Published on ADDitudeMag.com

Artificial Colors are a Mess for ADHD Kids

I learned the hard way that ADHD and artificial coloring in foods are not a good mix.


Yesterday, I wrote about ADDitude’s new free printable ADHD diet guide. One of the things it suggests is reducing artificial colors in our children's diets. I found out--the hard way--that there's more than one reason ADHD and artificial colors don't mix.

When Natalie came home from a respite weekend with Aunt Ann a couple of weeks ago, she brought some Trix yogurt home, too. I usually don't buy brands like Trix that are marketed to kids, because they contain extra sugar. But, like a good Grandma, Aunt Ann likes to spoil Natalie (then send her home!), so she provides lots of yummy treats.

A few nights later, Natalie and I had just arrived home for the evening, and were mired in that difficult transition from daycare to home that's always compounded by Natalie being hungry. I'd put a Trix yogurt on the table in front of her before she'd even removed her winter coat, in an attempt to combat hunger-fueled behavior problems long enough to get supper on the table.

The phone rang. It was Harry's mom, Victoria, calling to arrange a play date--which I would have gladly done, if Nat would have let me talk to her. Instead, thinking I was saying no to time with Harry, Nat flew into a fit. I couldn't hear Victoria over Natalie's screams, so I hurried out of the room. I walked back in moments later to find that Nat had knocked her Trix yogurt over, and was fingerpainting the day-glo pink and blue cold creamy mess all over the kitchen table. When I yelled at her to stop, she picked up the container and threw it. It bounced off the kitchen wall, splattering pink and blue everywhere.

Sure, it's a good idea to keep unnecessary chemicals out of our children's bodies and brains. But my once-white curtains and spotted walls are all the proof I need that--nutrition aside--ADHD and artificial coloring in foods are not a good mix.


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