I first became aware of food dyes when one of my step daughters would get horrible headaches whenever she’d eat the cupcakes at birthday parties. You know: the bright, beautiful cupcakes with bold frosting and covered in sprinkles. We did some testing over the years and correlated the frosting being the culprit, which of course is filled with food dye. She could eat the cake part just fine, so she started scraping off the frosting. Sure enough, she stopped getting headaches.
Since then, we’ve decided to be as dye-free as possible and really read the labels in not just our food but also in our household products: shampoo, cosmetics, toothpaste … even medicine. They’re everywhere.
Food dyes are linked to not only headaches, but also worsening symptoms of ADHD, hives, organ function and so so so much more. This article shows you some of the most common side effects of the most common food dyes, and it’s so eye opening, especially if you suffer from any of those health problems.
The handful of times when Harper has had food dye, I’ve noticed a BIG different in her behavior: acting out, not following the rules, explosive tantrums and not able to go to sleep. Instead of blaming her for that behavior or chalking it up to “typical toddler antics,” I know enough to know draw the line between the two and keep food dyes away from us all as much as possible.
Does that mean we don’t do cupcakes, candy or anything “fun”? Well, of course not and that’s the the thing: there are substitutes for nearly everything. Check out some of my favorite food-dye substitutes here and how I even planned a rainbow 4th birthday party completely dye free. It’s possible, especially when fruits and vegetables offer the very best rainbow we could ask for.
I challenge you to pay attention to your body (or your children’s behavior) and what you consume, and I’ll bet you’ll notice the correlation too.
If you’re interested in learning more about the effects of food dyes and why we go to great lengths to avoid them, check out these resources from the Feingold Society, which is a diet that supports those with ADHD (and so many more who want to feel better and do better):
Dyes in Your Food Public Citizen Health Research Group, 1985
Adverse Effects of “Inactive” Ingredients
About the Feingold Diet and the Removal of Food Dyes
You can easily go down the rabbit hole of research as to why food dyes could be bad (and some argue that there’s no solid proof). But like I always say: your best indicator of what works for you and your family is your own experience and your own reactions, and if you have the knowledge to at least pay attention and know what to look for.
Tell me: are food dyes on your radar yet? What are some of your favorite dye-free alternatives?