The concept of Feingold diet was proposed in 1973 by Benjamin Feingold, a consulting pediatrician and allergist, as a diet based plan for ADHD treatment. He proposed that the additives used in processed foods, especially artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives and salicylates induced hyperactivity in sensitive children and adults. Therefore, he recommended that people suffering from ADHD should follow a diet and lifestyle that is devoid of these preservatives, in order to improve their condition. There are many die hard followers of this diet plan and they swear that this diet also helps in alleviating conditions like asthma, bedwetting, ear and eye infection, sleep disorders and seizures.
There are other approaches that are followed for treating ADHD. These include pharmaceutical drugs, natural medicines for ADHD, behavioral therapy and other natural remedies for ADHD. But the Feingold diet plan has gained a lot of publicity over the years and has gained credibility as an efficient natural remedy for ADHD. Its success has led to the establishment of the Feingold Association of United States (FAUS) that has local chapters across the country. It also publishes regular newsletters to educate people about the diet, its benefits and other developments in the area of ADHD.
Following the Feingold diet plan requires a change in the eating habits and lifestyle of the family. The Food List and Shopping Guide published by FAUS lists out the over-the-counter drugs and products like toothpaste, cough drops, mouthwash and the like that parents should desist from buying. The Feingold diet recommends a two stage plan. The first stage consists of eliminating products that contain artificial color and flavor, antioxidants like TBHQ, BHA and BHT and salicylates. If an improvement is noticed within four to six weeks, some products can be reintroduced, one at a time. As per the Feingold association, children below six years of age can be expected to show signs of improvement within one week of starting the diet whereas it may take up to six weeks for children above six years of age to show a positive response. Some of the foods that should be avoided are almonds, apples, berries, grapes, coffee, tea, cucumber, tomatoes, raisins oranges and peaches. It is safe to consume bananas, breads (without additives), cabbage, dairy products, fresh fish, eggs, peas, potato and cereals (without additives). As per the Feingold Association, a successful response to the diet requires 100 percent compliance and the slightest violation can lead to an adverse response that can last for up to three days or more.
Though many parents who have tried this plan have reported improvement in the condition of their children, as is true of any concept, there are people who have raised doubts over the efficacy of this diet. Their criticism is based on the results of certain carefully designed clinical experiments, which have failed to support the idea that additives are responsible for symptoms of ADHD in the majority of children. But given that the Feingold diet does not have any side effects on the health of the person following the plan, it is worth trying. Who knows it might actually work positively in your case.