Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Artificial Colors and Hyperactivity in Children

As a stay at home mom, I get to spend a great deal of time with my children. This offers many benefits, such as getting to know them inside and out and knowing when something is not right with them. About four years ago, when both of my children were eating more junk food than usual, their behavior grew more and more aggressive toward each other and to me. I didn't make the correlation until we ran out of all the junk food and replaced it with healthier options. The two items that stick out in my mind were purple gatorade and popsicles (which is weird, because it was the middle of winter!)
The next day, it was as if I had my normal, sweet kids back and the demon-children had returned to the mother ship. That was the first time I made the correlation between something in these foods and my children's behavior.
This summer, my daughter played her second year of t-ball. It was the last game of the season, and her turn to play "pitcher." She had a great season playing the other positions and was a good, attentive little player most of the time. Her aunt had come all the way from Georgia to visit and to watch the kids play their games. Before I realized it, her aunt had purchased a bag of Skittles and a blue Gatorade from the concession stand for her to eat while we waited for her game to start. By this time, I had already figured out that we needed to avoid as many colored foods as we could, because she consistently complained of headaches and stomach aches, as well as turned into a completely different child when she ate or drank artificially colored foods.
The game began, and as I expected she would, she danced around on the pitcher's mount like she was at a party. She could barely concentrate and it almost looked like she didn't know where she was. As the game went on, I could literally see her coming down off of these colors. The game was extra long, as they wanted to let both teams get in practice. By the end of the game, she was almost in tears as she realized that she had pretty much missed what she had looked forward to all season- playing pitcher better than any other girl on the team.
When you are a parent and you are watching your own child go through an almost drug-like trance, the studies that say that artificial food colors are safe just don't really matter. I've been reading on the internet, and my favorite statement is that "food colors may cause hyperkinetic behavior in children with ADHD..." Well, helllooooo! Maybe that is WHY they 'have' ADHD!! Duh!
Anyway, there are two sides here, most probably because some kids react to artificial food colors and some don't. It's pretty simple really. They can spend millions of dollars on scientific studies, but most parents can probably tell you the truth for free. I found this great article summing up whether or not artificial colors cause hyperactivity that you might find interesting. And, hey, if you notice your kid acting high sometime, think about what he has eaten and chances are, he needs to avoid it. That's not that difficult to figure out, is it?

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