Back to Feingold Stage 1

After 5 years on the Feingold Diet, we are going back to stage 1.  Stage 1 is where you start at for the first 6 weeks of the diet and you eliminate high salicylate foods.  After the initial 6 weeks, you can add back in stage 2 items one at a time and watch for reactions.  Some people stay with stage 1, but most can add in at least some stage 2 foods. 

The foods eliminated in stage 1 are certain fruits, vegetables, and some spices.  The ones that we continued to eliminate because of obvious reactions were apples, grapes, and berries.  When my kids had even a small amount of these fruits they became very aggressive, huge tantrums, crying, etc. for my younger ones.  When my son was 2, he would bite, hit, get very hyper and aggressive.  I was called to get him out of the nursery two weeks in a row, before I figured out it was from sals he was eating for breakfast.  Not been called since.  He’s now 3, and definitely gets aggressive and hyper still if he has sals.  He used to bite up to 50 times a day.  Not kidding.  I couldn’t leave him alone for a second or he’d be biting his sister.  He also gets this way from soy.  For my 9 year old, he gets really annoying, hyper, and irritable. These are common reactions.  However, in time, some kids are able to better tolerate salicylates in small amounts once they’ve been off of them for a while.  We reserve stage 2 treats for special occassions. 

Since we had to go GFCF, and eliminate many other foods due to allergy, I kind of let up on the salycilate restrictions.  However, now I am seeing that we need to get back to stage 1, at least for a trial period.  For convenience, I was letting my son have Wild Berry Acai Back to Nature pop tarts for breakfast.  These also contain corn syrup which I know he typically reacts to, but I think it was also the sal’s.  His teacher said he was sometimes moody, and I noticed he had been annoying kids a lot by getting right in their faces, etc.

My daughter had to start the low oxalate diet and she stopped having accidents during the day.  Most of the fruits eliminated on LOD are also high sal, so I wondered if there was a connection.  They allow apples on LOD so we tried those for a while, but those proved fatal.  Major tantrums.  They allow cucumbers on LOD though, and we grew them in our garden this summer.  She ate a cucumber almost every day all summer.  She also happened to have a lot of tantrums this summer as well, and I just discovered that cucumbers are high sal.  She eats tons of tomato products which are also high oxalate, but we do them anyway since we are so limited.  She likes salsa, spaghetti, tons of ketchup on everything.  So, last week, I started eliminating most of the high sal’s including tomatoes.  She did have a little ketchup.  She has been noticably calmer, and get this – for the first time in 6 years, she has woken up dry for several days!  She has also stopped having frequent bathroom trips.  She used to have accidents a lot.  When we started LOD, that stopped but she still went to the bathroom a lot.  Now, she is going at a more normal rate.  Could also be from the pulling of tomatoes which are high oxalate, but yea!  I’m not sure what the connection between high oxalates and high sal’s are, but the two are similar, with a few exeptions like cucumbers which are high sal but low oxalate.   I will have to draw up a list and find out what’s left for her to eat.  πŸ™‚  Fun.  I’ll have to test out cucumbers later and see if she reacts.

Here are some other common reactions to sal’s:  Reddening of the ears or face, depression, moodiness, meanness, grouchiness, mood swings, irritability, chronic fatigue, mental and physical sluggishness, upset stomach, bladder incontinence, night wetting, eye muscle disorders, short attention span, inability to concentrate, poor self image, fidgety, temper flare ups (tantrums), distractibility. 

On the FG boards, the reactions to high sal’s reported most often are tantrums, aggressiveness, and red ears.  The most common culprits are apples, berries (especially strawberries), and grapes.  I would agree.  For me, I get extreme fatigue from oranges and possibly strawberries.  It’s the strangest thing.  I could just about fall asleep anywhere after eating them and I have no energy whatsoever.  I’ve also heard of dark circles and bags under the eyes from high sal’s and phenols (phenols are similar to sal’s).  (If dark circles are not eliminated from a low sal diet, then they are likely caused by gluten and/or dairy.  It is for us.  Dark circles are not simply hereditary, though food sensitivities are.  Have you ever noticed that Italians often have dark circles under their eyes?  Could it be that they typically eat a lot of pasta (gluten) and tomato products (high salicylate)? – I’m part Italian by the way.)

Here is a partial list of some stage 1 foods that are low sal (this is just a list of what my daughter might eat.  There are more, but some are things like bamboo shoots and sorrel – ?  What in the world is sorrel?  And I’m pretty sure my daughter’s not going to be eating bamboo shoots any time soon).  πŸ™‚

Low Salicylate:  Pears, lemons, limes, watermelon, honeydew, pomegranite, passion fruit, mango, kiwi, papaya, pumpkin.  Veggies:  Asparagus, brussel sprouts, broccolli, cauliflower, green beans, onion, peas, sweet potato, carrots, etc.  Nuts:  Cashews, pecans, sunflower seeds.   Maple syrup.   Long list of spices.

Medium Salicylate:  Bananas, cantalope, canned pineapple (not fresh), grapefruit, white potato, etc.

High Sal:  Peanuts, honey, molasses, guava, dates, zucchini, olives, etc. Spices:  Cayenne, rosemary, dill, ginger.

Foods completely eliminated on stage 1 are:  Apples, apricots, berries (including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.), cherries, currants, grapes, raisins, nectarines, oranges, peaches, plum, prunes, tangerines, cucumbers, pickles, peppers, tomatoes, and almonds.   Spices completely eliminated include cloves, oil of wintergreen, red pepper, paprika, and chili powder.

You can eat freely from the low sal list, eat less frequently from the medium sal list, and test the high sal list.  Sals can have a build up effect as well.  You may not react right away from eating them, but if you eat them frequently, you may suddenly have a build up reaction.

For a complete list, you will get that in your membership materials from Feingold on page 50-57 of the blue book.  There is a list out there on the Internet but it varies from Feingold’s list and I trust FG’s list.  It has been tested and found valid over and over by its members.  The membership fee if around $75 for the first year.  If you want to renew, it’s around $39 a  year.  Well worth it in my opinion.  They have researched all of the ingredients with the companies, and will list out for you which products are stage 1 or 2, and what hidden ingredients they might have.  If you call the company (and who has time for that?), you will likely get someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about, and will give you false information anyway.  FG gets it in writing from those in the company who really know and can’t plead ignorance when giving out false information.  I called on the Natural Cheetos once and asked if it contained corn syrup.  The woman read the ingredients off and said, “No, it doesn’t say corn syrup anywhere.”  Thank you.  I can read too.  It did however contain dextrose which is another name for corn syrup.  We were just starting FG and I didn’t know there were other names for corn syrup and they were a new product so hadn’t been updated in FG’s shopping guide yet.   So, swallow your pride, and if you have the money, just order the materials.  I do understand if someone can’t afford it right now, and that is also why I post here about it.  I wish they offered it for free to all, but really you are paying for the shopping guide and basically a couple books worth of information, and a message board of “live support” 24/7.   I don’t think I could have done the diet (properly) without the help of the women on the board.  I learned way more from the boards than from all the materials combined, though they are necessary.  But, when you have a pressing question, and you don’t feel like searching through your materials, just post it on the board.  It is very active, and nearly every question gets an answer.  It really is worth every penny if you are willing to do the work and follow through with the diet. 

So what in the world are salicylates?  They are the natural chemicals that plants produce to keep away bugs and diseases.  Some fruits and veggies produce more sals than others.  In most instances, the thinner the skin, the more sal content.  For example, berries are high sal and watermelon is low sal.  Watermelon has a much thicker skin, and therefore the sal content of the melon that we eat is lower.  This isn’t always the case as you look at the list.  It is hard to test the sal content of foods, which is why Feingold has developed their list of sal contents based largely on its members reactions, and it has proven successful.   Artificial colors and flavors are a form of “salicylate radicals”, which cause some of the same reactions as naturally occuring salicylates found in fruits and vegetables.   The most common reaction to radical salicylates are hyperactivity and all symptoms associated with ADHD, and then some. 

So why do so many God-given fruits and vegetables cause such adverse reactions in so many of our kids?  That’s what I’d like to know!  πŸ™‚  That’s the first question I’m going to ask God when I get to heaven and they have a little Q&A time.   What’s the deal with salicylates?  (That and how in the world do you effectively fight yeast?)   Maybe it’s part of the curse of Eve eating the apple.  πŸ™‚  Apples are probably the worst reaction causing salicylates.  Here’s my opinion in case you wanted to know.  No scientific evidence for any of this, but I believe the Bible when it says that God created everything and he saw that it was good. The Bible also says that he has given us every good thing to eat.  I believe part of the problem with high sals has something to do with the rampant use of pesticides by farmers.   I believe that the fruits do need those sals to keep bugs off of them which is quite ingenious of God to create them with that “inborn” characteristic, but I think the amount of salicylate chemicals that plants are producing today has increased because of pesticides.  I have two theories.  (I have thought about this alot b/c I can’t stand that my kids can’t eat fruits.  I have a juicer for crying out loud!  So bear with me.)  πŸ™‚   If the farmers are spraying these fruits with harsh chemical pesticides, I would think that maybe the plant is “thinking” that it is a foreign invader like a bug or disease, and it produces more salicylates to try to ward it off. 

If farmers are using pesticides, that means that bugs will not go near those fruits, right?  Do the bugs just die or dissappear?  No, they search elsewhere for their “food.”  We planted some apple trees in our back yard (I know, stupid us.  We should have planted pear trees.), and we have an organic garden every summer and we have to worry about bugs and how to rid them naturally.  If the bugs can’t eat the pesticide sprayed conventional fruits, where do they go? To the organic farms and backyard home gardener? I think the organic farmers are seeing more bugs than they normally would if other fruits weren’t sprayed, and therefore the organic crops are producing more salicylates.  So, that would explain why both conventional and organic would both be producing a high amount of salicylates. 

I know organic farms use all natural forms of pesticides that are not harmful. We have used concoctions like red pepper, garlic, onion, and chili powder, etc. to ward off bugs. It doesn’t work as well, but it helps. This year, there have been droves and droves of Japanese beetles in our neighborhood and literally everywhere.  My grandma told me that she has never seen bugs this bad.  She said when she was raising her family 50 years ago and grew lots of produce, they never had such bugs and never had to worry about keeping them off.   Coincidence?  I think not.  The heavy use of pesticides is fairly new – as in the last 30-40 years I believe.  If you are growing your own garden, you are not going to be using the same highly toxic chemical pesticides they use on farms most likely.  They require complete body suits and masks to apply the stuff and I don’t think they’re using stuff you can find at Home Depot.   Also, if you are buying non-organic seeds for your garden, those seeds probably are passing on the same now inborn characteristic of high salicylate tendencies because of the pesticides used on the previous plant that the seed came from.  This makes me wonder if eating only organic fruits would eliminate the problem.  A few parents have said that their kids can eat organic strawberries, but not conventional.  However, that begs the question, are they reacting to the pesticides or the salicylates?

My other theory is that our bodies are so overburdened with chemicals and toxins that even the introduction of natural chemicals found in salicylates is too much for the body to handle any more.  I know of a few parents whose kids are now able to handle all kinds of foods that they previously could not tolerate or were allergic to, and once they detoxed and removed toxins from the diet and environment, their kids are now able to tolerate all foods.  Some of those toxins are likely from vaccinations and pesticides.  Even if you don’t  even eat high sal foods, you are exposed to toxins and pesticides because the pesticides they use get emitted into the air, and run off into the sewer, and get into our water supply.  Yummy.   Pesticides from the sink.  Even treated water (meaning bottled water, not treated by your local water treatment plant) usually doesn’t remove all of the toxins.  We are lucky enough to be surrounded by corn fields and farms.  Corn crops are sprayed in June when most kids are outside playing or sleeping with the windows open.  Some parents can note reactions in their kids on the days when pesticides or mosquito repellants are sprayed.   So much for living out in the country away from the smog and pollution of Chicago.  We just traded it for pesticides. 

Here’s my third theory.  The fruits and vegetables grown today have changed so much from when God first gave them to us.  This by ways of GMO crops – Genetically Modified Organisms.  Man has taken what God gave us, and genetically altered its DNA in a laboratory to come up with a seed that produces more fruit or more effectively -meaning it can yield a larger harvest.  Corn is the biggest GMO in the U.S.  We don’t yet know the effects of eating GMO foods, so its best to avoid them whenever possible, which is hard when nearly everything contains corn syrup, corn starch, or other corn derivative.  The only way to avoid it is to buy all organic and virtually never eat out.  I don’t believe that God would

Oh, I also have a fourth theory (I told you I’ve though about this a lot.) πŸ™‚  With the modernization of today’s transportation system (planes, trains, and automobiles), we have the ability to ship fruits and vegetables across the country and world.  Think about the 1800’s.  If you lived in IL, you wouldn’t be eating any oranges.  They don’t grow here and the oranges would spoil before they got to IL from FL by the Pony Express.  So, people ate whatever grew in the region that they lived in.  Also, for example if you did live in IL, crops were harvested only one time per season.  So, you’d have corn and cucumbers and beans, etc . in the summer months when they in season.  You didn’t eat them all year round because most people didn’t have freezers like we do today or the ability to buy virtually any fruits and veggies year round like we do today.  We can get oranges out of season from Australia because their seasons are opposite ours and we have airplanes to ship it here quickly.  Fruits have the longest list of high salicylate foods.  The highest sals are a lot of the sweetest fruits as well, which is why so many of our kids love them.  Fruits are high in natural sugar and often referred to as nature’s candy.  I don’t believe God probably intended us to eat a lot of fruits all year long.  That may be part of the problem.  Overindulgence.  I’ve read that in many areas of the world, and in the U.S. many years ago, fruits were not eaten regularly because of the fact that they just weren’t readily available because of harvest times being only one quarter of the year.  Think of the dozens of fruits that we have available to us today every day.  Maybe our bodies weren’t designed to handle all of those salicylates every day.  And if you don’t eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies, go read the labels on some of your processed foods.  Likely, there is apple juice, grape juice or the like in the ingredients.

When we first started FG, I had a problem with removing the fruits. I thought, God gave us fruits and they are supposed to be good for us, and now you’re telling me that I have to tell my child that he can’t have the only fruits he eats? I reluctanly removed the apple juice and berries for the first few weeks. The only reason I did not add them back in at that time was because of the reactions he had when he ate them. As he has gotten older, he has been able to handle them better, but still has some issues with them, so we only do limited stage 2. My younger ones react much more and as I am finding out, maybe more than I thought.  So, I will have to re-vamp my recipes once again and search for stage 1 Feingold, GFCF+, low oxalate recipes that my kids will eat.  πŸ™‚  Wish me luck!

Related Posts:

2009 Feingold Shopping List

3-Day Trial of the Feingold Diet

For a list of food products with pictures, visit my new blog: 
For Feingold recipes, visit my recipe blog:
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 out in March, 2013!

Written by Sheri Fortes - Visit Website

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

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  1. Thank you for sharing about the Feingold program. I've been researching food allergies and intolerances since our new doctor suggested my 10month old's eczema might be related to a food allergy. She suggested Dairy and Wheat, but after trying dairy free for two weeks and not seeing any improvement, I really don't think that's it. I have eczema too. It started when I was pregnant with my oldest and craved oranges (I would eat them daily and before this I never ate a lot of fresh fruit). Now after much research, I'm thinking salicylates might be the trigger. It might be the trigger to my daughters behavior issues too. She tends to be crabby and irritable most of the time, sometimes crying "just because" (she's almost 3).

    Anyway all that to say thanks for this post. I have been debating whether or not to invest in the Feingold program or the Fed Up program (Sue Dengate). Today I found a lot more information on the internet about sals and amines, and all that, and thought "hey I could do this." But as you pointed out (thank you) the lists online and the list of the Feingold program are different (for example the list on said that Bananas were low in sals and watermelon was high). I think I'd rather go with the list that has greater research behind it.
    Thank you for helping me make up my mind!

    Ps. I'm a sister in Christ!

  2. Hi, I just found your blog and wanted to ask you a question, some background, first: We are a foster/adopt family, and have adopted a little boy that was born addicted to heroin. We were his third foster home, and he wasn't quite six months old when we got him. He's always had tantrums, but lately, they have turned into rages, and happen several times a day. The man at the health food store, and then our doctor suggested Autism. We haven't gotten an official diagnoses yet, we will take him to the Child Study Center here in Fort Worth. In the meantime, I've been researching, and decided to do the Feingold diet. I bought the materials yesterday, of course they haven't arrived yet, but I've been trying to follow the diet as best I can since Monday, and remarkably, he has only had one tantrum all week, and his biological sister, who we adopted too, hasn't wet the bed all week!!
    Anyway, we see his biological grandmother sometimes and she wants us to go to McDonald's next week with her. Before I say no, I wondered if there was ANYTHING safe for my son to eat there?

  3. Hi, Just happened upon your site. I'm just starting Feingold, and we are currently doing (or trying to do) LOD, and we are also GFCF. If you have your recipes on the computer, or even just a menu you are following, I would love for you to share it with me πŸ˜‰ Right now I am spending too much (no real shopping list/no meal planning) and meals are fairly boring. πŸ˜‰ I am going to try a few of the recipes on but there are just a few there! Thanks. Email is bellbaby at gmail if you can help. Otherwise I will do what I can hehe.

    PS Berries have my kids berserk today. We actually are not following FG until Thursday, first day of summer vacation… that is why they had an infraction… but without apple juice this past week, they have been super nice.

  4. Thank you for all the Feingold information. I let my son have an apple to test his reaction. I warned my husband ahead of time. We both noticed that my son got so hyper and started making a lot of autistic vocalazations.
    I'm bummed we can't have apples in the house anymore.
    I was watching the Doctors show and one of the doctors (the pediatrician) said he tells people to have an apple in the afternoon for energy. He said it works just as well if not better than a cup of coffee. If an apple is better than a cup of coffee, no wonder my son gets so hyper.

  5. Pingback: 3-Day Trial of the Feingold Diet – All Natural Mom

  6. Is there a definitive list of salicylate in foods? I noticed that you list watermelon as low and elsewhere it’s listed as very high?

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