Feingold Diet

Feingold Diet Background

Feingold DietThe Feingold Diet is developed by Ben F. Feingold M.D. It is a healthy eating and food elimination program specifically designed to treat children with hyperactivity, ADD, or ADHD. Also called the Feingold ADHD diet, this program recommends the complete elimination of various synthetic flavors, synthetic coloring, specific salicylates, petroleum-based preservatives, and aspartame.

The Feingold Diet is based on Dr. Feingold’s book ‘Why Your Child is Hyperactive’ that was first released in the 70s. Dr. Feingold is a highly-acclaimed allergist and pediatrician, considered a pioneer in his field. The Feingold Diet plan is founded on the principle that allergic sensitivities or reactions to particular food types highly contribute or cause symptoms of ADHD/ADD which include the following:

  • Behavior: hyperactivity, emotional concerns, and compulsive and impulsive behaviors
  • Health: sleep problems or insomnia and/or physical issues
  • Learning: perception and cognition disturbances, short attention span, difficulties in neuromuscular activities.

Feingold Diet Basics

The Feingold Diet is a comprehensive dietary plan that is carried in 2 stages. While on this healthy diet program, children are restricted from the following artificial food additives, as well as a class of artificial sweeteners which include the ones below:

  • Synthetic flavors from thousands of different chemicals
  • Synthetic coloring such as D&C and FD&C colors
  • Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, alitame, and neotame.
  • Synthetic preservatives such as BHT, TBHQ, and BHA.
  • Other food additives such as MSG, sulfites, nitrites, and sodium benzoate. Note that these additives are not completely eliminated, but are strongly frowned upon in the Feingold ADD diet program.

These list of preservatives and colorings are created from petroleum. It should also be noted that the term ‘synthetic’ is used rather than ‘artificial’ since not all artificial colors are required to be removed in the Feingold Diet.

To illustrate, colors based on iron oxides, and titanium dioxide are generally acceptable since they do not pose problems in a majority of children. Strictly D&C and FD&C colors are not allowed.  Aspartame and other chemicals are not allowed in the Feingold ADHD diet since research show that it badly affects the nervous system.

During the 1st stage of the Feingold Diet, specific foods that have salicylates are eliminated. These foods will be reintroduced later in the diet’s 2nd stage in order to test the child’s tolerance level. Temperate-zone fruits, and some vegetables, one tree nut, and spices are foods containing high levels of salicylates and are thus eliminated.

It is a common misconception that sugar, chocolate, and soft drinks are not allowed in the Feingold Diet. On the contrary, these are actually allowed, but in moderate amounts. Likewise, children are allowed to eat the foods they love, including desserts, but without the above ingredients.

Furthermore, the list of allowed foods can be easily found in supermarkets; it is just a matter of picking out brands and reading labels, to watch out for unwanted food additives. For those who find the Feingold Diet too restrictive, it is suggested that they first try to remove artificial coloring from the diet, not only those from food, but from drugs, vitamins, and toothpastes as well.

Plenty of children, as well as adults who suffer from ADHD or ADD have given positive reviews on the Feingold Diet. A significant amount of old and new research also backs up the program’s claims. One such study states that approximately 75% of children showed considerable improvement when they were put on a diet plan that limits or completely eliminates food additives.

However, if the child’s hyperactivity symptoms were not alleviated by the Feingold Diet, they can try a more restrictive approach still aligned with food restriction and elimination principles proposed by the Feingold Diet. These include the following:

  • Monosodium glutamate or MSG and hydrolyzed vegetable protein, also containing glutamate
  • Corn-based food additives such as sugar and syrups found in most sweetened foods
  • Calcium propionate such as those found in baked goods
  • Sodium nitrite like those found in luncheon meats and the like
  • Wheat
  • Chocolate
  • Dairy products, especially milk
  • Eggs
  • Soy/ tofu

Exercise Recommendations

The Feingold Diet does not provide any kind of exercise plan to go along with the diet plan.

Costs and Expenses

Why Your Child Is Hyperactive by M.D. Ben F. Feingold is available in paperback at Amazon.com for $13.19.

Click here to purchase the book at a discounted price.


  • The Feingold Diet has been around since the 70s but is still widely used today by people who suffer from ADD/ADHD and is backed by positive reviews and tons of scientific research.
  • Generally effective in reducing symptoms of hyperactivity.
  • Promotes eating healthy foods.
  • Does not recommend vitamins and supplements.
  • Can also be used to treat multiple conditions including common allergies, asthma, insomnia, headaches, and chronic ear infections.
  • Provides recipes and a comprehensive list of allowed, eliminated, and restricted foods.
  • Developed by critically acclaimed allergist and pediatrician Dr. Feingold, who is a pioneer in the immunology and allergy medical fields.


  • The Feingold Diet may be too restrictive for some children to follow.
  • A considerable amount of time and effort for planning meals is required.
  • Does not provide exercise guidelines.
  • Eating in restaurants or fast foods is virtually impossible because of the various food restrictions.
  • Although backed by various scientific research and rave reviews, the efficacy of the Feingold Diet is still being debated until today.


The Feingold Diet has been around for many years and is still widely used today because it is supported by facts, numerous studies, and favorable reviews. According to Feingold Diet reviews by parents and sufferers of ADHD, the diet really helps in mitigating symptoms of hyperactivity.

The book from which the Feingold Diet is based also contains important information to help families live a healthier lifestyle. It also encourages all family members, and not just the person suffering from ADHD, to follow the diet plan so that everyone will be involved. This will also make it easier on the ADHD patient.

The meal plan of the Feingold Diet is however very restrictive, which can be very challenging for a majority of children. Likewise, the efficacy of the diet program will be significantly diminished if the diet is not followed religiously.

It is also vital to note that the Feingold Diet is not a weight loss program. It is a diet plan designed specifically for ADHD sufferers, and as such, does not promote weight loss. Click here now to start the Feingold Diet.

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