Snacking on brightly colored M&M’s might be making hyperactive kids worse. After years of maintaining that artificial colors are completely safe for children, the FDA is meeting this week to reconsider its position. Although the FDA stated they still believe there’s no connection between hyperactivity and artificial colors for most Americans, certain children who already have ADHD may be particularly sensitive to food dyes. The FDA will most likely not add warning labels to products or ban dyes, but this is a positive step towards public awareness about artificial colors.
Fortunately, avoiding artificial colors is simple: just focus on purchasing products without the dyes, or cook up some delicious treats at home. For instance, try this recipe for peanut butter cookies with milk-chocolate chunks. No artificial colors, only rich home-baked flavor. For an even more decadent and safe dessert, make this beautiful upside-down pear chocolate cake. While it might lack a hypnotic rainbow of technicolor, it is a subtly attractive dish that’ll have your kids asking for seconds.
If you’re looking for candy without artificial coloring, check out these fun jelly beans. Apple, blueberry, and pomegranate are just a few of the natural flavors. Another great option is Kasugai, a popular brand of Japanese gummy candies. Made without artificial colors, their strawberry flavor tastes like fresh fruit distilled into a delicately chewy drop. Each candy comes individually wrapped for easy portion control, too.
If your child has ADHD, changing their diet might even help reduce hyperactivity. As the FDA gears up for new hearings on artificial colors, prestigious journal The Lancet just published a study that shows a special diet can reduce ADHD symptoms. Instead of overmedicating kids with ADHD, “restriction diets” try to reduce the amount of food dyes, additives, and preservatives they eat. These diets focus on plain foods like rice, turkey, and vegetables. The exact reason why a restriction diet can alleviate ADHD symptoms remains unclear-still, the diet seems to help, and might be worth a more intensive look. Read more about the diet and the study here.
Read more about the FDA’s review of artificial colors here.