Friday, December 18, 2009

Food Dyes, Behavior, and where we go from here...

I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow Mom from my son's pre-school class at a Birthday party recently.  I was scooping off a huge pile of colored frosting from my son's cupcake, pleading with the birthday boy's mom "Please don't be offended...we're trying a dye-free diet!" She laughed and said "You'll have to try a lot harder than that if you want to offend me!" (At that point I was really tempted to teach the kids a song about Nantuckett...) but I restrained myself and gave Jack his frosting-free cupcake!

While that exchange was taking place, another mom overheard and then approached me, immediatly explaining that her son, too, was on a dye-free diet.  He had the distinct "honor" of being the first child ever kicked out of his pre-school about a year ago when they could no longer tolerate his behavior.  I threw my arms around her and said "Oh my Goodness...I totally understand! I am so sorry!" (Jack had been kicked out of two far!) Then she pointed out her son to me - who was an absolute doll! Smiling, sweet, gentle, playing so nicely.  We chatted about how she discovered her son's allergies and how his diet was causing his irrational behavior - how he couldn't CONTROL his emotions.  It was like hearing someone talk about my Jack...the in-ability to calm down, the total disregard towards rewards and discipline, the un-explained aggression.

She promised to pass on some info about the diet her son was on, and I thanked her for sharing her story.

At the end of the party, the birthday boy gave each child a package of M&M's.  I was SO proud of my Jack...he said "Thank you, but I can't have the Red" and handed them back to his friend, no tears or tantrums in sight!

Recently I crossed paths with the same mom at Jack's Holiday party at school and she gave me some information on the Feingold diet.  I read it as soon as I had a free moment, shocked to see in print that our stories were not unique - SO many people have been thru the SAME thing with their children!  I promised to share some links, so here are some places to begin learning about the Feingold Diet and how it can help control ADHD behaviors in children.

This is part 1 of 2 explaining (by the sweetest woman!) the Feingold diet, including where Food Dyes come from...PETROLEUM.

and part 2 of 2 (Some kids do NOT have a disorder! They just need to change their diet!)  (be sure to pay attention around 2:40 - you'll be amazed at how the children's school work improves when the diet is changed!)

There are a bunch of other videos that come up in the same category - you can check out various news stories, where Red Dye 40 is being discussed - including how DIFFICULT it is to get a Dr. to say ON TELEVISION - Red Dye 40 COULD have a negative effect on your child's behavior.  This angered me...because I discussed Jack's behavior with his Doctors (different ones depending on who was available) for over 2 years - and every single one blamed my parenting and nothing else.  You can only hear "You are not disciplining your child enough" so many times.

Doctors, PLEASE consider diet as an explanation! Don't always blame the parent!

Parents, you KNOW that you can't be a warden all the time - I knew that Jack did not get his way all the time, that toys and treats were rare, that he played outside more than watched TV, that he was creative and smart and fun - and that his behavior problems were NOT simply "you are a bad parent".

I am also discovering that switching to low-sugar or sugar-free products could be doing more harm than good in Jack's case.  Aspartime is a no-no on the Feingold diet, and it is a common ingredient in sugar-free syrups, for example.

Whew.  The more I learn, the more I realize I need to learn. I'll add a couple more links for reference and then add some more patient with me! I'm learning right along with you!

The Feigold Diet -
The Faq's page - very helpful!

One thing that I have noted...I have always been sensitive to Aspirin, and that sensitivty has also found to be linked to a sensitivity to Yellow food dyes.  Foods know as "salicylates" can also cause problems in individuals.

There are some things I really need to study - for example, Oranges and Apples are a no-no for parts of the Feingold diet, and Jack LOVES orange juice and Clementines.  I'll keep you posted!


Amandromeda said...

hi, my name is amanda and i follow you on twitter. i've been very interested in your findings about food dyes and behavior. my son is five and while he doesn't have bad behavior and he's never gotten in trouble at school, he does display a lot of hyperactivity behaviors. he is very fidgety, is easily frustrated, it's hard for him to concentrate on things, makes a lot of noises just to make them. i don't know if i'm reading too much into it but i went to the website you posted and while not all of the things he talks about applies to my son, some do. and was just wondering if in your experience dealing with this, would you think it worth it for me to try the same diet on my son? i know, a lot of info, huh?

Krystyna81 said...

Amandromeda...Oh yes! It was actually very easy to give it a try - I switched waffles, finding pancakes/toaster sticks that were dye-free, switched out his bright blue Spiderman toothepaste to Tom's of Maine (no coloring!), switched his vitamins from Flintstones to Yummi Bears (no coloring!), and started to REALLY look at labels - it was easy to find equivalents for most of the foods we liked that had food coloring.

You may also consider lessening the amount of dairy...but the best thing would be to keep a diary of what he eats and how is behavior is after. You will soon make connections!

Amandromeda said...

thanks! i will definitely start keeping a journal and really pay attention to the ingredients of the foods he eats. thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. i'm fairly sure i never would've come up with this on my own.

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