Feingold diet removes many food additives and other chemicals from the diet. Feingold diet was designed by Dr. Ben F. Feingold in the 1970s. Dr. Feingold studied allergy in children and set up all of Northern California’s allergy services for Kaiser Foundation hospitals and the permanent medical group.
Dr. Feingold’s diet is generally applied to children, but can also be effective in adults. It aims to remove substances that some people believe are responsible for attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). According to the US Feingold Association, it can also be effective in reducing or eliminating impulsivity, compulsive disorder, lack of restraint, disruptive, violent, unpredictable or destructive behavior. It could also be used to treat the habits of “workaholics”, the habit of chewing on any object, depression, the frequent urge to cry, irritability, anxiety, lack of self-esteem mood swings, impatience, inattention, inability to follow instructions, poor muscle coordination, speech difficulties, tics, fits and difficulties with comprehension. The association says it can help address physical problems such as ear infections, asthma, enuresis and constipation, as well as sleep disorders such as unwillingness to go to bed, difficulties with falling asleep and nightmares.
Feingold diet advantages
- A balanced diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables is good for children. Because Dr. Feingold’s diet excludes many artificial additives, it limits the amount of processed foods consumed, which he replaces with a more balanced diet based on whole foods.
- According to the American Feingold Association, it is able to improve the symptoms of ADD and ADHD as well as other physical, psychological and sleep disorders.
What are the risks and what precautions should be taken?
- There is concern, however, that children will lack vitamins and nutrients, especially during the first phase of the diet, which limits many healthy fruits such as apples, oranges and grapes.
- Families find that following Dr. Feingold’s diet takes a lot of time. It is necessary to take the time to learn all the rules of the diet and to identify the various prohibited food additives.
- Children must learn to identify foods that can be consumed and to read the labels. They should also be able to explain to other children as well as to adults who offer them food (such as the parents of their friends) that certain foods are prohibited.
- It may be desirable to show some tips to help children explain to their friends and classmates why they are dieting without causing them embarrassment or trauma. Parents may wish to discuss the plan with teachers and caregivers
- Some parents are concerned that following such a strict diet will make their child feel different from others. Children do not like to feel or look different from others, and some of them may not understand why they cannot eat sweets or have to eat home-cooked meals.
- People who followed this diet during their childhood also indicate that children who succumb to temptation find themselves in a very delicate position.
How it works?
Dr. Feingold’s plan is to remove all forms of food additives and chemicals that (according to plan members) are supposed to cause various disorders and illnesses, most commonly attention deficit disorders. The diet consists of two phases: the first phase consists of eliminating all undesirable foods, and the second phase of reintroducing them one by one to identify what can be consumed without causing symptoms.
Dr. Feingold’s diet removes four major groups of food additives and other chemicals:
- The first includes all artificial colors. These dyes are often made from petroleum products, and some people think they cause hyperactivity. Food products containing artificial colors (which are often the favorite food of children) are strictly prohibited.
- The second group includes artificial flavors. The Feingold Association believes that many of these additives have not been studied extensively and may cause undesirable behavior in children. Vanillin, an artificial vanilla aroma based on paper products, is of particular concern.
- Dr. Feingold’s diet removes Aspartame, an artificial sweetener primarily sold under the NutraSweet brand in the United States.
- It also removes all artificial preservatives. These preservatives are primarily intended to delay the oxidation of fat in foods. Fats become rancid as a result of oxidation, so these preservatives extend the shelf life of foods.
The first phase of the diet removes many salicylates, which can still be reintroduced during the second phase. Salicylates are chemical compounds, some of natural origin, related to aspirin. They are found in apples, berries, grapes, oranges, peaches, plums, mandarins and tomatoes.
What is a typical meal?
A typical phase 1 dinner may include:
- Baked chicken breast
- Carrot sticks with cream cheese.
What do the experts think?
- Dr. Feingold’s diet is extremely controversial. Since the 1970s, many experiments have been conducted to determine if it produced the results announced.
- The conclusions are mixed, and the studies are interpreted differently according to the protagonists.
- The Feingold Association of the United States lists various studies on its website and provides brief extracts or summaries of some of the evidence. The association relies on these studies to prove the effectiveness of the diet on most children.
- There has been no significant research on the ability of the plan to deal with issues that are not related to ADD or ADHD.
- Many health professionals even doubt that the diet can treat children with ADD or ADHD.
- A common argument against the effectiveness of the diet is the fact that there may be other causes for the improvement seen in children following the diet.
- Since the diet is extremely complex and requires close monitoring of everything the child is eating (as well as exposure to other substances in soaps and perfumes), parents need to be considerably involved in their child life throughout the diet. In addition, parents need to know the Keys to a successful diet to learn them to their children.
- Another criticism of the effectiveness of the scheme is that behavioral changes are often reported by parents and are not confirmed by impartial outside observers.
- Many scientists believe that even if there are children who react negatively to the foods decried by Dr. Feingold, their percentage is tiny.
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