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Thirty Days Dye Free Challenge

Updated: Feb 27

I have often wondered if there’s a relationship between our children’s behaviors and the foods they eat. Turns out, the foods we eat can cause or worsen hyperactivity and other neurobehavioral problems in some children and adults.

After reading a few studies, we decided to eliminate dyes. Eliminating artificial dyes is as simple as removing all artificial dyes for thirty days to pinpoint their impact. Reading labels and checking for dyes, like Red 40, is really the short of it. Feel Free to stop reading here, but if you’re wanting to take a more critical look, keep reading.

If you haven't heard, a growing body of research and evidence shows that sensitivities/allergies to additives in foods, like synthetic dyes, can lead to an array of neurological symptoms such as increased anxiety, aggression, and hyperactivity. These sensitivities can pose a negative impact on overall cognitive and physical health.

Thirty Days Dye Free Six Step Plan

Before a diet change, speak with a Registered Dietitian or Pediatrician to ensure your child has adequate nutrition during the transition.

Step #1- Monitor behaviors

A week before any dietary changes, make a check list of troubling behaviors you are observing in your child or children. Make a list on a notepad or use the checklist below.

Step #2 - Get on board or get off the boat

Inform the adults in your child’s life that you are committing to eliminating dyes for thirty days. Discuss the overall strategy and enlist the commitment of family members and teachers.

Step #3 - Eliminate foods and stock up

Check your refrigerator, snack bags, pantry, and freezer for artificial number dyes like Red 40. (Refer to the artificial dyes list.)

Stock up on dye free alternatives products and foods! Try to make the transition as easy

and painless as possible. Take your time and do this part well! It’s okay to take a week or more on this step.

You can join some dye free groups on facebook for some great swap ideas.

Note: For some children, even touching artificial dyes can trigger some surprising reactions. (Ie: temporary tattoos) It’s a good idea to swap toothpastes, soaps, doughs, and detergents when it’s time to restock these products.

**Consult your doctor about dye free medications swaps.**

Step #4 - Implement the plan

For thirty days, commit to serving only dye-free food while eating at home and when dining out eat only dye-free food. It is a good idea to check ingredients before dining out. Oftentimes servers and cooks are not knowledgeable about artificial dyes. During this time, it’s a good idea to avoid restaurants that don’t have their ingredients listed.

Tip: It’s a good idea to eliminate dyes on a “normal” week.

Step #5 - Monitor behaviors off dyes

After thirty days dye free, (having not had any dyes) begin recording your child’s behaviors on a copy of the checklist you made at the beginning of the challenge.

Step #6 - Compare

Compare the charts before and after thirty days dye free. Take a step back and make a decision about how to move forward with a diet that best serves your family.

Written by: Whitney Cawood

Reviewed by: Trista K. Best, MPH, RD, LDN

No material on this page or site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician.

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Feb 28, 2023

Looks like we need a passcode to view your list in Google docs


Chantelle Kirk
Chantelle Kirk
Nov 29, 2022

Thanks for bringing awareness to this important topic. My personal experience has been dyes made from petrochemicals result in adverse neurological effects. Unfortunately for me, even breathing ambient air with artificial dyes cause negative reactions.

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