I'll say it upfront: we are not the crunchy organic types. We don't go out of our way to avoid any and all additives and the like. But, we're not junk food junkies either. Our kids very rarely get juice, treats, candy, etc. (I reserve that stuff for bribes/rewards for good behavior when I really need them to behave)
However, we recently discovered something that may change our habits, at least a little bit. I am not the type to buy into all the hype about the latest thing that is bad for you. So, while I had heard that the dyes used to color food were "bad" and linked to behavior issues in some children, I never really gave it much thought. I really wish I had.
Since Mini Me was around 2, her life has been in an almost constant state of chaos. I'll spare the rundown, but suffice it to say, its been a little hard on us all. So, naturally, when Mini Me's tantrums and behavior progressively got worse, we blamed it on age (three is so much harder than 2, we said) and blamed it on the constant state of change we were living in.
Mini Me was the center of my universe. Up until around 2 years old, I couldn't take my eyes off of her. Not because she was getting into trouble, but because I was so in love with the sweet little miracle she was. But, then, things started to change. At times, she was that same sweet little girl. Then, other times....well, it was different. She was aggressive, bossy, mean, and just horrible to be around. There were times when she has been sitting with me, playing a game, laughing and happy and in an instant, it was as if someone flipped a switch and she would start screaming, stomp out of the room, slam doors, hit.... Who was this kid??? What happened to my angel?
She ended up in time outs and getting punished for this behavior more than I even want to think about. I hate to admit this, but most days I just plain out didn't like her. Of course she's my kid, and I love her. But, I didn't like her. I avoided spending time with her because she could just be so horrible to be around. It broke my heart and I know that she suffered too. Something just wasn't right.
Recently, while away for Christmas, we forgot to give her the Flintstones vitamins that she usually gets every morning. We noticed that her behavior was different. More even. Sure she still had her moments, but they were more 'normal'. Thinking that maybe something in the vitamins were making her stomach hurt or something, we stopped giving them to her. All seemed well. Until....snack time came around one day. In a hurry, I grabbed a blueberry Nutrigrain bar. About 10 minutes later, all hell broke loose. Mini Me came running into the room, yelled at me because I was doing the Wiggles dance wrong, hit me, and was carried kicking and screaming to time out, where she proceeded to scream. She continued this stomping, yelling craziness through dinner time, then just like it started, it was over. And, everything was calm again.
On a whim, I got out the box, and noticed Red #40 as one of the ingredients. I checked the Flintstones vitamins. Guess what? Red #40. A quick google search turned up hundreds of descriptions by other parents of behavior that was almost identical to what we have been going through with Mini Me. How could we have missed this? Why didn't we see it sooner? It explains why she would wake up in a good mood, have her vitamin and by the time breakfast was over, I'd have a monster on my hands. Thankfully, other than the vitamin that she was getting daily, there isn't much else that I routinely give her that has Red #40. I've searched the house and only came up with the cereal bars and the colored marshmallows in the hot cocoa.
She is a completely different child. I am starting to enjoy spending time with her again. I think even she knows she's feeling better. She's saying "I love you" randomly. She's happy. She's more independent and cooperative. It breaks my heart that all this time, she has been miserable because of something as simple as her daily vitamin and unable to express what she was going through. But, I am happy that we are on the right path. I certainly still expect tantrums and stuff. She is still a kid, after all. However, what I have seen in the past couple of weeks and what I've read, has made me a believer. Bye-Bye Dye.