Archive | May, 2012

Potentially Beneficial Nutrients & Supplements for ADHD

24 May

I am currently reading the book What’s Eating Your Child? by Kelly Dorfman.  One section discusses supplements that have been found to be beneficial for ADHD sufferers: magnesium, DMAE, & fish oil.

Magnesium is required for normal nerve function.  Studies suggest that children provided with magnesium often calm down.  The best sources of magnesium are green vegetables.  Other good sources include legumes, nuts, seeds, & whole grains.  For those kids (and adults) who’d sooner starve than eat their beans and spinach, magnesium supplements are also an option.

DMAE is a unique nutrient found in sardines & human brains (this explains the calm lazy gait of zombies ;-))  It helps cognition by boosting neurotransmitter production.  One study found a DMAE supplement to work as well as Ritalin in the treatment of ADHD.

Finally, fish oil.  The research on the effectiveness of omega 3s in treating ADHD continues to mount.  Vegetarian sources of omega 3s include flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.  However, some folks do not have the proper equipment to convert these (ALA) building blocks into the necessary (EPA) & (DHA) shown to be beneficial.  I have been able to find some algae-derived DHA supplements for vegans and have heard a rumor that you can find some with EPA as well.

Oh and one more thing…

Sugar may cause hyperactivity in some children.  Surprise!  Sugar is still the devil!


Breedon, C.”Aunt Cathy’s Guide: My Current Top Five Easy Ways to Improve Your Family’s Nutrition” (2010). MeritCare Medical Center. Pgs. 3-4.

Dorfman, K. What’s Eating Your Child? (2011) Pgs. 180-182.

Homemade Natural Food Colorings

18 May

Now that summer is here, don’t be surprised if you hear a few more crickets on this blog page…

In 2008, The Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA to ban the use of artificial food dyes based on some troubling links with hyperactivity, allergic reactions, and possible carcinogenicity.  The CSPI in a nonprofit organization that likes to get all up in the FDA’s buisnass.  Personally, I’m a fan.  If people are complaining about the adverse effects of artificial dyes, the FDA ought to listen up!  Many previously approved food colorings have been taken off the market after reported illness or other unfavorable reactions.  Food dyes are granted the “Generally Recognized As Safe” get out of jail free card.  This “GRAS” label = until you prove that this red dye is definitively causing your child’s hyperactivity or your mother’s tumor, it’s staying in your Cheetos!

Interesting Food Dye Facts: Red Dye #3 has been banned for use in U.S. cosmetics but is still allowed in foods.  Hmm…

The European Union has placed warning labels on some artificial colors and the Food Standards Agency (British equivalent of FDA) has asked food companies to voluntarily phase out these additives.  Unfortunately, the FDA does not appear to be interested in following suit.

Take a look at the remaining U.S. contenders:

Table 2
RED 3 Candy, Desserts, Baked Goods 241,265 260,851 Thyroid tumors
FDA tried & failed to ban it
RED 40 Beverages, Candy, Desserts, Pet Food 2,630,578 6,541,368 Lymphomas
(lymph tumors)
Banned in
(European Economic Community)
BLUE 1 Beverage, Candy, Baked Goods 260,417 1,802,634 Chromosomal
Banned in France,
BLUE 2 Pet Foods, Candy, Beverages 101,223 642,246 Brain tumors Banned in Norway
(pending FDA hearing)
GREEN 3 Beverages, Candy 3,597 13,747 Bladder tumors Banned in
YELLOW 5 Pet Food, Beverages, Baked Goods 1,620,540 4,231,420 Allergies, Thyroid tumors, Lymphocytic lymphomas, Chromosomal
Banned in Norway
YELLOW 6 Beverages, Candy, Desserts, Sausage 1,530,050 4,156,408 Allergies, Kidney tumors, Chromosomal
Banned in Norway,

For additional info related to the dangers of artificial food dyes check out:

For Derek’s birthday, his mom bought some white & brown frosted cupcakes with confetti sprinkles.  I had prepared a bunch of Feingold safe desserts ahead of time, so I didn’t feel deprived: brownies, chocolate chip bread, and chocolate frosted peanut butter cereal bars (Special K bars without the Special K).

Those colors though…they do some weird things to your brain.  Prepare yourself for an orgy of colors in this post!

Last Friday, I attended a Food Addictions seminar.  I received continuing education credits to learn about something that I consider to be infinitely interesting.  Other than the money I had to pay to receive such enlightenment, it was a pretty sweet deal.  The dietitian leading the lecture mentioned a study in which participants were offered a bowl of m&ms.  Those who were offered a bowl of m&ms that were all one color would eat less than those offered a bowl of multicolored m&ms.

Which one looks more appetizing to you?:


I rest my case.

I know it’s not a travesty for me to experience 1 month without rainbow sprinkles or purple frosting, but what about those who are lifetime Feingold followers?  There’s no reason a person shouldn’t be able to enjoy some additional color in their diet.  I distinctly remember eating green chicken noodle soup on Halloween and using red dye to make Christmas candy cane cookies as a child.  It was fun! (and kind of gross now that I think about it…)  Since all artificial colors are banned on the Feingold diet, I went on a hunt for some clever homemade natural food colorings.  Some made with berries were often mentioned but would not be appropriate for “Stage One” since they are high in salicylates.  Here are some of the better suggestions I stumbled upon that are considered “safe” on the program:

For dark green: juiced baby (lighter flavor) spinach

For light green: boil the spinach & use water that has been “bled” into

Two other options to consider: small amount of mashed avocado (particularly applicable to frosting due to high fat content and mild flavor; add a bit of orange/lemon juice to prevent browning!); TINY pinch of spirulina

Pink/Red: juiced/boiled beets, rhubarb, or pomegranate

Purple/Blue: Red Cabbage

Yellow: juiced/boiled yellow beets, stale tumeric powder (fresh may be too potent tasting); warm-water soaked saffron

How pretty are these cupcakes?!

Orange: mashed sweet potatoes/yams/pumpkin

Peach: carrot juice

fun food beet and carrot snow cones

Brown: cocoa/carob powder

(Minus the apples of course – not allowed during stage 1 of Feingold)

Make sure to keep the dish you are preparing in mind!  Certain flavors will not meld as well together (duh).  Use your best judgment based on the recipe at hand and start with very small amounts of homemade dyes so as not to overpower your dishes with the taste of cabbage or algae!

For a more comprehensive list of additives to avoid on the Feingold diet visit:

Other sources:

Feingold Diet Corrections

11 May

Well I finally got my book “Why Your Child is Hyperactive” by Dr. Ben Feingold from the library.  I am still waiting for “Why Can’t My Child Behave?” which was written by Jane Hersey and is considered an updated (1995 vs 1975) version of the Feingold diet guidelines.

As it turns out, the original “Off the Menu” list was more restrictive than necessary.  I’m a fan of this news! 😀  If I were following a salicylate-restricted diet for suspected allergy/asthma exacerbation reasons, the first list would be more appropriate.  However, the Feingold diet only requires the elimination of certain salicylate-containing foods based on those which seem to cause the most trouble for those on the program.

The Feingold Association offers a program that provides members with shopping guides.  Since companies are allowed to leave certain ingredients off of ingredient labels (an outrage I know!), these guides help people know which types of foods are safe to eat.  It costs around $80.00.  Since I’m only following the Feingold diet for 1 month, I’m going to hold onto my cash and use my background knowledge to assess safe options.

Here’s my updated “no” foods list:

Off the Menu: (All bold items are those that I currently eat on a regular basis and will be the hardest for me not to eat!)

*Dairy: milk (due to addition of vitamin A palmitate which may be preserved with BHA)

*Grains: cereals fortified with vitamin A palmitate

*Vegetables: cucumbers, bell peppers, chili peppers

*Fruits: cherries, currants, grapes, nectarines, peaches, apricots, tomatoes, tangerines, apples, plums, raisins, oranges, prunes, all berries :(

*Meat, poultry, eggs & fish: lard (if preserved with BHT)

*Nuts/Seeds: almonds

*Spices & herbs: cloves

*Condiments: apple cider vinegar, BBQ sauce

*Food additives/misc: Avoiding specific food additives is at the heart of the Feingold approach, so definitely NO artificial colors or flavors of any kind, such as vanillin, preservatives: BHA, BHT, & TBHQ.  “Natural flavors” are not specifically mentioned but since those can be derived from any ungodly chemical, I’m going to assume those are unacceptable.

*Fun Stuff: tea, coffee, apple cider, grape/berry jellies, wintergreen oil, cucumber pickles, aspartame, shortening (if contains BHT), wine & wine vinegar (Blast!  A couple of friends gave us a bottle of sparkling wine I was hoping to dip into for Derek’s birthday!  Le sigh…I’ll just have to be patient I guess :( )


Feingold, B. (1975)Why Your Child is Hyperactive. “The KP Diet”. Pgs. 169-181.

Strickland, E. (2009) Eating for Autism. “The Feingold Diet”. Pg. 115.

Diagnosis: Denial

4 May

Just a quick observation that I thought I’d share.  Ever since starting the Feingold diet, I’ve been eating fructose and fructans with disregard.  My willy nilly approach has backfired and my digestive system has been revolting ever since.  For a long while, I’ve suspected that fruit, wheat, and onions were a problem.  When I worked at Subway, I would eat at least one banana a day (all at one sitting), and veggie sandwiches (with raw onions) on honey oat bread (with whole wheat flour and high fructose corn syrup).  My stomach felt like it was rotting constantly, but I couldn’t wrap my brain around the idea that “healthy” foods could be bad for me.  Time and time again, I’d come to the conclusion that there must be some other responsible factor.

My favorite scapegoat was dairy.  There are plenty of reasons to suspect dairy, after all.  Dairy is the most common of the top 8 allergens in the United States.  Lactose intolerance is the most common intolerance in the world.  Almost 3/4 of the planet is lactose intolerant.  In this regard, it seems the proper terminology for someone who actually CAN digest lactose should be lactose TOLERANT, and this tolerance should be seen as the anomaly it is.  The group of folks most likely to be lactose tolerant are Northern Europeans.  It has been speculated that Northern Europeans evolved to utilize the calcium from cow’s milk due to a lack of sunlight (and corresponding vitamin D).  Vitamin D helps us use calcium.  Lactose may increase the absorption of calcium from the intestine which would allow for some compensation.  Now that I’ve been dairy-free for 4 months, I can’t keep pointing the finger at (just) dairy.  Although, I do feel better overall since giving dairy the boot.

The time has come to admit something I’ve known for awhile but didn’t want to believe.  In some capacity, I have FructMal.  It’s not as severe as that of my ally’s.  Mine tends to present itself as a delayed response.  In other words, I can eat a delicious fruit smoothie and feel fine until the next day when I wake up with the sensation of having been punched in the stomach.  Why universe, WHY?!  I’d like to eventually see a gastroenterologist to get a proper diagnosis through the use of a hydrogen breath test.  I think I would be more compelled to take the condition seriously if I had a piece of paper proving my blaringly obvious reactions to fructose.  I’m also highly defensive and can’t stand the idea of someone accusing the situation of being “all in my head”.  I could pull out my piece of paper and push it right up under his/her nose.  “SEE?!  It’s real!” 

Some may have already been aware of my ulterior motive behind this project.  Experimenting with food intolerance diets allows me to learn what type of eating style my body prefers.  This doesn’t mean that the other goal of the project (empathy) is any less important.  I certainly didn’t choose the dysphagia diet with any hopes of personal clarity. 😉  Each diet is teaching me about the array of dietary struggles that are out there.  Celiac disease is getting more and more recognition these days, but there are plenty of misunderstandings in relation to every diet.  Contrary to popular belief, vegans can get enough protein without animal products, oats do not contain gluten, and lactose is not the only component in dairy that can cause intestinal distress.  Then there are those who struggle with histaminosis or salicylate intolerance.  Many people have never even heard of these conditions.  At the end of the day, I hope my experiment teaches others that whole wheat can be toxic for some and “an apple a day…” may send some people rushing TO the doctor.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again: there is NO one size fits all diet!  I’d love to take a baseball bat to the food guide pyramid.  It’s all rubbish!  (Just don’t tell anybody I said that or they might take away my credentials ;-))

May Eats: Feingold Diet for ADHD

3 May

While working as Chief of Allergy at Kaiser Permanente in the 1970s, Dr. Ben Feingold created a hypothesis about the connection between certain compounds in the diet and behavioral patterns.  After observing changes in his patients, he speculated that hyperactivity could be triggered by synthetic colors, flavors, & preservatives, and certain artificial sweeteners.

“Stage One”, as it’s referred to on the Feingold program, also excludes aspirin and some foods with high amounts of naturally occurring salicylates, a group of chemicals related to aspirin.  Plants make salicylates to serve as natural pesticides.  It has been proposed that some people with ADHD may not process salicylates normally.  “Stage Two” of the program systematically reintroduces high salicylic foods to gauge a response.

Like the Candida diet, the efficacy of the Feingold diet is a controversial topic.  There is some evidence of behavioral reactions to artificial colors and preservatives, and many parents have reported notable benefits in their children while following such an approach.  However, only a handful of studies appear to show strong support for the Feingold diet in its effectiveness for the treatment of ADHD.  Without sufficient scientific evidence, many conventional practitioners are not convinced.  My general attitude is that if one can follow a diet that is safe and may prove to be helpful, why not give it a shot before assuming medications are the only reliable route?

To the Average American, the Feingold diet is probably a daunting endeavor.  Luckily for moi, I’ve eliminated most processed foods from my diet already.  I’ve also become somewhat of a master at interpreting ingredient lists.  In this regard, I’m at a bit of an advantage when it comes to making the following dietary adjustments.  I utilized a few different sources to compile this salicylate-restricted list.  I have ordered the book written by Feingold himself that should provide clear cut rules.  Until I’ve had a chance to glance through it, view this list of restrictions as a work in progress…Ugh I’m tired of trying to figure out what I can and can not eat!!!

Off the Menu: (All bold items are those that I currently eat on a regular basis and will be the hardest for me not to eat!)

*Dairy: milk (due to addition of vitamin A palmitate which may be preserved with BHA)

*Grains: cornmeal, cereals fortified with vitamin A palmitate

*Vegetables: cucumbers, bell peppers, chili peppers, alfalfa sprouts, chicory, endive, gherkins, radishes, zucchini, olives, potato skins (peeled potatoes are okay), water chestnuts

*Fruits: cherries, dates, avocado, guava, watermelon, cantaloupe, currants, grapes, nectarines, peaches, apricots, kiwi, pineapple, tangerines, apples (except for peeled red/green golden delicious), plums, raisins, grapefruit, oranges, prunes, all berries 😦

*Meat, poultry, eggs & fish: lard (if preserved with BHT)

*Nuts/Seeds: almonds

*Legumes/beans: fava beans, peanuts with skins on

*Spices & herbs: aniseed, cayenne, celery, cinnamon :(, cloves, chili, cumin, curry, fenugreek, five spice, turmeric, garam masala, mace, mustard, oregano, hot paprika, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, & dill powders

*Condiments: apple cider vinegar

*Food additives/misc: Avoiding specific food additives is at the heart of the Feingold approach, so definitely NO artificial colors or flavors of any kind, such as vanillin, preservatives: BHA, BHT, & TBHQ.  “Natural flavors” are not specifically mentioned but since those can be derived from any ungodly chemical, I’m going to assume those are unacceptable.

*Fun Stuff: tea, coffee (decaf is apparently okay, but what’s the point in that? ;-)), honey, apple cider, licorice, peppermint, wintergreen oil, cucumber pickles, aspartame, shortening (if contains BHT), wine & wine vinegar (Blast!  A couple of friends gave us a bottle of sparkling wine I was hoping to dip into for Derek’s birthday!  Le sigh…I’ll just have to be patient I guess :()

What I ate my first day on the Feingold Diet:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with vanilla (here’s where that real vanilla extract comes in handy) soy milk, pecans, & 1 brazil nut

Snack: Banana & handful of walnuts

Lunch: Sprouted grain tortilla with chili beans, tahini, bean sprouts, spinach, raw mushrooms; kale chips (made with macadamia nut oil)

Supper: Banana + sprouted grain tortilla with chili beans, bean sprouts, spinach, raw mushrooms; (Feeling crazy creative as evidenced by almost exact same meal as lunch ;-))


Aitken, K. (2009) Dietary Interventions in Autism Spectrum Disorders.  “The Feingold Diet”. Pgs. 101-107.

Haynes, A. & Antoinette, S. (2005) The Food Intolerance Bible. “Appendix V: Foods Containing Salicylate”.  Pgs. 307-312.

Vickerstaff Joneja, J. (2003) Dealing with Food Allergies. “Salicylate Intolerance”. Pgs. 255-264.

Cricket Reprise: FructMal Farewell

3 May

April 30th was my last day with FructMal.  My general strategy for the month was as follows: I tried to stick with 3 concentrated acceptable sources of fructose a day as long as they were spread out at least 2 hours apart.  A concentrated source would be 1/2 cup allowed fruit, 1.5 TBSP of sugar, or a combination of the two.  For example, I would often add a 1/3 cup of strawberries and blueberries along with a tsp or two of sugar to my oatmeal.  The tiny amounts of fructose in my 80% dark chocolate pieces, spritzes of lemon juice, and potato chips, for example, were considered discretionary and not included in my concentrated allowance.

Sins to confess: There were a couple of occasions in which I ate slightly more sugar/fruit at one sitting than I should have.  This wasn’t really on purpose, however.  It was (mostly) oversight.  I miscalculated and didn’t realize it until after the fact.  I got a bit lazy towards the end of the month.  I also had a couple of careless moments where I assumed something was safe without making absolutely sure beforehand.  I had some theater popcorn and flavored coffee without proper prior ingredient analysis.  My only saving grace here is that I had both of these items on the weekend when I had nothing to do and nowhere to be.  The golden rule of pushing your limits, as verified by my ally, is to do so on the weekend.  That way if any symptoms surface, you pay the price but are more in control of the situation.

What I ate my last day with FructMal:

*Breakfast: Oatmeal with a little less than 1/2 cup of mixed strawberries, blueberries, & pineapple with ground chia & hemp seeds, pecan milk, pumpkin pie spice, 1 brazil nut (I’ve been eating one a day to boost my selenium intake) & 1 small chunk of 80% dark chocolate (startin’ the day off right!)

*Snack: [After 2 hour window between fructose sources] Small portion of pineapple and strawberry slices (~1/3 cup) + trail mix (picked out roasted almonds, peanuts, & cashews, leaving the raisins and M&Ms behind)

*Lunch: [After 2 hour window between fructose sources] Roasted root vegetables (sweet potatoes, beets, parsnips, & carrots) mixed with fried “gatta” (remember those delicious chickpea dumplings from the Jain diet?  Holy Yum!), & chopped rainbow swiss chard & fennel greens; 2 pineapple cornbread muffins with Earth Balance “butter”; 1 small chunk of 80% dark chocolate

Afternoon temptation: Special K bars were served at a work event.  I’ve been craving these for awhile.  I toyed with the idea of just giving in and adding it to my list of “sins to confess”.  I also had the irrational thought of eating it exactly at midnight, as if a void of time existed between 12AM & 12:01AM making the restrictions of either diet irrelevant.  Haha…what a nut I am! 🙂 I felt slightly vulnerable to the craving madness and was actually saved more by my factory vegan convictions than that of the diet restrictions.  I could take it home and eat it later otherwise.  I figured if I had FructMal and knew there were to be real consequences after eating such a blatant morsel of gut rot, I had the mindset on that day that I would have probably just suffered in the privacy of my own home.  Food addictions can be vicious enough to convince you to donate your body’s comfort & health for it’s cause.  All brain torment aside, I didn’t eat one.  Kudos to me!

*Supper: Leftover roasted root vegetables + 1/2 baked potato mixed with a small amount of spinach, mushrooms, and chili beans; 1 more pineapple cornbread muffin with “butter” [Those muffins were so frickin’ delicious!  I would share the recipe but…I think my house ate it, because it’s nowhere to be found at the moment.  It’s from Blissful Bites (where that awesome lentil soup recipe came from).  The only changes you need to make it FructMal friendly is to use butter/oil instead of applesauce and white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar.  Check it out!]

Binges:  In April, I was all about the salt!  Salty potato chips, tortilla chips, and popcorn.  Nummy!

Lessons Learned:  I touched on the social consequences of following a special diet in my “BBQs, Wedding Cake, & Easter Pie” post.  Another point I’d like to address is the daily mental torment of calculating your allowances and the corresponding stress it brings.  Obviously, where allergies exist, there is no such thing as an “allowance”.  However, for a condition such as FructMal where your symptoms are dependent on the total fructose load, there was a constant tally going on in my head.  Since I had this much sugar with breakfast and this much fruit with lunch, is there any leeway left over for supper?  Then there’s the fun of explaining why you could have pineapple for breakfast but none with supper (because the daily allowance was already met!)

Shout out!: I have an amplified respect for my ally whom I already had a ridiculous amount of respect for.  Especially after my experience at Easter, I feel as though someone living with FructMal on a daily basis deserves a medal.  To my ally: Here’s looking at you, kid! (P.S. Hope you are enjoying the maple syrup ;-))

Next post: “May Eats: Feingold Diet for ADHD”…Coming soon!