I am the parent of a child whose ADHD symptoms are managed by using an elimination diet similar to the Feingold program.


As the parent of a child whose ADHD symptoms are managed by using an elimination diet similar to the Feingold program, I’d like to comment on a response made on your website. Just so you know where I’m coming from, I’m not a crusader with blinders on. I know not all children are magically “healed” by diet alone or medication alone. The ADHD experience is an individual, though a similar one, for every family.

I don’t take issue at all with the information sited, only with one side comment you made. “A complete artificial color and flavor-free diet may be too time-consuming or too expensive for most families to follow. Also, what about foods hyperactive children eat at schools, friends, or grandparent’s houses? I would rather teach a child about a nutritious diet and encourage children to make appropriate food choices.” Would you take the same view when offering nutritional advice for a child with juvenile diabetes? I use that as an example when I explain my son’s dietary restrictions to people. And if it does take a little longer, shouldn’t we place a higher value on our children’s well-being than on the amount of time we spend grocery shopping?

It was a pain in the neck the first month or so, now it’s no different than shopping for your favorite brand of cereal, soup, etc. You know where to look and you go there. Also, the cost is not that much higher, sometimes less, believe it or not. And there can be hidden benefits such as oh, darn, we have to buy Breyer’s or Ben & Jerry’s. I have four children. I know what it’s like to shop within a budget.

The parents of the children my son plays with are all aware of his dietary restrictions, as are his grandparents, teachers, coaches. A little communication goes a long way.

My son has been on his diet for almost three years now. He is healthier than all of the rest of us put together. Fewer colds, his hair and nails grow faster, etc. This is a good thing because it is next to impossible to find antibiotics or over the counter (OTC) medications that aren’t loaded with something artificial. That is the true challenge of his diet!

For children who do react strongly to artificial dyes and flavors, the impact of straying from their diet can be as strong and long lasting though only “sanity-threatening” rather than life-threatening, as the reaction is for a child who is insulin dependent “cheating”.

As a respected and responsible nutritionist, please reconsider your comment. Thank you for letting me stand on my soapbox, I would welcome your response.

Current science and research do not support the theory that artificial flavors and colors cause hyperactivity. Rather than pressing that point, my answer focused on making healthy food choices.

Families with two working parents are very time stressed and need support to make healthy choices in less time. I was trying to get viewers to focus on making healthy choices instead of a long list of “No’s”. Healthy food choices can be “artificial” free. The key words are “healthy food choices”.

My concerns are about parents limiting their child’s food choices, especially children who are too young to purchase their own foods. I have seen parents who have eliminated so many foods from their children’s meals that it became deficient in some nutrients.

The point I make about teaching children to make healthy choices comes from working with parents who became the food restrictor and ended up with a child who “sneaks” illegal food. It doesn’t matter if they have diabetes or ADHD. Kids are smart and I think should be given age level responsibility and input into decisions that affect them. I am for empowering people, especially children to make healthy food choices and adopt a healthy lifestyle.

You are lucky that your child adheres to the food plan you have set up for them. Adolescence though can bring changes in behavior. Most teenagers will seek independence from their parents and want to fit in with their peers, including peer food choices. I encourage you to make your child a part of the food decisions that affect them.

I do make the same recommendations for children with diabetes. Teach them to make appropriate food choices balanced with their medication. Surprisingly, diabetic nutrition therapy has changed and become more liberal. Carbohydrate counting and tracking A1C (glycosylated hemoglobin) to control long-term complications are paying off for people with diabetes.

Your analogy about diabetes to other parents would impart the seriousness with which you manage your son’s diet. Perhaps educating the public about ADHD is really what is needed. You made a start with those people who come in contact with your son.