The Food Dye Nemesis
When my youngest was born, he was a bit of a late life surprise. But he is cherished never the less. His bright eyes and cheerful disposition always make my day.
He was such a good baby. If he cried, he usually had a good reason. When I laid him on his back, he would flap his arms like a bird and draw his knees to his chest. I thought it was unusual, but he was having so much fun that it never occurred to me that it was a symptom. I know now it is an autistic trait.
As he grew, we followed the doctors’ advice and kept him current on his immunizations. When he was almost 3, we were told that we were behind. He had to have 4 shots that day! I remember thinking how ridicules it was that with all our medical advances, we still have to stick babies with needles! But he had to have those shots to start preschool.
Preschool did not go well at all. He had no tolerance for the other children when they would take a toy from him. His response was to bite them. After several warnings, we were asked to remove him from the preschool.
So, I kept him with me and we went to a different story time each day. Many of our local book stores and libraries have them. Then we would go to a park for an hour or so, then home for some snuggle time. He had stopped napping at age one, so some couch time with mommy while she watched some food network seemed to be all he needed.
During this time we also attended church and family gatherings like any other family. Sometimes my son did fine, running around and playing with friends and cousins. Other times, he would start out fine, but within an hour or so would seem to lose all patience with the world around him. He would scream and cry, throwing himself on the floor in tantrums until we excused ourselves early and took him home.
Usually he would be running a fever, so I would put him in the bath to ready him for bed. Then I would see the rash, usually in his diaper area and sometimes spreading beyond. After several reactions like this I asked myself “What did he have to cause this?” Then I began to piece the puzzle together.
After leaving my sister’s house early one evening, I remembered that we had been at my parents’ house the weekend before and there had been no incident. We had chocolate cake that day, or maybe it was brownies. But now, here we were again, rocking my boy fresh from the bath, still sniffling in his sleep. Then I remembered what he ate.
My young niece had been there with her children. Trying to be a health conscious mom, she had given out fruit treats to all the kids. At first I wondered what on earth fruit gummies could have in them, then I read the label; Food Dyes.
From that day, I simply decided to keep anything with food coloring in it away from my boy. It wasn’t as easy as I thought. Some things are obvious: powdered fruit drinks, popsicles, cheetoes, anything that dyed my kids lips was not going into him. But I found food dyes in strange places. Like baby shampoo (yellow), marshmallows (blue) and chocolate ice cream (red).
Now we eat organic foods and use earth friendly products whenever we can. Years of label reading and watching our son suffer has taught us that we can do better. So, I shop carefully and am learning to grow what I can. He has not had a severe event since. With God’s help, I will do everything I can to build a healthy future for my family, and maybe help save the planet along the way.
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”