Food Dyes – Why We Avoid Them

Alright, I spoke about food allergies and how we managed, but now let me talk about food dyes. Another fun topic! Are you ready? Here we go!

I have to admit, food dyes were never on my mind or something I chatted about with friends. It wasn’t quite a topic of interest nor a topic I knew anything about, that was until I met a new friend.

This friend of mine had 2 children the same aged as mine which was great for play times. Then one day, the topic of food dyes came up. She mentioned that she eliminated them out of their diets. I thought that was interesting but why bother?? I mean, I heard that the yellow m&ms weren’t necessarily the best to eat, but it never stopped me before. So I thought to myself, why would someone need to eliminate food dyes? We’ve been eating them for how many years??? Why is it such an issue today? Is it a new fad that parents are doing and I am missing out?

Nope! She quickly explained that she removed food dyes as it was impacting her children’s behaviour and was influencing some of the health challenges they were dealing with. I thought about it and respected her decision. If it works for them, go for it! Why not change your diet if it will help or do better for your children??  Then it was the end of that conversation and we moved on.

A few weeks later, my husband was away for a few days. I decided we would have Kraft Dinner for supper. This was a treat for my kids because I always make my own version, I never buy it. The kids were devouring it and kept saying how delicious it was. All was going well, until about 10-20 minutes after supper.

It was a strange moment, it was like a switch had been turned on for my son. He came home after school and was in great spirits, such a happy boy, but after supper, something happened. It was like an evil spirit woke him up. I can’t even remember what set him off. I swear it was barely anything, but he had a HUGE fit! I couldn’t even calm him down. It was absolutely nuts.  I remember trying to facetime my husband to get some help as I didn’t know what to do anymore.

Finally, after what seemed like hours of a weird tantrum for a child, he calmed down. We hugged it out and when he was ready to talk, he just didn’t know why it had happened.

Later that night, when the kids were in bed, I was rethinking the episode as it made me feel really bad. I was trying to understand what had happened and how we could avoid a situation like that in the future. That is when it hit me….Kraft Dinner….yellow processed cheese….yellow food dye.

I thought no, a slight food dye can’t create a huge behavioural problem, right?? Have you googled food dyes? I mean, yes, I know, googling is not always the best idea, especially with so many unreputable sites. You can read up on symptoms and instantly believe you are dying. However, this was serious. I kept reading and reading, and it all started to make sense. All of our behavioural problems both at home and at school could relate back to food dyes.

Let me provide a bit more background to this story to show how much of an impact it had. My son loved school, he was always excited to go and looked forward to it. Yet, I was getting so many messages from the teacher stating the following: “Your son had a great morning, but after lunch, he was not being nice and had fights with so and so.” I received these messages over and over to the point the teacher was wondering if there was something going on at home. I would ask him, what is going on? Why are you fighting with x? What happened today? He would always answer “I don’t know.”

Another quick story, with the behavioural problems we would have with our son, we actually started to joke about how he had an alter ego (Dr. Jeckell and Mr. Hyde). He would be good and boom, super angry and mean. No listening or even being able to understand why he was reacting this way.

Now back to the point, as I was saying after the Kraft Dinner episode, I started to read up on the food dyes. Yellow food dye being the very worst. Where did we find yellow food dye in our daily eating habits?? CHEESE!! This is when it really clicked for me, his teacher kept saying his mornings were great, but after lunch he had issues. Well, guess what he ate for lunch???? Sandwich with cheese that had yellow dye in it!!!!!

Now, if you are still reading this, let me tell you, I am not crazy, nor a helicopter mom, I have actual proof that removing the food dyes from our food helped IMMENSELY!!!

Here it is, about 3 weeks before the end of the school year, I decided I would try and eliminate as much of the food dyes as I could. The first step, find cheese without colour….old white cheddar cheese would work. Kids didn’t even notice the difference.

On the last day of school, I went with my little ones to go to the school pancake breakfast. As I was sitting there, my son’s teacher came over to have a chat. She started by saying, “I believe your son finally understands that he has to treat his friends nicer. I haven’t had any issues with him for the past 3 weeks.” I was completely shocked! That is precisely when I eliminated the dyes. She even said 3 weeks, it was just mind-blowing. I then told her what I did. She had never even heard of this either. She didn’t realize how much what he was consuming was impacting him (I guess, we really are what we eat).

All in all, I didn’t write this post to scare you or to say you have to change your food habits. I am simply trying to bring more awareness about food dyes and the impact on children’s behaviours. Food dyes may never have an impact on your children, I have 3 consuming food right now, and the food dyes seem to only impact 1 of 3, but I have still removed it for all of them.

These dyes have zero impact on flavour, they are only used to appease our eyes!!! They are not natural and are they are chemicals that are being added to our foods. Some countries have completely banned the use of some food dyes. Unfortunately, Canada has not caught up to this yet. Some large companies have started to remove the dyes from the products, for example, Kellogs removed it from their Fruit Loops cereal (colour might seem slightly faded, but taste exactly the same). Another brand I found that is eliminating dyes is Mott’s (I found freezies, gummies, juices, and apple sauces)

I don’t usually believe in what seems to be weird theories, but I have the evidence in my own house. My son no longer has crazy wicked tantrums, his behaviour has improved significantly and he is behaving better in school. Don’t get me wrong, he can still get angry and have his moments, but they are MUCH easier to handle.

Why are some food dyes banned in countries? There is evidence that some food dyes are linked to children’s behavioural problems such as hyperactivity. Have a look at the following articles for more information.

Banned in Europe, Safe in the U.S.

11 Food Ingredients Banned Outside the U.S. That We Eat

Why Are Some Food Dyes Banned In Some Countries, But Not Canada

Food Dyes

If you are interested in making your own natural food dyes, here is a great resource:

How to Make Your Own Safe Food Colouring at Home

Food DyesWhy I Eliminated Them

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