I first realized what was happening when we ran out of milk. Both Emma Rose and Anabelle love pink milk, aka Nesquick strawberry milk. I think they became enamored with it because Lola, from the Disney series Charlie and Lola, has pink milk on every episode. I would only give them just enough to make the milk change from white to the lightest pink, and they were very happy with it. One week, John was out of town, and I ran out of milk, so neither of the girls had pink milk for a week.
We had been struggling with Anabelle's behavior at preschool. It seemed that everyday, she would do something that she knew she shouldn't. One day, she would push a child for sitting in her spot and the next day, she would suddenly take off running from walking in the line. I would often leave preschool in tears because I couldn't understand why she was misbehaving. We would talk about, she would be very upset because of her bad choices (and getting in trouble). I tried everything to encourage good behavior, including bribes and various punishments. Nothing worked until the week we ran out of milk.
I didn't see it at first. That first week without pink milk, she didn't have any behavior issues. The next week, we went to San Jose without pink milk, and she didn't have any significant behavior issues. Then, the next week we had pink milk again. The preschool behavior issues started up again. In the words of Gru: "Light Bulb!" After that week, I began taking all red dye out of her diet. It wasn't too difficult as we normally don't buy a tremendous amount of candy, and I make a lot of our food from scratch. It was during that time that I realized pink milk is made mostly of red dye; it's the third ingredient listed. I also began to log all the food she ate along with her behavior. This confirmed what I thought. We have now removed all dye from her diet.
It's certainly not a panacea that ends all bad behavior. She is a three year old! John, who was a skeptic at first, is now a believer. We can see a big change, and her teachers saw it, too. She had nearly perfect behavior in preschool since omitting the dyes with only 3 exceptions in 3 months. Her dance teacher told me one day that she was one of the best behaved girls in the class. (I almost fell in the floor!! Let's just say that wasn't always the case in dance class.) She is also so much more affectionate and tolerant. Her patience has increased, and she's able to focus longer on specific tasks. From now on, she will be dye free.
It's a little sad when other children are eating the brightly colored candy, and Anabelle asks, "Mommy, does it have red dye?" I can tell that she would love to have a piece, but she knows what red dye does to her. In Anabelle's own words, "Red dye makes me a little crazy."
Today, I made gummy candy for her. It's not as sweet as the gummy candy from the store, but she seems to like it. I'll work on it to make it a little better. I think boiling down the juice to make it more concentrated will be a huge help with the flavor. My next experiment is going to be Lollipops!
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