I try not to buy anything with dye, artificial flavors, or preservatives. I read the label of every item I purchase and can't imagine not doing so.
Some of the more obvious things that we do to avoid dyes:
- only 100% juice (when we buy it, which isn't often. Though you'd be surprised what you find in even "100% juice." It's rarely juice + water. I try to only buy the Whole Foods brand small juice boxes). No Gatorade even though my kids ask for it.
- 100% juice/naturally dyed popsicles. There are just a couple mainstream options for this--Breyers Simply Fruit is one I think. Obvious other option is to make your own.
- No colored yogurts, fruit roll-ups, gummy snacks, etc. Alternatives: the same brand that makes fruit roll-ups makes a simply fruit one that I can sometimes find at Target that is not artificially colored; Annie's fruit bunnies; Stonyfield or Horizon yogurt tubes, but usually we just buy plain yogurt and mix in fruit puree or a touch of maple syrup.
- no Kraft mac n cheese. Only Annie's brand, if we buy it.
- they love "Cheetos" so we only buy the Trader Joe's one. Usually, though, chips are Kettle brand organic potato chips. Also corn or blue corn chips if they are made with non-GMO corn. Kettle brand now makes flavored Dorito-like chips called Tias.
- I only buy a couple types of cereal. Most cereals are totally out of the question for us because of sugar content and not being mostly whole-grain. Talking just about coloring though, Trader Joe's makes 'Fruit Loops' type cereal that is naturally dyed. (I'll occasionally mix that into a trail mix or as a treat on a long trip...sweet cereal is never an option for breakfast at our house.)
- I will only buy candy that is colored naturally, but if they get candy elsewhere it is ok with me if they have it (same with frosting). Trader Joes candy is good for this, or Yummy Earth lollipops (available in bulk on Amazon, sometimes on incredible sale).
- Vitamins with natural dyes and only dye-free medicines when possible. We buy vitamins at Whole Foods.
The non-obvious stuff is that food dye is in some white and egg (yellow) bread/rolls, is in some vanilla ice cream at fast-food restaurants (Chik Fil A ice cream for example), etc.
For the most part, my goal has been to get them used to the muted colors of naturally colored foods as early as possible so that they consider that the "norm."
There is some good info here: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/201...ial-food-dyes/