The Feingold Diet: A Natural Approach to Managing Hyperactivity and Food Sensitivities

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Feingold Diet: 

The Feingold Diet is a topic of growing interest for those seeking a natural approach to managing hyperactivity and food sensitivities. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the ins and outs of the Feingold Diet, including its history, principles, and potential benefits. Whether you're a parent concerned about your child's behavior or an adult looking to improve your overall well-being, this article will provide you with valuable insights and practical information to help you decide if the Feingold Diet is right for you.

Discover the Feingold Diet, a natural solution for managing hyperactivity and food sensitivities in both children and adults.
Feingold Diet

Table of Contents

  • What is the Feingold Diet?

  • The History of the Feingold Diet

  • How Does the Feingold Diet Work?

  • Foods to Avoid on the Feingold Diet

  • Foods to Enjoy on the Feingold Diet

  • Success Stories and Benefits

  • Implementing the Feingold Diet

  • Common Questions About the Feingold Diet

  • Conclusion

What is the Feingold Diet?

The Feingold Diet, named after Dr. Benjamin Feingold, is a dietary program designed to eliminate artificial food additives, such as artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, as well as certain naturally occurring salicylates. It is primarily used to manage hyperactivity and food sensitivities, particularly in children with conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and autism. However, the diet is not limited to children and has been adopted by individuals of all ages seeking a more natural and holistic approach to their health.

The core principle of the Feingold Diet is to remove potentially harmful chemicals and compounds from the daily diet, with the belief that doing so can lead to improvements in behavior, attention, and overall well-being. This diet places a strong emphasis on the consumption of whole, unprocessed foods and the avoidance of processed and artificially flavored or colored products.

The History of the Feingold Diet

The Feingold Diet was developed by Dr. Benjamin Feingold, a pediatric allergist, in the 1970s. Dr. Feingold noticed a connection between the consumption of certain food additives and the onset or exacerbation of hyperactivity and behavioral issues in some children. His pioneering research led to the creation of the Feingold Diet, which aimed to remove these additives from the diet to manage such issues.

Dr. Feingold's work gained attention and controversy in equal measure, with some hailing it as a breakthrough in the treatment of hyperactivity and others remaining skeptical. Over the years, further research has both supported and challenged the diet's effectiveness, but it continues to be a topic of interest for many families and individuals looking for a natural approach to managing these issues.

How Does the Feingold Diet Work?

The Feingold Diet operates on the principle that certain food additives, particularly artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, can trigger hyperactivity and adverse reactions in some individuals. By eliminating these additives from the diet, the diet aims to alleviate the symptoms and improve behavior. The diet also restricts the consumption of high-salicylate foods, which are naturally occurring compounds found in various fruits, vegetables, and spices.

Key components of the Feingold Diet include:

Foods to Avoid on the Feingold Diet

1. Artificial colors: These are commonly found in candies, sodas, and processed snacks. Look out for terms like "Red 40," "Yellow 5," and "Blue 1" on food labels.

2. Artificial flavors: Artificial flavorings are often used in a wide range of processed foods. They can be listed simply as "artificial flavors" on ingredient lists.

3. Artificial preservatives: Ingredients like BHA and BHT (butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene) are synthetic preservatives to be avoided.

4. High-salicylate foods: Certain fruits (e.g., berries, apples, grapes), vegetables (e.g., tomatoes, peppers), and spices (e.g., cinnamon) contain natural salicylates and should be limited on the Feingold Diet.

5. Processed and fast food: These often contain a plethora of artificial additives, making them unsuitable for the Feingold Diet.

Foods to Enjoy on the Feingold Diet

1. Whole foods: Emphasize fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. These are naturally free from the artificial additives targeted by the diet.

2. Homemade meals: Preparing meals from scratch allows you to have full control over ingredients and ensure they align with the Feingold Diet's principles.

3. Reading labels: When purchasing packaged foods, carefully read labels to identify and avoid ingredients that are not compliant with the diet.

Success Stories and Benefits

Many individuals and families have reported positive outcomes after adopting the Feingold Diet. Some of the potential benefits include:

1. Improved behavior in children, particularly those with ADHD and autism.

2. Enhanced focus and attention, leading to better academic performance and daily functioning.

3. Reduced hyperactivity and impulsivity, resulting in more harmonious family life.

4. Better overall well-being, with some people reporting improvements in mood and emotional stability.

It's important to note that while these benefits have been observed anecdotally, individual responses to the diet can vary. Not everyone may experience the same degree of improvement, and the diet may not be a suitable solution for all individuals.

Implementing the Feingold Diet

Before embarking on the Feingold Diet, consider the following steps:

1. Consult with a healthcare professional: If you suspect that food additives are affecting your or your child's behavior, it's advisable to seek guidance from a healthcare provider.

2. Educate yourself: Familiarize yourself with the Feingold Diet's principles, food lists, and resources available to support your journey.

3. Plan your meals: Develop a meal plan that includes whole, unprocessed foods and eliminates those with artificial additives.

4. Read labels: When shopping for groceries, carefully read product labels to identify any prohibited ingredients.

5. Monitor progress: Keep a journal to track changes in behavior, mood, and overall well-being as you implement the diet.

6. Be patient: Results may not be immediate, and it can take time to see the full effects of the diet.

Common Questions About the Feingold Diet

1. Is the Feingold Diet suitable for adults?

Yes, the Feingold Diet is not limited to children and can be followed by adults seeking a more natural and additive-free diet. Some adults have reported improvements in focus and well-being when adhering to the diet.

2. How long does it take to see results on the Feingold Diet?

Individual responses vary, but some people report seeing improvements in behavior and well-being within a few weeks of starting the diet. It may take several months to fully assess the diet's effects.

3. Can the Feingold Diet completely replace medication for conditions like ADHD?

The Feingold Diet is not a substitute for prescribed medications. It is recommended to work with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment plan, which may include a combination of dietary changes and medication, depending on the individual's needs.

4. Are there any side effects associated with the Feingold Diet?

The Feingold Diet is generally safe and well-tolerated. However, some individuals may find it challenging to adhere to the dietary restrictions, and there can be social and practical considerations to manage. It's important to weigh the potential benefits against any challenges or inconveniences.


The Feingold Diet offers a natural approach to managing hyperactivity and food sensitivities by eliminating artificial food additives and certain naturally occurring salicylates from the diet. While the diet has its roots in the treatment of children with conditions like ADHD and autism, it is not limited to a specific age group and can benefit adults seeking a more natural way to support their well-being.

Although the Feingold Diet has shown promise in improving behavior, attention, and overall health, it's essential to approach it with realistic expectations and the guidance of healthcare professionals. Results can vary from person to person, and the diet may not be a one-size-fits-all solution. As with any dietary change, it's crucial to make informed decisions and monitor your progress to determine if the Feingold Diet is the right choice for you or your family.


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