Post-Nasal Block
More From the Mail Bag. Or Comment Bag. Whatever.

In Which a Good 75% of You Will Glaze Over By Paragraph Four

Since you guys proposed SO MANY awesome topics yesterday Tuesday, I shall continue to mine them for awhile, or at least until something actually important happens in real life that requires a veryimportantblogupdate!, and no, I'm not counting last night's Tuesday night's all-night preschooler-puke-a-thon. (He's just fine now, of course, which is good because we are plum out of clean sheets.)

From Cagey:

I have been reading The Unhealthy Truth and seem to remember you mentioning it on one of your Advice columns. The book is blowing me away and I am shocked at how few folks realize how food can really affect us - say, Red #40 for example.

I was wondering your thoughts on this and if you have seen whether certain things affect Noah. For example, artificial colorings are the devil now in our house because my son flips his lid every time he has them. And this is the same kid who can eat ice cream and go right to bed! For him, Red #40 is like main-lining a bit heroin.

Yep. I did write about this book, mere HOURS after I'd finished reading it, while I was freshly seething with rage. I have since gone back and re-read sections and pondered it some more and guess what! I AM STILL ANGRY.

(Hold on, 'cuz it's about to get screedy and caps-locky up in here.)

(I mean, more so than usual. And about other things besides an overflowing coffeemaker, or something.)

For the record, I am not a big conspiracy theorist. I am more of skeptic than a believer, and while I certainly gotten crunchier in recent years with the cloth diapers and homemade baby food and all, I still am a BIGFAN! of things like modern medicine and scientific advancements. I'm allergic to most antibiotics -- HIGHLY SO -- thus personally have always had to depend on alternative treatments for myself, and I'm not trigger-happy with the prescriptions when it comes to the kids. But both of the boys have gotten both seasonal and H1N1 flu shots this year and I would jab 'em in the arm again in a heartbeat. We fully vaccinate, falling on the "debunked" side of the vaccine/autism fence, although I think the chicken pox one is bullshit. (I never had it, and have to depend on the half-assed, temporary protection of the vaccine myself. Glad it exists; disagree that it belongs on the childhood schedule; worry about kids not getting their boosters and getting sick as adults.) I've seen the Feingolding gone amok at Noah's school, am a bit weary of suddenly every problem in the world being blamed on yeast and gluten, though I have nothing but sympathy for parents and child dealing with honest-to-God allergies and am extremely careful about sending Noah to school with clean peanut-butter-residue-free hands and non-triggering snacks, and would hope others would do the same for us. So basically, I was expecting to agree with some of what this book has to say...but also to roll my eyes at a lot of it too.

My eyes bugged out of my head, but they sure didn't roll. I'm not going to get into all of it -- the genetic engineering and corn refiners and the FDA's refusal to protect us from stuff that's long since been banned or flagged as dangerous overseas (soy baby formula, anyone?) -- but seriously, IS GAH HEAD EXPLODING TIME NOW.

Anyway, the whole artificial coloring thing. Yes, they affect Noah big time. They are banned in our home. Red 40 and Yellow 5 are just like...I don't know. Tiny seismic earthquakes through his neurological system. Artificial flavorings, too. He gets hopped up and agitated...while also weirdly shutting down at the same time. Loss of eye contact, anxiety, tantrums. He defaults back to echolaic speech or just goes silent. Anecdotal? Coincidental? Totally, sure, maybe. But it's so fucking scary, you guys. So why even argue, when it's a pretty safe assumption that Red 40 and Yellow 5 are two little things that we can all live without just fine?

And they are in EVERYTHING. It doesn't have to be garishly candy-coated. It's stuff that should technically, be healthy. Yogurts. Granola bars. Fruit snacks. Boxed cake mixes (seriously, why the FUCK does a CHOCOLATE CAKE need both red and yellow food dyes?). Toothpastes, kiddie vitamins and cold medicines. It's BULLSHIT, trying to shop at a "regular" grocery store when you need to avoid this stuff, even more so when (like us) you've also cut out high-fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils for various other Frankenfood reasons.

We're lucky that we live in an area where Whole Foods is about as common as any grocery store, along with Trader Joe's and several year-round farmer's markets where we buy pretty much everything from produce to grains to meats and fish. (Up where my parents live, you either live on one fancy organic aisle at the Acme or drive close to an hour to the nearest Whole Foods in New Jersey.) We're also very lucky that we can afford to shun the processed foods and eat organic, local, humane, sustainable and all those other hippie food buzzwords. I'll sacrifice plenty of other columns in our budget before I cut food corners, particularly for the kids. (She says while wondering if it's too early to switch from coffee to Coke. And fun-sized Snickers.)

And it took us a long time to get fully here, by the way. Hell, we potty-trained with M&Ms, fed Noah Flintstones vitamins, brushed his teeth with sparkly blue Disney-branded toothpaste. It really wasn't until we stopped giving him anything artificial that we really saw how little it takes to really affect him, be it candy or fast food chocolate milk or a fruit-flavored Triaminic strip. We don't deny him the occasional treat or get hysterical if friends or family offer him something we wouldn't necessarily feed him at home...we just sort of know what we're in for and up our focus on the rest of his diet for a day or two.

If you are unsure of how or where to start, The Unhealthy Truth is a great book for this as well -- at least after scaring the pants off you the author devotes a chapter on how to prioritize your grocery list and budget, taking baby steps to avoid the "worst" things and slowly get your kids to accept healthier versions without feeling like you've just ripped the rug out from under them and clobbered them with a Deprivation Hippie Stick.

Anyway. I actually wrote the bulk of this entry yesterday, right before my parent-teacher conference at the public school program. And finally, OH GOD FINALLY, I got to sit there in front of a team of teachers who had nothing but lovely, wonderful things to say about my child. What a delight and a joy he is, how smart and funny he is, and how much progress he's already making. I'm certainly not all, "OH, IT'S ALL BECAUSE WE THREW OUT HALF OF HIS HALLOWEEN CANDY. ARE BEST PARENTS EVER."

In the grand scheme of things, it's admittedly a tiny part of the puzzle. Though WOW, did I ever have a lot to say about it.

In other news, Noah is kicking ass at school. And I'm committing that phrase to published type: NOAH IS KICKING ASS AT SCHOOL. We celebrated by not coming right home so I could sit around and finish this entry. I hope you understand. It's been a long time coming.



We are slowly getting there, although still allowing some of the beloved garish foods. I guess I need to get this book to scare my ass into being more pro-active.


When I was very young, my doctor was ready to diagonose me with ADHD. Or ADD or something. This is back in the day when it wasn't diagnosed for everything.

So my dad (bless his heart) decided the family would start eating healthier. They cut out all preservatives, artificial colours and flavours to the point of buying an ice cream maker. The only thing my mom didn't make from scratch was bread, because we had a neighbour who did baking as a small business.

Blam. Within a week behaviour problems were gone. I still get migraines from colorants and certain preservatives (although I have a weakness for Kraft Dinner). I'm not entirely sure what they are but I suspect Yellow 5 has something to do with it.

And HFCS is de debil here. We both get kind of wonky on it - and since we switched the Poptart's formula to an HFCS-free variety she sleeps so much better.


So I've been thinking about this alot lately - what do you feed him? I feel so overwhelmed, but halloween really brought out the nasty side in my son so I'm thinking maybe it's time to start... How do you START?


yay noah ! :)


Pretty much all of our choices are Michael Pollan/Robyn O'Brien worthy, at home. I still eat a lot of café sandwiches that have who knows what in them because I have to hover near Hanks childcare and do my work from a coffee shop that yelled at me for bringing my own sandwich (fair, embarrassing, and grr).

But my partner and I CANNOT kick CocaCola. We love it so much. We only drink it when we eat out, but we eat out ONLY SO WE CAN DRINK IT.


WHAT'S WRONG WITH SOY FORMULA?!? Here I was finally coming to terms with having stopped BF'ing at 8 months, and now you tell me I've been poisoning Snackbox for three months? But it's ORGANIC soy formula...? He's sensitive to dairy, y'all...

I have a really hard time with artificial sweeteners - if I chew a piece of gum with sorbitol or sucralose I have a headache for hours afterwards. I also get fired up about HFCS - seriously, why does it need to be in bread? My SIL got miffed last week 'cause she brought salad to the family dinner, but I checked the ingredients on her dressing and it was all xantham gum and HFCS, so I pulled out my Newman's Own Organic and was secure in the knowledge that my body is PURE and a TEMPLE.

Oh, and I call my homemade baby food "little jars of love".

I'm so glad Noah is doing well!!

Fawn True

First of all - YAY NOAH!! Because I know how relieved you must have been to hear nothing but good things in your PT conference. That HAS been a long time coming!

Second - must buy this book now...well, right after I finish devouring the fudge from Branson and day-glo orange frosted cookies sitting in my kitchen. I am really interested to see what the changes will do in the behavior of my four kiddos...


So glad you mentioned that Whole Foods isn't always a possibility. There are so many books like this that I want to read, but I know my options are very limited. The closest Whole Foods is 5 hours from my house. Our organic aisle in the grocery store is a joke. However, I've at least attempted to make snacks about fruit instead of fruit snacks, milk instead of fruit drink, etc.

Also, Yay Noah!

Megan@Blueberry Scones

Yeah for Noah!

I hear you about the HFCS. What's scary is that it's in a lot of stuff, stuff you wouldn't expect. Like baby carrots, for the love of Pete!

I shopt at a good grocery store that imports a lot of stuff, and that's my halfway mark. Can't afford Whole Foods, but don't want the preservatives.

Sprite's Keeper

Glad to hear Noah is KICKING ASS AT SCHOOL! (Sorry, thought it deserved one more caps lock.) :-)
My sister has banned the dyes from my nephew's diet to see if it would have any beneficial effect on his ADHD. The jury is still out, but hopeful.

bethany actually

Yeah, Noah! Way to kick butt. :-)

I have other friends who have noticed similar differences in their kids with the absence/presence of artficial dyes/flavorings...and I'm still sort of sticking my fingers in my ears, all "LALALALA, NOT LISTENING!" because I am lazy. We eat a fairly hippie diet compared to most Americans anyway, a lot of whole-food, whole-grain, all-natural blah blah stuff, but we also eat candy and McDonald's and brightly-colored frosting. I'm not willing yet to worry about it, and by the grace of God I don't HAVE to. If I read another blog post or three like this one, though, I might have to start worrying about it.


Omg my so-called healthy(ish) roasted tomato and olive oil Triscuits have Red 40 and yellow 5 in them. So disturbing.


so true. nutrition makes a HUGE difference in children and adults. i'm glad this kind of knowledge is becoming more mainstream.


Just 'cause you're in the DC-ish area - have you shopped @ MOM's?


Great info about the book -- and great news about your ass-kicking boy. Bravo!


Yeah Noah! Kick asses, take names. Show that school how awesome Teh Innerwebs already know you are!


I'm doing a happy dance over here. You have so earned that happy meeting.


Yay for Noah, and Yay for School!


You are such an inspiration to me.


Thanks so much for highlighting both this issue (again) and the book. I live in Sweden now, and see the incredible difference between the health of my children and the health of my American friends' children and my sisters' who eat things Ii wouldn't let near my kids with a 10-foot pole.


As an adult who has been allergic to artificial food coloring of all numbers and types since I was 4 years old (I break out in awful hives and swell up like I'm wearing a fat suit- to the point of needing to go to the hospital and hands and feet turning purple- HOT!) I can tell you that it is a blessing and a curse. As a child I HAD to avoid a lot of that crap and wasn't allowed to eat a lot of "fun" stuff. As an adult I'm thankful because it has kept me healthier throughout my life. And trust me that stuff is in everything- marshmallows have Blue #1 in them FYI.


Question--(not trying to be crazy hater or anything, please don't feel attacked, just honestly curious) Why is genetically modified corn/soy bad?

From what I understand, they were genetically modified to help them use less water, sometimes requires fewer pesticides (the skin tastes weird to bugs--not all GM foods, but many), and produce more food with fewer resources. Plus, they usually had a failsafe built in so they couldn't reproduce on their own and spread in the wild. I know that GM corn that hasn't been tested for people safety can't be fed to people directly so it's used for animal feed.

I get the artificial food dye things (sort of, eating bugs doesn't gross me out since that's what humans have been doing forever) and the growth hormone since bad effects have been shown from those. But why is something bad just because it's GM? I mean, Mendel, in his own way, was modifying those bean plants in that monastery and everyone thought that was awesome.

Again, not trying to upset anyone, honestly just curious for research about why GM = Bad. I don't eat meat because of animal issues (can't afford humanely raised meat and hate how factory farms treat their animals) and I buy organic, hormone free milk and I am trying to limit some artificial ingredients, but I have yet to understand the GM thing. To me it just seems a natural extension of crossbreeding plants.


Hooray for Noah!!!!! Hooray for YOU! Thanks for the book rec, will put it on my must read list ASAP.




We have our son on a gluten-free diet, and I've joined him too. Behavioral changes are anecdotal, but he does seem to have more meltdowns and accidents after having wheat. My stomach behaves much better without it, so I suspect a sensitivity even though I tested negative for celiac.

We buy a lot of natural and organic and make a bunch from scratch (or, like our bread, from a mix made with minimal ingredients), but I really need to work on curbing the candy that's in the house. Dyes are definitely something for us to look at.


that book is on my hold list on that library, I really want to read it.

Yeah Noah. Now can you fix Michael's problems?


Yay for Noah!!! And YAY for you & Jason on KICKING ASS on his behalf, too.

I have to buy this book. I think we eat "healthy" (organic, Whole Foods shoppers) but I know that this book would be a huge eye opener...


Amy, thank you for taking the time to write about this. It is a touchy, guilt-laden topic and I know it can difficult to approach even with a 10 foot pole. I really appreciate that you demonstrated how a mother can go about trying to get healthier food down her kids' gullets without getting all freaky about it. Little by little, I am finding products that are healthier, that can be found anywhere (even Costco). It does it take some work reading the the labels and I can see why so many mothers are so frustrated and just give up! It is daunting, at times.

Right now, I am taking it step by step right now. Artificial Food coloring? Out. HFCS? Out. Hormone-free milk? In. (note: Costco and Target store brand milks are reasonably priced AND hormone-free)

We do let loose for special occasions like parties and Halloween. And really, those instances just make me realize why I have to keep my guard up as I watch my boy get all hopped up after consuming all that food coloring and preservatives.


Bethany, genetically modified objects (GMOs) can be harmful because of how the protein structures are altered and/or passed along to the GMO itself. For example, a brazil nut can be used to cross with another product. Some of the protein structure from the brazil nut can be passed along in the GMO itself. Say, you are allergic to brazil nuts. This new GMO could very well spark an allergic reaction in you but you would have NO idea why. This is a very simplistic way to describe it per the way I understood it, though.

Sarah in Huntsville

Re: Chickenpox vaccination

One word: shingles


Bethany - I really, REALLY encourage you to read the book. The issues and concerns are way, way too long for me to concisely fit into a comment box. There's a lot of corruption and irresponsibility going on behind the scenes with Big Food, and GMOs are a big, big part of it. It's not necessarily evil as a concept, but the execution by these corporations, man. Very disconcerting.

Susan - soy contains a lot of estrogen and has been linked to reproductive problems and cancers in both males and females who consume high amounts of it. In the UK, for example, soy formula been yanked off store shelves and can only be obtained as a last resort, from your doctor. Who presumably explains these risks, unlike here in America where it IS viewed as a healthy, perfectly comparable choice. Soy is also a legume, like a peanut, and we delay peanuts, so...why not soy? I mean, if your baby has a milk allergy, then OF COURSE you have to feed him SOMETHING, but too often we're encouraged to switch at the first sight of a little gas and fussiness, or because of some belief that soy is just inherently healthier.

God. I know. It's like, we're all fucked and going to die. What a cheery post for this rainy Thursday! Shut up, Amalah.


Awesome. You've worked hard to be an advocate for your child. You've done your homework, researched all the known culprits, and Noah has reaped the rewards. You're doing great! Thank you for writing about it.


Sarah - Not sure if I'm reading your comment wrong, so apologies if I'm basically stating exactly you're thinking: But yes. Exactly. I'm concerned that vaccinating children is going to lead to more shingles in another couple decades, once these kids hit college and young adulthood and no longer get the regular booster shot.

And as I sort-of mentioned, I know first hand that you NEED BOOSTERS for this vax. I got vaccinated in my early 20s, then tested NEGATIVE for immunity less than six years later. When I was pregnant. And very vulnerable. And unable to get the shot. That's kind of scary, since I thought I was protected.

I got another shot after Noah was born and luckily DID test positive for the immunity when I got pregnant with Ezra.

I just wonder (and obvs I'm not a doctor or scientist) what happens if there's a return of wild chicken pox down the road and everybody just assumes that the vaccine they got as kid is enough? Well, my guess would be SHINGLES.

(For the record, my boys have gotten the chicken pox vaccination. I just plan to be on their asses for many years about making sure they get boosters and/or tested for immunity to the virus.)


I get being weary of the latest nutritional boogyman - whatever that might be - but I don't get why you didn't try N on a GFCF diet. If you saw a big difference in him from removing artificial colors, then you've proven to yourself that his neurological system is affected by what he ingests. Why is it silly to think that he might also be affected by proteins? Lots of kids limit their diets to the very foods that cause them the most difficulty, and I remember a post from a while back about N being a very picky eater that self-limited to breads and dairy. Seems like it would be worth a try??


My oldest flipped out on red 40 as a two year old, and to this day we avoid food dyes. My husband gained 20 pounds over the course of a year, and lost those once we eliminated high fructose corn syrup from our diets.

And yellow dyes do a similar job; they apparently cause attention deficit issues. Guess what dye is put in Ritalin? Yep, yellow. That made my head explode when I learned it.


glad Noah is kicking ass.

We try to be healthy, eat organic, etc. too. Now you've freaked me out about soy, not that I can do anything about it, but my daughter drank soy formula from about month 2 to 12. I did read some of the research, and it seemed that it had been found safe (medical journals, etc.) oh well. In the future can you provide some context when you throw out something like that? (or not, it's your blog:)


Thanks, Amalah for responding. I'm going to try and reserve the book tonight--hopefully Montgomery County will have it (last time they didn't have 3 of the 5 books I wanted). Execution being bad, I get, I just didn't like the idea of the concept being bad. I eagerly look forward to science-fictiony "vat protein" like Gardein makes being more normal than factoryfarmed pigs.


aadrw - Well, it's complicated. I think it's a diet that should not be entered lightly, in a "hey let's try this!" stab in the dark. Unlike a lot of the "can't hurt, might help" treatments, an unnecessary and sustained GFCF diet CAN hurt a child's growth and long-term nutrition, especially with an already picky eater. Osteoporosis, for one thing. Noah would likely starve, so I'd rather go with the least restrictive path that seems to work. Our pediatrician also agrees.

I've done a lot of reading about it as an autism treatment (and Noah is NOT autistic, or even on the Spectrum) and right now, the research and study results are too mixed for me. FOR ME. FOR US. Totally not discounting anyone for whom GFCF has made a difference. I am looking forward to finally getting the NIMH results from their long-term double-blind study. For now, that's a quick rundown on our reasoning.


I have friends whose child was diagnosed with ADHD and it was a food allergy. And while I honestly believe there is ADHD, my brother has it and I am sure I have a bit of ADD) trying alternatives before meds seems smart to me.

And food, well, my girls are lactose/milk allergy and can only drink soy but we limit it to 3 cups a day. We have no alternative. And we shop at the good places and limited processed food and try to eat everything "good" but it is soo hard and yet not.

It is amazing to me, having changed my thinking in the past little bit, how screwed up all our food is.



I read your last post with great interest, even though I don't have little kids anymore and when I did I force-fed them Red Dye #40. My eyes bulged over "I'm allergic to most antibiotics -- HIGHLY SO -- thus personally have always had to depend on alternative treatments for myself".

DUDE! Me too! Only I wasn't always. I've developed this over time. The last episode was about a month ago when I was taking something I had been able to take 6 months earlier and really thought I was having a heart attack. There was much debate over whether an ambulance should be called. I muscled through but it was scary.

So my question, should you choose to answer it, is what alternate methods of treatments do you rely on? I'm at a loss and fear the day I really will need an antibiotic.

Alias Mother

I despair when I see people fret that they aren't eating right because they aren't near a Whole Foods. The nearest Whole Foods is three hours from me, yet we manage just fine. Folks, eat the best real food you can find (produce, grains, dairy), stop eating food out of boxes, and you'll be fine. There's no Red 40 in a sweet potato and there's no Yellow 5 in an avocado.

Crap is still crap, whether it is organic crap or not.

(Sorry, this belief that the only place you can find healthy food is in stores that scream HEALTHY makes me insane.)


Many thanks for this post. My son's asthma is triggered by Red #40. Guess what makes all those over-the-counter meds pink? Guess what makes the kids' liquid antibiotics pink? Guess how deep the drug companies bury that information? Consumer pressure has gotten them to put the full list of ingredients on OTCs, but -- believe it! -- they're not required to inform consumers about the "inactive" ingredients, and so in prescriptions, they don't.
Please ask your readers to write to the FDA. And also: sodium benzoate, an extremely common preservative? Makes my son hit the roof.


I hate that Europe seems so much better at protecting a natural food supply then the US... lots of dyes and such - banned, or have to be very clearly marked. many hormones for animals - banned. I just think our FDA has everything that is all chemicals and junk should be forced to have huge lables stating that. Imagine walking into a store and seeing products with "Now with Red Dye #40!" emblazoned on the packaging rather then spending time squinting through the tiny fine print to see if it's in there. And natural foods, lacking in hormones and HFCS and junk wouldn't have to spend extra on packaging to tell us "Hey, I'm made of real food products found in nature, not invented in a lab!" I mean heaven forbid you want to drink milk straight from the cow - no, by law you can't have it until it's processed to death.


Go Noah! Woooo!

I may need to read that book, but I'm kind of scared to read that book.


I didn't read this whole thing, sorry; I got as far as "soy formula, anyone?" before I stopped and googled. My older daughter is 11 and was on soy formula her first year due to extreme breastfeeding difficulties and a complete intolerance for milk formula. I had no idea that there was any risk from soy other than increased estrogen, and that was a risk I was willing to take because our other choices were so limited. But when I googled it a few minutes ago, I read that two of the common risks of soy formula for infants are a compromised immune system and irritable bowel disease. My daughter has battled ulcerative colitis, a form of irritable bowel disease, for three years. So from what I'm reading, her current problems are most likely due to the formula I gave her. I can't tell you how awful I feel right now.

Sarah in Huntsville

After watching my friend almost lose his eyesight, I am so scared of shingles, I can't even tell you. Gah, just talking about it makes my skin crawl. Blergh!

But although I understand the reasoning behind the worry that shingles rates might go up - and that idea REALLY freaks me out - it's purely hypothetical at this point (and may it stay that way, amen). Right now, up to 20% of infected children later develop shingles. Talk about a rock and a hard place!

I'm with you - I plan to be on my kids' asses about testing and boosters until I die. ;-)

But that's WAY off topic (because my brain apparently always takes a left turn at the mental image of shingles). What I should have said was: I'm glad Noah is doing well at school. That's awesome news and congratulations!


Jenny- have you tried goat milk for your girls as an alternative to soy? Very healthy, widely available, and usually incredibly lactose-sensitive friendly, believe it or not.

Alias Mother- beautiful point! I, too, live 3 hours from Whole Foods and still manage to feed my family healthily. From-scratch cooking honestly doesn't take that much time (and I work full-time, too), and then you know what's really in your food. It has changed our lives.


This stuff really irks me too. And it's not just foods that our FDA allows more crap in than they do in Europe. Don't even get me started on cosmetics. There are so many additives in our cosmetics and skincare products that are BANNED in Europe, and yet the same companies market virtually the same products there... without the bad stuff! Rome didn't fall in a day.

Dad Gone Mad

I've been reading "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer and have been similarly disgusted by the ways in which the FDA stands idly by. Those folks had better get their shit together before we all rise up and BLOG THEIR ASS!


for really scary stuff, check your shampoo labels (especially the kids ones) -- even *that* has artificial colors in it! most soap too. whole foods actually has a pretty inexpensive line of all natural hair care and soap -- the 365 line.
i've pretty much taken the "if i can't pronounce, we shouldn't eat it" line and i really don't want it on my skin.
for the person who likes coke -- look for the kosher variety that is available around passover. the 2 liter bottles have a yellow cap. also, pepsi introduced pepsi throwback (made with sugar!) that i've only seen in cans.


Thanks-- totally getting the book for Christmas (on sale at Amazon!)

I am one of those New Jerseyans who drives an hour for the closest Whole Foods/Trader Joe's. We go probably three times a year to stock up on snacks and stuff. We also belong to our local CSA and have organic, locally grown produce DELIVERED to our door each week during the season (April to November). It is soooo nice.

FYI-- There is a section on the Trader Joe's website where you can request that one be built near you!


Up where my parents live, you either live on one fancy organic aisle at the Acme or drive close to an hour to the nearest Whole Foods in New Jersey.

Whoa. Are your parents my neighbors or something? This is exactly true: the Acme aisle, the hour-away NJ Whole Foods. The Whole Foods run was weekly when my son was still nursing and still considered allergic to wheat. I lived on gluten-free waffles and the strange wheatless rye bread I had to keep frozen until use.


Herein lies the beauty of being "an influential mommy blogger". I HOPE THEY CAN HEAR YOU, AMALAH!! Because that crap does not belong in our food. I hate shopping at mainstream grocery stores. I prefer to have all my reading time filled up with blogalicious laughs, not Red dye #40, TBHQ for freshness, sodium acid pryophosphate, monocalcium phosphate, etc. etc. All that just taken from a box of fucking crackers. CRACKERS, PEOPLE! Don't get me started.


[OMG Amy responded to my comment directly - she used my name and ALL - melting into a little puddle of fangirliness]...

I knew about the phytoestrogen in soy, and as his ability to digest dairy has improved over the months, we mix regular and soy formula together, so it's not like he's drinking a gallon of soy everyday. PHEW... I don't feel quite so panicked now, thanks.

Costco sells big bags of frozen organic veggies and fruit that I use to make homemade baby food - even at organic prices (which, at Costco, are cheaper than other organic prices), it's still cheaper than buying jarred baby food.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is really awful - my MIL serves frozen shrimp scampi at least once a month, and I can't even bring myself to look at the ingredient list (it doesn't help that she overcooks it into little round rubbery globs). I usually just fill up on bread (white, of course) and then eat extra (nonorganic) salad.

Whether you read the book or not (I will), I hope everyone will take a few extra minutes on their next trip to the grocery store to read just ONE label - and perhaps choose a different product with a shorter ingredient list.

Lastly - inspired by Ezra's birthday cupcake, I searched for and found a great blog with a bunch of healthy cake recipes for Baby's 1st Birthday - I couldn't pick one, so I'm making all of them (as cupcakes). Google Green Parenting.


Hi! I've been a reader for a long time but I've only commented once before. After your post yesterday about "what to write about," i have a question, that could also be used for the advice smackdown. Anyways, in one of your belly photos from a while ago, it looked like you have a tattoo on your back. I'm considering getting another tattoo (my first is on my wrist) but I'm worried about when I get pregnant and whether it will stretch and/or distort in shape. Could you offer any tips? Thanks!

Suzy Q

I've believed for a long time that the combination of artificial shit in food + TV at too young an age are the major contributing factors for many kids with [insert acronym here] and autism.

I'm not blaming the parents, though, because who would ever even THINK that so much artificial crap is in everything? Or that Baby Einstein could be harmful?


Gahhh... hearing this from someone I trust not to be a wacky hippie (I typed wacky hippo first) makes me think maybe I should start caring..
But mmm.... food dye.... so delicious.
SO HAPPY Noah is doing so well in school! Hope it all continues.


Great post. I definitely expected to glaze over by pp. 4, but am instead part fascinated/part incensed. I have some serious granola people in my fam, and my move towards this kind of eating habit system has been a long time coming. Knowing that if we get educated about it and start applying it in earnest now, we might positively affect our future kids, is super motivational. I'm in Rockville, and it's 10 minutes to whole foods, 15 to trader joe's, and 20 minutes to spectacular MOMs (My Organic Market). I'm loving the granolization/urbanization of the 'burbs and am really grateful for what we have in this area. Thanks for the inspiration Amy! (and the kick in the pants)....


Oh, and also: if you can't cut out the ice-cold-coke on a summer day, try to find Mexican coke. Until the WTO strong-arms Mexico into changing it, Mexican coke (in glass bottles) has real sugar, and is a world away in taste.

cindy w

But... but... does that mean no Skittles? Because I don't know if I can bear to live in that kind of a world.


That is so awesome--that his school is such a great match for Noah, and that they fully appreciate how wonderful he is. Congrats!


I need to get that book. We have out and out allergies with my son from those dyes, on top of all the things you've mentioned.

Thank you so much for sharing that information.

Oh and Halloween? I buy a bag of my son's favorite candy and we have a deal--he trades the stuff he can't have for the stuff he can. It's also why I am the house on the block that gives out lots of chocolate!


The Unhealthy Truth is sitting on my nightstand as we speak, type, I type, whatever. It's been sitting there since September and I've read one chapter.

I was scared.

Now that I've read your post though, I'm terrified. Burning it!


I never thought too much about what I ate until I was diagnosed with celiac disease last year. It was only then that I really started reading labels. I always did buy organic milk for my boys and tried to avoid HFCS as much as possible for them. I have read this blog faithfully for years, but I don't often venture to your other posts. I happened to do just that the day you posted about The Unhealthy Truth. I immediately bought the book, read it (twice) and have really started to make changes for my entire family. I'm not perfect, but I like to think that the changes I've made have been beneficial.


Thanks for writing about this. I wrote a post yesterday about grinding hormone-free chicken for my kid and pretty much felt like such a spoiled yuppie asshole, but you know, I DO worry about this stuff. And her little system is SO TINY, that I have to believe it has an impact on her. I just do.

We try to eat local and hormone-free and no GEIs and all that stuff, but I will cop to being a lot more lax with the stuff that Adam and I eat. But as the kid grows and starts eating what we eat, that's going to be harder and harder to accomplish, you know?

I'm picking up that book, stat.

Amanda B

My nephew has full blown autism and is allergic to garlic, chicken and potatos. When he has garlic he goes ballistic. Mostly the extreme behaviors you would expect from a severely autistic boy. When he's off of the foods it takes a week for him to get back to a level of normalicy. Allergies and reactions to food dyes really are something to look into when you're looking to eliminate possible causes for behavior. Not the end all be all - but a place to start. Please note I'm not saying anyone's child is autistic. I'm proud you all are taking good care of your kids.


I have tears in my eyes. I really can't say exactly why your family's story has so affected me. Maybe your writing skill, maybe the photos, maybe some schema in the universe. In any case, I am so glad for you that Noah is rocking his school. You deserve it.


Fancy this: not only are artificial dyes not so good for you, Carmine Color (sometimes red #3 or #4) sometimes even just called "natural coloring" is made from the thorax of a bug.....they put this shit in EVERYTHING. Coincidentally I'm allergic to this dye and miss my red popsicles dearly. Oh, and I've now noticed that red 40 has been giving the same results as carmine color...goodbye twizzlers!

My daughter (7 months, still BF) is allergic to dairy and I'm a vegetarian who along with red dye am allergic to coconut (very common as dairy replacement) so soy based products are a BIG part of my diet. I'm now terrified I'm going to be living on lettuce and mushrooms (ick) for the rest of my life.


Great news!

Just fyi- BHA, BHT, and TBHQ are preservatices that are petroleum based, just like the dyes. You may want to keep an eye on them as well.


preservatives... sorry, double-tired here.

Bachelor Girl

RUNNING out to buy this book.


Thank you! I have similar views on food, but other mothers often treat me like I've got huge control/food issues. Thank you so much for writing this, I might print it out and distribute it (collated of course) at the next preschool birthday party :)


I'm so glad Noah is kicking ass in school :)

I'm 37 years old and this year my body decided that it could no longer digest fructose. Yes, fructose. Officially, it's called Fructose Malabsorption.

If I were not living through the bloating, the gas, the migraines that crop up after I've had ANY TINY amount of fructose, I'd be suspicious of myself. (is that even possible?)

What I'm saying is that food intolerances and reactions are very very real, and I feel for anyone who has a child that is going through it. It takes some figuring out to work around it, but it's possible. I'm doing much better, but it's a work in progress. Thanks for talking about this Amy :)

stacy in europe

I just want to remind everyone that Europe isn't perfect. There is still entire aisles of processed junk food, crap cereals, and plenty of additives, HFCS, dyes and other evil junk lurking hidden in all manner of items. We aren't living in some utopian whole grain wonderland!!! C'mon.

I spend so much time reading labels and then getting frustrated at the inclusion of unnecessary items in products -- and people, I have an 8 month old! I haven't even gotten to "kids" food! I end up having to make a second trip to the health food store to buy her baby cereal. Because the major grocery chain only carry ones with all kinds of additives and preservatives. UGH. Little babies don't need that stuff, and it makes me depressed that less savvy consumers end up shoveling it all down their kids throats without a second thought. Thanks Nestle.

Sure - I make her food, but sometimes you take day trip or have guests in town and you just need some jars of baby food. I'm paying nearly 3 bucks a jar for stuff like "apples and bananas," just to be sure that the ingredients are ONLY apples and bananas! Ridiculous!

So -- we are battling this everywhere.... :-)


Thanks for this post. I restrict all dye's to my 4 year old S.I.D. kid, but today, for some reason I said it was okay for preschool to give her sugar free RED jello. Duh. She flipped her lid about 5 seconds after the last bite and I was all, 'gee, i wonder what her problem is today'. Then I come home and read your post. I wonder why I keep having to re learn this stuff. Just bought the book. I wish we could hang out and discuss our kids because they sound so much alike. Thanks!


Thanks for posting this. My son is 6, and has always been a bit "hyper" and volatile, emotionally; we had him tested for ADD, and he was fine, but always very anxious. And so I read that book by Feingold, and thought it was a little kooky, but worth a half-hearted try (I mean, i wasn't going to cut out apples and grapes, for pete's sake). The difference in my son's behavior, when we cut out food dye (and boy howdy are you right! it's in every blessid item out there -- we saw a significant change just after moving to hippie toothpaste and vitamins), was startling and almost immediately evident. He was less anxious, more in control, and just generally a more pleasant kid. We struggle with how far to take it -- but every time we let down our guard or get lazy, we have those days that make us pull our hair out. So, long way of saying: you are right, and I'm glad you're posting this. I haven't finished "The Unhealthy Truth" yet, but I will before Christmas.


Oh, forgot one thing: the toothpaste we use is "The Natural Dentist" Sparkle Berry Blast b/c we HATE the stupid, cracking, metal tubes of Toms of Maine (and the kids like it better, too). More Toms ended up on my sink, walls, and cabinets and kid's clothes/p.j.s than in their mouths. So we use the other stuff. Expensive, yes, but so worth it!


go Noah! go Noah! go go go Noah! (insert ridiculous 'stir the soup' dance moves here)

bad penguin

Hooray for Noah! I'm so happy for him and for you.

And that book sounds fascinating.

Reluctant Housewife

That's wonderful! Go Noah!


Amalah, I am a speech therapist for ages birth-5, and end up working with kiddos with sensory and attention issues along with language delays. I am working up the guts to talk to parents about their kid's diets. It's such a touchy thing - "You are feeding your kids boxed/bagged crap and letting them drink pop and boxes of sugar juice, of course they are tired and cranky and alos crazy and wired." Ok, I'll work on my wording. Anyway, thanks for spreading the word. In Defense of Food is also an excellent book - ideas like shop to the outer edges of the grocery store (less processed foods), no HFCS, and eat stuff that has 5 or less ingredients - it is doable, no matter where you shop.


True story: I went to my OB's office for my glucose tolerance test yesterday, and read the ingredients of that little drink they make you guzzle. Three ingredients in it? Yellow #5, Red #40, and sodium benzoate. FAIL.

Thanks for mentioning this book, I plan on picking it up soon and checking it out! I am trying to phase out frankenfoods... (it's hard).

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