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    Fluorescent Mac and Cheese and Mutiny at the Kitchen Table

    January 8, 2011 •  no comments.

     •  Blog, News

    I was recently asked by a reporter (who also happens to be a mom) what advice I give to parents who want to wean their kids off of artificial colors. It’s a great question, and for someone who had four kids hooked on tubes of blue yogurt and fluorescent mac and cheese, I can relate to the challenge it presents as it’s hard enough just getting kids to eat. The last thing that any mom wants is mutiny at the kitchen table!

    But when I learned that Kraft, Coca Cola and Wal-Mart formulate their products differently for kids in other countries, so that the noodles, sodas and treats they put on grocery store shelves in places like the UK don’t contain artificial colors like yellow #5 because of the concern over its link to hyperactivity, I had to try to wean my kids off of those same synthetic ingredients.

    So below, in response to the reporter’s query, is a list of ways that you can reduce your kids’ exposure to those artificial colors that aren’t being used in kids’ products in other countries.

    And remember, this isn’t about being perfect. It’s about doing what you can, with what you know and what you have. And in my case, that started with four picky eaters, a limited budget and limited time. But as we began to wean our kids off of the artificial colors, and teach them how kids in other countries don’t have these ingredients in their foods because of their links to hyperactive behavior, the kids decided to opt-out, too, preventing kitchen table mutiny.

    • Opt for white yogurt (instead of blue or pink) and let your kids color their own with colored sprinkles (it reduces the load of artificial colors, while preserving fun)
    • Instead of the entire pack of yellow powder that comes with the box of mac and cheese, use half of the pack (and toss the rest), as again it reduces the load of chemicals without mutiny at the kitchen table (by kids who are accustomed to seeing fluorescent mac and cheese!)
    • Instead of the multi-colored goldfish, switch to the pretzel version of goldfish as once again this goes a long way to reducing your child’s exposure to artificial colors.
    • Instead of M&Ms, opt for a handful of chocolate chips (better yet, if you can get away with it, opt for raisins – or a mixture!) – no need to nix sweets, just the chemicals found in the artificial colors
    • Instead of flavored conventional ice creams (like strawberry that can be loaded with artificial colors), offer vanilla ice cream and toppings (like chocolate chips)
    • Instead of colored fruit punch, opt for juices free of artificial colors, like Kraft’s Capri Sun.
    • Instead of bags of chips, colored and flavored with artificial orange, offer your kids pretzels or crackers to dip into things like ketchup, mustard or salad dressings.

    And just as we didn’t wean our kids from a sippy cup overnight or potty train them in one day (or maybe you did!), this is a process, so give yourself the grace and flexibility to move through it at your own pace and embrace the 80/20 Rule, where you do a good job 80% of the time and the other 20% of the time, you acknowledge that we live in the real world, with real kids on real budgets.

    Got a story to share? Or a tip that we didn’t list? We’d love to hear from you. So post a comment below or Contact Us, because together, we can affect remarkable change in the health of our children.

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