Wow, I was so excited and looking forward to singing Mass on All Saints Day, November 1st, this past Sunday. It was, also, my Dad’s birthday. He would have been 100 years old! So it was a special day as it has always been in my family, especially for an Italian family. It is a Feast Day for Italians! And yes, we like to have a feast. However, the day started a little differently than I expected it to, and it kind of set the tone for the rest of the day. For what was supposed to be a morning full of joy turned into a nightmare!
As I was singing Mass I kept trying to help my husband with our child, who was for some reason acting more hyper than usual. I could hear crazy sounds coming from the general direction of where they were sitting. Trying to concentrate on singing, I kept running back and forth between the podium where I was singing and the pew where they were sitting. Then my husband had to take our child out of church. After Mass he was ready to get home, he had enough. He said that our child was acting unruly, throwing pebbles and sticks at people as they were walking by outside to enter church for the next Mass. This was not normal. This behavior was out of the ordinary and it made me really start thinking what did I do differently that caused this abnormal behavior. What was eaten? Ah, that was it! Food. I remembered what I packed to eat, goldfish crackers and princess gummies, packed with Vitamin C….hmm, they are not as nutritional as they seem.
I got into research mode and into my usual over analytical mind-frame. It occurred to me that the same off-the-wall behavior happened before after eating a mixture of food dyes and corn syrup. There is a sensitivity to dyes like I have. There was a pattern. I had already changed my child’s princess gummy multi-vitamin with Nutri Stars, which is a food-based multivitamin made with veggies & green foods and no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners, and the results have been rewarding. In talking with others about this out of control behavior I was actually glad to hear it is not unusual with the intake of artificial colors or anything else artificial. This led me to believe that most of the behavior problems that we see in children today is due to the food they eat and shouldn’t be handled with drugs but a proper diet. In Europe they have already banned the use of artificial food dyes in food, even in American products such as Coke. If a product does contain artificial food dyes it has a warning label stating, “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” Wow!
Here are some of my research findings: The amounts of dyes in even single servings of some foods are shown to impair children’s behavior. Most children in the U.S. are easily consuming 100 mg of artificial color in a day, while others are consuming more. Food dyes and preservatives cause some children to become measurably more hyperactive and out-of-focus. But behavior isn’t the only thing at risk. There has been a link to food dye and cancer and allergies. By the way, candy is not the only place to find these unhealthy artificial additives. They can be found in soups, macaroni and cheese, chips, yogurts and more.
I can’t believe companies put this crap into the food of the most vulnerable, our children! The other additive I have had a problem with for years is Carrageenan. I have had terrible stomach issues and reactions to this additive. It is added to many healthy foods such as soy milk and almond milk, yogurts and so on. I was even more upset to see it added to liquid baby formula, the only formula I used to feed my baby was Gerber because they were the only ones I found not to have it in their product. It can cause a very uncomfortable feeling in the abdomen for an adult, can you imagine a baby’s? Carrageenan helps milky products to have a smoother, thicker texture and it is comparable to eating petroleum jelly and just as dangerous as MSG. It causes inflammation, a known trigger of premature agging and diseases, including obesity as stated from researcher Joanne K. Tobacman at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. Now finally, after all these years trying to explain to people how bad this additive is, health food companies and dietitians are taking note and trying to get rid of Carrageenan. My friends and family don’t think I am as crazy anymore. Whew!
So, what can we do to prevent the consumption of artificial food dye or any other harmful additive? Read labels, ditch processed foods as much as possible, eat clean, even apples can have dyes on their skin, and write to companies to ask that artificial food dyes and additives to be taken out. And go back to the way America ate before during WWII. Speaking to my Mom last night who was a WWII child, she explained the way they used to eat. Meat was only eaten on Sunday and for the rest of the week her family ate lots of fresh produce including beans and eggs, and portions were a lot smaller than today. They consumed food in the most natural state and cooked them with the most natural ingredients. Sugar and meat were rationed because of the war, as a lot of food was, but she said it was a very healthy diet and they were happy. She ended up being a top model for Vogue in the 1950’s! That’s says something about diet and beauty.
Children cannot control what they eat nor what the food markets sell but we can. They love sweets, as most of us do, but as adults we can help them to get on a healthy path of mind, body, and spirit. It is good to teach them self-control at an early age, not overeating, and to eat and appreciate what God our creator has created and not what chemicals have created. Maybe, by the grace of God, we can see a decline in the medications given to children for behavioral problems by markets and parents taking ownership of being the problem. These children are not at fault. We all need to take a step in the right direction with what we eat. And the next time I have my child in church I will be sure to pack a healthier, non-dye snack. I am sure my husband will approve.