Wednesday, October 19, 2011

the beginning

Alright folks, first things first. My name is Ali, and I'm a mom. My kids are 3 and just-shy-of 1, and we're a pretty regular family. My parenting style is probably what you'd call slightly crunchy, but I think in the big picture, we're just like you. I want my kids to be happy and healthy, and love them more than I could ever have imagined. This blog is basically about how I changed my family's eating habits for the better. The catalyst for this 180 was when my son, Eli, had a major (dramatic, scary, emotional, torturous) breakdown after a family wedding, where the colors of honor were orange and blue. This could be a kid's dream come true: blue punch, orange cake, lollipops, M&Ms; all free for the taking! For several days, my sweet boy couldn't sleep, walk, talk, eat, play- we realized right away that there was a problem. I knew of a couple kids who didn't tolerate food dyes, but had never imagined a life without using M&Ms and gummi bears as bribery distraction.

I had a hunch that the food dyes had something to do with Eli's breakdown. He was not a sickly kid- occasional ear infections, but I nursed him until he was 25 months old, and I've considered him ahead of the curve verbally and cognitively. I felt guilty that his discomfort was because I let him run amok through a smorgasbord of dietary poison! These foods were as far from their natural states as possible and he was loving every minute of it.

I was seriously worried that this child was showing signs of ADHD at the age of 2 1/2, and after the blue and orange disaster, my husband and I decided to pull all artificial dyes and colors from his diet. At first, I didn't know where to turn... it seemed like everything in our cupboards was full of red, yellow, and blue.

Are you interested in specifics? I live about 20 miles from Trader Joe's so most of my shopping is done at Meijer (they have a good, affordable Meijer Naturals line.) Anyway, things changed quickly: no more regular microwave popcorn, garlic bread, or hot dogs... No more frozen waffles or cheap syrup, no popcicles or ice cream or brownies or candy! All of these things require forethought and planning and extra energy (and who has that?)

I started buying Simply GoGurt instead of the cheap store brand of yogurt, which contained Red #40 and High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS.) We had those all over for awhile, until we'd adjusted more of our eating habits. They were a decent substitute for Popsicles and convenient. I started to notice other chemicals in our foods too- Rold Gold pretzels had a scary list of ingredients compared to a bag of Frito s.

I stopped using cake mixes and baked more bread at home. Cake mix can be convenient but it is full of ridiculous additives that stray from the usual flour, sugar, eggs, and butter. I haven't even tried the organic mixes because I've found such wonderful cake recipes, I'll never go back! (psst: here's an amazing chocolate cupcake recipe...)

So far, we've gotten through Easter, summer, 4th of July, and Eli's 3rd birthday dye free. Halloween and Christmas are coming up- those will be our next challenges (and I have posts planned to tell you about each one of these special days!)


  1. Congrats on the new blog Alison. And, you know, everything else :)

    I aspire to be a "crunchy" parent some day as well!


  2. thanks Josh! you'll be an awesome crunchy dad :)