I know around this time of year especially, everyone is eating a lot of candy. I don't know many people who don't like candy. But if you are health conscious, like me, you might want to keep reading! Too often we don't really think about everything that is in that piece of candy. We just mindlessly pop it into our mouth and enjoy that sugary treat! But is it worth it?
Even if you read labels, often times you still have no clue what half of that crap listed even is! All the high fructose corn syrup, sugar and food coloring! And what do all those food coloring numbers mean? Red #40? Yellow #5? Huh? Let's break this down a little so y'all are well informed!
Let's first talk about food dyes and artificial coloring. I honestly wish companies would just stop adding this stuff in our food. And sadly, it's not just in candy. Read labels on products you typically buy and you will see artificial coloring in so many things! Many brands of yogurt, cereals, fruit snacks, salad dressings, macaroni and cheese, and many snacks like Cheetos and Doritos. It's not just in food, but drinks also; Mountain Dew immediately comes to mind. There is no taste to these additives, no preservative qualities, and of course no nutritional value to them. It is simply to look better and be more appealing to you. Most of them are chemicals derived from petroleum. Yeah, you know, the same petroleum we fuel our vehicles with. Today, the U.S. uses over 15 million pounds of food dyes each year...which is five times more than fifty years ago. These synthetic food dyes have been shown to cause an increase in hyperactivity in children. So sometimes that "sugar rush" people talk about when giving children candy, might actually be partially from the dyes, not just the sugar.
The number system of these dyes have a few purposes. Each one you see means that the FDA approved the coloring for consumer consumption. Don't let that fool you though, that DOES NOT mean it is healthy for us. It only means they allow it, and sadly they allow a lot of things that are not good for us. Also, each dye number basically is used instead of listing the actual chemical name. It's easier to identify it that way. So, when you see these colors and numbers listed on a label, just think to yourself, "...bad chemical this, and awful chemical that...". Now, the good thing here? If you pay attention and know what to look for, you can avoid these chemicals. Some products have colors added using natural ingredients. That is good! Some of these natural food colorings come from beets, berries, carrots and things like Turmeric. You can look for products that use these natural options, and not the synthetic chemicals! Most candy however will not have such an option, but fruit snacks, salad dressings, and yogurt will. It just takes a few minutes to look and compare products.
Washingtonpost.com: ”Artificial food dyes (in combination with a common preservative) could make even children with no known behavioral problems hyperactive and inattentive.”
CSPInet.org: “The science shows that kids’ behavior improves when these artificial colorings are removed from their diets and worsens when they’re added to the their diets.” and “While not all children seem to be sensitive to these chemicals, it’s hard to justify their continued use in foods—especially those foods heavily marketed to young children.”
Mercola.com: “According to scientific studies, these dyes are causing behavioral problems and disrupting children’s attention.”
Ok, so what about regular, plain old sugar then? Well, we know small amounts of sugar is ok. But there are no proteins, essential fats, vitamins or minerals in sugar…just pure energy. Sugar can be addictive for a lot of people. Much like abusive drugs, sugar causes a release of dopamine in the reward center of the brain. Not surprisingly, people who consume the most sugar are by far the most likely to become overweight or obese. Many studies have examined the link between sugar consumption and obesity and found a strong statistical association between them. The link is especially strong in children. Also, even more alarming, multiple studies show that people who eat a lot of sugar are at a much higher risk of getting cancer.
So, before you or your kids go crazy on candy and sweets, just keep these things in mind. And as I touched on, it's not only candy to be cautious of, but most of the food on the store shelves. Not many people have the willpower to cut out all candy and junk food, so just keep this in mind...everything in moderation. At least give your body a chance by not overloading it with chemicals and carcinogens.
Do you read labels? Are there things you avoid? Or do you just not worry about it and eat what you want?