Step 1 - Finding the Problem
Around the time my son was three years old, I realized that many of his problematic behaviors seemed to be at their worst when he had consumed certain foods and drinks. By keeping a food diary and through the process of elimination, I was able to determine that his behaviors were directly related to artificial dyes. Some of his behaviors included major mood swings, rage and aggression, the inability to focus, hyperactivity, night terrors, lack of impulse control, hives, slurred speech, and gastrointestinal issues. These did not all happen at the same time. Different dyes seemed to contribute to causing different reactions.
I cleaned my pantry out and went to the grocery store with a plan to remove all artificial dyes from his diet for a two week period. After three days, I started noticing changes in him. By the end of the first week, it was like I had a brand new kid. He seemed so much happier and his behavior was on-point for his age.
However, I still noticed some occasional outbursts that reminded me of what we had been seeing prior to removing artificial dyes from his diet. I began reading the labels of all of his personal care products. Low and behold, the same artificial dyes were in his body soap, shampoo, lotion, hair gel and hand soap just to name a few. I removed these products from our home and replaced them with dye-free versions. This was the point where I realized that his behavior outbursts could be almost entirely managed by preventing him from any intake of artificial dyes through ingestion or absorption through the skin.
We have lived this lifestyle for over five years now. It has been completely lifechanging for our entire family. We occasionally have a slip-up and become aware of it by changes in his behavior. The majority of the time, I am able to find the culprit and remove it. Our family is well aware of the difference it has made in him and is on board with carrying over the dye-free lifestyle in their homes as well.
The constant label reading was extremely stressful in the beginning. It is a huge commitment, but it quickly became second nature to me. I have been able to find replacements for the majority of his favorite snacks and treats. He is now aware of how slip up’s make him feel and is completely on board with living a dye-free lifestyle. Will he outgrow this someday? We are not sure. I have hopes that he will maintain this lifestyle as an adult if needed or be able to understand and control his behavior at the very least.
Could your child be sensitive to artificial dyes in food, personal care products, and other household products?
Common symptoms of a sensitivity to artificial dyes include:
Lack of Focus
Lack of Impulse Control
Sleep disturbances (such as night terrors)
Gastrointestinal Issues (stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting)
Hives or skin reactions
Bed wetting (after potty training)
Future blog posts will go into more detail with how I began the elimination process to determine that artificial dyes were in fact a problem for my son.
* This blog post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease or illness. Do your research and consult with a healthcare professional for advice.