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...

No comments: