We have been on a dye free diet for about two or three months now. The whole family eats dye free, however the dye free diet is for my middle son who has ADHD. It appears that to people who are ADHD they are hypersensitive to the dyes in our foods and its almost like they have an alergic reaction after eating foods with dyes. (There are tons of studies on why they are bad, I am not linking to any, but this is a good overview on them.)
When I told my husband we were going to do this diet, I was at my whits end. We discipline, we are good parents, I am always looking for ways to become a better parent and person in general. So even though I realise that his behavior had lead me to try the diet before I tried medications, and we had gotten HUGE feed back from family and non family that he was a different kid while on the diet, I still said when he went to summer camp that he didnt have to follow the diet.
Big mistake. He started exhibiting unacceptable behavior at home day one and two (it was a day camp) day three the camp counselor pulled me aside and told me that Eli had spent 15 minuets running from 3 male counselors. I was mortified. I asked if I could bring his lunch and explained the diet and what we do. Luckily the counselor him self was ADHD and had been on a similar diet when he was younger. We finally realized that he had ketchup that day. Ketchup is loaded with red dye. Then I thought back to another time I made an exception to where he had been totally normal, then he had a hot dog with ketchup and not more than 5 minuets later was acting like a fool. So normal, non organic ketchup made it to the "no, never, not in your life time" list.
Trying to navagate this dye free eating is daunting and quite frankly it makes me angry that non food items are in our food. As we go on I learn more, but since it is impossible to know if dyes are in food with out reading the lable we have tried to implement some rules when we are out in a place where the diet can not be stuck to strictly (vacations, etc)
1) Nothing red. I think you can safely assume anything red has a ton of dyes (unless you are at an organic restaurant)
2) No cheese products. You can also most likely assume its not real cheese.
3) The only acceptable soft drink (if they really must have one) is sprite.
We have started carrying his ketchup with us, and what reinforces it even more to me that the diet works is - he hates to get off of it. He notices a huge difference in himself and he always asks me if what he is about to eat is okay.
When I started researching ADHD food I found these blogs/links most helpful
1) Our Family Eats - Great for eating/food
3) This is a link to my ADHD party food board. Now that you have a child with a special diet, you have to get in the habit of bringing snacks with you. If I know there will be a treat I try and bring him one too. I have pinned cute natural food ideas here.