Using the Feingold Diet
by Rama Gehris
(St. Mary's County, MD)
My family has used the Feingold program (feingold.org) to help with ADD and other issues for the last 11 years. I would like to share some common FAQs about it after a short introduction.
The Feingold program has been used successfully since the 1970s by thousands of people. It is an elimination program which cuts out the following things: artificial colors (dye), artificial flavors, the preservatives BHA, BHT and TBHQ, artificial sweeteners and synthetic fragrances from foods, personal care and household products. Some foods are also eliminated temporarily and are reintroduced to determine whether they are a problem. The above additives are never reintroduced.
FAQs I heard over years of sharing this information with others:
1. How hard is it?
A lot easier than dealing with the behavior!
2. How does it work?
You sign up for their materials which include a book listing additive free foods and products, fast food choices and a mail order and supplement guide. There is a cost, but keep in mind that the Feingold Association is a non-profit and needs to cover their costs. Some "scholarship" money is available for those who cannot afford membership.
3. Why do I have to sign up for materials when I can just read labels?
You don't, but keep the following in mind: Labels can be confusing. Preservatives are not required to be listed on labels and can be hidden in oils, vitamin A, or sprayed on packing materials. Unless you sign up for the materials or contact manufacturers you can't be sure. That being said, reading labels and avoiding some additives is better than nothing, but don't expect as good results as the preservatives can be a significant issue and they can't be avoided by label reading. Also, there is the issue of some foods (too long to explain here, please see the Feingold Association web site - the foods information is free on the web-site).
4. Do I have to cook from scratch?
No. The Feingold book lists thousands of processed food choices. Information about processed foods and restaurants ingredients is also available on the web.
5. Does it eliminate sugar, wheat, or dairy?
No. (my family just toasted marshmallows today!)
6. Where do I shop?
Your grocery store contains a lot of acceptable choices.
7. Do I have to change the way I eat?
No. You can eat all the same foods, you just need to change brands.
8. Why are you telling me about this?
My family's life was literally changed from a nightmare into normal in days thanks to eliminating additives (main effects were from dye, imitation vanilla and preservatives but other things have made a difference as well). I feel privileged to be able to share this with you and hope sincerely that dietary changes can make a difference to you and your family. A neighbor initially told me about it and I am very grateful that she was bold enough to share. BTW recall that Feingold is a non-profit, so I don't get any commissions or recognition. I hope that even if you choose not to sign up for the program, that paying more attention to general nutrition and food additives in particular will help you. The suggestions contained in this web-site will be very helpful in addition to petroleum based additives.