency to place blame on others for their behavior, but if you find yourself being excessively bothered by something that normally wouldn't effect you than it could be caused by consuming artificial colors - namely red dye 40. I would like to encourage people to look into their diet and see if there is a correlation between when they feel agitated, angry, or depressed and when they have consumed an artificial dye - red dye 40. If they are sensitive to it, then eliminating it would prove to be most beneficial in all aspects of their lives.

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  9. Glad I have found you! Very good posts. I have an allergy to MSG if I eat it I go into a daze like being on a overdose of benydryl just a very drugged feeling. It has even landed me in the hospital.
    My grandson was having a amazing range of issues all self damaging and aggressive. When I realized how much fast food he was being fed I suggested that his mother try removing it and dye from his diet.(Gummy bears for breakfast) Since then we have discovered a wide range of foods that really set him off. Any Doritos,(or other flavored chips), hamburger helper, Cambells soup, salad dressings, Kraft singles,nearly all processed meats even the so called naturally processed meats really effect him.
    Autolized yeast extracts, torula yeast, MSG and a host of other additives quite simply poison the little guy. I cant give him Claritin at all he is the "demon" unleashed for 24 hours and its dye free!!! Benydryl same thing the only thing he can take is the Lortadine. Due to parental issues I have custody of him now, at four he writing beginning to read knows and can write his numbers. He has changed completely, he has become a nurturing little fellow who likes to share and help others. We are blessed to have him!

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  10. Wow!! I am so glad to have found your site!

    I discovered the dangers of red dye 8 years ago when my son, then 2, had his first "grown up" big boy food and almost instantly became a child I had never seen before. He was irritable, mean, aggressive, violent, and literally uncontrollable. Over the next few weeks, as I was "introducing" new foods to his diet (thankfully I was OCD enough to be keeping a journal of "everything" he ate and drank during this time), I saw "repeats" of this behavior and I knew it was related to the foods/drinks "somehow" but I could not figure out what it was immediately.

    I eliminated the foods that seemed to "trigger" him, but the list kept growing. Finally, I spoke to his Pediatrician about my discoveries. He quickly told me it sounded like my son was allergic to red dye!! I could not believe what I was hearing, because I had been lead to believe this is what parents said when "they could not control their kids". I had always been taught that the "red dye" allergy was "made up" for parents who could not take care of their kids (yes, this is what I had been taught and told by my mom and oldest sister). I was not sure if the Dr. was telling me I was a bad parent or if there really was a problem? When I asked him to explain, he did. He said it has been documented and shown that numerous children have an "intolerance" to red dye causing them to be sick, have headaches, act irrationally, and aggressively. After hearing that I definitely looked further into this Red dye!

    When I looked at all the food and drink (and medicine) that my son "reacted" to, sure enough they all had red dye (not always #40 - but always red dye!). I immediately eliminated all food/drink/medicine/ and toothpaste that had any red dye in it! And it was amazing how fast everything was alright! I shared this with anyone and everyone who would listen (and still try to today).

    In the playgroup that we participated in, it was amazing to see how many of the kids had "reactions" to red dye. After I removed it from my son's life, several of the other moms tried it out too and it made such a huge difference!!! It was then that I decided to eliminate it from my diet too - just to see - and wow! what a difference it made! I stopped having the "daily" headaches. I stopped having my own unexplainable "temper tantrums". It was a noticable difference!

    I am convinced that EVERYONE is affected by red dye in one way or another, but have no idea it is affecting them.

    Working in the schools, I can see how many kids are triggered to have the "adhd / add" behaviors by the foods and drinks and medicines they are putting in their bodies. It is obvious, especially when there are noticable behavior problems after the students eat their "snacks" and / or "lunch" - usually filled with the dyes (both red and yellow seem to trigger the defiance and aggression)!!

    I recently discovered that these dyes that we allow here in the USA are forbidden to be used in other countries (Japan/Europe/Canada) because of the affects proven to be a result of them. The products that have the dyes here in America are made DYE FREE to be sold in the other countries!!!!! They get the foods that our kids love, and without the DYES!! Something is not right??

    In the meantime, I will continue to share what I know about the dangers of the dyes and do all I can to keep my kids free of it. My daugher also has severe reactions to the dye.

    Thank you for your blog and for all the people you are helping to educate on this matter! It is refreshing to read and learn more from your site! Thanks a million!!!

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  11. Thank you for your testimonial Ms. Kim! I know that so many people have a hard time understanding that this is a real issue and not a parenting problem. I really appreciate that you wrote how you changed your understanding of the way it affects people. I think your comment will help others! Thank you so much for coming to this site and leaving a comment for others. :)

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  12. Thank you so much for this blog! My 3 yr old daughter has been suffering from eczema and has always been way more hyper then other children. She just cannot sit still! Recently she came down with Croup for the 6th time in 3 months and was having a tough time with it. I bought her some red velvet milk as a treat to try and make her feel better. Within 30 mins of her drinking it, she was a complete lunatic! Literally running in circles and screaming nonstop. I noticed she was scratching her back so I removed her shirt and noticed she her abdomen, back, neck and armpits were bright red, like she had a horrible sunburn, and swollen and she was covered in hives. I immediately thought it was an allergic reaction and started doing some research. I was amazed at all the info I found on red dye #40!!! I do not understand why the government allows these items in our food even after all the proof!! Keep spreading the word and thanks again!!

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  13. To Allison Lara,
    I'm sorry to hear about your child's horrible reaction to red dye 40. I'm doing whatever I can to spread the news. It is sad that many other Countries ban the dye and we can't get ours to stop allowing these petroleum-based dyes in our foods. Keep buying foods without artificial colors and we will start seeing a change in what the producers choose to put on the market. Thank you for your comment and hope your daughter is feeling better.

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  14. ++++Mother of a wonderful little boy+++++++
    I have a 5 yrs old son who I thought from the age of 2 was allergic to strawberries. I saw that everytime I gave him strawberry breakfast bars he was seem to become a mad man. I avoided strawberry like it toxic to him. People have always said to me that was "so active" or "does he ever slow down?" in school they actually said he needed a "bahavioral modification specialist... I said at the time "he is just 3 yrs old!!!" I also wasn't seeing this behavior all weekend long... only school...I am starting to think has been red dye all along. We just had a stint of him being home 24 hours for the past 10 days for Christmas break.. while he has been home I have cooked every meal he ate- in this week, my mother has asked me no less than 4 times if I have medicated him because he was calm and quiet and very ingaged. I assure you I have not... we took him out to dinner where he had a rasberry iced tea and he instantly started acting up in the resteraunt... constant moving, his voice level kept increasing more combative and argumentive- I took him to school the next day and the teacher told me he had been been behaving boldly all day... how long does this dye stay in thier little systems? I was careful with everything he put in his mouth for the next 2 days... and I got reports of "he was such a sweet heart today" and "it was a pleasure to have him in class". I mentioned the idea to his teacher and she said to talk to another teacher in the school and she told me he currently had a student who's mother said her son had major issues with Red #40. I asked her what this mother said the reaction was and it sounds like my son to letter!!!! And here I am.... any and all advise would be appriated...

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  15. Dear Anonymous on Jan 5,
    Sorry to get back to you this late. To answer your question, I notice the full effect wore of the next day for my son. For myself, if I have anything like red dye 40 or yellow dye, the irritability and upset can last for about a full day. I feel 100% the next day. I suppose that for some it could last less or longer. However, I can say that I notice a big difference! My advice is to read all the labels of anything he consumes. It is easier if all family members follow the same diet and are on board. I have so many articles on this site that can help to support you on this and info. to other sites. If you have any specific questions, I am more than happy to help you out. :) Good luck with your son and I am very glad that you found out what was troubling him.

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  16. I have been dealing with behavior problems with my son for the past 3 1/2 years. It is so heartbreaking. Since September we have been meeting with a pediatric OT for what she said seems to be some kind of sensory dysfunction disorder. But I feel there has to be more to it. He is sensitive to Red #40....I know that for sure, I just never realized the other dyes could have an effect as well. Do you have any pointers for recipe websites....snack ideas..etc...for a picky almost 6 year old boy? ALSO...is there any kind of testing they can do to see if there's an actual allergy to these artificial dyes?
    Thanks
    Kristine

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    1. if you could email me any info I would be forever grateful! Knoonan2000@yahoo.com

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  17. We had behavior problems with our son during his toddler years until we eliminated red dye from his diet. Complete turnaround! For him, the day after he had the dye he'd have trouble with impulsivity and aggression, coupled with screaming and crying as well as hitting and destruction. After we elimnated it - complete turnaround. The meltdowns are rare today, though we had another one today. turns out there were sprinkles on the cake he had at a b-day party he went to yesterday. Frustrating!

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    1. It really is a huge difference for children who are sensitive to the dyes! Yes, it is frustrating to have foods offered to your child that you don't approve of because of behavioral changes. The best thing you can do is talk to your child about how harmful these dyes really are for him and to tell the people who offer him foods that he needs to check with mom to see if he should eat it or not. If he is old enough, he can ask to see the ingredient list. My kids turned into food detectives at Grandma's house and avoid special foods with colors at school "just in case". I have brought in candy or treats without dyes on certain occasions when foods were allowed to be brought in. I have also brought some cupcakes for birthday parties that my kids and others could eat -if I talked to the parents and asked if that would be alright. Today, more people are aware of how dyes can effect kids and they are happy to offer other treats and many are interested in learning more about changing their diets for themselves and their children. Good luck keeping your child dye-free. :)

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  18. that's not it. Red dyes can also cause problems such as nausea and vomiting after ingesting large amounts in certain people like me. I'm 15 and im constantly looking out for red drinks and trying to find flavored drinks W/O any dyes

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    1. That's terrible! It sounds like you are allergic to the artificial colors and not just sensitive to it. Do you think warning labels would make your life easier? Some people say that they can just read the back, but wouldn't shopping be a whole lot faster if the labels were on the front?
      I wish you the best in avoiding these dyes. Thank you for your comment.

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  19. I too have had issues with my now almost 8 year old son. He was doing well academically but had constant playgroung issues since daycare, too aggressive and implulsive. He was in constant trouble at school and we our family was falling apart from the constant argueing. The pediatrician, allergist and nutricionist are of no help and although we try to keep it away from him he spometimes gets it at school from other kids. We have learned through trial and error that it is also MSG and other preservatives as well and it is so hard to find in our food. It is a relief to hear that other parents are having the same issues and that it is real.

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  20. Hi, I have been doing some research about being dye free after reading another mom who was desperate like me with their 2 yr old who is very "uncontrollable" I read all of these testimonials over & over (sometimes crying) because I feel like I am running out of options & have exhausted ways to handle & discipline my child. Many years ago when my brother was younger a lot of teachers told him he needs to get tested for ADD etc my parents took him to their pastor to discuss his behavior & he suggested taking a closer look at his diet & elminate ketchup. He loved ketchup & it was like a major sugar boost & his behaviour & energy would reflect that. When my parents stop giving him ketchup he was a completely different child. I DO NOT believe in medicating a child to get the behaviour result we are looking for. That truly is heartbreaking to me. Thank you for all of your information & help. I feel like we are on our way to a healther, happier life!

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  21. My son also has reactions to food dyes. It is so frustrating that food manufacturers would use harmful ingredients when there is no added benefit besides a fake, unnatural color. We have been living dye free for over a year, but I feel like I should do more to raise awareness and change things so maybe my future grandchildren won't have to grow up in a world filled with artificial foods. Below is a link to find your local state representative to write in about your concerns with food dyes. Gaining awareness is the first step, surely politicians' children are also affected by food dyes.

    http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

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  22. Thank you for this post. Like a lot of commenter's here, I too have a child (6.5yr old son) who has an adverse reaction to dyes, especially Red 40. I am in the process of eliminating as much of the Red 40 from his life but I am resigned to the fact that I will not be able to get it all. Like a lot of other parents, once I started eliminating Red 40, it was like a light was switched in my child in that a lot of the attitude and behavioural issues were reduced almost completely (he still has ADHD but his symptoms have been reduced significantly).

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  23. I wish I could hug all of you right now.
    It's another night of defiant behavior from my usually happy 6 year old. I don't know why I let him have that yogurt that had the red 40 in it. I am so new to all of this... but I have been led to this and it only makes sense to why he gets out of control with his behavior with things that shouldn't have a response such as this on any level. It makes me want to cry... again. : ( I am however sorry that you all are going through so much of the same things, at the same time I am glad I am not alone. Thank you for this blog.

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