Dear Feingold Association Representative:
If you had told me as I earned an MBA that problems related to food coloring
and salicylates (suh lisí uh lates) would baffle me in a few years, I
wouldn't have believed you. Yet, baffle me they did.
As our first daughter, Annie, approached the age of one, she had eight ear
infections in six months. Her nose constantly ran and sometimes her eyes
dripped too. She ate a diet full of fresh vegetables and fruits. Therefore,
we blamed her illnesses on full-time day care. Little did we know that we
could stop the ear infections by getting rid of suspect foods, including
I had heard experts blame ear infections on allergies. Yet, the usual
suspects, such as milk, eggs, or corn, did not apply in our case. I didn't
know that the culprit hid in many foods and often failed to appear on food
labels, and that my child ate these foods daily!
We began to get a clue that it could be something in her diet when Annie
got hives at the age of 13 months. Our pediatrician suspected the synthetic
red food coloring in a holiday cake. Until then, we didnít know that food
coloring could affect anyone.
Tired of the ear infections, doctorís visits, antibiotics, and pain
relievers, I wanted answers. I followed my pediatricianís suggestions,
including preventative antibiotics. I visited a state-licensed herbalist who
prescribed herbs to boost her immune system and I added powdered vitamins to
her juice. A visit to an allergist didnít identify any allergies. The next
ear infection took longer to come, but come it did. The specialist
recommended ear tubes.
As I imagined Annie in a drug-induced sleep lying on a hospital bed while
they inserted ear tubes, I panicked. I scrambled to find natural
alternatives. A friend suggested something that had worked for her toddler
20 years earlier: the Feingold Diet. As Chief of Allergy at
Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco and a pediatrician, Dr.
Benjamin Feingold realized that eliminating certain foods helped many
I doubted it would help Annie. Yet, I had few options left, so I discussed
it with our pediatrician and we joined the Feingold Association. I emptied
our pantry of natural salicylates, food dyes, artificial flavors, and
preservatives. I couldnít believe how many boxes and cans had these
ingredients! I found it hard to cut out fruits and juices that Annie
loved. I hoped the changes would be worth it.
I focused on what we could eat, like bananas, pears, kiwi, and pineapples. I
began shopping at a store dedicated to providing natural foods. I read the
monthly newsletters and talked to other Feingold families. The changes got
From January through April, flu season, Annie did not get one ear
infection despite the fact that she remained in full-time day care. Amazed
that the diet worked, I slowly became a believer. We learned that she
reacted to salicylates in apples and tomatoes! We knew that salicylates in
aspirin could cause Reyes Syndrome ≠ a big no-no. However, little did we
know that natural salicylates could have the same effect. We learned how
many foods, including baby foods, contain these ingredients, and how food
coloring can mimic salicylates. We've learned more than I can write here.
We've been on the diet 5 Ĺ years. She stopped having chronic ear infections
when we started the diet. She has had less ear infections in the last 5 Ĺ
years than she had before our dietary changes. It's incredible how healthy
and calm my daughter stays, while some of her Kindergarten classmates need
to take ritalin to calm down. She makes wise food choices. She "cheats"
consciously. If she gets too much coloring or salicylates at a birthday
party, she knows she'll get a runny nose, wake up at 4:30 AM without being
able to return to sleep, and feel jittery. She knows that what she eats can
either make her feel good, or feel bad.
Daughter number two, Molly, came into the world with the benefit of the
diet. Even on the diet, she gets ear infections frequently, but they're not
chronic. No doctor has suggested ear tubes. In addition, when we let our 22
month old "cheat," she displays out-of-control behavior, aggression, and
We're committed to our diet. Thank you, Feingold, for giving us a place to
M.P., Richardson, Texas