I wish I could tell you that we removed all dye’s from our son’s diet, and his ADHD was all gone, but unfortunately that’s not the case. We are attempting to finish the school year out on a positive note. The teacher hasn’t called me to pick up the boy in a while, though the bus driver has told me that she had to get stern with him for hanging his arms and, occasionally, head out the window. I still can’t take him shopping. We haven’t been to a store in over a month. I wait until daddy comes home and then I head out, sans the boy. I have tried to hint that we would be shopping later on in the day, but he instantly throws a fit. I know that if he’s that upset at the mere mention of going to the store, the actual experience of shopping will be a miserable one for both of us. But I digress… [bunny trail]
There are good days and difficult days, but overall, I believe there’s been a pretty big difference since we went dye free. I’m so proud of my boy, he’s not even 6 yet and he informs people that he doesn’t eat or drink anything with food coloring in it when they offer him something. I think ice cream has been the hardest for him though. On our Memorial Weekend vacation, we went to a fancy ice cream shop, and of the 40-some-odd flavors they offered, most had obvious colors. The line of people waiting to be served went right out the door, so we couldn’t actually see all of the flavors before ordering. It was pretty sad that out of all those delicious flavors, we had to ask the boy, “do you want chocolate or vanilla?” This upset him more than the removal of his precious m&m’s, fruit snacks, or popsicles. I finally allowed him to talk me into a nice lemon sorbet, and as the girl scooped up the ice cream and plunked it onto the cone, I saw for the first time that it was day-glo yellow. *Sigh, what can you do?
The act of removing dye from our diet has naturally led to us greatly reducing our sugar intake, since sugar and dye seem to be synonymous with each other, especially in food marketed toward children. (Don’t get me started!) Except for our, all too often, summer ice cream outings, we usually opt for fruit to quell the dessert cravings. There have been some dye sneak attacks though, gum is one of them. You don’t usually think of gum as a food group, especially the sugar free kind, but so far I haven’t found one without dye. Maybe Extra Polar Ice, it’s white, I haven’t checked yet… it doesn’t matter, the boy says that kind is too hot. Poweraid Zero used to be a standby for long, active and hot days, but I had to read every label until we found a Gatoraid Frost that was white.
There are some days where I could swear the boy has a stash of brightly colored candy hidden somewhere in his room. I know nobody’s perfect, and we all have our moods, what I’m talking about are the days where the kid wakes you up by leaning into your sleeping face and says, “Make Me Chocolate Milk!” And it all goes down hill from there. I have noticed something on particularly difficult days, days where the child’s expectations and viewpoints are completely off the wall. You find yourself saying things like, “Are you kidding me?” “Are you for real?” “Did you really just say that to me?” On those days I can see a change in his eyes. As he stares at me defiantly from his time-out spot in his room, I notice that his eyes are glassy. I spent some time on the search engines looking for a correlation between shiny eyes and ADHD or behavior or diet or anything that would help explain what I’m observing. I found articles from seizure disorders to optical issues that can cause the person afflicted with it to have so much difficulty looking at a close up object, that their repeated “looking away” to refocus their eyes can lead to misdiagnosing a child with ADHD. Who knew? But after filtering through the junk information and scary information on the net, I found several moms describing their children’s eyes as “glassy”,” glazy”, or “shiny” after eating a bunch of sugar or dye foods. So is sugar the problem? Am I missing some hidden dyes? What about the days where he’s in time out for speaking rudely even before breakfast? Is he chewing the fabric of his brightly colored pillow in his sleep?