If you have been following The Real Food Experience 2016, congratulations you have made it to Week 4. We are halfway through our real food journey together. We started out our Real Food Experience getting our kitchen’s organized for our journey. We then went on the making sure to plan to eat at least two fruits or vegetables with each meal. All of the nutrients that we are loading up on are really making us fell great now. Last week we made the switch from highly processed white flours and rice to eating whole grains. We challenged you to try some new grains too. There are so many delicious grains available. It’s easy to discover a new favorite. We’ve now reached Week 4, and it’s time to start making some cuts from our diet. Up until now, we really were just adding to our nutrition base. This is the first week we start talking about harmful food additives. This week may be a bigger challenge for many of you.
If you are new to the Real Food Experience, you can start with us at the beginning of the challenge weeks or join us this week and then go back and make up the other weeks later. There is lots more conversation going on in our Real Food Experience Facebook group so come on over and join us there. Don’t be shy. We can’t wait to hear from you.
Why would we want to cut out artificial colors from our diet? Great question! The easy answer is because artificial food dyes are not real food. Their only purpose is to make our food “prettier.” Artificial colors are made from petroleum, contaminants and propylene glycol. I’m sure you have heard of petroleum. You may not know what propylene glycol is though. It is the stuff that antifreeze is made of and we all know we are not supposed to drink antifreeze. However, this is exactly what artificial colors are made of. When I talk about artificial colors, I am talking about food dyes including, but not limited to Yellow 5 and Red 40. You will see the food dyes listed on most packaged foods.
You migt be asking yourself, “Doesn’t our government only approve ingredients for our food that won’t harm us?” You would think so, but that is not the case in the United States right now. The FDA has in the fast approved food dyes that have since been banned and they still allow many food dyes that are banned in other countries. Many of our favorite brands already have the recipes to make our favorite foods without artificial colors in the UK where they are banned. However, they are still using these harmful ingredients in the US recipes.
How are artificial colors harmful?
For the sake of this challenge, I will list the three reasons that concern me the most. As always, I ask that you do your own research and make the decision that is right for your family.
- Cancer – Yes, I said it. The word I hate the most in this world. The word that has caused so many people I love heartache………. cancer. Food dyes have been linked to cancer. In a story from 2010 Food Safety News reports on a study that shows an “inherent risk” in 9 commonly used food dyes. Three of the dyes carry known carcinogens. Seven of them have been shown to contribute to cancer. It’s just crazy to me! Food companies know that these dyes cause cancer and they still want us to feed it to our families. I readily admit that I am especially sensitive when it comes to discussing cancer. I choose to avoid ingredients like food dyes that show a link to cancer. It’s just not worth it to me!
- ADHD-like behavior – There have been recent studies that show that some children’s behavior is affected by food dyes. The result is ADHD-like behavior. Can you imagine? The food you feed your children can create hyperactivity and affect their ability to learn. Why would we even want to take the chance? This behavior change is something I have actually observed in my own family. It was not obvious when we were eating artificial colors all of the time, but now that I’ve purged them from my family, I can tell when my youngest has eaten food dye. I’ll pick him up from school and he will be really wound up and clearly unable to focus on what I am saying to him. I have to refocus him several times through one conversation. When I notice this change in behavior, I ask him what he ate that day and without fail…………he’s eaten a cupcake or cookie, or other colorful item brought in for a birthday party or other special event. A food item that is loaded with artificial food dyes. I’m no scientist. I’m just a mom, but I can tell you through my observation that the effects of food dye seem to linger long after my child has burned through the sugar.
- Food Dyes are Deceptive – I can’t tell you how many times that I thought I was eating food when I really wasn’t. My favorite example is the cereal bars that I fed to my family each morning before I knew better. I thought I was feeding them fruit and grains. Come to find out………..the fruit is really high fructose corn syrup and food dye. Certainly, not the nutrition that I want to be feeding them. You can read more on this subject in this article I wrote.
Now it’s your turn………go out into the world and choose foods that don’t include artificial colors. You will probably have to do a lot of label reading. You will be surprised at all of the crazy places you find artificial food dyes. Keep eating your fruit and vegetables and whole grains too. You are making changes that will lead to better long-term health for your family.
What are you finding to be the hardest part of transitioning to a real food diet? What is the craziest place you have found artificial food dyes? Have you noticed any behavior changes in your children due to food dyes?
I promise to keep bringing you the best and most accurate information on nutrition I can find……….and hopefully with a little bit of humor along the way as well. You can find lots of great information on this blog (check out the tabs above and the archives). You can follow what others are doing for the Real Food Experience using #RFE2016. Make sure to subscribe by email so you don’t miss anything. You can also find lots of great tips, tricks, advice, and fun on my Facebook page and my other social media. Please join us and share us with your friends!