Since we began Bubs' elimination diet a year and a half ago, I have taken more interest in what is actually in our food.
One of the first blogs I started following (actually, I follow them on Facebook) is 100 Days of Real Food. I read post after post about the chemicals and toxins in processed food. One of the first posts I read from them was about how much junk food is served to kids at school. You can read about it here. They have a great list of alternative rewards that teachers can offer. They also make a compelling argument against artificial food dyes. You can read about it here. Can you believe that big food companies offer other countries the exact same products they do here only sans the artificial colors? And in other countries they are required to put a warning label on all food packages that contain artificial colors!
We have eliminated artificial food colors from Bubs' diet, but it is harder to completely eliminate them from the girls' diet. I don't provide all of their food like I do Bubs', so I have less control over what they are served. GirlyGirl just finished kindergarten, and while I really liked her teacher, GirlyGirl received a Starburst (or two) almost every day for a job well done. Same goes for after school care. She was allowed to pick out a piece of candy for behaving well. First of all, they don't need edible rewards for this type of thing (kids love erasers, stickers, a stamp on their hand, etc). In fact, the only thing I think an edible reward is appropriate for is potty training! And that reward can be eliminated after 1/2 a day of training if done properly. Not to mention that if they are getting candy every day at school, it tends to decrease the emphasis of candy being a treat. We allow our kids to have treats when appropriate, but it is not every day, or multiple times a day. I read a great article about this, and I wish I could find the link to share. It talks about how people say that just one piece won't hurt, but there are tons of "just one pieces" offered throughout the day. It adds up and makes treats the norm, not something special.
Now when I read food labels, I'm not just looking for allergens. I'm also reading the rest of the label to see what's actually in my food. More often than not, anything prepackaged is loaded with more chemicals than actual food. Switching to a "real food" diet really isn't all that difficult once you know what you are doing. 100 Days of Real Food offers some great tips on how to get started.