This week, when I could have been home watching TV, I decided to attend a seminar by a naturopathic doctor (Dr. Shelese Pratt) to help shed light on the increase in autism and also why so may kids are suffering from allergies, asthma, hyperactivity and sleep disorders.
I’m not sure what propelled me to go since my kids thankfully don’t suffer from any of these ailments, but I’m interested in children’s health.
I was fascinated to learn that behavioral issues amongst children can often be traced back to deficiencies in their diets and natural makeup, food sensitivities or toxins they are being exposed to (either by what they eat or the air they breathe, etc).
The reality is children today are exposed to way more chemicals than we ever were as kids and it has had an effect. So I’m listening to this doctor who is incredibly knowledgeable and she is talking about some stuff I already know, like your kids should drink more water and take in less carbs/more protein in the morning.
(Although that is probably not going to happen in my house since I have no time to trade in cereal for turkey sausage and eggs. Listen, if I had time to scramble up some eggs, I’d also be shaving my legs in the shower. My kids can eat protein later in the day.)
And then Dr. Pratt started talking about artificial sweeteners and food colorings.
Artificial sweeteners are not good for developing brains. Got it. Check.
And food colorings are toxic and rampant in U.S. products. Wait, what?! Maybe I’m an idiot (don’t comment on that) but I’ve never thought about food colorings being dangerous.
Well, boy was I wrong.
Commonly used food dyes, such as Yellow 5 and Red 40 are in all kinds of U.S. products marketed for children and are made from petroleum. Yes, PETROLEUM. These colorings are in everything from candy to cereal to cough syrup to toothpaste.
These food dyes can cause temper tantrums, hyperactivity, aggressive behavior, nervousness, dizziness and inability to concentrate in children. Some lab studies have even shown a link to cancer.
Artificial colorings are banned in many parts of Europe. Apparently, it’s okay to give U.S. children inferior products, but not European children. Thanks FDA!
“For example, in Britain, Fanta orange soda is dyed with pumpkin and carrot extract while the U.S. version is dyed with Red 40 and Yellow 6. Kellogg Strawberry NutriGrain bars are colored with Red 40, Yellow 6 and Blue 1 in the U.S., but with beetroot, annatto and paprika extract in the UK. McDonald’s Strawberry Sundaes are colored with strawberries in Britain but with Red dye 40 in America.” (According to Food Safety News and The Center for Science in the Public Interest.)
The FDA says it does not believe that artificial food dyes cause hyperactivity in children in the general population. However, the agency says these dyes may exacerbate problems in susceptible children diagnosed with ADHD.
But in my opinion, since these dyes are completely unnecessary and studies have shown they can have a very negative effect on children’s health, why would we allow them in SO MANY U.S. PRODUCTS?!
This does not sound healthy at all.
I am absolutely a candy addict. I love Mike & Ike’s, Hot Tamales, lollipops, Starbursts, red licorice, M&M’s, you name it. I might as well highlight my hair with Red 40, I’m in so deep.
But I was suddenly horrified by what I was putting in my own PREGNANT body and what I was giving my children. I decided to clean out my pantry of any products that had these artificial colorings. And it filled a bag this big. (I told you I was a candy addict).
I was amazed by how much of this I was giving my kids without even realizing it. Look, would I prevent my kids from eating cake at a birthday party because it was chocked full of Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1, etc. No, I would not.
But should I be giving this crap to my kids every day as treats or part of their breakfast cereal? Definitely not. You can buy lollipops, popsicles and lots of products without these artificial colorings. It just means paying attention to labels at the grocery store.
Our kids deserve better than brightly colored, neon food that can potentially make them sick.
And so do I.