Bright Red And Golden Lips


My son had surgery to help his breathing when he was three.

He was pretty poorly and expected to be in hospital for six days.

A long time for a little kid.

On the third day, dosed up on steroids and anti-inflammatories, he was extremely drowsy.

But today, instead of giving him the IV-dripped child’s version of Vicodin, it was downgraded to something like super-strength Tylenol in a cup.

It was a vivid, bright red.

Shortly afterwards, the teenage volunteer came in to sit with Oliver. I went downstairs to the cafeteria.

Oliver’s surgeon found me there and told me she was discharging him. I was shocked.

But…but, you said Monday. And it’s Friday.

Yes, but go see him, he is sooooo ready to go home.

When I got to his room, the volunteer was still there.

But another child inhabited the bed.

Gone was the child I had left and in his place was a boy laughing and laughing.

He had dark circles under his eyes but he was holding tightly onto the end of the bed and jumping for all his might like he was on a trampoline.

I suppose I should have been pleased at this sight but I was mystified. How could he have gone from one extreme to the other so quickly?

We took him home but he caught every virus going, lost weight, tired easily. In the end we pulled him from preschool and all activities until the Spring.

A few years later, Oliver started to put on weight very suddenly, he would get in the car after school very upset, he was extremely sensitive and overreactive.

I started to notice how eating certain foods affected his mood.

I learned that I could even control his mood up or down by feeding him these foods. Eggs were calming, tangerines not so much.

Pixy Stix? God help us.

My research led me to the relationship between chemicals, neurology and behavior.

I learned the importance of checking all food labels, eating organic and the concept of the body as a leaky bucket – a big hole at the top, a small one at the bottom.

How, when the body takes in chemicals at a rate faster than it can expel them, it will eventually overflow, often up to the brain, and cause problems.

The relationship between a particular food and behavior isn’t linear.

A person can eat one food and have it affect them in one instance and not in another depending on how full their bucket was at that time.

It’s an issue that often confounds and confuses parents who believe that foods and their chemicals are in some way related to their child’s behavior but they don’t see a pattern.

It took me several years to make the connection myself, but when I did, I remembered the change that took place that day in the hospital.

Artificially bright red dyed foods no longer pass our Golden lips.

Comments, please!

Have you ever suspected that food affects your child? But sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t? Does that make you dismiss the idea that food is not a cause of challenging behavior in your child?

I am participating in a Blog Every Day For 30 Days Challenge advocated by Chris Brogan. I am doing this with the lovely Mary Ulrich who writes for Parents and Caregivers of Adults with Disabilities at Climbing Every Mountain. Check her out!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary E. Ulrich
October 15, 2010 at 4:43 am

So the red dyes helped your son get better? I’m a little confused on this one.

But then I’m confused with the whole food allergy thing. The leaky gut, the gluten free–the Feingold Diet (red foods…) I’ve read some things, tried some things… but never can really make sense of it.

Sounds like you’ve figured it out for Oliver. Whew! That must have been some experience.
Mary E. Ulrich recently posted..Nursing and Caring- 1945 vs 2010My Profile


Alison Golden October 15, 2010 at 9:06 am

Hi Mary:

The medicine just gave him the *appearance* of being better by stimulating his brain so that he became hyper. A double blind, placebo controlled study in 2007 from the University of Southampton, UK clearly showed that a diet containing artificial flavorings and colorings (the medicine had both) produced ADHD symptoms in children not diagnosed with ADHD. Many of these chemicals are now being withdrawn my food manufacturers in Europe as a result of this study.


Mary E. Ulrich
October 15, 2010 at 5:13 am

BTW: Love the title.
Mary E. Ulrich recently posted..Nursing and Caring- 1945 vs 2010My Profile


Alison Golden October 15, 2010 at 9:07 am

A zing of inspiration out of nowhere 🙂


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