Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pumpkin Cookies: Friend, or Foe?

I was going to post a quick little blog with pictures from our recent afternoon spent decorating pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies with a new icing recipe.

Because they were cute pictures.

And we had a lot of fun.

I was going to tell you how my sweet children do such a great job of eating healthy foods without complaint that I decided they deserved an "almost normal" kid treat.

But not anymore. No, this is going to turn into another boring, natural health blog. Sorry. But do bear with me.

My children have been utter spazzes for two days. They've been running and screaming through the house, pushing and shoving and fighting, jumping on (and off) of the furniture, and crying at the drop of a hat (or fork, as the case may be.) In short, these are not my children. My children may be energetic, but not like this. Even my hyper seven year old possesses more self control than this. I thought about posting a blog asking for someone to return my children and please take theirs back, because this wasn't working out for me.

And then it clicked.

Orange pumpkins. If you've watched Barney's Favorite Colors enough times, you'll know that if you mix red and yellow, you get orange.

Red dye makes my children - especially my oldest - absolutely crazy. They have it so infrequently that I often forget about it's effects, but it doesn't take me long to remember. She turns from a sweet, if energetic, little girl into Satan's spawn. (I'm convinced this is the primary reason devils are often depicted as being red.)

I had to get out of the shower four times tonight, sopping wet and naked, to ask (beg) my children to calm down. This is not normal. The evening culminated in tears for everyone (myself included in that,) with Littlest One (thankfully) falling asleep fairly quickly, and Biggest One throwing a full-blow, out of control violent tantrum.

The difference is like night and day. Since we've started eating real food, these episodes have diminished significantly. We went to a birthday party back in February where the main color was pink, and we had a meltdown that day, too. But it seems like if I think about it, I can always trace this rotten, scary behavior back to the evil Red Dye.

So while my kids definitely deserve a yummy treat once in awhile, we're going to stick to natural colors from now on, thanks.

If your kid is the same - sweet as pie one day, and on the road to auditioning for the role of Satan the next - maybe food dyes are something to consider? I'm glad we've got this figured out. I never want to live through another night like tonight. You can Google "Red Dye Behavior" for more stories and information about the chemical effects of Red Dye on the brain. I did. It's scary stuff.


Marcia said...

It isn't just red dye that causes the problems you've seen. There are 6 other dyes just as bad and all are made from crude oil! There is a support group that will tell you all about them and how to avoid them. It is called the Feingold Associatiop--created by parents that had the same experience you had. Their website is

Julie said...

Marcia, thanks for your comment! While I do usually avoid all things artificial, I had no idea the food dyes were (yet another) petroleum product. Ew! I enjoyed looking over the information on the Feingold website, thank you for sharing the link!

Just Me said...

At least you are able to pinpoint what causes it. My boys both have skin reaction to red dyes. But the food grade dyes, they are okay with. But I try to avoid them anyway. We are working on eating more naturally as well.

Katey said...

We avoid red dye like the plague! And I don;t care what people say about sugar it makes my kids wig out!

Wendy said...

It's great that you're aware of the effects on your kids. I knew about the red dye thing, but I thought it was rather rare. I'll have to pay closer attention. I guess a lot of times red dye is in stuff that involves sugar as well, so it's a double whammy.

Wendy said...

...and I'm sorry it was such a trying night for all involved! I do see such happy kids in these photos. :) Hopefully all will remember the fun activity before the freak out!