For those who get panic attacks, could food coloring be the trigger?

File:M&M's World NYC Red King Kong style 01.jpgI used to get panic attacks all the time, it got to the point where I was at times in a constant state of anxiety. They have stopped for quite some time. I thought I was just more awesome now or something. I believed I was merely better able to handle stress in my life, because I am so much happier than I used to be.

Preface: Food coloring has not been in my house for a long time now because it makes my little one crazy, my middle one violent and my oldest one cry at the drop of a hat. So, I also haven’t eaten any, mostly because I don’t get out much.  

A couple nights ago, I asked my husband to buy me M&Ms, because they sounded awesome.  I was having PMS cravings, and my husband obliged of course.

During the 36 hours or so that followed, I had the worst panic attack I’ve had in years.

I didn’t have any stress that was out of the ordinary and no other food additions. I do understand that this is no more than an anecdote and that correlation does not amount to causation, but I now believe that it was the food coloring that caused my panic attack. I believe that I am also sensitive to the effects of food coloring. Of course, mine isn’t the only anecdote relating artificial food dye to feelings of panic. Here’s another woman who connected the dots. If you scroll down past the ads on this page, there’s many more anecdotes to support my theory as well. Here’s a medical doctor (complete with the MD after her name) who stresses eliminating food coloring along with other food additives to help eliminate panic attacks. She explained the phenomenon saying, “These cause excitation in the nervous system and can worsen symptoms of panic and anxiety.”

So, they cause excitation in the nervous system. Yeah, that’s pretty much what it felt like. And that explains my children’s reactions as well.

Of course, food coloring isn’t the end of it, there are other food additives like MSG in all of its cleverly disguised names and pretty much all petroleum based food additives. Apparently our bodies weren’t meant to eat petroleum and toxic chemicals. Huh. Who knew?!?!

I’m not going to judge you by your diet, after all, I did sneak M&M’s in the wee hours of the night myself. I’m not too proud of my “food” choice, but if this info can help you eliminate panic and anxiety in your life, I’m also not too proud to admit to it.

Want to learn more about food dyes? Prepare yourself, because it’s not good.


  1. I also have anxiety and panic attacks. They were so bad when I was younger that I was put on Prozac for a year. After that I learned non-medicinal ways to control my anxiety such as breathing techniques. I had noticed lately that they were returning. Mostly around my period when I craved a lot of caffeinated items. I have since cut out all caffeine (even the migraine pills when I get a horrendous headache) and it has helped TREMENDOUSLY. I have never thought about food coloring but now that you mention it I am going to track that as well. Thanks for the heads up!

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