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Readers on food allergies

Parents chime in on how they've made changes in their kids' diets.

Jen Weigel

January 14, 2011

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The feedback has been flooding in about our story on Robyn O'Brien, author and founder of allergykids.com. Our readers seem to agree that allergies to dyes or preservatives among kids are on the rise. Here are some of the ways they've eliminated the symptoms without medication.

Jamie says, "I took my son, now 17, off of artificial colors, flavors and certain preservatives when he was about 4 years old. Prior to the change in diet, he had wild, exhausting temper tantrums, violent tendencies and fitful sleep. Upon changing his diet, his temper calmed, sleep improved (as did bladder control) and behavior improved noticeably."

Jen added, "It's amazing to me how many people still don't realize the impact of food coloring on even 'normal', 'run-of-the-mill' kids. Sleep disturbances, anger, frustration, impatience, irritability: it's not just the kids diagnosed with ADHD or autism. It's all our kids. Boys AND girls."

Wendy is a fan of the Feingold program. "Thirty years ago, my son was borderline hyperactive. Not wanting to put him on medications, I researched the options and discovered the Feingold diet that eliminates artificial colors, flavors, and certain preservatives in foods. What a difference it made!"

Nancy wrote: "I recently went to a seminar in New York at the Mount Sinai Children's Environmental Health Center. The focus of the seminar was the research being done to investigate why are there so many more cases of autism and ADD, as well as the increases in all other types of illnesses including allergies. I learned that there are 80,000 chemicals in products that we use -- 63,000 of them were grandfathered in as deemed safe for human exposure. Only the most recent, less than 20,000, have ever been tested."

Joe wrote, "I know these dyes are FDA approved—and so is milk, and peanut butter, and all sorts of other things that people are allergic to. We have to be aware that this problem exists and consider a diet change with our kids before medicating them. Nothing good can come from eating fluorescent colored foods. Nothing."

And finally, some corporate feedback: Since our expert mentioned that Kraft offers a Lunchables product without dyes and chemicals in the U.K. but not in the U.S., Valerie Moens from Kraft Foods Corporate Affairs wanted to add some information.

"Our portfolios around the world are distinct, and products are formulated based on regional/local preferences and tastes. In the United States, there are some food colors in nine of our 36 Lunchables Lunch Combinations. They are found in the treats we place in each box. All of the food colors we use are approved and deemed safe for food use by regulatory agencies, including the U.S. FDA. In the U.K., our two Lunchables products do not contain any food dyes as they do not have any treats."

And as our expert O'Brien also mentioned, because of consumer demand, Kraft made alterations to their popular drink Capri Sun.

"In addition to containing 25 percent fewer calories, the new Capri Sun formula replaced high fructose corn syrup with sugar at the new, lower level," added Moens. 

jweigel@tribune.com