Sunday, January 30, 2011

Welcome to Sunday!

Well, the start of another week is upon us, and we're that much closer to spring. Unfortunately, winter hasn't finished rearing its ugly head, and starting tonight the Midwest is supposed to start getting some pretty brutal weather, my area especially - although only an hour south the accumulation of ice goes up about half an inch, so maybe in all honesty I'm lucky that almost a foot of snow is the ONLY real problem in the forecast for us.

Don't get me wrong, I do love snow. At Christmas and Yule. Otherwise I'm 100% against it. In my mind, there would be no snow after New Year's day and spring would start sometime in February. The winter blahs hit hard around here, and the kids are getting stir crazy. I'd take them outside more often, but A has developed an aversion to snow, mostly because he has difficulty getting his little legs up high enough in boots to properly step over the snow and put his foot down again. He ends up falling a lot, which is admittedly hilarious because he gives in and starts crawling until he realizes that the snow is cold and wet, and he's actually IN it. Then the screaming begins. I'm hoping at some point he figures out how to walk in it, but I don't think that will happen until next winter. By that time he'll be two. Yikes.

In other news, today I'd like to bring to your attention this lovely article over at Spoonfed: it's about food dyes, and I seriously think that anyone worth their salt should check it out. It's "The color of trouble" and it's rather insightful, if I do say so myself.

Why do I bring this up?

I have two nephews and a niece, and they have issues with red 40. I don't remember if it's just one of them or all of them, but in all honesty, a sensitivity is a sensitivity, and it's easier on everyone involved to cut something like that for the whole family than try to limit it simply for one child. Granted, they're all old enough now to be able to tell whether or not a product has red 40 in it, or to read the label to find out if they aren't sure. But my kids aren't. Neither one can read yet (although G can spell out the words he sees and ask what they are), so it's up to Hubby and I to keep a watch out for what they're eating.

Unfortunately, food dyes are still an elusive additive that's hard to avoid when you don't have the spending ability to get the more expensive (and innately more healthy) organic/additive-free foods. Of course there are things like fresh fruits and veggies that don't (or at least SHOULDN'T) get clouded by massive amounts of dyes, but anything boxed or packaged today is almost guaranteed to be touched by a dye here or there, regardless of its eventual color. Bread, biscuit mixes, fruit drinks - even things that tote the label of "100% juice" - all have a dye here or there. And, as Spoonfed mentions, even things like mouthwashes and toothpastes and lotions and soaps are typically filled with dyes. And we use them on our bodies, and on our kids' bodies, and don't usually bat an eye.

So where does that leave those of us who can't always shell out the extra few bucks necessary to keep the dyes out?

Well, it leaves us inconvenienced, to a degree. Prepackaged foods are meant to make life easier and mealtimes faster. They're supposed to help us de-clutter our lives, but are the effects really worth it? Maybe. But probably not. A vast majority of the things that children eat that are riddled with food dye are things that aren't necessarily healthy for them in the first place - easier on parents, for sure, but not really healthy, no matter how many servings of fruits or veggies a serving of them supposedly replace. I'd go look through our cabinets right now to see how many things have food dye in them, but I worry that I would be completely disgusted but what I would see.

How do we get around this?

Well, first and most obviously by cooking homemade. Yes, it means more dishes and more effort and parents spending more time in the kitchen than they would probably like to. I know around here that Hubby is the main chef; I don't often cook, and when I do, it usually isn't anything like the admittedly awesome meals he makes (homemade chicken pot pie in heart shapes with actual hand-made dough?!) even if it's still at least edible. It means spending a little more at the store, maybe pre-planning meals for a week or two to make sure that when you go grocery shopping, you know that you're going to actually use the fresh ingredients you're buying there. It means doing things a little differently, but really, how much of a pain is it in the long run to do something that helps you AND your kids?

I think I'm excited about learning more about food dyes and just how bad they are for us, and then working harder to phase out the ones my kids still ingest on a daily basis. This should be fun.

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