The Feingold diet, established by Benjamin Feingold, M.D. a pediatrician and allergist, identifies and eliminates all synthetic colorings and flavorings, certain preservatives (such as BHT, BHA, and TBHQ), and salicylates from the diet that, in sensitive children (and even adults), are linked to behaviour disorders, such as hyperactivity, learning problems, and attention deficit disorder. According to the Feingold Association, even if food sensitivities are present, symptoms improve on an individual basis after following the Feingold diet. In general, children under six years of age respond within one week of following the diet; children over six may take two to six weeks of following the diet to achieve positive results.
Limiting intake of salicylates, aspirin-like compounds that occur in many fruits and vegetables, is part of the Feingold diet. Under the guidance of a practitioner knowledgeable in the Feingold diet, individuals with a sensitivity (or suspected sensitivity) to salicylates should avoid all foods containing salicylates to see if symptoms improve. Feingold recommended that children who are sensitive to salicylates simply avoid these foods.
Partial list of foods not allowed on the Feingold Diet:
almonds, apples, apricots, all types of berries, cherries, cloves, coffee, cucumbers and pickles, currants, grapes, raisins, nectarines, oranges, peaches, pepper, plums, tangerines, tea, tomatoes, aspirin and other types of medication, oil of wintergreens, mint flavouring
Fruits: bananas, cantaloupe, dates, grapefruit, kiwis, lemons, mangoes, papayas, pears, pineapple, watermelon
Vegetables: bean sprouts, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, peas, potatoes, spinach, sweet corn, zucchini
Current recommendations of the Feingold diet would recommend a two-stage plan: Starting with an elimination of artificial colors and flavours, antioxidants (BHA, BHT, TBHQ), aspirin-containing products, foods with natural salicylates. If some improvement is achieved a "reintroduction" of one product at a time could be tried.
There are anecdotal reports of the benefits of the elimination of "toxic" food additives of all kinds. More than 10 well-controlled studies have failed to find any benefit of the Feingold Diet.