Chemicals in Food and the Effects on My Daughter

I was asked to write a little article about my daughter, Lily’s reactions to food dyes and other chemicals in foods.

Lily was an awesome baby, she slept well and didn’t cry too much. She was always very alert and active, but never “difficult.” When she started eating real food, not baby food, but foods like us, we noticed a difference in her. She became irritable, threw huge fits, and would bang her head on the ground when she was frustrated. We always thought she was teething, or just not sleeping well. I remember being excited when her last tooth came in because her behavior would get better. It didn’t, it just continued to get worse.

Lily was always our super sweet kid who loved to cuddle and loved having her back scratched. This sweet kid could snap in a second. One second, she was hugging you, the next, she would be screaming at you and hitting you. When she was 4, after a year at the same school, the teacher had concerns about Lily. Lily behaved the same way at school. She was really sweet, but if another child made her mad, or if she didn’t get to sit by someone she wanted to, she screamed and cried. She didn’t just do this for a little while, she would not stop. We thought she was behaving like a normal 4 year old, but we decided to take her to a counselor to be sure. After 6 sessions, we were told she has bad anxiety and coping issues, but there was nothing else wrong.

We did everything we could to make Lily feel more comfortable and help her anxiety, but her anger issues just got worse. People always told us she would grow out of it. We hoped that was the case, but it wasn’t. Lily didn’t care who you were, if she was set off, she would yell at you if you made her mad. We always made excuses why our sweet, lovable child would behave so poorly. Lack of sleep, travel, and moving to a new home were always our excuses.

When Lily was 5, she got really bad. She would go on 3 hour long fits. She would go from happy to screaming, crying, hitting walls, slamming doors, and sometimes just scratching at the floors. She would not stop for hours. Picking out clothes each day was horrible. She went through 5 outfits a day because everything felt weird. She preferred to be naked, everything felt weird. She made us so miserable that I cried all the time. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a mom anymore. I didn’t understand how we could have such a “normal” older daughter, but Lily was “horrible.” How could our sweet, caring girl go from sweet and caring to a raging monster that was hard for even her mother to love? Luckily, we finally found the answer that doctors and a therapist could not tell us.

Before I go into this, let me tell you, Lily never had problems once she started kindergarten. Her teacher said she was attentive, a hard worker, and played well with everyone. Lily does not have ADHD. I even tried to get help from the school social worker, but she didn’t display any signs of focusing or social issues while in the classroom.

One day, my 3rd grader had a friend over. I remember saying to her friend’s mom, “It’s peaceful now because Lily isn’t here.” When her mom picked her up, Lily was home. Lily was screaming at us and making life miserable. The mom said to me, “You know, sometimes the chemicals in food can cause severe reactions in kids. Our daughter was ticking, and when we cut out dyes and preservatives, the ticking stopped. Check out the Feingold diet.” That’s all she said, and she left.


I immediately checked out the Feingold diet. This is meant for kids with ADHD and autism, but I found articles on how it also helps kids with anger and self control issues. I asked my husband if we should try it, and he thought it would be worth the try. I remember staying up reading everything I could about chemicals in food and items I could buy. My head was spinning. The next day, I cleared out all of our old food. Everything had dyes, artificial flavors, and preservatives. All of our “healthy” food was not as healthy as I thought. I was in shock. I spent 5 hours grocery shopping the next day and we immediately started eating all-natural and organic.

Within 48 hours, we had a new child. It was amazing. After a month, I remember saying, “This is the first time we’ve been happy in years.” I no longer cried and wished I wasn’t a mom. My horrible and angry child was now just my “normal” child. Of course she still has her moments, but they aren’t severe. Her 3 hour tantrums in her room are now 5-10 minutes. She no longer scratches at the floor or snaps at you for looking at her the wrong way. If she gets mad, she can control her anger.

It has been 1 year, 4 months, and 7 days since we started Lily’s diet. It’s no longer “Lily’s diet,” it is just the way we eat. We eat no food dyes, artificial flavors, preservatives, or any form of corn syrups. We found out even corn syrups were harming Lily. They were the reason everything “felt weird.” People on the outside think my kids are deprived and I need to lighten up. What they don’t know is Lily doesn’t want to eat those foods anymore, she knows how bad she feels afterward. We still eat sugar, and we still have treats, we just changed our brands. Lily is now 7, and she knows if she eats anything with chemicals in it, she will feel bad for a few days. She likes feeling good, and she knows what sets her off, so she self regulates now.

I am often asked where I now shop for our food. My favorite stores are Costco, Meijer, Trader Joe’s, and Aldi. We still eat normal food, we just switched out the brands. Pillsbury puts dyes in their crescent rolls and cinnamon rolls (our old favorites). Jet Puffed marshmallows have dyes in them. Kraft macaroni and cheese has dyes in it (eat Annie’s). Crest toothpaste for kids has dyes and artificial flavors (we use Tom’s). Some packaged rices have dyes in them. Life cereal has dyes and preservatives. I could go on forever, check the labels on your food. You’ll be amazed.

For another mom’s story about food dyes, read this article. It’s exactly what we went through.

Be Our Guest!

Be our guest! Be our guest! Be our guest! In case you didn’t notice, I’m just a lil bit excited that my brother, beautiful sister-in-law, adorable niece and precious nephew are on their way. They are headed down from DC to spend a week here with us in Tampa. I love getting a guest room ready to be used and this time I’m super excited to try something with my lavender oil. (I know, I know…more oil talk). It has so many benefits for relaxation and I’m sure you’ve seen it in all the baby lotions and potions that are out. Well my niece is almost 2 years old and my nephew is only 6 months, so if lavender has some kind of soothing and calming effect, I’m all about it. I got the idea when I saw something on Pinterest that said to add some lavender to the rinse cycle of your bed linens. I had every intention of doing that except that I completely missed the rinse cycle when I remembered I had laundry washing. So, I decided to add 3-4 drops of lavender to a small spray bottle of water and spray the bed and sheets as I was making the bed. I may have gotten a little carried away and sprayed the rug, comfy chair, and extra blankets as well. Then I remembered I had a small sachet of lavender that I bought in a cute shop in Marseilles last summer. It doesn’t smell much anymore so I added a few drops of lavender to it and laid it on the nightstand. Here are a few other touches for our guests….


Little touches like fresh flowers let them know how special they are to you…

flowersHave their fluffy towels and washcloths ready and easy for them to locate by placing them on the foot of the bed. This way they won’t feel like a burden asking you where to find them when they’re ready to freshen up. Go the extra mile by providing water bottles and easy snacks so they don’t have to tiptoe around the house if they’re hungry late at night or early in the morning….


I’m always sure to have a clock with an alarm, sweet smelling candle (this one from anthropologie), light reading (love this book by Emily Schuman), and ample amount of light…

bookLast but not least, I’ve added a few touches to the reading corner so that our guests don’t have to keep asking us for what they all want…wi-fi! 🙂

What do you do to make your guests feel welcome? Would you use any oils?


Essential Oils For Great Prices…They Do Exist!

I’m so excited…I just trekked across town (well, not by foot..and technically, I rode along while my friend Aprile did the trekking…but not by foot, got it?) and found unbelievable prices for a huge selection of essential oils. Remember that post about my husband with his allergies and sinus issues? (No? Here’s a refresher) Well, I’ve been talking to so many people about oils and everyone has had an opinion. And then my friend sent me this link of a DIY Shower Decongestant that I decided I HAVE to make for my suffering husband.



But don’t be crazy. I refuse to pay $100 for four oils (which remain unnamed) ! Jackpot! How do you use your oils and what recipes are your favorites?


Grammy Party Snacks


Tonight is the night! Grammy night! One day, probably never, I’d L-O-V-E to go to someone’s Grammy party. Just my girlfriends and I, re-wearing a fancy dress that’s hanging in our closet after only being worn once, with our wine and cheese and the TV on the moment the red carpet arrivals begin. In my mind, we are having a wonderful time, all in love with #Giuliana Rancic (oh! Maybe we’re drinking XO, G wine), and oohing and ahhing over every celebrity she interviews. As the night goes on, that wine is kicking the party into full gear and we need a little more of something in our bellies…but we have to still be able to fit in those dresses!


This veggie tray (from Gardenview Cottage) is a great display of the vegetables that are filling and yummy at the same time. And has a list of 5 recipes that even have cute Grammy inspired names attached to them. Are you attending someone’s party or hosting your own? We’re dying to know “who will you be wearing”?

25 Uses for Tea Tree Oil


Let me tell you about the latest argument in my house. It was this morning. Because of a pimple. Yep. That’s what I said. My oldest son is officially a pre-teen (at least that’s what he tells me) at 11 years old. He plays competitive basketball 7 days a week. He’s sweaty. Every day. He’s wiping the sweat off his face with the collar of his tee shirt. He now has multiple whiteheads all around his nose and chin because he’s rubbing dirt and oil into his open pores. No problem, I said. I can help you, I said. Here’s some tea tree oil for it. But guess what…the testosterone in my house far outweighs the estrogen. They think mom is the crazy lady trying to put tea tree oil on everything from a pimple to a bug bite. (Think about the Windex from My Big Fat Greek Wedding) Of course I got defensive when even my husband called me nuts. I mean…I’ve done the research! Don’t question the knowledge of mom! And I can testify that I use it myself! Why would you doubt me?!! And so the argument went on. But I feel like I won. And I sent them this link from to back up my argument. And then I found this list at of 25 Uses of Tea Tree Oil that made me super happy, so I thought I’d share with all of you. And I’ll rest my case. Get your tea tree oil on amazon here and then tell us how you use it…I need more ammunition for next time.

Just A Few Things To Do On Snow Days


It’s not just #Superbowl Sunday in Chicago. It’s #snowmageddon or #snowpocolypse or as we used to call it…Snow Day! No School! Yay! Whether you love love love looking outside and feeling like you’re living in a snow globe or hate hate hate being stuck inside trying to figure out what to do with the kids, we have some answers for you. Check out 8 Simple Ways for a Fun Snow Day from She has some great ideas to make those negative outside temps a little more bearable while you’re stuck inside. And if you are brave enough to venture out, first and foremost, dress those kiddos appropriately and be ready to warm them up as soon as they come in. Hot chocolate never hurt anyone! Second, have some old fashion fun with snowmen, snow forts, and my favorite of all time, snow angels. These 10 Fun Things To Do In The Snow – Outside are easy enough for older kids to even handle without your help. But if you’re feeling like a kid again and are looking forward to making those perfect family pics that we all envy on Facebook and Pinterest, then here’s a chart from for you to check how many calories you’ve burned out there. Bonus!

25 Superbowl Sunday Snacks


This is the first Superbowl Sunday that I’ll be able to watch in real time since 2010. I’ll be honest. I don’t love football enough to watch the entire game when I’m here on the East Coast, so I certainly didn’t love it enough to stay up and watch it at 12:30am while in Germany. But there are three things I do L-O-V-E about Superbowl Sunday and that I missed so much while living abroad. One is the halftime show…usually some kind of “unexpected” drama, right? Two is the commercials…puppies and horses? Who doesn’t love that? And three is the food. The food!!! But the big question is “How can I eat until I’m stuffed but not feel guilty about it?” Well…not AS guilty about it. has compiled a list from several sites (like,,, and to name a few) of  great snacks. Check out the list here and let us know which ones you try and which ones are your favorite. Go Seahawks! I mean Go Patriots! I mean..wait..who’s playing?

We Need Coffee…You Need Coffee…Try Organic


In Tampa, we don’t have the snow, but we do have a wonderful way for you to stay warm while snuggling under a blanket in front of the fire. Coffee!! Coffee is the reason I crawl out of bed with my bleary eyes and bed head. Well, coffee and the fact that I have to get two boys off to elementary school. But for all of you…you can have it while enjoying a snow day at home, right?

Check out Tampa Bay’s finest organic coffee roaster, Java Planet. They say that “Java Planet is a labor of love. A love of a good cup of coffee. A love of the environment. A love of life.” Well, we love that! Coffee has potential health benefits due to its antioxidant content. And organic coffee is even better because it isn’t treated with pesticides or chemicals and the soil is natural. If you’re not in the Tampa area, you can still try their delicious coffee by ordering on their site or click here to order on

20 Post Workout Foods That Are The Most Beneficial (And Easy!)

Would you judge me if I told you that I’m trying to be healthy(er) but I HATE exercising…really really hate it…like more than anything? I don’t know why. Everyone keeps telling me that once I’m doing it, I’ll feel great. I’ll have so much energy after my workout is done and I’ll want to eat better foods because I’ll be motivated. Nobody works out and then goes and eats ice cream, right? Wrong. For me, that is just wrong. I go to an 8:15am spin class after dropping off my boys at school and after I’m done, all I want to do is eat pizza and take a nap. I’m exhausted the entire day after that hour. What am I missing? Maybe this list of 20 Post Workout Foods from will help boost my energy and keep me satisfied. Here’s hoping…



Start Growing Your Own Tea


Hot or cold, Tea is a delightful and healthy drink.  Whether you’re a fan of the green tea, black tea or even white tea, there are so many documented health benefits.  So when we saw this wonderful book Homegrown Tea which walks us through on how to plant, harvest and blend we thought it would be a perfect addition to our library.  From you can see the following write-up.

Homegrown Tea explains how to grow a large variety of plants in your own garden, on a balcony or even on a window sill could become your tea cupboard. It shows you how to grow your tea from seeds, cuttings, or small plants, as well as which parts of the plant are used to make tea. Liversidge lays out when and how to harvest your plants, as well as information on how to prepare the plant, including how to dry tea leaves to make tea you can store to last you throughout the year. As a guide to using tea to make you feel better, there are nutritional and medicinal benefits. Finally, there is an illustrated guide to show how to make up fresh and dried teabags and how to serve a delicious homegrown tea. It is sustainable way to look at a beverage, which is steeped in history and tradition.

We also found a really nice write-up on mother nature network so make sure to head over there.