A few months back I noticed W was having some behavioral issues that seemed to go beyond typically toddler tantrums. I couldn't place his behavior on anything else (i.e teething, overly tired, hungry). I started doing a little research on extreme toddler tantrums and came across a lot of info on dye-intolerance. It all added up especially being at my parents where W was eating a lot of extra food we don't normally have at home. I figured it couldn't hurt to eliminate all dyes and see how he reacted. Within a few days I started to notice a difference but I still wasn't entirely convinced; that is until he had some dark blue icing at his birthday party and the next two days he was a disaster. This reaction sold me on him having some kind of dye intolerance. Now, I realize I have self-diagnosed him, but I plan to bring it up with the pediatrician when he goes for his 2-year well-check this week. There isn't a way to test for dye-intolerance so I'm sure she's not going to say too much about it. He has been dye-free for almost 2 months now and he is like a completely different child. He still has tantrums like any 2 year old, but they aren't as extreme and they're usually caused by him being tired, sick, hungry, or from teething. Making the switch to dye-free has not been easy. Dye is in so many foods, some that are absurd.
The absurd list of foods with dye and alternatives:
*Go-gurt : we now eat Dannon Greek yogurt which W seems to like even more (although Go-Gurt is much more convenient for an independent toddler to eat)
*traditional fruit snacks : we buy 100% fruit snacks that have a serving of fruit in them, no additives (can be found at Walmart)
*dum dum lollipops : my mom just bought W a bag of YumEarth Organics lollipops so I'm interested to see if he'll love them as much as dum dums. I haven't come across a brightly colored candy that doesn't have dye in it, other than organic candy. I'm on the hunt for Easter though!
*Nestle chocolate syrup : I haven't looked for an alternative yet, but I need to find one. Interestingly enough, Nestle chocolate syrup has dye but their prepackaged chocolate milk does not (I haven't looked at Hershey's to know if their's has dye)
*popsicles : I make my own using fruit juice
*blueberry pancake mix : we now make chocolate chip or buttermilk pancakes
*vanilla/white icing : craziest thing that every vanilla icing in Walmart has blue dye but I found a few chocolate icings without any dye. most plain white cakes do not have dye either
*sprinkles : haven't found a cheap alternative yet, even white sprinkles have blue dye in them
*brightly colored cereals (Apple Jacks, Fruit Loops, Fruity Cheerios, Mini Wheats with Fruit in the Middle) : W loves the colors (which is exactly why they put dyes in the cereals), but since I got them out of the house he has been content with different flavored cheerios
*Kraft Macaroni and Cheese : We have switched to Velveeta which does not have dye. I'm told Kraft makes a white mac & cheese but our local Walmart does not sell it - I'm curious if it has dye in it or not
*Sports drinks : when W had the flu last week, I had A pick up some Gatorade without even thinking about it. Once we got home with them I realized every color had dye in it. We pushed water and cranberry juice instead
*Medicine : Most medicines have red or blue dye in them (depending on if it's red or purple). Our Walmart sells one dye-free children's acetaminophen and it is an off-brand. It's really unnecessary it have dye in medicine, W could care less about the color! If anything, it might help prevent accidental overdose as it wouldn't be as appealing to kids without the color. I know that Hyland's makes dye-free and natural "remedies" which we do buy (their Cold 'n Cough is very effective)
Look for my next post which will be more technical with what I've learned about dyes :) As a preview, visit this recent post on shape.com about banned foods still allowed in the US, where the first one listed is dyes.