Food Dyes: The How and Why to Cut Out Food Dyes

European lawmakers require food with artificial colors be labeled with a warning that stating the food “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”! This was in response to a recent large study linking food dyes and other preservatives to hyperactivity in children. (source)

Why are food dyes bad for you.

Why are food dyes bad for you and how can you ditch them?

“There’s no good reason not to ban Red 3, something then-acting FDA commissioner Mark Novitch tried to do in 1984, saying the dye ‘has clearly been shown to induce cancer’ and was ‘of greatest public health concern.’ … Other dyes, namely Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are known to cause allergic reactions in some people and have shown signs of causing cancer in lab animals.

Of course, this isn’t the same thing as leading to cancer in humans, but it argues for limiting intake, especially among children, who are getting the biggest dose of food coloring from a gazillion brightly colored, fun-looking foods.” (source)

What are food dyes made of?

“Artificial food dyes are made from petroleum and approved for use by the FDA to enhance the color of processed foods.” (source) Yes you read that right Petroleum as in the same stuff used to make gasoline that is sitting in your car outside.

How to cut dyes out?

Read labels. Yes it is boring but never put anything in your cart without reading first. Replace foods that contain dyes with versions that do not, many store brands skip dyes on a lot of products, so don’t be afraid to check those. We have even switched to dye free soaps which make a fun and inexpensive craft.

What if someone in the house is not willing to give up dyes?

My husband while all for not feeding dyes to the kids just will not give up favorites like fruity pebbles and bright-colored sodas. This presented a challenge I had to face head-on. Well, fate gave me a hint.

While putting away groceries one day the marker I label meats before they go into the freezer with rolled off the counter and hit a cereal box leaving a big black line. An idea struck. I added another line to make an X and went on to mark every other item that contained dyes.

Now hubby could have his fun stuff and no one had to read labels every time someone got hungry. When baking and such at home try natural food dyes to get fun colors so no one misses out.

Dealing with others.

There will come a time when you have to tell a neighbor, friend or family member “I’m sorry they can not have that. We do not eat artificial food dyes.” and you will hear “That’s crazy I ate them and look at me I am just fine!” Oh, that line drives me nuts.

The thing is older generations did not grow up eating these dyes they just do not remember the distinct lack of prepossessed junk compared to today.

In fact 15 million pounds of food dye are used in the U.S. per year, 5 times more than in 1955.(source) These dyes are used in everything from frosting to lunch meat. Even bottled teas and white marshmallows have dyes now.

You have heard it before food dyes are bad for you. Do you know why? are you ready to take the step to cut them out?

How we came to be dye-free Signs and Symptoms of ADHD

My husband has ADHD so when my preschooler started showing every sign in the book.

  • Inattentive;

    • Doesn’t pay attention to details
    • Makes careless mistakes
    • Has trouble staying focused; is easily distracted
    • Appears not to listen when spoken to
    • Has difficulty remembering things and following instructions
    • Has trouble staying organized, planning ahead, and finishing projects
    • Gets bored with a task before it’s completed
    • Frequently loses or misplaces homework, books, toys, or other items
  • Hyperactive;

    • Constantly fidgets and squirms
    • Often leaves his or her seat in situations where sitting quietly is expected
    • Moves around constantly often runs or climb inappropriately
    • Talks excessively
    • Has difficulty playing quietly or relaxing
    • Is always “on the go,” as if driven by a motor
    • They May have a quick temper or a “short fuse”


    • Acts without thinking
    • Blurts out answers in class without waiting to be called on or hear the whole question
    • Can’t wait for his or her turn in line or in games
    • Says the wrong thing at the wrong time
    • Often interrupts others
    • Intrudes on other people’s conversations or games
    • Inability to keep powerful emotions in check, resulting in angry outbursts or temper tantrums
    • Guesses, rather than taking time to solve a problem

We knew we do not want to medicate our child with chemicals. So we started looking for other ways to handle her behavior before she got older and we would have been lost. With some research, I discovered the food dye connection.

We talked it over and made the decision to give it a try. Now we are convinced that dyes truly affect our children. And any time our Monkey gets some by mistake she proves it.

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