Life. Love. Family. Our Perfect Imperfection. Living life as a Catholic, homeschooling family with three amazing, unique boys, a too-oft serious, frustrated and anxious but also loving momma, and a fun-loving, hardworking dad.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Our attempt at a dye-free Halloween

Halloween can be quite challenging when it comes to one thing that we try to do. We aren't perfect about it, but we avoid artificial, petroleum-based food dyes when possible. With all the candy and treats that we have no control over, it seems it would prove very difficult, right?

Today's celebrations start with a small party in Alex's class - E's class doesn't have one as they are middle schoolers - and that entails cookies with frosting and sprinkles, juice boxes, and candy.

I signed up to bring juice boxes and sprinkles because Alex requested it. We chose Capri Sun 100% juice boxes, and that made it easy to avoid dyes as well as HFCS, though I'm sure there are healthier options. Sprinkles were a little more difficult. Of course, I don't want him to feel bad about not having colored sprinkles like the other kids, but he understands our reasons. We did find plain chocolate sprinkles that don't have artificial dyes. (It was odd though, one well-known brand had small containers of chocolate sprinkles with no dyes but their large containers of chocolate sprinkles had red 40, yellow and blue - can't remember the exact #'s - dyes!) I remembered seeing organic sprinkles somewhere, and we found them at Kroger. They aren't as vibrant - more pastel in color - and were $3.99 for a 1oz package. Well worth it though to make the boy happy :) Here's the brand we bought Let's Do Organic Sprinkelz Organic Confetti *note the link is for bulk 12 pk on*

He understands those are JUST for him, and I explained to the teacher the deal. She was very understanding and actually asked if he was supposed to have cupcakes and things on days other students brought birthday treats. I told her that we feel he is old enough and understands and that he can make an informed decision. I know sometimes he will choose to eat the bright blue and green and pink frosted cupcakes, and other times he will decline. He knows how he feels later and the next day or two and whether it's worth it. Also, I am only concerned with what is in my control. If I can send an alternative for a party, then I will. If I don't know what/when a birthday treat is, it's truly ok.

Back to the topic at hand. Trick or treating today may actually be cancelled or delayed due to bad thunderstorms predicted including high winds. If it was just a little rain, we'd still go out, but we'll see. All the candy that the boys will receive will undoubtedly include brightly colored candy, gum, jawbreakers, licorice, and who knows what. We are going to sort the candy and the boys can keep anything that is dye-free. Then they have a couple of choices. We can go buy dye-free lollipops and gummy bears to trade them for things they can't have; they can combine all their "no thank-yous" and leave it for the switch witch to trade an item; we can keep some things for a gingerbread house at Christmas time; or a combination of the 3. I think if they choose the switch witch, she will bring them a gift card to buy something they want. I'm considering not even doing the "switch witch" and just telling them they can trade mom and dad candy for a toy/gift card. I guess I should probably decide pretty quick, since today is Halloween ;)

I know some may think I'm ruining their fun, and a few years ago I may have felt the same way. But I know what's right for my family and my boys. They still get to dress up in costumes, go trick-or-treating and eat some candy but they don't get an overload nor will they eat tons of petroleum-based dyes. 

After E's 4th grade science experiment, and the results, I will never doubt our decision and the position we have on those dyes. Don't know what I'm talking about? Long story short: E had 2 mice and a maze. Both were given regular water and food and ran the maze for a week. Times got progressively better. One of the mice was given red food coloring in his water for a week. The other was not - he was the "control". During the second week of maze trials, the mouse given red dye got slower and couldn't figure out the maze. His times went from around 60 seconds to an ending time the last day of over FIVE minutes. He also became aggressive, erratic and confused. We used food coloring that you buy at the store and just put a few drops in his water bottle. No more than what people eat DAILY! After stopping the experiment, his behavior seemed to return to his pre-dye state. The "control" mouse kept similar times during the entire two weeks and his behavior never changed. The maze was never changed so logically after a week of running it, they knew the route pretty well. It was very interesting and E worked very hard on it. Again, I will never doubt our decision after seeing the difference.