A moderate but holistic mom discovers that when your child is sensitive to chemicals you have to be that mom.
I know a lot about food. I know about the dangers of GMO’s, artificial colors, corn syrup and processed vegetable oils. I know about the naturally occurring “anti-nutrients” in many whole, unprocessed foods. I know about fermentation, sprouting, soaking and juicing. I enjoy employing all of these home food processing methods to make nourishing treats that are easier for my family to digest. I could easily be that mom. You know the type. She is so opinionated and strict that her kids end up rebelling whenever they get the chance. They trade their home-made grain free cookies for Oreos and hide candy in their rooms.
Surprisingly to me, I have not really been that mom. Sure, I avoid buying anything with artificial colors or preservatives. Still, I allowed it when the bank teller offered my daughter a brightly colored dum dum sucker. I let her pick two pieces of brightly colored Halloween candy to enjoy on Halloween night before trading the rest for wholesome treats. I let her eat cold cereal (gasp!) once a week and at Nana’s house. I held my tongue and set her free at potlucks and birthday parties. This food style is known as the 80/20 rule or 90/10 rule. It’s based on the belief that if your diet is excellent most of the time, a few treats (as much as 20% of the total diet) won’t hurt. It’s also based on fears of having your child feel left out. Finally, and most importantly for me, it’s based on reducing stress and letting go of control.
Yes, the author of a very opinionated Wise Traditions article about feeding children has been allowing her child to eat junk once in a while. Did I ever have pangs of guilt? Did I ever notice unusual behavior after certain foods? Have I done this as long as I can? The answer to all of these questions is a huge yes. Like my husband says, “The 80/20 rule is stupid. If it’s poison all the time, why feed it to your child twenty percent of the time?” He also pointed out that the temporary tattoos I was letting her use to adorn her arms are just a transdermal method of infusing food coloring into her body. Ay, caramba! You could practically see the little light bulb go on above my head. Her most recent relapse of tummy and behavioral problems occurred right after I applied a Janesville Farmers Market tattoo to her forearm. All my hard work in making and purchasing dye free food and then I stuck that yuckiness on her myself!
The list of ingredients confirms our suspicions: Acrylic Multipolymer, Alkyd Polymer Resin, Phenolic Modified Gloss Varnish, Petroleum Isoparaffinic Hydrocarbon, Petrolatum, Cobalt Tallate Drier, Black Iron Oxide, FD&C Blue #1 Brilliant Blue FCF Lake, FD&C Yellow #5, Tartrazine Lake, D&C Red #7 Lithol Rubin B CA Lake, FD&C Yellow #6 Sunset Yellow FCF Lake, Titanium Dioxide
Oh No, I Poisoned My Child!
If the scary chemical names aren’t enough to make you wonder if this tattoo should go on your skin, these FD&C colors (especially yellow #5 and #6) are linked to cancer in animals and hyperactivity in children.
Sadly, these colors are prevalent in the food that most people serve to our children. Label readers will find them in everything from Kraft Macaroni and Cheese to gummy fruit snacks and kids’ vitamins. Interestingly, many manufacturers have already reformulated their products for sale in the UK. Based on studies done in the UK, products containing artificial food dye must carry a warning label that tells parents that these dyes may cause hyperactivity and attention problems in children. We have no such warning label in the US. The FDA allows these colors, so our food manufacturers continue to use them in abundance in US products, especially products marketed to children.
There is a growing awareness of the problem of dyes in our children’s food. Educated parents are putting pressure on food manufacturers. Many stores, such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods already have rules against artificial colors. For those of us with chemical sensitivities, the trend cannot catch on fast enough. For now, it’s natural food and no more temporary tattoos for this family. Fortunately, there are alternatives. You can even make your own Halloween makeup. Now that I know what doesn’t work, I can forgive myself and move forward on this path to healing myself and my daughter.
Stephanie, aka Stephafriendly, is a wife, mother, activist, environmental educator, real food cook and farmers' market manager. She works from home and at the farmers' market in Janesville Wisconsin. She also offers public speaking, health coaching and cooking classes. She has one child here on Earth and one angel baby in Heaven. Read more at stephafriendly.wordpress.com