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A Book Review: Why Can’t My Child Behave? Why Can’t She Cope? Why Can’t He Learn?

By Jane Hersey

Introduction by Jay Freed, MD

Dr. Benjamin Feingold, an allergist with Kaiser-Permanente, developed the K-P Diet that eliminated food additives and artificial flavors in the 1960s. While Dr. Feingold passed away in 1982, the program is carried on by volunteers who are members of the Feingold Association.

To give families an overview of the program, I will give highlights of the above named book. This book has many testimonials that I will not try to reproduce. Families will benefit from reading the book, but because of lack of time may want to get started before they have time to read the whole book. There have been some studies done that address some of the pieces of the Feingold Diet, but no one has studied the pure program. (Scientific Studies p. 363-380)

Symptoms that Feingold families testify to having seen improvement:(This is not to say that everyone with these symptoms will see improvement. It depends on the underlying cause.)

  •  Easily upset, incessant crying, temper tantrum

  •  Not hearing what is being said

  •  Motor stuck on fast forward

  • Repeated behavior even after apparent understanding of reason

  • You sense that behavior cannot be controlled

  • Other children avoid playing with your child

  •  Difficulty interacting

  •  Fine one minute, next minute out of control

  • Demands his way and rules for a game

  •  Off in own world

  • Always losing things

  •  Homework lost, forgotten or mutilated regularly

  • Hard time understanding subtle cues, facial expressions

  • Laugh too loud or inappropriately

  • Has lots of labels

  • Hyperactivity

  • Attention problems

  • Screaming after eating

  • Handling home environment, but school is too much

  • Learning Disabilities

  • Fine Motor difficulties

  •  Thyroid problems and mood swings

  • Asthma and Allergies

  • Hives

  • Arthritis

  • Social Skills

  • Asperger

  • Autism

  • Headaches

  • Sleep issues

  • Nail biting

  • Workaholic

  • Earaches and ear infections

  • Digestion problems

  • Bedwetting

  • Depression

  • Developmental Delays

  • Sensory Integration Disorder

  • Vision Problems

  • Seizures

  • Nasal Polyps

  • Tics

What is the Feingold Program?1. A test – “for several weeks, you use only foods that are free of synthetic dyes, artificial flavors and three preservatives, as well as a group of foods know as ‘natural salicilates.’” p. 16 It is good to keep a diary. P. 552. All of the remaining foods are usually well tolerated. “If this trial results in an improvement in your child’s behavior, or in other target symptoms, then the test becomes a treatment.” P. 163. “After a few weeks of success you can gradually expand the food choices, adding back natural salicylates one at a time, and watching for any return of old behaviors.” P. 16How to begin….Becoming a member of the Feingold Association is essential because they are continually researching the ingredients in a wide range of products and keep the members up to date on changes from the Foodlist that comes in the packet. Membership Packet includes:

  • Foodlist & Shopping Guide

  • The Feingold Handbook

  • Medication List

  • Recipes & Two-Week Menu Plan

  • Pure Facts – 10 issues of newsletter

  • FAUS Counseling Line

  • Salicylate/Aspirin Senstitivity program

  • Gluten/Casein-free diet information and resources

  • List of mail order resources for hard-to-find products

For more information and current membership fee: or call 1 800 321-3287 Common Additives and Sources of Vitamin C (p. 381-386) These lists include all common additives and Sources of Vitamin C. The list also marks items to which Feingold members may be sensitive.

Eliminated on Feingold Program:Artificial FlavoringsAspartame (NutraSweet, Equal –trademarks)BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) – antioxidant preservativeBHT (buytlated hydroxytoluene) – antioxidant preservativeCitrus Red # 2 – synthetic coloringCyclamate – synthetic sweetnerEthyl vanillin – synthetic (artificial) flavoringFD&C colors – synthetic (artificial) coloringMSG (monosodium glutamate)Saccharin – synthetic (artificial) sweetnerTartrazine – FD&C Yellow # 5, synthetic (artificial) coloringTBHQ – (tertiary butyl hydroquinone) antioxidantVanillin – artificial flavoringOther food dyes.Natural SalycilatesAlmonds, oranges, all berries, tangerine, cherries, nectarine, peach, apricot, apple, plum, prunes, grapes, raisins, cranberry sauce, juices from these fruits, peppers (bell and chili and red), tomato, cucumber or pickles, cloves, currants, coffee, tea, aspirin, oil of wintergreen (methyl salicylate).PART TWO p. 56-109 introduces additives and gives a history of FDA approval of many of these.

PART THREE beginning on p. 110-addresses issues like those who hate to cook, doing the Feingold Program on a budget, combining with other nutritional plans and dealing with well-meaning family members or friends who sabotage the process. Other difficulties addressed include: Parenting a Feingold Teen, holidays, traveling, at church and school etc.


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