Today is the last day in my week-long series Bye, Bye Food Dyes. First of all, you should know that I have TERRIBLE follow-through and the fact that I completed an entire series is monumental! Therefore, I am now drinking a delicious glass of red wine to celebrate the belated onset of adult responsibility. Go me!
Also, I want to say this: removing dyes has not only changed Q’s life, but it has changed mine as well. Parenting a child with behavior issues is exhausting and lonely. This experience has given me such deep compassion for those moms. I know it’s hard. And I know that removing food-dyes is not the answer for every child’s hot temper and aggressive behavior. I hope that by honestly sharing our story you are encouraged. And I hope that we can all support one another along this parenting journey without judgement and with lots of love and wine.
Thanks a million for all the kind comments and the thoughtful questions!
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. What are the names of the (petroleum derived ) food dyes and how will I know if they are in my food?
It is required by law that food dyes are listed by name on ingredient lists. Typically, the dyes will be one of the last ingredients.
*Below are the names of the dyes as they appear on ingredient lists:
- Red 40 (also called Allura Red). This is the most widely used dye. It seems to be in EVERYTHING! This is also the dye that seems to wreak the most havoc on kid’s behavior. Watch out for those pink medications!
- Yellow 5 (or Tartazine). This is second in line for the most used dye. It contains carcinogenic compound Benzidine (yummy!)
- Yellow 6 (or Sunset Yellow). Third in line and also contains Bensidine. Not-so-fun fact: Lab rats developed adrenal and testicular tumors when exposed to Yellow 6.
- Red 2 (Citrus Red). Is often used to enhance the color of oranges. Seriously.
- Red 3. Commonly used in red marichino cherries, sausage/hot dog casings, and candy.
- Blue 1 (Brilliant Blue). Found in mouthwash, toothpaste, and ice creams to name a few.
- Blue 2 (Indigotine and Indigo Carmine) Used mostly in drinks
- Green 3 (Fast Green). Not a common dye, but can be found in canned vegetables (ie peas)
- Caramel Color. Sounds harmless right? Nope! Caramel color is sugar that is processed with ammonia. Seriously
2. Are there any safe dyes?
There are several “natural” ingredients that are used to color our foods. Here is a list of common natural food colorings:
Annato, Turmeric, Cochineal, Betanin (beet juice), Saffron, and Paprika
3. Is there an app for that?
YES! So far, the best app I have found is FOODUCATE. There is a free version as well as a “plus” version for $3.99. I use the free one and I love this app because all you have to do is scan the barcode and it will alert you if there is any dangerous ingredients in the item (preservatives, food-dyes, etc) and give your food a grade based on nutrition facts and ingredients.
4.Are my cake decorating, cookie frosting days over?
No need to give up your tradition of decorating Santa Clause shaped sugar cookies, there are all natural food dyes available! India Tree sells liquid food coloring made from vegetable colorants. You can find them in natural food stores or online at Amazon.com.
5. What do I tell people who think it’s weird that we don’t let our kid have dye?
I have been on the receiving end of “are you kidding me?” looks many times. I know it’s awkward. One phrase I use often is “she’s allergic to food dyes.” People are much more likely to respect your choice to be dye-free if the word “allergic” is used.
Also, you will have very well-meaning people say “I feel so sorry for her! Don’t you feel like you are depriving her?”
Answer: (what I want to say) Yes, I am depriving her of ingesting petroleum derived dyes which have cause tumors in lab rats. I am such a mean mom. You should totally arrest me.
Answer: (what I really say) I understand why you would think that, but she’s actually much more happy and secure without the dyes. Sure, I feel bad when she can’t eat cupcakes at her friend’s birthday party, but it’s not worth two days of tantrums and meltdowns for one cupcake.
6. What about birthday parties, holidays, and special events?
I have a snack box at the girl’s preschool filled with dye-free cookies, fruit snacks, and other special treats. Thankfully, the teachers are very accommodating and will grab one of the snacks out of the box if there is a treat that contains dye.
Regarding birthday parties, holidays, or the nice neighbor that continually tries to give my girls suckers, you need to be prepared. I took my own organic maple syrup to a Halloween pancake feed, I always have organic suckers in my purse for emergencies (like when the bank teller gives the girls Dum Dums).
I won’t lie, parties and special events are really difficult. I am just starting to navigate these waters. I have signed-up to help with every holiday party at Q and CeCe’s preschool so that I can make sure and bring a special treat for them so they won’t feel left out when all the kids are eating turkey shaped sugar cookies and they have to eat pretzels.
7. How long does it take before I will notice a difference?
Obviously, everyone is different. You may notice subtle changes the first few days. However, it can take two weeks for your body to detox. So give it some time and remember, you are only doing your kids a favor by removing dyes.
8. Where can I learn more?
There are good blogs out there that address this subject. Die Food Dye is a great one, as well as the Feingold Association website.
I am in the works of publishing an ebook with information provided during this series as well as launching a new website full of fabulous dye-free recipes, testimonials, and other helpful information to assist you along your dye-free journey. For now, you can click on “Dye-Free” above for the latest posts.
Also, you can subscribe to receive any new updates via-email
*information found at the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s website.