Justine works and writes from her home in Michigan. She loves to encourage others through her writing.
My Journey with Red Dye
Do you think it’s possible a Red Dye Allergy may be bothering you or a loved one? I’m here to talk about my experience and how you can find out if Red Dye may be the culprit behind your discomfort. Growing up I frequently ate food containing Red Dye. Particularly candies, cereal and juice like fruit punch. My entire life I felt sort of different and came to except the fact that I always felt nauseous. In fact I never knew how bad it actually was affecting me until I was much older.
In my late teens, and early twenties I felt my throat closing up a few different times and lived for days at a time with a lump in my throat. Often I was buying cheap food containing high amounts of artificial dyes. A few particular times I bought fruit punch from the Dollar store, the real cheap kind, to take camping with me in order to stay hydrated. I often spent my camping trips feeling even worse than normal and never really knowing why.
It wasn’t until my mid 30’s that I actually found out what was wrong with me. A trip to Las Vegas to see my family was nearly ruined when I stayed in, sick as a dog, while my family went out on the town to see shows and go gambling. No one understood what was wrong with me or how I could possibly feel so bad. I remember telling them it’s either I stay in, or I might end up in the hospital. Often, I wouldn’t be feeling better for several days with mysterious flu like symptoms.
That is when I finally decided to take a Food Intolerance Test. Off a whim, and a little research I ordered a test online from a company called Everlywell.
History of Red Dye
The most common Red Dye found in food is Red Dye #40, or Allura Red. You may recognize this ingredient by simply reading the labels on your everyday foods. It helps to understand where it is sourced from, Red Dye #40 is actually a derivative of coal. It is created in a lab and is one of the most common food ingredients in the U.S. It can cause a whole range of different symptoms depending on the severity of your allergy.
How the Food Intolerance Test Changed my Life
The Food Intolerance Test, or Food Sensitivity Test, definitely changed my life. Here’s how it works. You receive a lancet in which you prick your finger and drip drops of blood onto an index card. You fill circles with the drops of blood and send it back to the company in order to get your results. Within a couple weeks I had received results. It tells you which foods had a reaction from mild to moderate. It can help you to figure what foods to avoid and tests for over 96 different trigger foods or ingredients including dyes, dairy, eggs, shellfish and more.
My results showed some things that I’ve never considered could be the cause of my symptoms. They revealed an allergic reaction to Red Dye, which led me to begin my research on the matter. Red Dye? I thought, how is it that I never considered this? I remember hearing in passing that children could be Allergic to Red Dye, possibly being a cause of Autism or creating behavior issues, but that is all I knew at the time. Honestly I thought I would just feel sick forever.
The Dangers of Red Food Dye
Cutting Red Dye From My Diet
Slowly I began cutting artificial dyes from my diet focusing on finding replacements for the everyday foods I was normally consuming. Replacing the Red Fruit Punch with brands contains no Red Dye. I traded the Red Hawaiian Punch for Welch’s Fruit Punch, which is my go to beverage every day. I began searching for foods which source their ingredients from natural dyes, such as beet juice for color. No more Red Jello, no Red Cereals like Fruity Pebbles or Fruit Loops. At first it was a big life change, and with time I began to feel better. After a few weeks I began to notice no more throwing up in the middle of the night. No more flu like symptoms for no apparent reason. I began to feel, well, good again. Slowly over time I started to feel normal again, a feeling I had left behind many years ago.
Accidentally Consuming Foods with Red Dye
Sometimes I’m not careful enough. Restaurants can be tricky to navigate. That sweet and sour sauce I craved so much on my Chinese food turned out to be not a good idea. A time or two I got barbecue sauce with Red Dye in it. After not consuming the Dye for so long my body became very sensitive to it. I disregarded my allergy and ate a Chinese buffet, or accidentally ate things containing the Dye. The days I accidentally ate it, have been rough and quite the challenge. Spending days on the couch or in bed praying into a garbage can to please just make it go away. Flu like symptoms will take over my body until the Dye is completely out of my system or extricated out of my body. Sometimes the symptoms won’t pass for days. I feel lucky to not have a deadly allergic reaction as some do with shellfish or seafood. I’ve never had an anaphylactic reaction, but I do get hives all over my midsection and the flu like symptoms.
Raising Awareness of Red Dye Allergies
I’m always hoping to help someone. If one person just hears my story, maybe it will help them too. Don’t suffer in silence for years upon years. Take charge of your health and your diet. You owe it to yourself to take a food sensitivity test, or simply do an elimination diet. It was one of the best choices I have ever made. Feeling better when you never thought you would, is something you can’t put a price on. Thanks for reading.
Justine Nalbach (author) from Michigan on October 21, 2021:
Thank you for your comments. I try to write about things that are personal to me.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 21, 2021:
Thank you for sharing the information. It could be very helpful for readers. I'm sorry that you've had such bad problems with the dye, but it's good that you've found the cause of the problems.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 20, 2021:
Nice article. Very informative.