Day 3: Dye Free Foods

If you are looking for more helpful information on food dyes, make sure you tune in every Friday for Dye Free Fridays @ B in Real Life!

 You can see previous Dye Free Friday posts by clicking on the link above. 


On with the show…

Trust me, I know it’s overwhelming to consider removing artificial colors from your food.  When we realized that Q was highly sensitive to dyes and that we were going to need to quickly become a dye-free family, I freaked out.

How are we going to afford to buy organic foods?  

Am I going to have to stop wearing make-up and start churning my own butter?!  

Please God, NO!!!

I was totally uncomfortable in my new-found role of  “crunchy mom.”  However, I was and am willing to do whatever it takes to help Q with her behavior issues.  So, who cares if I get funny looks at birthday parties when I whip out a dye free cupcake for my girls?  My job is to be a good mom to Q and CeCe. and right now that looks like playing crazy food police.2sx31

Another aspect of going dye-free that freaked me out a bit was the financial cost of buying more natural foods.  I thought that I was going to have to do most of my shopping at organic grocery stores and my $100 a week grocery budget wasn’t going to go very far at Natural Grocers.

THANKFULLY, more and more mainstream brands are providing dye-free options and I can do a majority of my grocery shopping at Wal-Mart.  In fact, within the past couple months I have found several new items that are now dye-free.  Yopliat for example, has removed artificial colors from their Dora and Mickey Mouse Kid’s yogurt.  YAY!

The truth is, I’m probably not near as healthy and crunchy as many of you.  I do better with baby steps, so my first priority is that our food is dye-free. Then I do my best to keep preservatives out of our foods.  It currently isn’t feasible for us to eat 100% organic, but I do hope that we can eventually make the switch to organic milk and meats.

 My goal today is to show you that removing food dyes from your diet can be done without breaking the bank and loosing your mind. 

Below I have made a list of  dye-free  foods that are available at your local grocery store.   I will do my best to add on to the list as I find more dye-free foods.

Dye Free Breakfast:


  • Kashi
  • Cheerios (Multi Grain, Honey Nut, and Original)
  • Kix
  • Chex
  • Special K

Eggs (we keep those chickens busy!  We love eggs!)

Pancakes ( Bisquick mix is typically dye free.  Check your mix, some contain yellow 5!   Also, most syrups have caramel color, so we buy natural syrup that is available at Walmart.)


  •  Yoplait Kids
  •  Danon Kids
  •  Greek Yogurts (Fage, Oikos, Chiobani)



Lunch and Dinner:

Hot Dogs (Oscar Meyer Turkey Dogs are *nitrite and dye free)

Mac and Cheese (Annie’s brand is our favorite.  Kraft has a white cheddar that is yummy too)

Chicken Nuggets (Tyson 100% all natural chicken nuggets rock! Some brand’s batter has Yellow 5, so check the ingredients! )

Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwiches

Minis Pizzas (Boboli crust with pizza toppings is a fun/easy meal!)

Applesauce (beware, the “cherry” applesauce isn’t red from the cherries, the red tint is courtesy of red dye. gag.)

Grilled Cheese

Sweet Potato fries

Veggies (we LOVE steamer bags! So easy!)




Fruit (we eat A LOT of grapes, bananas, and apples in our house!)

Orville Redenbacher Natural White Pop Corn and Kettle Corn.

Sun Chips

Fritos (plain)

Tortilla Chips

Cheetos Natural White Puffs (I ate the whole bag before Q could have some. Shhh!)

Fruit Snacks (Motts and Ocean Spray have dye free options)

Graham Crackers

Teddy Grahams (original)

String Cheese

Sliced Cucumbers and Baby Carrots (I always have veggies waiting for the girls when I pick them up from preschool.  They will eat anything when they are HUNGRY!)

Golden Oreos (they do have artificial flavor, so if you are sensitive to MSG you  might steer clear)

Goldfish Crackers (I am 99% sure that ALL flavors of Goldfish are dye free!  They use natural dyes! Yay!)

Here are some surprising foods that contain artificial colors:

marshmallows (blue)

vanilla ice cream (French Vanilla almost always has yellow 5, some regular vanilla flavors are safe)

White cake mix (yellow 5)

Pickles (you didn’t think that pickles were naturally green did you?! Yellow 5 and blue)

Juices and lemonade

Salad dressings

Cereal bars

Toothpaste (seriously)

Medications (that pink Benadryl or Tylenol could be making things worse!)

A few observations:

*Sadly, generic brands typically use more dyes and artificial fillers in their foods.  Aldi brand Cheerios have Caramel Color while name brand Cheerios do not.

*After you have eliminated dyes, you might notice that some dyes don’t effect your child as much as others.  For example, Caramel Color makes Q very hyper but I have heard from others that their child is totally fine with Caramel Color.  Also, blue dye doesn’t seem to effect Q as much as yellow and red.  We still stay away from it, but if she has a marshmallow (blue dye) I don’t freak out.

*Hot Dogs.  My girls LOVE hot dogs, but I DO NOT love nitrites.  Did you know that children who ate more than 12 hot dogs a month had NINE times the normal risk of developing childhood leukemia   NINE TIMES!   Thankfully, Oscar Meyer sells nitrate free hot dogs that can befound at most grocery stores.  You can read more about this here:


If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to e-mail me or leave a comment.  I will be  doing a FAQ post soon!



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  1. Peanut butter has dye and so do some cheeses.

  2. Do you eliminate annatto?? I know it’s listed as a natural dye (vegetable) but I have seen some research about it’s negative effects also and I think my kids may be sensitive to it in addition to the synthetic petrol based dyes.

  3. I am so happy I found your website! I am trying to be a more health conscious mom for my 3 kids. Sadly they love hot dogs and I have been giving them “BAD FOOD” for many years already. I guess it is never too late to make a change. The hard part is getting them to agree with me and my husband is no help at all!! My sister has a 20 month old that she is raising vegetarian, whole foods, non-dairy and strictly organic! When I first found out I thought she was crazy. Now I am leaning towards genius! You should see how smart and healthy this baby is…’s simply astounding!! Thanks for all the info :) I will spread the word.

  4. Crystal says:

    I am curious which dye your child is allergic to. I am just starting research on this. But I’m wondering if our oldest has behavioral issues from dyes. Thanks.

  5. Love reading all the information. My daughter was just like your Q..we caught it quickly at about two years old, we had a homeopathic pediatrician do a blood test and that’s how we discovered it was exactly red 40. We’ve lived dye free, except for the occasional mishap at school when someone gives her something, dum dums or popcorn, etc.

    Now I’m noticing when she has anatto extract, I’m seeing a mild reaction. And annato is in a lot of food nowadays. What are you seeing with Q? Any behavior issues from Annato?
    Thanks again, I’m now a fan of this website.

  6. Boboli pizza crusts all list “artificial color” as an ingredient. Is there a Boboli crust that is actually dye-free that I am missing?

  7. Thank you for this startimg point! We have been red #40 free for about 2 years now! Since then my daughter is off all adhd meds and is an A,B. Student! We used have have major issues at school!

  8. Do you know how to make your own “dyes” from fruits and veggies?

  9. I am brand new to this, but am preparing to take my family dye free. My question is do food have to put “artificial color” or “red 40″ or whatever the color on the label? If those words do not appear on the label is it dye free?

    • b in real life says:

      The fda requires labels to list synthetic dyes by name and number (red 40, yellow 5, etc). If it says “artifical color added” but does not list a specific color and number it should not have have synthetic dye in it and can be considered dye free. Also, look for caramel color as well! It’s a bad one too!

      Good luck!

  10. Heather schaffer says:

    Love this!! It is very helpful. One of my sons is allergic to cherries, red dye and we think all dyes affect him so we have cut dyes from our diet. Just to let you know, GOLDFISH make a “vanilla cupcake” flavor that comes with sprinkles and that has dyes in it.

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  13. Nutri grain cereal bars have red dye in them.

  14. You have a picture of Sun Chips Harvest Cheddar. This product has a color added to it and a lot of these products do contain the preservatives BHT, BHA or TBHQ. Which as we know are form of butane that are used as a preservative in our foods. This list should probably be updated a little more. The Goldfish Colors is also another example with these preservatives and color dyes. These are not dye free. The Tyson Chicken Nuggets just because they say 100% natural does not mean they are. It is still processed chicken which is not safe for anyone to eat. Thank you.

    • Elizabeth, I appreciate your concern about some of the foods I have listed as dye-free.
      I have since rechecked the labels to make sure that the ingredients have not changed since making this list.
      According to Frito Lay’s website, Sun Chips Harvest Cheddar does not have have any synthetic dyes (red 40, yellow 5) listed as an ingredient (as you can see . Also, according to the website, they are free of BHT, BHA, and TBHQ. Where are you getting the information from? I just want to make sure I’m not missing something.

      Regarding the Goldfish Colors. In 2010 Pepperridge Farms changed the ingredients in their Goldfish Colors Crackers and now only use “natural colors” like beet juice and watermelon juice concentrate to color the crackers .

      Regarding the Tyson nuggets, I understand your concerns. I am not implying that they are healthy and should be a replacement for other more nutritious foods. However, my goal is to help people take the first few steps of going dye-free and I know many parents want to know that there are convenient foods available that don’t contain synthetic dyes.

      • Thank you for you information. We are just starting the road, and your post is reassuring! And thank goodness for goldfish!

  15. Kristen Zimmerman says:

    Thank you for posting these! We have strayed away from dyes first becuase we thought our son had a dye allergy but then after reading more about theor role in behaviors of children I decided even if he wasn’t allergic to ditch them. By the way.. for anyone looking for dye free benadryl .. I searched high and low and discovered walgreens makes a dye free benadryl called Waldryl. Most important for those with dye allergies that cant take regular benadryl. Also annies gummies are our fav snack ;)

  16. Rochelle Looney says:

    Really enjoyed your post. My kids are allergic to food dyes also. My oldest is 8 and we found out when she was a baby she was allergic to food dyes. It is nice to see others out there. We get a lot of comments about folks not beliving that food dyes can affect her.

  17. Celeste Fowler says:

    Thank you so much for this website. I have been searching for days to help my daughters behavior. I am looking for some recipes if you know of any good ones?

    • Celeste, WELCOME! I hope that removing dyes can impact your daughter in the same way as it impacted mine. I have started a new site, if you need more support. we also have a facebook page where you can connect with other parents who are dye-free

  18. Christine Large says:

    Hi, We are going dye-free as well, my daughter’s behavior is not why we aredoing this , but she has had chronic hives daily for almost a year Feb 2013. I have been to many doctors, they jut now have done the red dye and yellow dye test, so now we wait. The doctor recommended(the dr. thats finally litening to me) for now why we wait to put her on the dye-free diet and see if we notice a difference. Well so far so good, overnight she looks so much better. Thank you for all the ideas you have as we also use Walmart to shop, and we too are on a budget.
    Thanks Christine

    • Christine, i hope and pray that removing dyes is the answer to your daughter’s health problems!!! I have a new website and am posting recipes and other dye-free info on it…please email me with any questions, I’m not an expert, but have be been on this path for long enough to know a few tips and tricks of the trade. :)
      keep us posted!

  19. Brooke, you did all the hard work! Thank you! I have so many friends I want to pass this along to. Keep it up! You are helping to start a great revolution of reversing the very unhealthy patterns of eating for kids! I’m proud of you!

  20. Brooke! This has been awesome! Thanks so much! Girl…the Cheetos…oh my…those are addicting…I eat the whole.bag.every.single.time! Pure goodness, I tell you!

  21. Melissa Smith says:

    We are gluten free in our house so I completely understand the financial strain of being “crunchy”! It’s difficult to find “kid friendly” food being gf, but it’s so worth the difference in our health! I have noticed such a change in myself and in my kids! I applaud you for being “brave” enough to make a diet change because it’s one the hardest choices to make and execute! Spreading awareness about how food can effect our health is so important and I truly enjoy reading your blogs!

  22. I’m loving this series. I have too noticed that food dyes have an effect on one of my boys and while most of our foods we eat here don’t have dyes there are a few things that I just thought about maybe sneaking into our diet, like the type of yogurt we buy. Since we’re overseas there are different laws about packaging, maybe you are planning on writing about what exactly is a food dye how would it be written on a package? I know some of them are pretty obvious like yellow 5 but what about carmel flavoring? If it says carmel does that mean it’s a food dye or it only when it says carmel color, so far I haven’t found that one in anything I’ve purchased? I of course have to figure out how all these things are translated, but any info would be helpful.

  23. Loving this series! It’s interesting you mentioned Aldi Cheerios. I was doing a check of things in our pantry earlier this morning. It could be a recent change, but their Cheerios only have Annatto Extract…no caramel coloring!

  24. Hi Brooke,
    I just bought some blueberry shredded wheat (the generic kind) at Dillons. The coloring they use is from purple carrot extract! Yea, my cereal is dye free and I didn’t even try for that! Even though I read the ingredient list for different reasons, I’ve started noticing the dyes more because of your posts. :)

  25. Thanks for posting! As a teacher, I wish more parents knew about the crazy side affects of dyes! You may be interested in this article by “The Food Babe” on dyes in chocolate! I never thought red and blue dye would show up in something brown!

  26. Way to go Brooke and family!!! Very proud of you. Do you have Trader Joe’s? There are a lot of good options there too (like the hot dogs!). And what abot Costco? I bought 24 packs of fruit chews for $9.99 and they were all dye/addiditive/crap FREE. AND they tasted good. :)

  27. I’m so proud of all your hard work to educate the bloggy world about dyes! I’m excited to go home and start making a few changes, especially since you make it seem so feasible. It’s hard not to want to try when you, Jess and Heidi all attest to the changes you’ve seen.

    Why do I have no problem picturing you in an old-timey hat and dress and toting a gun threatening people? Ha ha… you make me laugh. :)

  28. We have only been going dye-free for about a month…but Multi-Grain cheerios in your list stood out at me right away. We used to eat those but ditched them for the “color added” in the ingredient list. I need to go over your list for more ideas, Walmart is our main grocery as well. Thx!

    • Lemonade – Minute Maid frozen concentrate or the “Simply Lemonade” in the refrigerated section! :o)

    • Tina,
      I have been confused about the “colors added” on the ingredient lists of many things. What I have been told is that if a food has petroleum based dyes in them they MUST list them specifically (yellow 5, red 40, etc). Therefore; the “colors added” are natural colors.

      I am not 110% on that, but we have had multigrain cheerios and haven’t seen any issues. Were your kids reacting to them?

      • The synthetic dyes are derived from petroleum AND so are the preservatives BHA, BHT & TBHQ!

        • Anonymous says:

          I have spend almost fifty thousand dollars for injection at $4000.00 a shot. This is due to yellow dye. They have been , doctors that is, trying to shut my hives down for 16 months, to no avail. The hospital gave me yellow dye for testing and this was the start of my hives nightmare from yellow dye. So please read with care for yourself and stay away from dyes. I found today that I can no longer have pepsi or coke. They have carmel coloring in them which is made up of brown dye and yellow dye. I had no idea soda had dye in them. I just didn’t think about it. But you should see peanut butter without dye, it looks like mud colored. But it is better not to be pretty than to be sick.

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