What Is the Feingold Diet?

When I tell people I’ve just published a book on the Feingold Diet, the first question I’m often asked is, “What is the Feingold Diet?” 

What I want to say is “Feingold was a life saver for our family! It changed my son’s behavior in 2 days! His behavior was like night and day! I wish I could tell everyone about the Feingold Diet!”

But for a more scientific explanation here is an excerpt from my new book, “All Natural Mom’s Guide to the Feingold Diet – A Natural Approach to ADHD and Other Related Disorders”: 

“The Feingold Diet is best known as an ADHD diet. However, it has also been shown to help a variety of other issues as well including autism, learning disabilities, sleep disorders, allergies, asthma, Tourette Syndrome, hives, eczema, bed wetting, and more.1 On this diet, we eliminate all artificial colors (dyes) like red #40, yellow #5, and blue #1 to name a few.

Feingold also eliminates artificial flavors and certain preservatives such as BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene), TBHQ (Tertiary Butylhydroquinone), and BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole). Feingold also addresses the issue of salicylates in stage one of the diet. Salicylates are the natural chemicals that plants produce to ward off bugs and diseases. They are found in many fruits and other foods and can cause many adverse reactions. 2

With the Feingold Diet, you begin at stage one. During this time, you will stay away from all high salicylate foods. After seeing at least six to eight weeks of positive results (some members call this reaching “baseline”), you can add in one new stage two food at a time to see if your child reacts (more on this in chapter five). Below is a picture of some stage one fruits (taken from Feingold’s web site). 

The Feingold Association has compiled an over 400-page food list (specific to several different regions of the country) that details which foods are free of these harmful chemicals. 

They contact manufacturers to find out exactly what is in the foods that we eat, and also list out which foods are stage one and stage two. They are constantly updating the shopping guide as new foods come on the scene and as food ingredients change. To receive the shopping guide and all the information on how to follow the diet properly, there is a yearly membership fee (currently starting at $69 for the first year – more on this in later chapters).

(See my post entitled, “Is a Feingold Membership Worth the $83?“)

Many Feingold members also choose to eliminate corn syrup, as they have noticed it causes behavioral issues in their kids. Corn syrup is not considered an “unaccepted” ingredient on the Feingold Diet, but the organization does specify which foods in their shopping guide contain corn syrup so it is easy to avoid. They also specify which foods contain MSG, nitrates, and a few other things that some people may react to or choose to avoid for health reasons.

The Feingold Diet opened my eyes to the fact that food has a tremendous impact on our behavior and health. Since becoming established on the Feingold Diet, we have done many diets for many reasons: food allergies, autism, seizures, Tourette Syndrome, yeast overgrowth, meltdowns, and digestive problems. Currently, the main diets we follow are Feingold, GFCF, and the low oxalate diet, which is similar to a Feingold stage one diet.

Each diet promises to cure you of something or to provide optimum health if you follow it. I have learned that there is no one diet that is the cure for everyone. Each person is different and there may be one diet that works well for one person, and another that works well for another person. This is likely because many of the diets address and fix one main problem.

Feingold is best known for addressing the issues of hyperactivity and the inability to concentrate, but it does not address the problem of yeast overgrowth. GFCF is best known as a diet for autism. 3 However, you could be following the GFCF diet correctly and still be eating dyes. I have learned to glean and implement parts of the above diets into our family’s diet, but the one factor that is constant among any diet that is meant to restore health and eliminate unwanted behaviors and symptoms is the avoidance of the harmful additives that are eliminated on the Feingold Diet.

Sometimes people ask me which diet they should do for their child, GFCF or Feingold. I believe a diet free of dyes, artificial flavors, and certain preservatives (which is Feingold stage two) should be the foundation of any other diet. If you do not remove these toxins, you are skipping a very important step in the process of healing and health.

Do you have to purchase the Feingold program and follow it 100 percent? Not everyone needs to, but I will discuss that more in later chapters. However, I do believe that everyone can make better choices if they are informed.”

So, in summary, the Feingold Diet is a diet free of dyes, artificial flavors, and certain preservatives. There are two stages. In stage one, you will also eliminate foods high in salycilates. After reaching baseline, you can test back in those high sal foods to see if your child can handle them or not. Most people end up staying mostly stage one, doing stage two foods in moderation, but everyone is different. 

Can you do the diet on your own without purchasing a membership? You can but I wouldn’t want to. Feingold takes the guesswork out of it for you and provides you a shopping list with all of the approved foods. They also provide a ton of support via their Members Only Facebook group. 
For more info on the Feingold Diet or to purchase a membership, go to www.feingold.org. 

Related Post:

6 Steps to Starting the Feingold Diet for ADHD

For recipes and tips on how to do the Feingold Diet, follow my All Natural Mom blog, Facebook page, or Pinterest boards
For an insider’s view on the Feingold Diet, and tips and encouragement in getting started, check out my new book, “All Natural Mom’s Guide to the Feingold Diet” now available on Amazon in e-book and paperback! 

Hear what others have to say about my new book:

THIS BOOK I ABSOLUTELY LOVED! The Feingold Diet can be EXTREMELY OVERWHELMING and quite confusing. This book walks you through it step by step reminding you to just breathe the entire time…If you or anyone you know is considering the Feingold Diet, I cannot suggest strongly enough to GET THIS BOOK!!! It talks about how to start the diet and gives many suggestions on how to go through the process. She even shares recipes! I am a research-aholic and in my opinion this is THE BEST Feingold resource ever!”

-Dawn, mother of 2

(Check out Dawn’s full review of “All Natural Mom’s Guide to the Feingold Diet” over on Guiding Light Homeschool’s blog.)

I cannot rave enough about this book! Sheri Davis covers all bases in understanding what the Feingold Diet is about and how to get started. We started the Feingold Diet about two years ago. It was Ms. Davis’ blog, “All Natural Mom” that was a complete life saver for me. It helped me transition to 100% Feingold which is the exact purpose of this book. If you’re looking for a book regarding the Feingold Diet, look no further. This book sums up everything you need to know about the program and gives delicious recipes as well! I highly recommend this book!”

-Jennifer, mother of 1


      1. “Dyes in Your Food.” www.feingold.org. Feingold Association of the United States. Accessed at http://www.feingold.org/Research/dyesinfood.htm

2.  Feingold, Ben. “The Role of Diet in Behaviour.” Ecology of Disease, 1982; 1 (2-3):153-65. Accessed at http://www.feingold.org/bio-medjournals.html.
      3. “Symptoms That May Be Helped By the Feingold Program.” www.feingold.org. Feingold Association of the United States. Accessed at http://www.feingold.org/symptoms.php
      4. “Salicylates.” Food Intolerance Network. www.fedup.com.au. Accessed athttp://fedup.com.au/factsheets/additive-and-natural-chemical-factsheets/salicylates

Written by Sheri Fortes - Visit Website

Author of "All Natural Mom's Guide to the Feingold Diet"

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The Treating ADHD Naturally Conference is coming back to Chicago May 23, 2018! More details coming soon at www.mothersdetermined.com.

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