What’s the deal with food dyes?

Artificial food dyes are found in hundreds of products on the market today.  They are particularily prevelent in food geared towards children b/c the bright colors are intended to make the foods more attractive and thus entice children to want their parents to purhase them.

These dyes contain harmful chemicals that are dangerous to consume.

My son has had sever reactions to the dyes in processed food, causing him to have uncontrollable outbursts.  Once we removed the foods from his diet containing dyes he no longer had frequent, prolonged outburst.

Unfortunately our story is not unique.  Many parents have experience similar situations with their own children.

I incourage you to take a look at the foods your child is eating and consider the possiblity of replacing items containg artifical dyes with items contain no dyes or natural dyes.

I’ve included many ideas and products that you can purchase instead.

As always, I am happy to hear any ideas you may have on healthier food alternatives.

Happy Eating.

Side effects of Food Dyes

Although the FDA has stated that dyes in food are safe for consumption, in 2012 the Center for Science in the Public Interest published an article in 2010 detailing the potential risks of artificial food dyes placed in food.  As noted in the article Bue #1, Red dye # 40 and Yellow dye# 3  have been shown to cause hypersensitivity and hyperactivity in children and are known carcenagens.

In 1990, the FDA revoked the use of Red dye #3 in cosmetics and medications, however, it is still considered “safe” for use in food. Red dye #40.  For the complete report look here http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf

The Center For Science in the Public Interest published an article in 2012 documenting effects of food dyes in children, as observed by their parents.    The side effects range from inablity to concentrate to violant outbursts.  Many parents report that their children’s symptoms mimicked those of behavioral disorders such as ADHD, but once they removed their child from foods containing artifical dyes the symptoms subsided.

You can read the full report here (http://www.cspinet.org/fooddyes/testimony.html)

None of these dyes add any nutrional or health benefits to foods and they can be inexpensively and easily taken out.  The FDA should remove all artifical dyes from foods that they can not gurantee without any doubt are not 100% safe and free of harmful side effects.

What to eat for breakfast

Here’s a list of common “kid friendly” breakfast foods that contain artifical food dyes and similar tasting dye free alternatives.

Please note, almost all non-organic cereals contain artificial food dye, I have only listed a few.  When choosing cereals, be sure to check the label, as a general rule Organic cereals do not contain artificial dyes.  Also, store like Trader Joes and Whole Foods do not put artificial food dyes in their products and have lots of store brand alternatives for cereal (and other products) that are just as tasty.

Breakfast Foods:

Instead of General Mills Life Cereal try Barbara’s Shredded Spoonfuls

Instead of Quaker instant oatmeal flavors such as Strawberries and Cream, Dinosaur Eggs or Maple and Brown Sugar, try plain instant oatmeal with a teaspoon of brown sugar or real maple syrup.

Instead of Kellog’s Nutri-grain bars try Trader Joe’s cereal fruit bars or Kashi cereal bars.

Instead of Kellog’s pop tarts (all flavors except brown sugar contain artificial food dye) try Nature’s Path toaster pastries.

Keep in mind that many products contain “fruit” such as Kellogs blueberry waffles  contain artificial fruit comprised of artificial food dye and high fructose corn syrup, try to stick to plain or whole grain varieties.

Breakfast Fun

In the previous post I listed several alternative packaged foods that could be purchased free of artifical food dyes.  I know that many parents buy food containing artificial dyes because the foods are “fun” for kids, featuring cartoon characters on the box or bright colors.  But there are other ways to make breakfast fun!  I’ve listed some ideas.

1) Yogurt parfaits–server plain regular of Greek yogurt mixed with honey (kids over age 1) in fancy glasses.  Set out bowls of fresh berries, nuts such as almonds, and homemade granola so kids can make it the way they like.  Like an ice cream bar, only for breakfast!

2) Homemade granola is easy to make  and fun for kids to help.  Mix 3 cups of old fashioned oats with 3/4 tsp salt, 1/4 melted butter or coconut oil and 1/4 cup each of honey and real maple syrup.  Mix in any nuts and dried fruit you like and bake at 250 for 1 hr and 15 min, stirring occasionally.  Perfect for topping yogurt or as an alternative to store bought cereal.

3) Make a double batch of waffles and freeze the extras in Ziploc bags,  then heat in the toaster, just like frozen waffles and top with fresh berries.

4) Make plain oatmeal and set out fruit, nuts, brown sugar and cinnomin so your kids can mix in what they like.

5) Make Smoothies!  Blend 1/2 a ripe banana, 1 cup frozen berries or mango, a large handful of raw spinach and a few splashes of juice.  Add plain yogurt and/or 1-2 TBS wheat germ, if you like.  Taste super delicious and you can’t even taste the spinach.  Plus it’s fun for kids to fill the blender with what they want.  Serve with a crazy straw for extra fun.

Make homemade pop tarts.  Get the recipe here http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2010/04/homemade-pop-tarts/

This is just a few of my family’s favorite easy and healthy breakfast ides.

Snack Foods

What mom doesn’t carry around a bag full of snack s to fend of cranky kids.  Unfortunately many packaged foods geared towards kids contain harmful artificial food dyes.  Here are a list of a some popular snack foods that contain artificial dyes and dye free alternatives.

1) Instead of microwave popcorn make your own using the popcorn trick.  Pour 1/3 cup of popcorn into a brown paper bag, fold the top over tightly and microwave on high till popping ceases, then add butter, olive oil or coconut oil.  Check out the original recipe here.http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/06/17/recipe-the-popcorn-trick/

2) Instead of Yoplait Gogurts, try Stoneyfield organic yogurt tubes, Trader Joe’s brand yogurt tubes, or Yoplait Simply Yogurt.

3) Instead of Fruit snacks try Annie’s Organics fruit snacks or Trader Joes real fruit leathers (no added sugar!)

4) Instead of  Peppridge Farms goldfish crackers or sunshine brand Cheezits try Annie’s Organics chedder bunnies or Trader Joes cheesy rocket ships.

5) Instead of Doritos,  try Kettle brand potatoe chips (not quite the same, but they have just three ingredients: potato, canola oil and salt).

for other easy snack ideas

1) make your own snack mix–let your kids mix nuts, dried fruit and chocolate chips

2) Fresh fruit like berries, apple slices, mango, oranges, bananas, peaches, ect.

3) Veggies like baby carrots, sugar snap peas, broccoli and baby bell peppers.

4) tortilla chips

5) cheese and crackers (like Triscuits)

6) Homemade goldfish crackers.  Look here for the recipe

7)  Homemade granola bars.  Check here for a recipe.

8) Dried Fruit

–Check here for more healthy snack ideas:



When our kids get a fever most parents reach for the Tylenol.  If they get the stomach flu and  become dehydrated we grab Gatoraide or Pedialyte.  But these products all intended to make our kids better when they’re sick actually all contain artificial food dyes.  I’ve listed several common medications and produts used for sick children, all of which contain artificial dyes as well as some alternatives.

1) Instead of grape of strawberry flavored Tylenol  try dye free Tylenol or Little Remedies acetemetaphine.

2) Instead of Pedialyte or Gatoraide  try Coconut water (it has twice the electorlyes of commercialy produced “sports drinks”

3) For dye free cough medications try ZarBees all natural cough syrup.

4)Also, be sure to check your child’s toothpaste to be sure it doesn’t contain artifical dyes.  Many do, including Kid’s Crest and Colgate brand toothpaste.  Instead try Tom’s toothpaste for kids (it even comes in fun flavor like strawberry).

Candy and Treats

Part of the fun of being a kid is things like waking up Easter morning to a basket full of treats like a chocolate bunny and jelly beans, or going trick or treating on Halloween, or coming home from a brithday party with a bag full of candy.  Of course we don’t want our kids to miss out on the fun of celebrations and holidays and part of that fun includes candy treats.  So what do we do about candy kids get from other places.  For holidays like Halloween I suggest something we do with my son which is a visit from the candy fairy.  He chooses a few peieces of candy to eat and places the rest at the foot of his bed to be exchanged by the fairy for money or a toy.  As far as the other candy goes, keep in mind that most chocolate doesn’t contain artificial food dyes.  Talk to your child about the importance of making healthy choices and encourage them to choose “better” candy options, such as chocolate.  For purchasing your own candy I’ve listed some dye free alternatives.

1) Surf Sweets jelly beans

2) Unreal brand candy makes treats just like popular brands like M&M’s but without the additives and artificial food dyes.

3) Yummy Earth organic lollipops

4) Yummy Earth organic gummy bears

5) Plum organics teensey fruits

Natural Food Dyes

Just because you choose to avoid harmful artifical food dyes doesn’t mean your kids have to miss out on brightly frosted cookies and cakes.  You can easily obtain dyes from foods that can be used to color frosting.  You can use these same dyes to color easter eggs and playdough, too!

I’ve included a few links with recipes for natural food dyes

1)Naturl food dye available for purchase:


2) How to make your own natural food dyes:

3) How to make playdough using natural food dyes: