By Laura J. Miller

My daughter has always been an even-tempered sweet little girl. Sure, she gets a little whiny when she’s tired, but it’s easy to distract her by singing or pointing out interesting things. However, when she started eating prepackaged foods instead of baby purees, I noticed that she cried, screamed and lashed out – A LOT.

At first I thought that’s just what happens as a baby becomes a toddler and she realizes that she is her own person. However, I noticed that her meltdowns happened very shortly after eating – even starting before she left the highchair. The meltdowns were traumatic for both my husband and myself because we couldn’t comfort her OR correct the behavior. She would throw herself backwards and try to hit her head on toys or the changing table. It didn’t take long to realize that she couldn’t help herself.

One day, I came across a blog post about behavior problems and artificial coloring, and then I saw this topic discussed on The Doctors TV show. That’s when I started checking food labels during meltdowns, and I knew that artificial colorings were the cause of her distress. Not all kids react as dramatically as my daughter, but many still have a reaction of some kind, such as getting wound up after eating a brightly colored sugary treat. These foods often have the illusion of fruits and vegetables due to their color, while they are partially, or wholly artificially flavored as well.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest explains the problems with these artificial ingredients and what it is doing to protect consumers at its website, The CSPI is also responsible for a petition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban artificial coloring from foods, and the FDA’s Food Advisory Committee is meeting to discuss this issue March 30-31. The petition also requested that food containing artificial dyes be required to have a warning label, which is already required in Europe. This has caused many American companies to use natural colorings in products sold overseas, while continuing to use artificial colors in the U.S.

I encourage anyone with a spirited child to cut out artificial food coloring for a week and see if you have a new child on your hands. Then, start phasing out artificial food coloring for your entire family. A friend of mine speaks highly of the Feingold Diet at Eliminating artificial food coloring from your diet isn’t easy – as it’s everywhere! But it’s worth it for the changes in behavior and to help children regain control of their bodies instead of letting hyperactivity, sadness, and anger take over.  I’d love to learn even more about this issue! Comments are most welcome!