You readers notice I have a "Feingold" category in the sidebar. I don't talk about it much, per se, but on occasion I like to do a little shout-out.
In short, the Feingold Program is an elimination diet I tried at age 5. I went from having "F"s in behavior (with my name on the board day after day) to getting "A"s. No joke. I was a hyper kid who settled down markedly after going on Feingold. Since it worked for me, we put my oldest son on the diet once it was clear he is also a "live wire." It has made a big difference for him, although he is definitely still a high-energy, quirky kid.
I know elimination diets and other "alternative" treatments for autism, hyperactivity, ADD, and the like are considered "controversial" but I'd implore you to consider how dietary changes in Celiac disease and diabetes are considered completely "acceptable." Likewise, there are various food allergies that cause physical problems (hives, anaphylactic shock) why not behavioral problems?
And so, every so often I like to plead my case while also insisting that I don't claim this is a "cure all" situation.
With that in mind, I just learned of two things that I really want to share:
1) Feingold has a little intro (split into two parts) on YouTube. For those of you who don't like wading through the written word (such as on the Feingold website) you might appreciate the videos I embedded below. Just listen in the background if you like. (I find this progression into YouTube funny because in my shed I have a bunch of old-time cassette tapes bound together with multiple rubber bands: these are the old Feingold materials from the 70's that my mom got from the Association back when she tried the diet with me.)
2) A Feingold Cookbook: People making dietary changes worry that cooking will be hard or that they'll have to make everything from scratch. They are worried that the process of eliminating various foods from their diet will be "too difficult."
Well, the Feingold Association list tells you which foods are safe for "Stage One" and "Stage Two." These companies fill out an ingredient list for the Association so that they can be included as being "safe." There are definitely convenience foods that are both kid-friendly and Feingold-safe: hot dogs, oreo-like cookies, and string cheese, to name a few. There is even a fast food list that includes items like McDonalds hamburgers and Noah's bagels. (Of course, I am not advocating fast food all the time, but it is nice to know there are all-natural convenience food options out there.)
With membership, subscribers are given a little recipe list with things like tomato-less ketchup and other things that can be used as substitutions in recipes. Well - now there is a whole cookbook. "Feingold Family Favorites" is a collection of the best recipes from members, family and friends of the Feingold Association. Apparently it contains 300 recipes including appetizers, main dishes, desserts and more. Each recipe is marked Stage One or Stage Two.
I'm ordering mine right now (and perhaps will report on it later) but I thought I'd pass on the news now in case some of you are interested. Just go to the Feingold shopping page, select your country, and scroll down for the cookbook. While you're at it, purchasing the membership materials won't hurt if you are curious - information is power.
As I watched these videos, here are the thoughts that come to mind:
- The "foodless foods" concept is similar to what Jillian Michaels (and probably many other fitness experts and physicians) discusses in Master Your Metabolism (You DID read my review of Master Your Metabolism on the Shredheads site, right?)
- Additives may save money upfront, but cost much more down the line both economically and psychologically: gym memberships, medications, tutors, time spent disciplining, and so forth. (This is assuming both weight and behavior issues from these sorts of food.)
- Obesity is increasing and behavioral problems are increasing in the United States. Similarly, consumption of these cheap "non-foods" is on the rise. Coincidence?
Just like with the vaccine issue, I don't claim that food additives "cause" autism. Rather, if a child is sensitive to such things (be it petroleum, salycilates, other substances) then exposure to those things in increasing numbers can create problems.
Many kids have had astonishing behavioral transformations once they've eliminated the foods on Feingold. Other kids have found success with gluten-free/casein-free diets (particularly those who have celiac in addition to an autistic spectrum disorder; the existence of both together is common - coincidence?)
Please listen to or watch the below videos. One thing that is great is that Feingold Association National Director Jane Hersey does a direct comparison of foods not acceptable on Feingold with those that are, but she uses the exact same brands. For example, Duncan Hines' "Devil's Food" cake mix is not Feingold-safe, but Duncan Hines' "Dark Chocolate Fudge" cake mix is Feingold-safe. Kraft's regular "Mac N' Cheese" is artificial, but their "Premium White Cheddar" is not. Even Cheetos has a Feingold-safe option! (Pretty-please do a natural option, Crystal Light?)
Behold, the videos:
Disclaimer: The Feingold Association did not pay me to write about their program. They didn't send me the information about the videos or the cookbook because they thought I was going to publicize it. Rather, I received the email from them because I am a Feingold Member. My mom learned about the diet from Kaiser - ironically enough, since they are now such a poor advocate for autism treatment aside from "just medicate them into oblivion. (If Kaiser would again recommend trying dietary change, they might save a lot of money down the road in regards treatment relating to both behavioral and obesity related conditions.) I blog about Feingold from time to time because it is something that helped me, and now my son. I will be happy to answer any questions about our particular experience - my email address is in my header.