Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Our Story of Eliminating Artificial Coloring

I am in no way a trained medical professional. I am just a mom....a mom who knows her son. This is simply the story of our experience with artificial food coloring and how it affects Blake's behavior. This is not a science report or a petition going to the FDA. Please take it for what it's worth!!

Almost a year ago now, we made the decision to begin eliminating artificial food dye from Blake's diet.  Partially out of a basic feeling of  being
the world's worst parents with
the world's most strong-willed child. didn't witness the meltdowns :)

I remember going garage sale shopping with Blake last spring, and it was the first time I
literally saw the change in his demeanor and behavior
almost instantly after having artificial coloring.
I'd been toying with the idea of eliminating dyes for a few months, but hadn't really gotten
serious about it.
At least not to the point of being really careful and consistent.

But that day last spring convinced me!
Blake was getting antsy in the stroller, so I bought him a bag of M&M's from two little girls
selling candy at their mom's garage sale.
Like any normal 2 year old, Blake scarfed down his candy in
oh, I don't know...
sixty-four seconds??
Less than 10 minutes later we were in full meltdown mode.
I'm talking thrashing in the stroller, screaming at the top of his lungs, red face,
scary intense meltdown.

For those of you with a strong-willed child, or any toddler for that matter, meltdowns
are not necessarily all that uncommon.
(Ok, be real. They happen 12 times a day somedays.)
Call it mommy instinct, but I knew that what was happening with Blake
was not just a typical toddler temper tantrum .
I'm sure it was brought on by something me telling him
No and that not sitting well with his plans ;)
But I always felt like those times of normal toddler defiance were super
intensified and they escalated
beyond just your average tantrum.

So we started eliminating food dyes.
Fruit Loops and M&M's were the first to go.
Then mac and cheese colored with Yellow 5.
It was actually pretty easy to eliminate some things....
I mean blue cereal is kind of an obvious offender.

But over the last 8 months, I have been so surprised at how many things
 have artificial coloring in them!
Things like cake mixes, salad dressing, bottled juice, and even chocolate pudding.
There have been lots of times where I'll rack my brain trying to figure out
what Blake's had with dyes in it, because I can
just tell when he has them!
And there hasn't been a single time that I've thought "What in the world did he have?"
that I haven't discovered something I missed.
It's the blue dye in his toothpaste that I didn't think to check for.
It's the Red 40 and Blue 1 in his children's pain reliever and the cold medicine we gave him.
After all, what kid would take either of those if they weren't purple and grape flavored, right?!

There's alot of days where I struggle with this.
I don't think for a second that every time Blake has a meltdown
the colors of the rainbow are to blame.
In fact, pretty much having eliminated all artificial coloring from his diet means
the poor kid's got no excuses :)
Well, except for the occasional sugar overload and the understanding that
he isn't quite 3 years old yet!
In that sense, it's actually been easier as a parent to train and
discipline through those tantrums
now that we know we've done what we can
to not add "fuel to the fire".

But I still have a hard time, especially this time of year, when there are
so many treats and special snacks that we just have to say no to.
Is it the end of the world? No.
It's not a peanut allergy that could cost our son his life if we're not careful.
It's not a milk or egg or gluten allergy that could make him really sick.
And yet, in some ways that's how I have to think of it.
We have to be the ones to do what's best for our kid
even when it's hard.
Even when we feel like we're big meanies for not letting Blake
drink chocolate milk and eat candy-coated everything.

I'm thankful that it's getting more popular to color things naturally.
I'm hopeful that more and more manufacturers will head in that direction.
 I'm thankful for the support we've gotten from our families and for the
others out there who know what I'm talking about because they've
seen their kids have the same reactions.
I'm hopeful that someday (like when he's 15), Blake will be able to have the
occasional Mountain Dew and candy bar.

In the mean time, I'm just grateful that God allowed us to find a solution that works.
And I'm so encouraged that when we pray for answers,
God gives them!
And Pepperidge Farm, if you're listening...
thanks for those beet-juice dyed goldfishies.
They are a certain little boy's go-to snack.

For more information on artificial dyes, check out...

Friday, December 21, 2012


Do you ever argue with God?
I have found myself on so many occasions the last few months literally arguing with God,
as if I somehow know better than Him.
As if my own insecurity, fear, stubborn nature, or lack of time, motivation, and discipline
will somehow sway His mind...His plans...His purposes.

I argue with Him because on one hand I feel compelled to write. 
 To try to be an encouragement to other mama's out there who
might be going through the daily joys, struggles, and insecurities that
I am with my own kids.

I want to listen to that still, small voice that says to just
be real and be me. 
On the other hand, I argue all the fine points of why this is a bad idea. 

I don’t have all the answers. I'm sleep deprived. 
I don't remember to take my camera to huge family parties, 
let alone drag it out for the day in, day out stuff. 
I'm new at kids still drool and don't know their ABC's. 

This little blog space is a love/hate relationship for me. 
I love to write.
I hate feeling dumb. 

And I feel dumb when I write and nobody comments.
I feel dumb when I unintentionally sound like someone I am not.
I feel dumb when I freak out that someone from Russia viewed my blog
and I convince myself someone's coming after me. 
(Postpartum hormone anxiety....true story.)

But at the same time, I want God to use me.
In His way. His time. For His glory.
I don't think I have unique, new thoughts to share.
But I have a huge desire to write about being a mom.

Awhile back, I saw an episode of the Duggar's show,
19 Kids and Counting...
long story short, they were visiting a church that hosts a mom's group called
It stands for Building A Legacy Out Of Motherhood. 
I was intrigued. 
That's what I want for my kids. For my life. 
Not to be some well-known, hugely successful person.
But to leave a legacy for my kids.
I don't really even know what that means exactly....I just know that I want my kids to grow up knowing
they are loved, they are precious, they are created for a divine purpose.
They have a choice to love God, love others, advance the Kingdom of Christ, 
to do justly, love mercy...

 This is me obeying. 
I encourage Blake, all day it seems, to not be stubborn and just 
choose to obey. 
I'm going to try. If I write once a week, well okay then!
If somebody is encouraged, inspired, drawn closer to the
heart of an amazing God...
then praise to His name. 

If I fail in my own eyes, or the eyes of others...that's okay too. 
He is the hurricane. 
I'm barely a breeze.