Eliminating Artificial Food Dyes in Children’s Diets: One Family’s Story

In the fall of 2017, Cindy Hill and her husband, Jason, felt helpless when it came to their three-year-old daughter’s behavior. Lauren was having major meltdowns as well as acting very defiant and aggressive. While preschool meltdowns are typical, Hill describes Lauren’s as “all day meltdowns, over anything and everything.”

From frequent meltdowns to a happy kid

After hearing from another mom that eliminating artificial food dyes had helped her son, the Hills eliminated Red Dye #40 for one week. This was no small task as red dye can be found in everyday foods like cereal, salad dressing, yogurt and applesauce. With red dye cut out of her diet, the family, extended family and teachers all noticed a big difference in Lauren.

“She was happier, less aggressive and nicer. She is an amazing little girl, but the chemicals affecting her behavior were hiding her true self. Now we are able to enjoy the real Lauren,” explains Hill.

Stores make going dye-free affordable and convenient

Since that time, the Hill family has eliminated all artificial dyes. Their oldest daughter, Madelyn, does not seem to be affected much by the dyes. But, as Hill put it, eliminating artificial color is worth a try for any family. “Even if it doesn’t necessarily make a difference in behavior, it’s putting less chemicals in your child’s body.”

Grocery stores have caught on to the concerns of parents, with Aldi eliminating artificial colors from their store brand food products. This makes shopping for dye-free foods more affordable and convenient. Even so, Hill admits it can be overwhelming. “Start small and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. It can be intimidating, but it’s easier than it seems. Don’t give up! It was the best decision we have ever made.”

Names to look for in ingredients lists:

– Blue 1
– Blue 2
– Green 3
– Red 3
– Red 40
– Yellow 5
– Yellow 6
– FD&C Lakes (may be a combination of colors)
– Citrus Red 2 (used on oranges, frankfurters and sausages)
– Dyes are also sometimes listed as “Artificial Color”

Products to look out for—read the ingredients carefully!:

– Frosting/icing
– Pickles
– Cereal (including brown cereal)
– Kids’ vitamins
– Kids’ medications
– Sports and electrolyte drinks
– Chips
– Yogurt
– Oatmeal
– Salmon
– Salad dressing
– Popcorn
– Peanut butter
– Flavored applesauce
– Canned fruit
– Soup and bouillon cubes

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