5 Reasons Your Family Should Avoid Artificial Food Dyes

Health, Food, Artificial Food Dyes, Kids, Parenting, What you need to know about a rainbow of risks

We often hear the saying “eat the rainbow” referring to a variety of fresh colorful fruits and vegetables- and whenever possible organic is a bonus. However, what about the other rainbow of foods- you know, food dyes. Food dyes have been linked to an entire rainbow of risks from allergic reactions to hyperactivity in children.

Food dyes are used to make processed foods look more appealing- in fact, they are often dyed the same colors as that of their healthier counterparts. Considering how easily these dyes can be replaced with a healthier option such as ‘real fruit‘ and ‘real vegetable‘ juices- is it really wise to cut corners on our health and that of our kids just to save a few pennies?

I have always been aware of food dyes in our food but never actually witnessed a noticeable change in ones behavior- well, that was until my 3 (now, 4 year old) started acting out verbally and physically ironically after eating those chewy little treats kids love so much- you know those little things also known as fruit snacks. My kids eat pretty healthy most of the time and with all of their food sensitivities I never to be honest gave it a second thought. What’s the big deal- it’s just an occasional fruit snack.

Well, it was a big deal- a very big deal. He was out of control and verbally running his mouth in very unacceptable ways especially towards me. Who was this kid? This was not the same little boy that always hugs his momma and snuggles- this was clearly not my kid. It was as if I were reliving the gluten-free nightmare all over again- but how, he was already primarily on a gluten-free diet.

This time, my husband was the one that put the pieces together- Red 40. It was the dye- no sooner did we eliminate the problem and amazingly enough got our happy, loving boy back. He is still full of spunk but that is who he is- not the verbally belligerent child that we were witnessing after the consumption of artificial food dye.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest – Red 40 is among the most widely used of food dyes- it has been found to trigger hyperactivity in some children and cause allergy like reactions in others.

“Dyes are complex chemicals that were originally derived from coal tar, but now from petroleum.” Do you want to go eat some Fruit Loops now? Just kidding.

It is often said “we eat as much with our eyes as we do our stomachs” Companies like using dyes because they are cheaper and more vibrant than their natural counterparts.

How else can one cover the dull appearance of a bunch of basic processed ingredients?

Luckily, more consumers are demanding a change and making healthier more natural food choices in today’s markets- therefore causing companies to for-go such dyes or at a minimum change to natural safer alternatives- such as, beet juice, carrot juice, and paprika. (just an FYI paprika is in the nightshade family)

According to US Food and Drug Administration there has been a dramatic increase in food dyes since 1955 this being a fairly good representation of Americans increased processed food consumption over the years. 

Unfortunately, the US has done very little in the way of taking a proactive stance against food dyes despite recent studies of consumer risks- therefore, you must take action yourself- here are

5 Reasons Your Family Should Avoid Artificial Food Dyes

Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity in children- According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) the consumption of artificial food dyes and children’s behavior has a definite link.

After a recent British study published in the Lancet the AAP concluded with the following editors note- “Dr.Schonwald writes; a recent meta-ananlysis of 15 trials concludes that there is ‘accumulating evidence that neurobehavioral toxicity’ may characterize a variety of widely distributed chemicals. Some children may be more sensitive to the effects of these chemicals”

Today, practitioners faced with hyperactive children have a reasonable alternative option  to offer parents- a preservative-free, minimally processed, dye-free diet has been found to be both safe and effective for the child who is without other medical, psychological, and emotional issues. Working closely with a practitioner to find other known triggers is essential step in having an effective treatment plan. In 1994, researchers found that 73 percent of children with ADHD responded favorably to an elimination diet that includes eliminating all artificial colors as well.

 Health, Food, Artificial Food Dyes, Kids, Parenting, What you need to know about a rainbow of risks

Aggressive behavior. I have read countless testimony’s over the years of parents swearing by there child(ren’s) irate, irrational, uncontrollable, and often time unexplainable behaviors being caused by a suspected dye in take. Red #40 and Yellow #5 seem to be the biggest culprits.

At the time I never had any personal negative experiences with dyes (at least not that I was aware of) but yet, I always found them interesting to read none the less. Fast forward a few years and ironically I now have my own story to share in regards to our sons behavioral outbursts- approximately an hour after consumption I can watch my sweet boy turn into a violent belligerent child I do not recognize. My parenting advice is pay attention to the foods your child(ren) are eating from breakfast cereals,  snacks, to sauces those dyes are added in the most unlikely of places. Lastly, when in doubt ask to see the label.

Health, Food, Artificial Food Dyes, Kids, Parenting, What you need to know about a rainbow of risks

Allergic reactions. Most food dye reactions are not true IgE (immediate type) reactions most are classified as IgG (delayed) and therefore, considered to be more of an intolerance. There is IgG testing to help identify sensitivity but these tests are often considered elective and are often not covered by insurance companies.

Back in 1960 Congress passed the Color Additive Amendment -according to the Federal Law it states that all dyes and colorants in food, drugs, and cosmetics must be tested for safety. Of the nearly 200 colorants used at the time very few survived the testing. Currently the FDA approves only 9.

It is often hard to pin point exactly which food dye might be causing the problem since there is no specific food dye allergy testing available- there is a whole host of allergic type responses from skin (eczema) issues to breathing problems to take note of. Reading labels and avoiding all foods with ‘catch phrases‘ such as- artificial coloring or added flavors is a good rule of thumb. Eat the real deal.

Cancer risks. James Huff, an associate at the National Toxicology Program said the following “Some dyes have caused cancers in animals, contain cancer-causing contaminants, or have been inadequately tested for cancer or other problems. Their continued use presents unnecessary risks to humans, especially young children. It’s disappointing that the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] has not addressed the toxic threat posed by food dyes.” Enough said.

Learning impairment and memory loss. A lot of Celiac and gluten free individuals will talk about a ‘brain fog‘- they often struggle to think clearly when gluten is ingested due to the chemical reactions occurring in the brain. Have you ever eaten something that just made you feel a bit off? Your ability to reason, think, and remember things can most definitely be affected by something you have consumed. Artificial food dye is no different- it has the ability to chemically alter ones ability to think, process, and focus.

So the next time you are tempted to send that dye filled fruit snack in your kids lunch- think twice, as you might unknowingly be setting him/her up for an afternoon of failure- ranging from behavioral, learning difficulties to unnecessary attention struggles.

Coconut Oil and 40 Uses For It

40 Uses For Coconut Oil


Coconut oil has many uses – I first became familiar with coconut oil  and its many uses while nursing our oldest son. Our family chiropractor recommended I eat 3-4 tablespoons of it daily with vitamin D to increase the fat content of my breast milk, and to help aid in some of his reflux issues – bah, whaaaaat? I thought, “You want me to eat oil” – disgusting! Much to my surprise, I did it! It is truly amazing what we won’t do for our kids. Not only did I do it, of course like everything, I had to read all about it and, as my mom says, I nearly take a bath in the stuff now. Did you know a little added to your bath will help hydrate your skin?


What to look for; Refined versus Unrefined

Unrefined Coconut Oil – (aka virgin or extra-virgin) it has not been altered or changed – it is in its purest, natural, least processed form. Unrefined coconut oil is superior to all of its refined oil counterparts as its nutritional value far exceeds the rest. It will however, have a mild coconut flavor to it.
Refined Coconut Oil- Although close in comparison, refined coconut oil is colorless, tasteless and odorless. This process involves flakes of coconut being chemically processed – bleached and deodorized. It still contains many of the healthy living properties as its unrefined counterpart however, as you might suspect some of the nutritional content is lost in the refining process.
Cold-pressed, expeller-pressed, and centrifuged coconut oil –This simply explains the method used to extract the oil from the coconut (whether it is dry or fresh) and all three methods can be used whether the final product is unrefined or refined. The great news is that with the growing popularity of coconut oil you can pretty much find it everywhere from the local health food store, Amazon, to the gigantic warehouse stores – just be sure to read exactly which you are buying and how it is processed.
How to store coconut oil – whether you choose to store your coconut oil in the refrigerator or not, is really a matter of personal preference-we store ours in our pantry (in the cool basement) as it can last for up to two years without going rancid. When cold, coconut oil will solidify (below 70 degrees) and when warm, (above 75 degrees) it will liquefy – so just be mindful of this depending on what your intended use is.
40 Uses for Coconut oil; many uses for coconut oil from cooking to cosmetics - how many of these have you tried?

Uses for Coconut Oil


1. Coconut oil is a great moisturizer – Many beauty products contain water and petroleum based ingredients. When the water dries, it makes your skin dry too. Petroleum based ingredients simply suffocate your skin. The coconut oil locks in moisture, clears away dead skin cells and leaves the skin with a natural shiny glow. By the way, a little goes a long way – a spoon full is enough to moisturize your entire body so use caution and apply sparingly.
2. Cooking – Coconut oil has a high smoke point making it great for cooking everything from eggs to stir-fry dishes. It is not recommended for deep frying but I have used it several times for pan-fried dishes like our gluten-free pierogi’s and it works great.
3. Butter replacement – It is a wonderful butter replacement on steamed vegetables or for replacing butter on your toast.
4. Natural Deodorant – Coconut oil alone can be used as a natural deodorant, but for added body odor protection when combined with cornstarch / arrowroot powder and baking soda it works a 100xs better than any store bought, chemically laden deodorant. *I have not used an “over the counter” (OTC) deodorant in years and to my knowledge I haven’t offended anyone yet.
5. Natural Sunscreen – Did you know coconut oil has a natural 2-6 SPF range minus all of the chemicals? I am not a Dr. and none of what I share on this sight is meant to be used as medical advice. Use at your own risk – for someone with fair skin an SPF of 2 means they could potentially burn in 20 minutes. What I find coconut oil works best for is that thin, morning sunscreen application, or the winter application when you will not be in the sun all day long. If using as your primary sunscreen – frequent application is recommended.
6. Diaper Cream – A dab on that pesky diaper rash will do wonders – it will help ward off moisture and the antibacterial properties will aid in healing.
7. A natural stretch-mark cream – I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but after having 4 babies I can say that it’s unlikely that your skin will ever be what it once was. That being said however, a little added moisture never does any harm! The nourishing components of coconut oil help repair damaged skin and with a little exercise to tighten those “once tight muscles” you will be looking darn good in no time – it’s not magic but remember you have been given a beautiful gift and you’ve earned those marks.
8. Massage oil – If you have never used coconut oil for a massage, you are missing out. Coconut oil leaves the skin feeling cool, soft and (my personal favorite part) the grease / oil-slick that is often left behind from commercial brand massages oils is literally non-existent. Better yet, there are no harmful chemicals being absorbed through your skin.
9. Calm the hair frizzies – A tiny bit rubbed into your hair is the perfect way to tame the craziness that often comes with humid weather. My hair gets pretty curly when the humidity spikes and I find that a little rubbed through my hair does the trick – a more defined wave without all the crazy “fly-aways” remember, a little goes a long way – if you add too much it may just look like you haven’t showered in days.
10. Natural Chapstick – a tiny finger-tip amount on your lips is the perfect chemical free softener – this is one of my personal favorites. As an added bonus coconut oil has an SPF of about a 2-6 providing a little added sun protection.
11. Try emulsified coconut in your coffee – Did you know that you can blend coconut oil and a bit of grass-fed no salt butter together and use in place of cream in your coffee? I know it sounds nasty, but it really does work. The blending process makes the mixture creamy instead of oily. It is a good way to increase your beneficial fat content.
12. Boost your immune system – Coconut oil has strong anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties making it an ideal substance for protecting and strengthening the immune system.
13. Natural foot / body scrub – Mix coconut oil with a little sugar and apply to the soles of your feet, hands and body. Scrub then rinse off and your skin will feel silky smooth. If you are into essential oils this is a great way to add some of your favorite invigorating scents.
14. Itch relief – Apply directly to bug bites or stings to relieve itching and the burning sensation that often accompanies them. The anti-bacterial properties of the coconut oil will aid in the healing process and the thin oil layer will create a protective barrier between the wound, dust and dirt.
15. Growing pains and leg cramps – Coconut oil taken internally, aids in the absorption of calcium and potassium, both which can help with leg cramps. Not to mention a cool coconut massage on the legs smells great and is extremely relaxing.
16. Stop bugging me – insect repellant – Use it as a base mixed with a little peppermint, rosemary, or tea tree oil (I personally like tea tree oil as I find it works the best).
17. Eye Makeup Remover – no more chemical laden eye makeup removers – simple rub a tiny bit over your eyelid and wipe away with a cotton ball or Kleenex. Your vision maybe blurred temporarily but then again don’t most eye removers make the world seem a bit fuzzy for a bit?
18. Cradle cap – We all know how difficult it can be to get rid of those little brown dry splotches on baby’s head – a teaspoon twice a day should do the trick. It will help moisten baby’s scalp (I also like to brush their little head with that super soft baby brush to help loosen it) use a teaspoon daily as a preventative measure after all splotches are gone.
19. Greasing pans – Whether you are baking up a batch of your favorite muffins or coating a 9×13 pan for a dinner casserole, simply coat the inside of the baking dish with a thin layer of oil to prevent sticking. Wearing a kitchen glove, I simply spoon a small amount on the glove and proceed to smear the inside of the dish – voila, slip the glove off and throw it away for a quick clean up.
20. Keep maggots and flies out – Line the inside of the garbage with a coconut and peppermint oil combination.
21. Cough relief – A little essential oil (we typically use eucalyptus or peppermint oil) combined with coconut oil as the carrier – this combination rubbed on your feet or chest can provide great relief for those coughs that make us all crazy.
22. Cuticle care – Rub a small amount on your cuticles before removal to help soften. Regular application can also aid in preventing hangnail.
23. Pre-shaving / Aftershave – Coconut oil will help moisten skin prepping it for shaving, and after it will aid in healing without clogging pores. It works great for those days when the blade is ready for replacement and you get a terrible case of razor burn – ahh, such relief (I might be speaking from experience).
24. Popcorn – Use it to make a batch of popcorn or drizzle some melted coconut oil on top instead of butter.
25. Baking – You can simply replace butter with coconut oil in a 1:1 ratio in most any recipe. My oldest daughter who cannot stand the taste of coconut, rarely busts me when I swap out the two ingredients.
26. Under eye cream – Help keep that delicate under eye area wrinkle free by applying a dab of coconut oil. Use your ring finger as it is the weakest and less likely to pull the skin during application.
27. The DIY Raw Peanut Butter CupThink in the lines of a peanut butter cup minus all of the additives. This treat is a healthy fat overdose – perfect for the person who is on a low carb diet or just looking to eat a bit healthier. However, let’s be real – we all crave something sweet sometimes.
28. Improve digestion – Eating a teaspoon at each meal has been known to aid in digestion.
29. Sooth a sore throat – Gargle with some warm water and coconut oil to coat you throat, or better yet, add a little to tea for a calming soothing affect.
30. Animal bad breath – Add a little bit to your dogs’ water bowl to help with that nasty “dog-breath”.
31. Toothpaste – Combine coconut oil with a little baking soda for a fluoride free, all natural toothpaste
32. Oatmeal protein balls – For a quick on- the-go snack, or if you’re looking to satisfy that sweet tooth a bit, keep these in the freezer for those weak moments and you won’t feel as guilty afterwards.
33. Gum and other sticky substance remover – Massage a small amount on the affected area (rug/hair), let sit for a few minutes and rub or gently brush out.
34. Cuts, bruises, and scrapes – Dab a little oil on the injured surface of the skin for a quicker healing process. It will help provide a natural chemical layer keeping dirt, dust and germs out.
35. Smoothies – Blend a little coconut oil into your favorite smoothie recipe for a cool, refreshing, tropical creaminess. Try a strawberry, banana, coconut, chia seed smoothie this afternoon in place of your 3:00PM coffee.
36. Nipple cream during breastfeeding – Coconut oil is a natural, safe alternative to some of the “over the counter” (OTC), chemically laden creams available. A little goes a long way, so if you’re already using coconut oil for other things there is no need to go buy something different in the days / weeks before baby comes.
37. Hair Conditioner – Our oldest daughter has super tangley hair – now, unfortunately she is not a fan of the coconut smell, but this does work great. Simply massage the oil into your scalp and gently throughout your hair. Put your hair in a loose bun and let set overnight. Wash out in the morning for super smooth, tangle and dandruff-free hair.
38. Static Control – A tiny amount rubbed between your hands and then on the staticy
surface will do the trick.
39. Sunburn care – We live outdoors all summer long and for those day when we may have spent a bit too much time in the sun, coconut oil is a great way to add moisture and promote natural healing of the skin.
40. Salad Dressing – for a refreshing and not over-powering salad dressing, combine 1/4 C. Coconut oil, 1T vinegar, 1/2 T raw honey, and a dash of sea salt. Gently whisk over a low medium heat until blended and liquefied. Let cool and toss with your favorite mixed greens.

Raising A Healthy Family; Mind, Body, and Spirit

Mind, Body, Spirit, Gluten-free, Food Allergies

Parents today no doubt have their work cut out for them. We fight for our children’s attention-simultaneously, they fight for ours. This world has gotten down right noisy on so many levels. There is technology buzzing around us-and, certainly no lack of temptation whirling about. Has it always been like this? Top it all off with an astounding number of health related issues in children-we have ourselves a recipe for disaster.

Raising my food intolerant, food sensitive, gluten free, dairy free, food allergy kids is not always easy but it’s the cards we were dealt and I hope it inspires you in your present situation. We can’t always control what happens around us, but we can choose to make it the best we know how. 

For me that means raising the healthiest family I possibly can with what means I have been given. A truly healthy person feeds their mind with worthwhile knowledge, their body with healthy food, and feeds their spirit with the things that lead to action. Coincidentally when I think of what makes my homestead the happiest it is when these three things align-mind, body, spirit. I also venture to say that is the same for you, your spouse, children, friends, and family. When one piece to the puzzle is missing we remain incomplete. Puzzles are made to be put together, take apart, and rebuild. Every once in awhile we need to evaluate the pieces and see what is most deserving or in need of our attention.
Since this is Easter week I intend to spend sometime filling my family’s spirit. We have been blessed in so many ways therefore, we will be reflecting, praying, giving forward, and giving thanks.

3 Ways to Fill Your Family’s Spirit 

  • Make cards for residents in a nearby nursing home.

  •  Deliver a special treat to your local fire department as a special ‘thank you’ for all that they do.

  •  Plant a tree, clean up trash, or take a field trip to a local recycling facility to learn more about how you can give back to our planet.

3 Ways We Will Be Filling Ours

    • We will make cards for a family whom I’ve never met but their story has moved my soul. Their recent loss of their baby girl has moved me to action. We will also be visiting a nearby butterfly house in Kate’s honor and be sending happy mail (aka snail mail) to her siblings. 
    • We will continue with our neighborhood clean up.
    • We will also be baking some gluten free treats to share with some much deserving friends. 

    What will you be doing?  How will you fill your family’s spirit this upcoming week? 

    More on butterfly’s for Kate here….