I do a lot of food ingredient reading. I’m daily reading articles online, or a new book from the library about healthy eating & whole foods. As a result of my reading, we’ve changed a lot of the food we eat around here. Its been a gradual change over the past few years; cutting things here and there and replacing them with better options.
We’re definitely not perfect, and there are things in my cupboard that contain some of the things I want to avoid in our food, but I let them slide. Things like mini candy bars from their Easter party, or Valentine’s Day.
Then over the last 2 weeks I started seeing articles popping up in my Facebook feed again about not eating artificial food dyes. I know we shouldn’t, and while the yogurt, mac & cheese, and crackers I buy don’t have them, we still have little bags of M&M’s, skittles, and even a bag of starburst jelly beans the girls talked me into. While I know my kids eat very little of these sweets, here’s what I DO know… my youngest daughter’s favorite cereal has TWO different food colors in it. 🙁 Why? No idea… And caramel color [which is NOT a natural color and not good for you at all] is in lots of things where you least expect it, like candy, soda, coffee syrups, and more.
So what are the issues with food color?
Besides being derived from petroleum [yuck!], here are some of the issues they can cause:
I have friends who have cut out artificial food colors (especially red 40) from their children’s diets because it caused hyperactivity, or other issues and they have seen great results. At this point, I don’t know if any of us are experiencing any issues due to these. There are times when I wonder if the colors cause certain behaviors, but without completely eliminating them, I won’t be able to tell. And even if we don’t see any huge proof, I know that we are doing a great thing for our bodies!
So I decided to set up a challenge for our family:
No artificial food color for the rest of April!
What does this mean? It means I took a box and cleaned out the candy cabinet, and packed away the offending cereal. I’d say over half of the candy stash went into the box! Crazy… especially when I saw caramel color in places I didn’t expect [Hershey’s cookies & cream – my oldest’s favorite treat, and ice cream cones!]. And don’t forget the blue #1 in … marshmallows! Really… Food color shows up where you least expect it. Remember – color is never for a nutritional benefit, its there because companies think we need it there to make us buy it.
I know some of you are wondering what my girls think of all this. Well… my youngest was bummed to give up her cereal for the month. But I made them a deal ~ I’d take the time to make homemade muffins and waffles to freeze, as well as scheduling one day a week that I’d get up early to make them oatmeal bakes. A little more work for me, but worth it in the end. My oldest gave me more grief, as usual. She’s 11 and tends to like to argue about why I must have things so healthy and how it won’t taste as good. She also insists that any organic product has extremely boring packaging. I get a little thrill in informing her that a new product I bought, or item I made contains healthy and organic ingredients … AFTER she tries it and says how good it is. 😉 She doesn’t get why I don’t buy them pop tarts and let them eat those or Lucky Charms and Fruit Loops for breakfast like other kids do. Tonight she told me that some day when she has kids, she’ll let them eat those foods and she’ll tell them about how her mom NEVER let her have them. 😉
I’m hoping that they see the benefit of it. I talk to them about why we make some of the food decisions that we do, and how these things affect our body. They aren’t completely sold on it yet, but that’s ok. I know they’ll come around eventually.
So wish us luck ~ I don’t think it won’t be a huge change for us in general. Despite what my oldest thinks, we have eliminated 95% of food colors in our foods anyway. She was certain this experiment would be catastrophic, but I think she’ll be surprised. I know doing this will make me more conscious of really looking at labels for these things…. I tend to look past that caramel coloring so often. Its easy to forget that its NOT natural and that it IS bad for you. We are so used to food colors in our food that we don’t give them any thought.
Are you up for a challenge?
I’ll leave you with a few other great articles on why you should avoid artificial food colors:Naturally Savvy – Artificial Colors100 Days of Real Food – 7 Reasons I hate Artificial Food DyeGreatist – Is Food Coloring Bad For UsMercola – The Dark Side of the Rainbow of Food DyesAnd of course a great resource, the blog: Die Food Dye
I invite you to join us for the month! Or even a week if you don’t want to commit to a month. Try it yourself, or get your whole family on board. You may be surprised at the changes you see in your children [and yourself]. Either way, you get the satisfaction of knowing that you are putting less chemicals into your body. It’s win-win! If you have a blog, share the challenge – you can feel free to use the image below.