Friday I was at work and checked in with my family as they were enjoying a visit with their cousins. One of my kids enthusiastically reported eating a strawberry pop tart and I inwardly groaned. Not because it was full of sugar, but because of the artificial food dye. You see, I used to privately roll my eyes at the mom’s who insisted artificial food dye had a negative impact on their kids. Until I began tracing most of one child’s acting out to eating something with food dye. I did a little research and discovered other parents who made the same connection. Our diets often impact our kids much more than we realize. Anyway, I knew that within 24 hours after consuming food dye this child was sure to have a meltdown and I wasn’t disappointed.
Saturday was hell. The child who devoured the pop tart “with blue icing and sprinkles!” became completely irrational. The tantrums were epic. We were going to breakfast as a family when this child was handed vitamins and threw them on the ground because they were the wrong flavor. Normally they simply ask for a different flavor. And it went downhill from there. It would be easy to say this kid was just displaying bratty behavior that needed to be corrected. And yes, there are times where that is the case. However, when it reaches the level of crazy that happened all of Saturday morning I can almost always trace it back to them consuming food dye. So I did what anyone would do: I made this kid CHUG the water. We were going to flush out whatever was in their little system that was making them a crazy person who was screaming, hitting and behaving in a way we simply do not allow in our home. I held this kid close as they screamed and said cruel, unkind words. I prayed for wisdom and strength to not react. I was desperate. I ended up being late to a friend’s baby shower because we were in full lock down mode with this child and it was a two person job. It was a miserable morning.
All was well by Saturday night, though, and I breathed a sigh of relief. For years we had no idea what was triggering certain behaviors in this child. And while we can’t always protect them from food dye, I try to make them aware of what is making them feel certain ways. After the drama subsided Saturday morning I talked to them about why we don’t have certain foods in our home and how it can impact behavior. Unfortunately, artificial food dye is in so much of our food – chips, candy, sauces, etc. These same dyes are completely banned in many European countries. I’ve learned to carefully look at labels and shop at Aldi. The bulk of the food at Aldi is simply amazing (and affordable) and they use natural spices to create color in their foods.
If your child seems to have unexplained, severe mood swings I highly recommend removing anything containing artificial dye from their diet. Often the problem is not the child, but what we are allowing into their bodies. It will not solve every problem. But it is worth trying. I am so, so thankful we finally made the connection. Otherwise I’m fairly certain I would be anointing this child with oil and trying to find someone to cast the demon out of them. Not really, but…really. Knowledge is power and I am grateful we have been empowered to know how to help our kids.
Is there anything you’ve eliminated from your family’s diet?