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.


4 Responses to “Feingold Diet Corrections”

  1. Markey May 20, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    You are off to a good start but don’t make the Feingold diet harder than it appears. Dr. Feingold’s book is interesting but definitely out of date. Jane Hersey’s (note the correct spelling of her last name) is excellent and Part I can be read on the Feingold website http://www.feingold.org She is the National Director of the organization.

    While no substitute for membership in the Feingold Association, another good resource is the Yahoo group http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/Feingold-Program4us/

    • thehungryguineapig May 21, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

      Oops! I’m sorry that I spelled her name wrong. I will fix that! I have received her book, and the diet corrections I made above seem to be consistent with it.

  2. Shula August 4, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    Oops – I wrote this comment in the wrong place, apparently. I guess it goes here so I will paste it in. I apologize for the duplicate.

    You have made an interesting attempt at doing the Feingold diet…. except that you can’t really say you have been on the Feingold diet when you have not been using the Feingold materials, Handbook, or Foodlist. You’ve been winging it, and making it much more difficult for yourself.


    Why did you remove milk? Unless you already know you can’t tolerate milk, there are many milks on the list that are acceptable – both whole milks and skim milks. Vitamin A Palmitate can also be preserved with mixed tocopherols (vitamin E) and of course all raw milks are acceptable. If you are lactose intolerant, there are acceptable lactose-free milks (and many lactose-intolerant people can drink raw milk because it has live enzymes in it).

    Why did you remove corn meal? I don’t know of anything wrong with plain corn meal unless you happen to be allergic to corn. And again- cereals containing vitamin A palmitate may be okay – IF they are on the list.

    You eliminated a whole lot of vegetables that are not eliminated on the Feingold diet. The only ones you should have eliminated are cucumbers, bell peppers, chili peppers and gherkins (which are the same as cucumbers). All the others are fine. Oh — you seem to have forgotten to eliminate tomatoes. Let’s say this another way. The ONLY veggies you need to eliminate are:
    – Tomatoes
    – Cucumbers
    – Peppers of all sorts (black pepper – the spice – is okay)

    Again, for the veggies, I don’t know where you are getting your list, but it is not from us. dates, avocado, guava, watermelon, cantaloupe, kiwi, pineapple (canned only), and grapefruit are all OKAY — you did not need to eliminate them. Apples (including golden delicious) however, do need to be eliminated on Stage One.

    You have eliminated fava beans, and peanuts with skins on. Why? They are not a problem unless you happen to be allergic to them, of course.

    you eliminated all sorts of herbs and spices ….. you only needed to be concerned about CLOVES and PAPRIKA (a pepper). I don’t know what’s in “five spice” but if one of the “five” is cloves or paprika, then right – it would be eliminated. Cinnamon bothers some people sensitive to benzoates, but it is not routinely eliminated. Look how hard you made it on yourself!!

    Condiments – here you forgot to eliminate ketchup. And any mustards that contain yellow 5.

    Natural flavors are not globally eliminated. Some are from salicylate sources, so we have to ask about them, but most are acceptable on either Stage One or Stage Two. If it just says “flavoring” then it is probably artificial which can be anything. Also, MSG can hide under “flavor” and we mark products containing MSG.

    Under your “fun stuff” decaff is NOT okay. Coffee is eliminated as a Stage Two item and it has nothing to do with caffeine. Honey is acceptable, although orange blossom honey may bother salicylate-sensitive people. Peppermint is not eliminated, although the similar wintergreen (methyl salicylate) is. Licorice – if it’s natural, then it’s okay.

    Well, I’ve been on the Feingold diet for over 30 years and never ate a kale chip yet. Was it any good? Personally, I do better with meat loaf and mashed potatoes.

    Well …. you made a good try and worked much harder at it than necessary. If you want to save some money, the Program is now available as all-PDF documents for $69 but if the fee is the problem, contact us about financial aid. We’d rather you had all the information rather than winging it on your own.

    • thehungryguineapig August 4, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

      Apparently, you didn’t read the actual post before leaving this comment, because most of the things you mention are not even relevant to my corrected list. The original list was a combination of Feingold principles and salicylate restriction guidelines from the book “Dealing with Food Allergies”. I didn’t find the global elimination of natural flavors to be that much of a sacrifice, because I tend to avoid a lot of processed foods anyway. I also decided to eliminate milk altogether, because I was already avoiding it and not having any problems. In any case, not everybody has $70 to toss around, so a very cautious approach is better than no attempt at all.

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