Mom of Action
More than good intentions.
Why No Food Dye?
by Tanisha DuBransky | Mom of Action on November 1st, 2016

Ty "tasted the rainbow" for the first time today. He and his 3-year-old brother got up early and into the trick-or-treat candy before I woke up.

We found out 3 years ago that, for him, food dyes/artificial color additives cause hyperactivity, irritability, and urinary frequency leading to dehydration. Last year we learned of 2 other neurological effects: regression of his handwriting and pupil dilation, a sign of poisoning/toxicity. Generally, people are more curious than judgmental when we decline certain foods or ask if the item contains dye. Sometimes, this information on health forms is ignored. We deal with it, but it isn't easy.

Today, between the hours of 9am and 4pm, he went to the bathroom 4 times an hour (full bladder every time) and drank over 60 ounces of water. I only had to remind him to drink a few times; he usually doesn't feel thirsty until he's dehydrated. With age, he's learned how to recognize thirst to avoid dehydration and he copes better with the behavioral effects. Unfortunately, as of 7:30 tonight, his pupils are still dilated. In the past, these symptoms have continued for up to 3 days after consuming food dye.
Handwriting Samples: 7 days ago (left), today (right). Today's sample was 4 hours after eating artificially colorful candies.
We've worked on fine motor skills for 2 years with great progress, but his stamina, motor planning, and letter formation regress with any medicine or additive with neurological side effects. The photo on the left was from last week and the right was this morning. Notice the difference in tracing accuracy, letter size, spacing, and letter position. Notice that he formed more of his own letters this week, but they don't get better as he progressed. Both times his instructions were: Do your best and stop after you can identify your best. 

This sensitivity will give him many opportunities to practice self-control and make healthier choices. He worked harder and it took longer to finish his schoolwork today, but he understood why. Last year, he regressed several months during a week on prednisone.
Fortunately, his handwriting goes back to normal after the dye leaves his system. He didn't know Skittles contained dye since he's never had them. He is still learning what items have food dye, but look at that list. It's in everything! I can't imagine how things would be if he ingested dyes daily.

Since he's had 30 more ounces of water since 5pm, I hope the dye clears out by morning this time. 

All this for a 1/4 pack of Skittles.

Products with Artificial Dyes

He's learned to ask, "does this have food dye in it?" when he's being served by others. I've started writing it down on forms as an allergy on health forms, even though his response is neurological, not immunological (that we're aware of). We're working with him on reading labels and avoiding foods that have Red, Yellow, or Blue in the ingredients list. I wish that were enough. Here's a list of other items that commonly contain artificial dyes. Which one surprises you? What's not on this list?

Medications, over the counter and prescription (liquids and pills)
Clothing (new, unwashed) 
Hair products (shampoo/conditioner, hair gel)
Finger paint
Cleaning products (window cleaner)
Powdered drink mixes (Koolaid, Country Time, Crystal Light)
Pudding and gelatin mixes
Chips (Doritos, Cheetos)
Juice drinks
Baked goods and boxed mixes
Fruit snacks
Toiletries (shaving foam, toothpaste)
Skin products (make-up, lip balm, lotions, sunburn gels)
Body washes and soap bars
Electrolyte drinks (Pedialyte/Gatorade/SmartWater)

Posted in Health, Life Lessons, Sensory    Tagged with challenges


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