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Hyperactive Disorder Diet

Hyperactive Disorder Diet


Dr. Benjamin Feingold, an allergist, noted in 1973 childhood behavior disorders seemed linked to dietary exposure to excessive food colorings, salicylates and additives. This resulted in development of the Feingold diet, a diet restricted in food rich in these substances.

Although the efficacy of this diet is considered controversial by many behavioral scientists, there are numerous reports in the literature which support its value in managing certain forms of hyperkinesis in young children.

The diet-behavior connection is still an active area of research, and the application of the Feingold diet in managing childhood hyperkinesis is but one of several important associations now under extensive investigation.

The Feingold diet eliminates 21 fruits and vegetables which are high in salicylates, as well as foods containing the preservatives BHA and BHT and non-food salicylate items such as aspirin, toothpaste, mouthwash, cough syrup, and some chewing gums. The salicylate containing fruits and vegetables eliminated are:

ApricotCucumberAll teas
PearNectarineGrape and raisin
Bell pepperPicklesPrune

Because most vitamin C containing fruits and vegetables are eliminated, this diet may require supplementation of a single 50mg white tablet of ascorbic acid to promote nutritional adequacy in children. Some allowed good sources of vitamin C are:

Mung Bean SproutsCooked BroccoliCooked Cabbage
Cooked TurnipsCooked PotatoesCooked Cauliflower
Cooked PeasCooked KohlrabiCooked Collard Greens
Cooked OkraCooked SorrelCooked Kale
Cooked RutabagasCooked SpinachCooked Mustard Greens
Cooked Sweet PotatoesCooked Lima BeansCooked Chard Leaves
Cooked Lamb's QuartersCooked Brussels Sprouts

Do not stray from the diet for at least four weeks. After this time period you may add back some of the items containing salicylate one food at a time for about a week. During this time watch for any type of reactions.

The diet is not effective if it is not followed precisely. All Pediatric medications and vitamins contain artificial colorings and/or flavorings. Vitamins used to help fortify or enrich a product usually are preserved with BHT or BHA.

Remember, foods containing artificial colors and/or flavoring, BHT and BHA, must be eliminated. However, if an ingredient in a food contains BHT and BHA, the package may not disclose this information. It is best if you can prepare your own foods such as breads, cakes, sauces, and salads, to ensure the purity of your foods.

Be sure to keep a precise diet diary of all foods, beverages, and medications. Write down any changes or additions. Also, record the childs behavior as well as any other special notes, such as results of a school test or comments, such as "conflict with friends."


Sample Menu

Menu for One Day


1 cup whole grain cereal2 slices whole grain toast
1/2 cup milk - 2% fat2 teaspoons butter

1 cup vegetable soup with barley (without tomato)
1 jack cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread
1 cup milk - 2% fat
2 oatmeal cookies


3 oz. chicken breast2 teaspoons butter
1 baked potato1 cup milk - 2% fat
1 dinner roll1/2 cup pudding

Total Calories For The Day: 2,140
Nutrient Content:


Food Exchange List

No specific exchanges are suggested as long as foods containing salicylates, additives and colorings are avoided.


Feingold, B.F. & H.S. Feingold. 1979. The Feingold Cookbook for Hyperactive Children. Random House, New York.

Howe, P.S. 1981. Basic Nutrition in Health and Disease, 7th ed. W.B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia.

Kreutner, Patricia A. 1980. Nutrition In Perspective. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs. 665 pp.

Lucas, B. 1981. Diet and Hyperactivity. Nutrition in Infancy and Childhood. Pipes, P.L., ed. The C.V. Mosby Co., St. Louis. 303 pp.

Luke, B. 1984. Principles of Nutrition and Diet Therapy. Little, Brown, and Co., Boston. 816 pp.

Robinson, C.H. & M.R.Lawler. 1982. Normal and Therapeutic Nutrition. 16th ed. MacMillan Publishing Company, Inc., N Y. 849 pp.

Silver, L.B. 1992. Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A clinical guide to diagnosis and treatment. American Psychiatric Press, Washington.