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.

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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.
http://deliciouslyorganic.net/food-dye-mental-health/

Grammy Party Snacks

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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!

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This veggie tray (from Gardenview Cottage) is a great display of the vegetables that are filling and yummy at the same time. And Couponcabin.com 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 Superbowl Sunday Snacks

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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. Thecouponproject.com has compiled a list from several sites (like naturallyella.com, voraciousvander.com, tasty-yummies.com, and glutenfreegirl.com 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

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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 Amazon.com.

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 runeatplayblog.com will help boost my energy and keep me satisfied. Here’s hoping…

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You Should Be Chewing Non-GMO Gum

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I love chewing gum, blue Trident to be exact.  Impossible to find in Germany btw.  My kids also love chewing gum, but they’re not so picky.  They like gross flavors like melon mint and kiwi watermelon.  Gum should be minty but I digress.  The other day I was at a basketball game with a friend. .  She only feeds her daughter non-GMO foods.  She got me onto Glee, a non-gmo gum.  Glee gum has absolutely no artificial flavors, no sweeteners or preservatives and is gluten free.  We think this is a winner.  Here is an excerpt from their website

Glee Gum is natural chewing gum made with sustainably harvested rainforest chicle. It comes in 9 great flavors: cinnamon, peppermint, tangerine, bubblegum, spearmint, triple berry, sugar-free lemon-lime, sugar-free refresh-mint, and sugar-free wild watermelon. Glee Gum is the #1 healthy alternative to synthetic chewing gum and bubble gum! No artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or sweeteners (no aspartame). Non-GMO Project Verified. Chew with Glee, naturally!

If your interested you can also get it directly from Amazon.com

DIY Fruit & Veggie Wash

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When my boys come home after 2-3 hour basketball practices, they’re starving and I know I have to be ready with something for them to snack on, stat. They are much more inclined to grab a fruit or veggie if they can open the refrigerator, grab something, and pop it into their mouths. Nobody has time to wash food, Mom! So I try my best to wash all the produce as soon as I get it home from the grocery store…sometimes it’s a few hours later…but definitely before it’s too late and they’ve already poisoned themselves. I found a DIY Fruit & Veggie Wash recipe over at aprettylifeinthesuburbs.com that I’ve been using and was amazed at how dirty the water looked in my sink. So, today, to prove a point to some well-loved friends, I decided to wash my grapes in a clear bowl so that I could have visible proof of just how important it is to wash it all. Oh wow! Gross!!! As a side note, there’s no need to go spend lots of money on anything pre-made in a bottle. You probably already have white vinegar in your cabinet…and if you don’t, you should, because it’s even great for cleaning around the house. 🙂

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High Protein Snacks…Don’t Leave Home Without Them

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This morning I left the house to take the kids to school. I had scheduled a social meeting with some of the school moms at our local Starbucks after morning dropoff. We met and chatted for 2 hours (What? A mom needs to socialize sometimes, okay?) and then I headed to the mall to redeem some gift certificates I received for Christmas. I didn’t want to carb up on a muffin or scone and didn’t want all those calories just to be starving in an hour, but then I’m at the mall and what are my choices? Panda Express? McDonalds? I just can’t bring myself to do it after so recently vowing to start the New Year off with better eating habits and healthier choices…I mean…I gotta be able to make it a week with that idea! So, I did my shopping, bought a water bottle, and practically ate my arm off on the ride home. . All I could think about was cooking an egg or making a salad when I got there. So, here I sit at the computer, with my salad, determined to NOT let this hunger happen again. Here’s a great list that I found from Greatist.com of some high protein snacks that seem pretty easy to take on the go. Some of these aren’t going to bode well in my purse…ummm…cottage cheese? No. But some of these are definitely easy options. And some of these are just common sense…but can I remember to grab them from the kitchen and throw them in my purse BEFORE I actually have my morning coffee? 🙂

Top 10 Foods to NOT Store

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My family’s move back from Germany to the US was unexpected and happened very fast. We knew for 2 weeks that we were leaving and then we were gone. Correction…my boys and I were gone leaving my husband to manage all the craziness there to get us packed and shipped out. When the packing company showed up to access our household goods, I was there with pen and paper to write down everything she said we could and couldn’t take. I was gonna try my very best to get everything taken care of before I left so that he didn’t have to deal with selling appliances and donating American boxed brownie mixes to my German friends. We basically had to throw out every single thing from the kitchen that we couldn’t pawn off on others…spices, olive oils, canned foods, boxed foods, everything. Now that I’m back in Tampa, I have to start new with my pantry and I have so much space now! What are the necessities? What should and shouldn’t I buy in bulk and keep stocked or not? (Don’t even get me started on how amazed I am at this couponing craziness that’s happened since I’ve been gone.) So, here’s a great list from the Survival Mom of the Top 10 Foods to NOT Store.

 

 

Get The Skinny (or not) On Fructose

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When we first arrived overseas, we noticed that we had to order “Coca Cola Light” instead of “Diet Coke”and we thought it tasted better. Somebody that had been living there a lot longer than us enlightened us with a story about how the Coca Cola products in the US are made with high fructose corn syrup but it’s banned in Europe. The Coca Cola products in Europe are made with simple sugar (and tastes so much better, btw) because the HFCS is so bad for you. Of course I googled this as soon as I was able to and the articles are endless about this topic. Then just this morning I came across another article relating the fructose to obesity. I don’t think this comes as much of a surprise to anybody but now that I’m living back in the US and find HFCS even in yogurt, I have to ask myself “what CAN I eat in America and how is this even allowed in so many foods and drinks?!” Click here to continue reading the article that caught my eye and got me thinking.