Get rid of food dyes and preservatives in your kids’ food

I love it when my friends post stuff on my Facebook wall asking if I have read or know about a specific article. That means they are paying attention and care about how they are feeding their families. This article, Avoid Food Dyes to Reduce Hyperactivity and ADHD, was timely, as I continue to talk about salicylates, food dyes and food preservatives.

To many parents who have hyperactive kids, this is not new info. Even the director of my daughter’s school knew how food dyes and salicylates increase hyperactivity (her son is now 17 with a former salicylate allergy). I first read about this in a book called Is This Your Child? by Dr. Doris Rapp when my daughter was a newborn. Dr. Rapp is an old-school pediatric allergist who was way ahead of her time back in the 1980’s and still is bringing these issues to the forefront today. The information is not new – the Feingold Diet created back in 1967 linked food dyes and food preservatives to hyperactivity – but more Americans are becoming aware how harmful food dyes and food preservatives really are for our bodies.

Food dyes and food preservatives produce the manmade form of salicylates. One of the side effects of salicylates is that they stimulate the central nervous system (CNS). This means they: 1) increase the risk for hyperactivity, such as ADHD/ADD, and other mood disorders, such as anxiety, depression or aggressive behavior and 2) make it more difficult to fall asleep at night, either assisted or unassisted.

When you eat foods that are high in man-made salicylates, you often get a child who can’t sit still or goes a little “crazy.” I saw this a few weeks ago in my daughter on a 90-minute drive after eating birthday cake. She was in the back seat waving her hands in the air, her head going back and forth like she was at a rock concert. I was driving, thinking, “Ah yes, thank you, United States, for still allowing this crap in our diets.” But be warned, food dyes are not FDA-certified.

Food preservatives such as sodium benzoate, BHA and BHT often produce the same results as food dyes, emitting the chemical salicylate into the body. Where are these preservatives found? Just look at your cereal box, box of crackers, packaged oatmeal, breads, soda pop and certain juices – these chemicals are used to increase the shelf-life of our processed foods.

Sodium benzoate is a preservative often used to prevent mold in many of our food and drink products. There are concerns that the combination of sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) forms the chemical benzene, which is cancer-causing,according to the FDA. Sodium benzoate gives foods, candies and drinks an orange color and has a bitter aftertaste. It is also found in the orange drink expectant mothers drink before their glucose test.

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are used as preservatives to prevent fats in foods from going rancid. BHA and BHT are antioxidants. BHA is a yeast-defoaming agent, and BHT is used to preserve food, flavor and color. There is evidence that certain people cannot metabolize BHA and BHT, resulting in health and behavior changes and increasing their risk for cancer. BHT is banned in England.

Instead of using products with BHA or BHT, look for foods that contain Rosemary extract, which is a natural antioxidant.Enjoy Life Foods, based in Chicago, does not use any BHA and BHT or unnatural ingredients in their packaged food products. Their foods have a shorter shelf-life, but they are much better for our bodies to digest. Our bodies “understand” rosemary, but they don’t know how to process BHA and BHT.

So what can you do? Stop buying foods that contain these food dyes and preservatives.

Instead of M&Ms, buy Unreal Candy, which use no food dyes or corn products and are gluten free. Check out my personal review of Unreal Candy. Yes, they can be found at Target!

  • Instead of buying regular gummy bears, jelly beans and other gummy-based products, buy Surf Sweets, which is also a Chicago-based company.
  • Instead of buying lollipops from conventional stores, buy organic ones at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.
  • Instead of buying Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, buy Annie’s Mac and Cheese.
  • Instead of buying Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers, buy Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies.
  • Instead of buying Rice Krispies, buy Erewhon Cereals.
  • Instead of buying canned frosting (yes, vanilla and chocolate frosting has blue and red dyes in it) make it yourself in about five minutes. It’s much cheaper, too!
  • Instead of buying Pedialyte, make your own using this recipe.
  • Buy dye-free medicines.

Plus, check out one of my posts on ” The 5 Most Harmful Ingredients Lurking in Your Candy.”

If you don’t have these stores near you, become a savvy label-reader and buy organic candy online at the Natural Candy Store. They have everything from baking goods to gummies and even candy canes. Encourage the use of better candies and snack foods by purchasing them for classrooms, camps and churches

We can lobby with our dollars by being choosy in what we buy for our families. The less we buy these products, the more the big companies will be forced to use better quality products. After all, Kraft makes macaroni and cheese without the food chemicals for European countries because those chemicals are banned in Europe.

There are better options out there that won’t make you feel deprived.

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