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Friday, May 25, 2012

Color my world

So today I thought maybe it was time to share our story and how we got to this dye free low preservative life style.
It's not something I thought I'd be doing a year ago, and to be honest I thought over all we ate pretty healthy.
I had started with a cooking blog a few years ago that I did from time to time. It was just about trying to do things from scratch from time to time. I had known for sometime just from dieting and trying to lose weight that we should eat less processed food just because of the salt and additives in things.
So we'd eat homemade meals like two or three times a week, frozen pizza and a few pre-made frozen dinners. We still at McDonald's and fast food a few times a week at that time. The kids ate goldfish, fruit snacks, crackers and it was no big deal over all. They had the occasional candy and my husband always had oreo's or some other kind of cookies on hand, he's a cookie nut.

This is Will (my middle child) he started Kindergarten in the fall of 2011. Will has always been a sweet boy, but has had some sensory issues. Loud noises from a fire truck to the vacuum cleaner would send him over the edge. He would get in your space with out much thought about it, and you had to repeat things 100 times to get his attention. I know it sounds normal but trust me it was way more-so than what is normal.
At the beginning of the year we had an incident at school where he freaked out over the loudness of the flushing of the potty in the classroom! You can imagine my horror when the teacher called to tell me Will ran around the Kindergarten room with his hands over his ears and his pants around his ankles from being scared at the sound. I can laugh about it now but something was clearly up with my son.

Sure we had delt with issues in preschool where he would not sit still, but after some time that had passed so I was not worried about him being ready for school.
By the second month of school I was routinely getting notes and calls about his behavior, he would not do his work, he was spacing out, he would break things. We tried stop lights charts, we tried smile charts, everything from positive re-enforcement to threatening to take things away.
I'm not proud of the last part of that but when you are at the end of your rope you start to try anything you can think of to get them to somehow do what they are supposed to.
All of these thing by the way, would work for a day or maybe a week and then we would go right back to where we started.

The low for us had to be in December when I got a call from the Assistant School Principal that he had been sent to her office. It seemed he was flat out refusing to do any work, sit, and was ignoring the teacher.
What Kindergartner goes to the Principals office!? They suggested an evaluation with the school psychologist which just sent my head spinning. This was Kindergarten! What was going to happen in the future when things got much harder!?

It was December and the holiday break came, and I was looking at everything I could get my hands on for ideas on how to deal with this. I was terrified that he was going to be labeled a problem kid or we would need an ADD evaluation which was about the only thing I was coming up with as an answer as to why he was doing this.

Then I had a chance conversation with an acquaintance of mine about this, and she asked the question that changed everything for us "Had I looked at his diet?" His diet!?
She had read something recently about a connection with food color and or preservatives and ADD type behavior. So I looked for everything I could find on this, and devoured the information. I was not expecting much to be honest, I had read that FDA did not feel there was a true connection, though there was more reserch being done.

We pulled everything with food coloring, and that was no easy task. I was lucky though to find some great blogs online to help guide and support me, the remainder was trial and error for us.

School started back up and the notes and phone calls stopped. His smile chart was full of smiles! His teacher pulled me aside about a month later asking what I did, Will was a totally different boy. He was paying attention, doing his work, answering things in school!
The change was remarkable and other than a few days here and there (and one bad week that luckily got back on tack quickly) We have had great reports from school! Even friends could see the difference in how calm he was! At home he was a lot easier to get to cooperate and his behavior with his brother and sister was worlds better.

I can recall one day before we made the change asking Will what was going on. His answer was "I don't feel like my brain is in control of my body mom." He now tells me that's not an issue and he will even tell people that he can't have food color it makes him feel weird. It's pretty amazing that he will ask about what is in something now.

It still amazes me how many things have food color in it! Yogurt, crackers, candy, cereal, mac and cheese, it goes on and on. I've talked about it before but I think our food industry has hit a low when you see most pickles have food coloring in them. Really? Pickles are green, if they are not neon green I will still buy them.

I hope maybe this story might help someone, it's a daunting thing to try to figure out what is going on when this happens with your beautiful child. Knowing there are others out there who have delt with it, and there are things to try helps. This might not work for everyone, but it doesn't hurt to try. I'd love to see everyone try two weeks to go dye free and see if there is a change for you and your families health.

And if you need inspiration I think if you just look into what food color is made up of you might want to try to cut it back or out of your diet too. This Link will take you to a site with some great info from NPR and this one shows a great break down of what is in what color.
Putting this junk into our bodies can not be good for us! So while behavior or attention issues might not be how your body or your kids body responds to this stuff, I'd don't know about you but I'd rather lean to the side that does not have to find out the answer to HOW my body is going to react to it.