Just One Mom – Guest Post by Jenn G.

Jenn and her husband live in Northern Kentucky, and have two young kids: a 3-year-old son and 6-month-old daughter.  Last summer they began noticing behavioral changes in their son and started looking for answers.  They are now dye-free and their son is back to his energetic, fun loving, curious ways.  Her story is so similar to many mamas out there.  Keep on doin’ what you do, and know that you’re not alone.  Happy Mother’s Day, every day…


Mama and Son. Photo Credit: Chad and KellyeI am just one mom. 

I am just one mom who mistook a food dye reaction for the ‘Terrible Threes.’   I spent tearful days fighting with my son after a meal or snack unknowingly containing dye and thinking, this can’t be normal. My husband and I asked ourselves several times, “What are we doing wrong?”  I watched my son turn from a sweet, loving, charismatic little boy into an irrational, destructive, aggressive, tantrum-thrower over the smallest thing.  I refused to believe medication is the answer and it shouldn’t be the first ‘solution’ offered by a doctor.  I laid by my son’s side during the endless sleepless nights and gave a dye-free diet a chance because hey, what did I have to lose?  

I am just one mom. 

I am just one mom who now reads every food label and finds it appalling that so many foods, medicines, lotions, even toothpaste contain unnecessary dyes. I struggle trying to figure out how to explain the difference between the red in a fresh strawberry versus the red in a piece of candy to a 3-year-old. I cringe at the sight of juice boxes and fruit roll-ups after a T-Ball game.  I paid more than double for a dye-free antibiotic to avoid having it back in his system.   I beg teachers to watch what they feed my son. I praise him when he tells a teacher, friend or grandparent “no red” if he’s accidentally presented with a colorful snack.  

I am just one mom. 

I am just one mom who sees a difference in my family while on a dye-free diet.  The physical tantrums are a distant memory, and his sleep patterns are more regular. We now deal with the normal compromises and negotiations every 3-year-old is entitled to.  A bad day can typically be traced back to something he ate.  I tried every lotion to get rid of his eczema, then watched it clear up on its own after the elimination of food dye. My husband’s migraines have even diminished. While we are only 9 months in, and are always finding new foods that are off limits, we are committed to this new lifestyle. 

I am just one mom.

I am just one mom who would do anything for my kids and am asking for change.  My hope is one day dyes will be eliminated from our food supply and I won’t have to worry about what is being served at school, a birthday party, or restaurants.  I am just one mom who will always be an advocate for her son.  

I am not just one mom, I’m like so many others struggling with a child affected by food dyes. 


8 Responses to “Just One Mom – Guest Post by Jenn G.”
  1. Marsha V says:

    Wow… Thank you! This made me cry as I feel worn down by being “on guard” at all times. Just when I think we are safe and let my guard down, my son gets exposed to something. I’m sooo exhausted.. This Mom wants just 1 week free of worry… free of reading… free of food ‘threats’… Ahhh… I can dream, right?? I told my husband I wanted to move to another country… because I’m tired of the struggle… But I keep on… because I love my son and he deserves a safe and healthy environment…

  2. Maggie says:

    Hmmm… I’m starting to notice a connection between sweets and irrational tantrums in my 4.5 year old daughter. Maybe its not the sugar, but the dye that she’s reacting to. How do you recommend I test this hypothesis? How many days should I eliminate dyes from her diet to see if there is in fact a correlation? Thanks for opening up my eyes!

    • Jenn says:

      Hi Maggie – the way we recognized it in our son was one night at dinner he dipped his entire meal in ketchup, with 15 minutes he was bouncing off the walls! We then kept a food diary for about a week or two and began to be able to link his behavior with food that contained dyes, especially RED 40. Within 2 weeks of eliminating we noticed a difference and within a few months he was a very different child. Good luck, it was well worth the test for our household!!

  3. Jenn says:

    Hi Maggie – one night we watched our son dip his entire meal in ketchup and with 15 minutes was bouncing off the walls and later that night had one of his tantrums. For the next few weeks we kept a food diary and began linking his behavior to the foods he ate, especially RED 40. Obviously unscientific, however we could link his irrational fits to something he consumed containing dyes. Within a few days of eliminating we noticed a difference, I do think it took s few months for all of the symptoms he had to clear. All well worth it, good luck!!

  4. Paula says:

    Jenn-So well written! You struck in chord in so many of us—the constant watching, reading, and sometimes arguing can really wear you down. Hubby just had an overnight stay in the hospital for a gallstone (too much fried/rich food on vacation)… I stayed in the room overnight too mostly to be sure they did not give him dye in any meds….. .he was allowed a liquid diet after the tests and there was very little he could have! I was on the phone with the hospital dietician who did not know what was in the liquids! All the popsicles, water ice and jello had dye….he could have juice. The chicken broth had no MSG they said but had no idea if it had Autolyzed Yeast Extrct. How many kids go to the hospital only to be fed DYE? It is insane. They were frustrated with US and said if he had to stay, I could bring our own food in. We insisted if he just needed to be watched for 24 hrs to let us GO HOME where we had safe food. SAD. Jenn and Marsha– Pls. know you are not alone!

  5. Heather says:

    This brought me to tears because we can relate to your story and so it is almost refreshing to know other parents have gone through the struggles prior to knowing they were not normal struggles with their young child. Our daughter is 4.5 and we just discovered a couple of weeks ago that she may have a food dye sensitivity. We have been trying our hardest to remove every color/other ingredients possible to help her. Sometimes I question if this is worth it or if this is even what is causing her behavioral problems at home and at school. Then I read about other families like yours and I realize that our situation is far to similar to just be a coincidence. Thank you for sharing and giving us (new families experiencing this) hope.

  6. Amanda says:

    My sister led me too this website and i am so thankful! ! My husband and i used to wonder what in the world was wrong with our little girl. She is such a sweet, funny, loving and outgoing girl but there would be times (and we had no idea when they would hit! ) that she would all of a sudden change into a crazy child! No amount or form of discipline seemed to work and I prayed constantly for God to show me how to help her. I knew this wasn’t normal. I am cleaning out my kitchen and bathroom! Any amount of label reading or making things from scratch will be worth it to have my healthy happy girl back! ! Thank you!!

  7. Jaxi says:

    Wowee – what a crazy but totally understandable piece! It just so happens that my little man of 4 yrs old have been displaying these same symptoms, but since a week or two ago started itching as well. Dr and chemist keep telling me it’s ‘just a dry skin’ but then I got thinking.. First I took away his favorite cooldrink, then he got just a little bit better, so I took away any colourful sweeties, biscuits etc, and wow, I can’t believe the change! He still has some itchy’s, I’m not sure wether his clothes’ dye could have an influence still, but I am changing everything possible to accomodate this, although it really is not easy, it has been quite an educational run. I never knew there to be so little products with no or natural dye, as well as medicine with no dye!! Thank you so much, I appreciate your writing about this!

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