The Feingold Diet Program for ADHD
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The Feingold DIet Program
Last update 11/3/2013
What is the Feingold Diet Program?
It's a test to determine if certain foods or food additives are triggering the problems you are seeing. It's both a diagnostic tool and a treatment.

Which foods and additives are likely to cause problems?

Several common fruits, some vegetables and a few other foods and medicines contain a kind of chemical (called salicylate) that are a problem for some people. There are some very long lists of salicylates on the internet that will confuse you; not all kinds of salicylate-containing foods are a problem. The Feingold list has been developed clinically; it is effective without being too restrictive. Moreover, the major offenders are several groups of artificial food additives:
  • Dyes such as Red 3, Red 40, Blue 1, Blue 2, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Green 3, and others used only in medicines and toiletries, such as Yellow 10 and Red 30. See E-numbers and names used in other countries
  • Artificial flavors (vanillin is a common one, but there are thousands of others just called "flavors")
  • Artificial sweeteners like aspartame (Equal) and sucrolose (Splenda).
  • Three preservatives: BHA, BHT and TBHQ

How do I run this test?

Handbook & Foodlist For several weeks you buy foods that are free of the problematic salicylates and additives listed above. You observe to see if there is a change in symptoms. Some people have seen improvement by eliminating ONLY Red 40, or Yellow 5. These two colors are very widely used food dyes, but we want you to have the best possible improvement. Eliminate them ALL during the trial.

How do I know which foods and brands are okay to use?

The Feingold Association provides this information. We research brand name products to be sure they don't have any of the foods or additives of concern

Can't I just read ingredient labels?

The FDA labeling laws, unfortunately, do not require labels to be complete -- or even accurate!

Because of loopholes in the law, reading labels doesn't always tell you when oil, shortening or packaging is preserved, when secondary ingredients (like sodium nitrite) contain food dyes, etc. A group of parents formed the Feingold Association (FAUS) because parents needed to know. They learned what to ask manufacturers, and have been doing this product information research for almost 40 years. To have its product accepted for the Feingold Foodlist & Shopping Guide, the manufacturer must fill out forms with complete information about ingredients, secondary ingredients, and wrappers. This information is regularly updated and passed on to our members via newsletters and email alerts.

What are the chances this will help me or my child?




There is a large body of research that shows the damaging effects certain food additives can have, and that removing them can help the majority of children. These chemicals can affect behavior, learning and health.

But more important, we have been successfully helping hundreds of thousands of families use this program since our nonprofit organization was formed in 1976.

Most of us are parents whose children have dramatically been helped and we donate our time to share information with other families. As we used the Feingold Program for our children we ourselves have also benefited.


How can one additive -- for example a food dye --
      affect so many different things such as behavior, learning and health?

Food dyes are synthesized from petroleum and are legally permitted to be contaminated with toxic byproducts that include lead, mercury and arsenic.

Different people have varying reactions to these harmful chemicals, depending on their individual biochemistry and genetics, and some people are more sensitive than others. More . . .

Will I have to give up the foods I enjoy?

No, aside from temporarily removing the foods listed above (some of the common fruits, etc.), you can continue to use most of your favorite foods. For example, the you would buy cookies, ice cream, mixes, convenience foods, cereals, etc., but you would select those versions that do not have the unwanted additives.

Will I have to shop in specialty stores or health food stores?

Most of the items you will use can be found in your neighborhood supermarket or discount store. Some hard-to-find items can be ordered online.

How can I learn more?