Die, dye

If another mother was writing this post, it would be chock-full of facts and figures and links about the effects of Red 40 (a.k.a. Allura Red, Food Red 17, C.I. 16035, FD&C Red 40, E129, 2-naphthalenesulfonic acid disodium salt) on kids predisposed to hyperactivity. However, it’s just me here, so you’re just going to get a bunch of complaining.

A couple of weeks ago, Rosie had an epic meltdown to end all meltdowns. You probably heard it from your house. Or felt the vibrations, at the very least. Rosie tantrumming is not an unheard of phenomenon—she is quite vocal with her preferences in life—but this entered a whole other strata of protestations. And most notably, was completely unprovoked. I had issued no edicts. Given zero commands. I hadn’t even addressed her, really. Her movie ended (but I had not turned it off, or even hinted that it would at some point in the near future be turned off) and she then proceeded to initiate transformation sequence into a fully feral wildebeest. I am only using a little bit of hyperbole.


I won’t go into details, but looking at her as she writhed on the floor (in my locked bedroom with me keeping her from hurting herself accidentally), it was like she was gone from herself and in her place was Some Other Thing. Her eyes were wild and she tried to injure me multiple times out of frustration/anger. In short, it was awful. Later that night I was thinking back over the day, just to try to get some sort of idea of what could have triggered such a reaction, and I realized she had Hi-C fruit punch at a restaurant for dinner, which was unusual. Then I remembered she had also had a birthday celebration at school that involved neon-iced cupcakes of some sort. And that’s when I decided, after a few minutes of Googling, that Red 40* is an asshole.

I have no doctor’s note or research data to back up my mom-diagnosis here, but real talk: Red 40 ain’t good for nobody. So I just decided to give it the ol’ kibosh and take it out of Rosie’s diet.

And honestly, I think it’s making a difference. It’s not a mega-dramatic change, but it’s noticeable. She has started dealing with changes in plans a whole lot more smoothly, recovers more quickly from upsets, and has remained fully in her body since we eradicated it (or at least drastically reduced it) and that’s good enough proof for me.


Both Noah and Rosie are remarkably good natured about this change, and it’s made me very aware of two things: 1. they are given candy a lot a lot a lot and 2. Red 40 is in errrrrrrrything, including the toothpaste they’d been using for over a year. (And so I say unto you, FDA, and America in general: WTF.) But they scour ingredients now, and if they see Red 40, they put whatever it is down with a “WELP,” and move on.

Also, Rosie seems to really show some sense of relief that there was something to blame for her behavior. On more than one occasion she asked me why I didn’t like her (ow, my heart), and I’m sure it’s because the majority of my interaction with her involved correction of some sort. When I explained to her why we were going to only give her sans Red 40 foods from now on, she was immediately on board, and almost acted like “Finally, someone has figured out what I’ve known all along.”

My biggest concern is that I’ve turned them into the Health Police. Good grief, can you imagine a trip to the grocery store? Noah would just start in the first aisle and pick up all the packages one by one down the line, making mental “Red 40/No Red 40” list in his head, while Rosie would march indignantly over to every cart and inform the person behind it of all the things they should not be buying.

Maybe we will not do a family grocery run.

Tonight at church, a Max-aged little girl was wailing in her highchair over one thing or another at the table next to ours, and after it had gone on for a few minutes, Rosie cocked her head over toward the table, gave me the all-knowing look and said in her loudest, most informative voice, “MAMA, I THINK THAT BABY HAD RED 40.”

Rosie Mae, it’s good to have you back.


*I realize there are about 56 other artificial dyes, as well as about a million other food issues I could worry/bitch about for lots of reasons, but I have limited brain space/brown hairs on my head at the moment and am going to tackle the most common culprit first and move on from there. Also, I still eat M&Ms. But not in front of the kids, because what kind of mother do you think I am? (I hide all candy consumption from them, and always have, duh.)


1 Ruth { 12.05.13 at 9:52 am }

And now I want M&M’s, thanks.

2 Dorothy { 12.05.13 at 12:06 pm }

I’ve been a bit grumpy this week about still being pregnant, but two testertime posts makes it so much better 😉 we had the same experience with red 40 and Taylor. Her eyes would go all possessed looking and she CHANGED. It’s still not all honky dory well-behaved land, but no more demonic possession, so that’s good. And you’re right, it’s in EVERYTHING. We use Tom’s toothpaste. Did you know they spray that junk on strawberries to make them look redder?! Is nothing sacred?!

3 racher { 12.05.13 at 2:20 pm }

@Dorothy We just bought Tom’s too! Score. Also, I have posted THREE times this week. *pats self on back*

4 Rachel D { 12.06.13 at 12:38 am }

A third for Tom’s! My mom made this same decision when we were kids because it seemed to increase the frequency of my brother’s tics. For some reason I never thought about it for my own child but I’m kind of curious what would happen if we tried to avoid it. It certainly couldn’t hurt. less crap = better

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