Red Rage

Treats. Fun. Celebrations. NOPE… these pics make me think of Rage. Anxiety. Meltdowns. Crisis.

I’m on a mission to tell part of our story to help other families… shared with C’s permission… (You may only know her as Sweet Caroline so this might be shocking)

Y’all we were grasping at straws… C was having wild, seemingly erratic and often scary outbursts. Now we know the culprit is all ARTIFICIAL DYE, especially Red 40… here’s our story…

We saw specialists, explored all kinds of diagnosis, cried, prayed, researched…

In the end Luke helped us solve the mystery… as his sister was having another epic meltdown, truly unable to function flailing on the ground, he said, “Mama, did you know she just had red Gatorade?”

We’d started keeping a food journal and thought sugar was the RAGE trigger… now we know it is artificial dyes and flavors.

I’ve been a label reader for 5+ years and we ate decently healthy… but I still wanted to be a “cool mom” so occasionally we had iced donuts, slushes, candy, chips, peppermints, frosted cupcakes…


Unbelievable rage, not just upset… a switch would flip within an hour as the neurotoxin chemicals took over her brain… eyes glazed over, throwing books, lamps, destroying things, hitting, biting, screaming, overwhelm, bladder issues, banging on glass, primal fight or flight… y’all, it was TERRIBLE… I had several panic attacks last year because it was so triggering for me to be threatened by my own daughter when she’d been fine moments before.

She couldn’t help it. She was unknowingly being poisoned by artificial dyes – petroleum / crude oil based toxins. “In fact, consumption of food dyes has increased 5-fold since 1955 (up from 3 million to 15 million pounds per year) – 90% of which is from Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Red 40.” They are BANNED in many other countries. Why not here? 🤷🏼‍♀️

We’ve been dye free since June 2019 and I feel like we have our daughter back. Anxiety is manageable, she can function when something doesn’t go her way, focus has improved, her mood has stabilized and her personality is starting to SHINE. She feels like herself again. ☀️


Be an advocate for your kids and yourself. People will think you’re crazy or “it can’t be that big of a deal to have a tootsie roll or M&Ms…” Until you live the HORROR of “Red Rage” you can’t understand it. I’m grateful that in this whole process I’ve become much more compassionate and aware.


So what has helped:

🔄 Reading labels – all foods not just desserts – it’s in SOOOO much… plus medicine, toothpaste, personal care, etc. Our doctor said, “Can you imagine if you hadn’t already ditched and switched so many things?” I truly can’t imagine the rage and anxiety overload if she’d had more exposure. Terrifying.

🛑 Her files/charts are marked as allergic to artificial dyes & flavors… communicate with your school, dentist, doctor, pharmacist, friends, etc.

🛒 We politely decline many treats & foods and do a “switcheroo” – organic items are safe and only naturally colored and flavored and many other things are if you hunt. We still have dessert and lots of choices. I joined an advocacy group for ideas….

❤️ Counseling- learning how to handle emotions and unlearn bad habits. I’m a big fan of counseling for all families- crisis or not.

🥗 Nutrition & vitamin deficiencies- now we are working on adding more of what her body needs with the help of a functional medicine doctor. She was literally addicted to the artificial dyes and not absorbing what her body needed. This has helped reset sleep patterns too.

🛁 Detox – Epsom salt baths, essential oils and gut health are huge – especially if she accidentally eats something with artificial dyes. We use non-toxic cleaners and support whole body health now more than ever – many favorites are from Young Living.

⚠️ Y’all… it’s been a journey. When something does seem right, keep digging.

Whew. Thanks for reading my novel.

I’m happy to answer questions. Watch this Ted Talk too…. {Trigger warning>} I’ll share some articles below.


A Mama Bear

aka Mama Llama Jess

#magnifyJOY in the messy & magnificent


p.s. We have been 100% dye free for over a year and it is THE BEST thing we have ever done. We religiously read labels and avoid all colors, dyes AND “artificial flavors.” Your health is worth it. We have found plenty of alternatives that are easy switches. 

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