We've been eating completely dye free since February 2014 now. When I say we, I guess I really mean just me, since my husband and son have both slipped up occasionally since then. When Elliott does, it's pretty obvious fairly quickly because it really changes his behavior, and definitely not in a good way. My husband doesn't notice much of a difference, but is pretty good about sticking with dye free, because he knows that dye is bad news, plus it causes a pretty uncomfortable reaction for me.
I started having bad headaches nearly every day in late January. Then by the end of the first week of February I was breaking out in hives on a fairly regular basis as well. After keeping close track of everything I was eating and drinking, we decided to try eliminating all artificial dyes that say color number __. The hives completely cleared up and I didn't have a headache for several days. Just to make sure that the dye really was the issue, I tried eating something with red number 40 again, and immediately had a terrible headache and hives all over. I haven't had red 40, blue 1, yellow 5 or yellow 6 since, except once in a cross contamination issue. So after that, we got rid of every single thing at our house that had any of those colors and haven't looked back since!
Within about a week of going dye free, Elliott's teacher asked him what had changed since he was being SOO good. Within 2 weeks, other teachers were even commenting! I think in the last 3 months of the school year, Elliott had 4 or 5 yellow days combined. While he was still eating dye, he would average 2 a week.
At first we had a little trouble eating dye free. As time has gone on, we've discovered that we don't really miss too many foods that have artificial dye after all, though. It just took us a while to check automatically for food dyes. We miss M&Ms, Mountain Dew, Kraft macaroni and cheese, and Doritos. Since those are all obviously junk food, it's better for us not to eat them anyway. Haha.
The removal of food dyes actually fairly closely coincided with our switch to more organic foods, too, though, so that made it easier to make the change. Organic food can't have artificial dyes anyway, so that made it easier. We knew we didn't have to switch away from anything organic, and were able to replace some of our old standbys with organic choices anyway. Like macaroni and cheese, we actually like Annie's better than Kraft now anyway! :)
Going dye free and eating healthier options has been so good for us in so many ways. I don't think we would go back now, even if I didn't have strong reactions. I only wish we would have tried it sooner!