Food Dyes and Behavior Problems

Food and Nutrition
Food Dyes and Behavior Problems

Adverse Effects

When children have behavioral issues at home or school, parents may want to investigate sensitivities to food dyes. Artificial food dyes are a common ingredient in many foods such as fruit juices, spaghetti sauce or candy that are consumed on a daily basis by children. Parents are frequently unaware that many packaged foods have color additives that cause adverse effects.

Symptoms of Food Sensitivity

There are various symptoms that parents will observe in children with sensitivities to food dyes. In a school environment, a child may have difficulty focusing on tasks or sitting still. While other students in a classroom will concentrate, a child with food sensitivities might constantly fidget or talk. The disruptive behavior frequently leads these students to poor academic performance and disciplinary action.

Read Labels

The most common artificial color additives in the United States include Yellow 6 and Red 40. However, there are other artificial coloring agents found in food products. Food manufacturers are required to list food dyes on packaging labels. Parents should carefully read labels on all boxes, jars and cans to avoid purchasing items that contain food dyes.

Natural Foods

If a parent suspects that a child is having behavioral symptoms due to food dyes, changing the diet is essential. Changing to a diet plan with more natural foods can often lead to improved behavior for children at school and home. To ensure children are not consuming artificial food colors, parents will need to cook more meals from natural ingredients instead of serving processed products.

Longer Attention Spans

Many parents begin to see improved behavior within a few weeks of removing food dyes from a child’s meals. Children often become calmer and less irritable leading to longer attention spans. Parents must remain diligent about keeping a child from consuming artificial colors in restaurants and other locations. In addition, food dyes are also in many beverages such as soft and sport drinks.

Improved Behavior

When families begin improving the diet to avoid food dyes, it can be time-consuming and confusing. However, there are ways to make homemade meals ahead of time to freeze for later use. Children must to learn to avoid particular foods with color additives while away from home to prevent adverse reactions such as hyperactivity and temper tantrums. Consuming a diet of fresh produce, whole grains, dairy products and lean meats eventually leads to improved behavior for children. 

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