At 8-years-old, he is old enough to recognize how his behavior changes when he makes the choice to eat something with dyes or colors.


Thanks so much for your quick response, as the manager of our hospital’s growing and evolving website, I appreciate how much it means. I understand about families with two working adults, my household is the modern chaotic jumble of parents, pets, kids and all that implies. It sounds like you are all too familiar with it as well.

Danny is a big part of making food choices and gets options as often as possible. At eight he is old enough to recognize how his behavior changes when he makes the choice to eat something “with dyes or colors” as he calls it. We try to keep things in perspective. The reason I chose the analogy to diabetes is because then other people take it seriously. You would never have a teacher tell a parent that was managing a diabetic child’s diet that it was “ok” if they ate all the M & M’s that were used in a particular math exercise because it would be mean not to allow it.

I also would never suggest that all children with ADHD symptoms should be taken off their medication or not see their therapists. Dan’s biggest issue now is getting past his negative self-image. The one that came from the difficulty he had learning to read before we changed his diet.

I applaud your focus on empowering children. I think far too many adults see them as extensions to be managed or manipulated. You may have an uphill battle. Danny is eight, great at math, very picky about the socks he wears, a sweet soul and a challenge to the spirit (although I believe that to be because of his Y chromosome).

I agree about the need to educate the public, especially teachers, with ways to better reach students with ADHD. While I’m pretty sure you disagree with their nutritional guidelines, the Feingold website does have some practical suggestions for teachers working with ADHD kids in terms of the mechanics of teaching them. Thank you again for your quick response.

Thanks for more insight into your son.

The issue I have with restricting food options for children is how it impacts a child’s nutritional needs for growth. The potential problem is that parents are the food gatekeepers until a child is around 10 or so when they start to make their own food purchases. Parents are responsible for buying foods appropriate for children while allowing them age-appropriate food choices from the food parents make available in the home. Given healthy choices, children can establish lifelong healthy food habits.

Evidence from the gold standard for research (double-blind crossover studies) has to prove that specific foods either inhibit or enhance specific symptoms before we start recommending food restrictions, especially for growing children. Otherwise, we are left with an “I tried it and it worked for me so you should try it” which leads us down a slippery slope of testimonials.