Feingold diet– Dr. Feingold maintained that children’s hyperactive behaviors could be controlled by removing two groups of foods from their diets: natural salicylates, artificial food coloring and flavoring. his diet also required the elimination of the food preservatives BHA and BHT, along with the flavor enhancer MSG. Salicylates are acidic substances found in a number of fruits and vegetables including apples, oranges, cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, and pickles. Food additives are found in most foods children like to eat, such as cereals, manufactured cakes, doughnuts, cookies, ice cream, puddings, candy, soft drinks, and over-the-counter drugs like aspirin, cough drops, even toothpaste. Ice cream, for example, can contain the same chemicals used in antifreeze and paint remover (egg substitute), killing lice (vanilla), and flammable fluids found in dyes, plastics and rubber (cherry flavour).
As you may have already guessed this diet does not go over big with children or parents. Reports have shown that approximately 80 per cent of the foods in supermarkets contain additives, 2,500 chemicals are used for flavoring, nutritional supplementation, and coloring, plus another 3,000 chemicals are used in preservatives. Keeping to the diet usually demands a complete restructuring of the family’s grocery list, as well as some drastic changes as to what appears on the dinner table every night.
Dr. Feingold also recommended strongly for the whole family to go on the diet, since it wasn’t fair for the child to be eating special food, while everyone else gets regular food. As well, he advised that children and families follow the diet religiously–no cheating.
After a month or so, the foods from the salicylate group could be brought back one-at-a-time into children’s diets, as long as children did not show a reaction to them. Improvement in children’s behavior was expected after one to three weeks, but could take as long as seven weeks.
If you’d like more information on Dr. Feingold’s diet, read his book Why Your Child is Hyperactive, 1975. If you want an evaluation of the diet based on controlled research findings, read Food Additives and Hyperactive Children, by C. Keith Conners, 1980.