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How to cut out food dye and preservatives from my kids’ diet

That’s what I typed into my search bar. It all started with this article {I’ve read other articles in the past, but this one really got me thinking} .

“As Samantha ate the Red Velvet Cupcake, it was as if a light switch flipped inside her brain. I first noticed something was wrong when the melody from the song she was singing suddenly fell silent. She dropped the half-eaten cupcake into her lap. Her sweet song was replaced by a low growling noise as she rhythmically rocked back and forth in her seat. She rocked harder and harder until her little head was banging against the back of her booster seat with each impact. Her clenched fists turned white at the knuckles and her feet kicked wildly as she began to scream. She pulled at her hair and grabbed at her skin as though she was being burned alive. I pulled the car over to tend to her and to keep her from hurting herself.”

organic muffinMy own son has always been so temperamental and for years I was convinced there was something really badly wrong with him. I started combing the internet for some idea of what it could be and food was my answer. I never found a way to successfully implement a change to our diet, mostly out of pure fear and feeling overwhelmed. He never was as extreme as what this mother experienced, but I know deep within me that if I had cut this stuff out that his tantrums and anger issues would have greatly been eased. And it haunts me. Today I still look for clues to his behavior from his food. I think all mamas need help figuring this stuff out.

Today this popped up again, so I wanted to figure out HOW you go about cutting this mess out of our lives? I found this helpful article at healthychild.org. Mostly I like how it told me what to look for in our food and what to do step-by-step.

Limit your child’s intake of food additives by following these easy steps:

Identify what your child eats. Keep a food diary for a week, noting everything that is eaten – including at school. At the end of the week, you should have a good idea of your child’s exposure to food additives. Food additives are largely present in processed and packaged foods, candy, soda and other “junk” food, so if you limit those foods, you’ll cut down considerably.

Eat whole foods. Eating a balanced diet of fresh produce and whole grains will go a long way towards keeping additives and preservatives out of your child’s system. Whole foods are much healthier than processed and packaged. But, if you do buy processed foods, look for the organic options which have little or no added synthetic colors or preservatives.

Read Labels. According to pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene, be especially attentive to the top five risky additives:

1. Artificial Colors – anything that begins with FD&C (e.g. FD&C Blue No. 1)

2. Chemical Preservatives – Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), Sodium Nitrate, Sodium Benzoate

3. Artificial Sweeteners – Aspartame, Acesulfame-K, Saccharin

4. Added Sugar – High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), Corn Syrup, Dextrose, etc

5. Added Salt – Look at the sodium content and choose foods with the lowest amounts.
Additionally, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, some of following additives have been associated with negative health impacts:

    • Propyl Gallate
    • Sulfites (Sulfur Dioxide, Sodium Sulfite, Sodium And Potassium Bisulfite, Sodium and Potassium Metabisulfite)
    • Potassium Bromate
    • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
    • Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
    • Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
    • Potassium Bromate
    • Olestra (Olean)
    • Heptylparaben
    • Sodium Nitrite

If you have a question about any food ingredient, dietary supplement or cosmetic contact the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Nutrition, 888-SAFEFOOD.

6. Report Adverse Reactions. Alert your healthcare provider to any adverse reactions to find out if your child has special sensitivities or allergies. These reports are also often compiled for health agencies to monitor the safety of ingredients. If too many adverse impacts are reported, regulatory action may be necessary.

Also the original web page Deliciously Organic thatI found the article on has many recipes and ideas for changing our diet. I know there must be a ton of info on this out there but I think if we just start searching and reading we’re bound to find the answers we our children and families desperately need.

Below is another tid-bit from Deliciously Organic {read the whole post here} about how to start making changes.

There are many ways we can make healthy changes this new year. If you’re new to the world of organic, unprocessed food, I suggest you start small. MAKE ONE CHANGE A WEEK. Start by going through your pantry and fridge, reading every label, and identifying the foods with processed ingredients, preservatives, and additives. This will help you identify the foods you want to eventually replace. When you’re ready to start the process, begin by making one change every week. Discard one item and replace it with one new organic/unprocessed item in your pantry. After six months, youll be amazed at how much change has occurred, and in a year or so, your entire pantry and fridge will be completely transformed. This was the approach I took six years ago because at the time I had two little kids and trying to convert everything at once was too daunting. My cookbook, has guidance and encouragement to help you make the change (plus 85 delicious recipes!).

If you’ve made lots of changes to your diet, but you want to take things a step further, how about making chicken stock once a week and using it in your cooking. Homemade chicken stock/broth has many health benefits. You might try making your own kombucha. It’s a fizzy, sweet tea full of probiotics, live enzymes, polyphenols (they fight free radicals – free radicals damage the cells of our body), glucuronic acid (a powerful detoxifier) and many other nutrients. Kombucha was on my “I’ll never try that” list for a while, but last year I took a step of faith and started brewing my own. I’m completely hooked. You could also start reading more about what’s in our food through books like, Eat Fat, Lose FatThe Omnivore’s Dilemmaor Nourishing Traditionsjust to name a few. 

Let me know if you have any helpful resources on this.

ABOUT CORNBREAD MAMA

Living on a small family farm in the Southeast Cornbread Mama enjoys sharing about her life. Between being the wife of a cowboy, homeschooling mom to boy/girl twins, artist, and Christ-follower praying for a simple life in this crazy world Cornbread Mama finds comfort in writing about her family adventures here on the farm surrounded by 18 cows and calves, 2 donkeys, 3 dogs, and 9 chickens. So pull up a rocker and sit a spell.

2 Comments

  1. I am absolutely convinced that my younger son has some sensitivity to food coloring. He eats very little of it, but when he does there is a drastic, and almost immediate behavior change. I have really had to become vigilant to keep his diet clean but it is very difficult when he is in school and parents bring in treats for birthday and holidays that are packed with artificial colors and flavors. Thanks for the post!

  2. Yes, I am noticing a big difference in my son with just sugar. I know that’s a given, but it’s a crazy change I see. Like syrup with breakfast, makes him go nuts! Or it may be some food coloring or preservatives in the syrup. Note to self – check that! Thanks for the comment! 🙂

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