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How Artificial Ingredients Can Lead to Artificial Kids

How Artificial Ingredients Can Lead to Artificial Kids

My daughter Sophie is a beautiful and brilliant five year old, with a wildly creative personality and witty sense of humor. She’s the light of my life.  And until six months ago I could barely stand to live in the same house with her.

My husband and I have always struggled with getting a handle on Sophie’s behavior.  It seemed that no matter what parenting style we used, no matter what consequences we imposed, nothing made a difference.  Even when she was very young she couldn’t sit still.  Her hands or feet were in constant motion.  Later we noticed she had trouble following simple instructions.  Her mind just bounced to the next thing before we could even finish a sentence.  She never stopped talking - from sun up to sun down there was constant chatter.

I write a food blog, I live for food.  I spend a lot of time researching and reading about food. Over the last year I’ve made some pretty unsettling discoveries about the food I’ve been buying.  I learned what those weird words in the list of ingredients really mean, and most of them mean the same thing – petroleum.  One morning I woke up and decided to clear my kitchen of anything that had petroleum as an ingredient – especially artificial colors or flavors - and focus on more natural foods with real ingredients, not ingredients created in a lab.  Because of that decision I cook a lot more often, rather than buying those pre-packaged foods we used to depend on.  Quite a commitment for a Mom who works full time to undertake, but I was determined to put our health above convenience.  


And now I can say without question that it was the best decision I have ever made.  Within 36 hours of getting rid of all those chemicals my daughter sat at the table and ate her dinner.  She didn't stand on her chair, she didn't crawl under her chair, and she didn't run circles around the table or wander into the living room because something caught her attention.  She sat there, ate her food, and talked to me about her day, for the first time EVER.  Amazed doesn't even begin to describe the way I felt.  I eventually discovered that Sophie wasn’t dealing with ADHD; she was reacting to the chemicals in the food she was eating!  And it’s a common condition.  I would have never in a million years predicted how drastic the before and after picture of our family would be.  Even Sophie herself says that she feels better and can think better than she ever could before we cut out the chemicals. We finally know the real Sophie, not the artificially flavored one.

You may be thinking that eliminating chemicals from your family’s food is a pretty drastic change to undertake, but that leap of faith can make an incredibly important difference for your family. It’s not my intention to imply that the need for medical help isn’t real in true cases of ADHD. I’m simply sharing our experience in the hope of helping others.  If you suspect your child has behavioral issues, take a look at what they’re eating every day.  It may be the chemicals that are the problem, not the child.

What do you think?  Have you had a similar experience?  

Susan is a mom to two young children, with a full time job and a hungry husband.  Her blog, Our Family Eats, began from a desire to help other overwhelmed families find easy and inspiring ways to get fun, wholesome meals on the table fast. She loves old school cameras, documentaries about useless information, and Bundt cakes, but she won’t tolerate chaos.   

Image Source: Our Family Eats

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Join The Conversation
AnnMarie15178964 AnnMarie15178964 3 years
Glad someone else is seeing the problems. I started cutting back on pre-prepped foods because of migraines... and because when I started looking at those unpronounceable chemicals, I wasn't happy with what I found.
CoMMember13613657929293 CoMMember13613657929293 5 years
very informative glad you showed us where we were going wrong
jeaninegallina jeaninegallina 5 years
i would love to know the names that are connected to petroleum???
LizWalsh91334 LizWalsh91334 5 years
WOW! This really hit home. We are in the process of having our now 8 year old daughter tested for ADHD. Last spring my husband and I went on the internet and did the same thing. We were shocked out the ingredients in today's food. We have tweeked her diet a lot but have also realized that it is impossible to keep her free of every "bad" ingredient as she will be in school and have parties etc. that we don't want to deprive her of. We did notice a big, big difference in her when we changed some of her food. The biggest change in her is anything she eats with yellow dye, like goldfish or even cheeze its. It is amazing how she acts. Thank you for posting this. I look forward to finding out her testing results when we go this fall. Maybe the dr. will help us get a better idea of what changes we can make for her in regards to diet. Liz, Mom of 2
CarannaGreen CarannaGreen 5 years
My son is the same way, he's nearly 6. I'd noticed a connection with his behavior and artificial coloring so we've tried to avoid anything with food coloring. That helped but he still has some "bad days." So Maybe I need to look a little harder for those other chemicals as well.
LauriPratt LauriPratt 5 years
Check out the Feingold Association's website. It offers a food list of chemical, additive-free foods and several articles with documented research about the effects of petroleum-based additives. Our children also responded favorably to a natural diet, and we are grateful.
LynWiltsie LynWiltsie 5 years
Dear moms who shared on this topic. I am sitting here in tears because I always knew that food was affecting my kids buy have never been able to find people that I can relate to on this. Not friends doctors nor co-workers. This is my beautiful and smart daughter to t. I am crying because all I can imagine is how she must feel not being able to control herself. I work full time and have another daughter with disabilities and always say I wAnt to take he time to journal her food but I haven't. All your comments have wowed me and I thank you for sharing! Keep sharing ideas. I am nervous about how costly buying organic can be so will have to be sure to plan out our food. Do you guys buy organic meet too?
AngieMuhm AngieMuhm 5 years
I would also like to know what the names of the ingredients are that are petroleum (or a website where I can get the same information you did). Thank you for posting this!
TrinaMarcum TrinaMarcum 5 years
I have a 2 yr old little girl who is a pickey eater and most of what she likes, unfortunately, is processed foods (when she's at her dad's 50% of the time, nutrition isn't exactly what they go for) and was wondering if you have any suggestions of what I might be able to give her when she's home with me...she does love fruit and the only way I've really found to get veggies in her is the new V8 fusion juices they have out now. I know I can't control what she eats when she's not here, but when she is, I want to do the best I can for her...
SusanSchuman SusanSchuman 5 years
For all who have asked, the follow up article is now posted on Circle of Moms: How to Avoid Chemicals in Food that worsen behavior in Children More info on the Our Family Eats blog to come!
bocadog bocadog 5 years
You are not alone. We notice the same thing with our son. It does make a difference in what they eat!
JenniferTerrell87297 JenniferTerrell87297 5 years
My son is 5. Reading the behaviors you listed your daughter was having was like reading a list of behaviors that my son has, & has had for about the past year or so. My husband & I know he doesn't have ADHD, but at wits end on what to do. I am anxiously awaiting to read your reply with the list of names used for petroleum & the other chemicals.
ShelleyCarper ShelleyCarper 5 years
Great article.....I completely agree, but you have to read every label in every product, from foods to shampoos, lotions, hairspray, all of that. I found a great website that have cheaper prices than most stores, its free shipping with $25.00 order.
Carrie97837 Carrie97837 5 years
My daughter is 3 yrs old and is in daycare throughout the day but I noticed the same symptoms with my daughter that u noticed with urs...I would love to change that for my daughters sake and for me and my husbands aswell because it does worry us 100%! How do i Do it?? What are the weird names of the food with pertrolium in them?
aprilmcnail aprilmcnail 5 years
I have my 2 youngest children in a state licensed, expensive, Preschool and I when I signed them up, there was a section for "special diet" under that section I wrote no artifical foods. I was surprised and very unhappy to find out they were serving my children sugar free yogart. I had to write out a list of all the artifical sugars they could not have and they are now on the "food allergies" list for children who can not have certain foods. But they would not stop serving it and of course it is all "state approved nutrition". You have to be diligent, if your children are not in your care at all times.
NaomiLavaring NaomiLavaring 5 years
Sue Dengate Has a recipe book call the failsafe programme, its similar but ALSO elimates natural sources of food that is really harmful including some vegies and fruit. you can challenge test to see which ones are alright as this can vary. I did this and was WOWed. I do need to restart but the difference is always great.. Its like i live with a different girl. One that i can enjoy. Glad to hear i'm not alone.
ShannonClancy ShannonClancy 5 years
It is SO good to see an article about this! I firmly believe that the foods you eat most definitely affect behavior/moods! I began my journey into researching foods, food dyes, food additives, etc. almost 6 yrs ago. (I have two kids, a son who is 10, and my daughter is 6) My son was diagnosed with ADHD (plus stimulus impairment) when he was 4. Although our pediatrician insisted that his diet had nothing to do with it, and chemical medications were our only option, I didn't agree. I tried cutting sugar, but didn't see any change. It was suggested to us (by our chiropractor) that we try a gluten-free diet. My child was a totally different person within 48 hrs of cutting out gluten! He would look you in the eye, stopped throwing major tantrums, sat and ate his meals! Then, eventually I noticed that when my son ate apples (he ate at least 2 a day), he got quite crazy (hyper, obnoxious, lack of focus) we started buying only organic - problem solved! It was the chemicals on the non-organic fruit. We began seeing a nutritionist 4 yrs ago, and she did a blood test to test for food allergies. Gluten, as well as eggs, were high for him, with dairy a close second. She also told me about the effects of food dyes. Although my daughter has not been tested, we just have her follow her brothers diet pretty closely, and I can tell when she gets ahold of something her body does not like! I did notice that when my kids ate anything with red#40 dye, their eyes got huge purple bags underneath, but they feel fine (eye bags on children are the most common sign of food allergies, besides behavioral changes). But once they get ahold of yellow dye - watch out!! My son gets super hyper, as well as very easily angered. My daughter turns into a temper-tantrum throwing- attitude spewing monster! No visual effects like with the red dye, but the behavioral changes are shocking. I keep them as far away from food dyes, additives, chemical and processed food as I can. When we are following this diet, we are happy and feel good. When we go off, no one is happy for long! Thank you so much for this article, for helping make others aware of the effects the foods we eat have on our bodies!
KaraSmonson KaraSmonson 5 years
my son is now eight and i figured out that he was 'allergic' to red dye #40 when he was about 3 cutting out that dye made it so he could function but he still had his 'issues' but within the past 9ish months we cut out ALL artificial dyes.... it has made the biggest difference for him, i couldnt believe it! Im glad more research is being done in this area
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