Our Clean Eating::The Feingold Diet

BJ - FeingolderWhat? Another diet!? Yes, the Feingold Diet.

I’ve had a few people ask me to post about my son’s diet.

BJ is hyper. Spirited. Energetic. Go-go-go. Insanely intelligent. Talk-talk-talk. Never sits still.

Sometimes, like any other child, he gets in trouble. At school. At home. Sometimes it’s more than any other child….

It’s exhausting. I have to drink several pots of coffee everyday just to keep up with him. Okay, not really….(really!)

Last Fall, I was so over the constant color changes at school, the clothes chewing, the fidgeting, the OMG-please-make-eye-contact-with-me-when-I’m-talking-to-you. There was more. Over the top crazy-ass behavior that wasn’t normal or cute or tolerable. It was emotionally exhausting.

There was discipline. There were consequences, praise, redirection, conferences. Yelling. Lots of yelling. Pulling of hair (my own). Nothing made a difference.

I knew what people were thinking and saying when I wasn’t in earshot. They were thinking MY GOD that woman does not discipline her child, and WOW give him some Ritalin.

Wrong. And wrong. I do discipline, and I don’t believe that Ritalin is the answer for every spirited child.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that medication is the devil. It’s certainly necessary in some situations, and if our situation had warranted it, or had it not improved (stay with me here) I would have investigated all means of fixin’. But I honestly don’t think our situation was to the point of needing medication.

Dr. Ben FeingoldEnter Dr. Benjamin Feingold. (he’s hot, okay not really….)

Who’s this Feingold guy? No, he’s not our pediatrician. He was a doctor who stumbled upon something so great. Back in the 60s & 70s, while working at a clinic in California trying to figure out a way to help people with skin allergies, he found a connection between the crap in our foods and children’s behavior. You see, some wild (as in behavior) kids who were following his elimination diet to help with their eczema were, lo and behold, acting better as well. As in not wild anymore. So he investigated, poked around and created the Feingold Diet.

How did I find out about this diet? I was on it when I was a child. Go figure….the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

What does this diet consist of? It’s funny you ask (okay, so I really asked for you) because for the majority of BJ’s 7 years, I thought that sugar was the culprit of his always-hyper-state. I was substituting sugar-free (read: splenda, equal, aspartame, etc.) for all the regularly sweetened things in my house. No you can’t have a piece of dark chocolate. Eat this sugar-free pudding instead. Funny thing is this never really seemed to work.

So I started reading up on Feingold, picking my mom’s brain, searching the internets, and talking with other bloggers about it. I read so, so many success stories, studies, and testimonials that I had to give it a try. My son was worth it, and it was all really starting to make scary-sense to me.

Like anything new, it was overwhelming and hard and scary for the first 2 weeks. We were not only changing our diet, but our thinking about food in general. I’ve been on the eliminate-as-many-processed-foods-as-possible kick for awhile, but this was even more than that.

We have eliminated all food dyes, all additives and preservatives, some naturally occurring things in foods known to cause reactions, and of course all artificial sweeteners. (And by we, I mean that our family has adopted the diet. BJ is on it almost 100% of the time, and me…..not so much. I still drink Diet Coke and eat things that aren’t approved, but only when he’s not around.)

What do we eat? We eat most everything, but most of the things we eat are either made from scratch or approved. We have a handy Feingold food guide that lists grocery and personal items that have been extensively researched by the Feingold Association and deemed to contain non of the above – hence being approved. It’s not as simple as just reading the food labels, because lots of the things we eliminate aren’t even required to be listed on the labels. Things like TBHQ, BHT, and BHA, which are anti-oxidant preservatives used in the packaging of products like cereals, cookies and crackers.

Eating out is a little trickier. Feingold provides a fast food list, which would be nice if we ate fast food. And I’ll have to be honest here, because we have hit the drive-thru more since we’ve been on this diet than ever before. When you know for a fact that something is safe, you’re more likely to choose it because HELLO, a reaction is hell. You really don’t know what’s in food at a restaurant, so we try to choose grilled chicken, steamed veggies, things that seem less done-up….

What’s a reaction? Basically reverting back to old behavior – out of control (and by out of control, I don’t mean flailing around on the floor, I mean jumping up and down, running around, erratic behavior, clothes chewing, fidgeting, noisy-ness, NOT LISTENING) And we’ve had a couple thankfully, because those reactions allowed me to see just how much this diet is working for us.

Has it helped with BJ’s issues? Absolutely! I cannot even begin to tell you how much easier it is to parent BJ these days. No, he’s not robotically perfect, but I am no longer emotionally and physically exhausted. He listens better. His goat-like clothes chewing isn’t an issue anymore. Mornings are (almost) a dream, and homework gets done with a lot less frustration. He is focused, and more pleasant to be around. He doesn’t constantly fidget and move and make random noises. His behavior at school has improved, which is so relieving for me.

He is a 7-year-old boy. He’s energetic, he still talks and talks and talks. He’s just a much better version of the boy I was dealing with a couple of months ago.

How has BJ handled being on the Feingold diet? He’s been amazing. From the beginning, I talked openly and honestly with him about what we were doing and why. We’ve always been label readers and healthy eaters, so it wasn’t too hard of a transition. He had hard time at a couple of birthday parties when he couldn’t eat cake, and hot lunch at school is a no-no. I’ve found creative ways to make sure he has the same or very similar to what’s being offered here and there. There are lots of online resources, natural candy stores, all-natural food dyes, and many other things we’ve switched to. Most importantly, he’s been honest, which is amazing for a 7-year-old. He does not eat things that people offer him, and as a family, we bypass things he cannot have when he is present.

What’s next? Well, once we see consistent success on Phase One, which consists of a LOT of elimination, we move on to Phase Two. Basically we’ll start adding things back in. Just like when you’re testing for allergies, because really, that’s what this is. An allergy to certain things in food. Once we are able to target what’s causing his reactions, we’ll just leave those out. Feingold material says that sometimes children ‘grow out’ of the sensitivities, but sometimes they don’t.

So that’s where we are right now! Do you have any questions? I’d be happy to answer them if I can, or find the answer for you! Just ask below in the comments section, or you can email me at christy @ shrinkingjeans.net

I encourage you to go read the overview of the Feingold diet. Even if you don’t have a necessity for it in your life, it’s very eye-opening.

Edited to add a link to an interesting press release: http://www.feingold.org/enews/FDA-Hearing.html

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  • http://nothingbutchatter.blogspot.com/ kiminia

    fascinating & KUDOS to you for doing what must be done for your child!!

  • http://www.babytealeaves.blogspot.com Christie O.

    awesome, christy!! i have had to eliminate some things too but probably should do more along the lines of this because your description of bj was exactly my description of aidan. along with the conferences and the acting out, etc.
    and it’s so very scary that the chemicals and processings in regular store bought food has this much of an effect! it makes me scared too on a larger level!

    • http://christy.shrinkingjeans.net Christy_TheSistherhood

      It is very scary. I mean, I knew that processed foods were bad, but even some of the things I considered good and stocked aren’t so good afterall! Let me know if you have any questions at all, because I 100% think Feingold is the way to go for some children!!

      • Dancerlorri

        I would like to know why after 8 yrs- yes 8 years, not one doctor, health professional, nurse, therapist, or physiciatrist has never suggested this to us! My wonderful, bright, sensitive little boy has always struggled. As an infant he never slept. Was speech delayed( grunted for 2 1/2 yrs). He has no tolerance for frustration, is socially awkward and has what we call” major meltdowns”. We have been judged as parents. people always say , if you were just more consistent( we are) dont spoil him( we don’t) He needs to have trainng in coping skills( he has) . The think is he is unbelievebly bright. and charming, and sweet and affectionate when he is not in one of his ” states”.
        With reluctance, we finally agreed to try medication. The past year he has been on a mirade of meds- none of which really helped other than making  him gain 20 lbs, making him like a zombie( but still melting down) and making him more aggressive during a meltdown. We are now on his 3rd therapist who has put him on the first med he was on AGAIN.
        A friend suggested that we test him for allergies( he has the ” shiners”) As it turns out, he is allergic to the only foods he eats- peanuts( eats peanut butter 2x a day) , chocolate, wheat, milk —oh and dust mites. Jeeze Louise!
        So here I am online looking for advice on how to eliminate all these items from his diet( seriously those are the only things he eats)—AND I COME ACROSS THIS BLOG__ OMG!

        could this be my answer??????? And here is the bigger question- how do I start this and deal with the known allergies AND THE MEDS– how will I know what is really doing the trick( assuming we have results)

        ADVICE PLEASE!!!!!!

        • Jwalkers3

          Once you join Feingold you have access to their online message boards. There are many others that are dealing with allergies and meds as well. The advice I have gotten on that board has been invaluable! They can help walk you through it!

          My daughter was exactly the same as your son, she was such a great kid when she wasn’t acting like a crazy person! Once you cut all the bad stuff out of their diets, you can really get a good picture of what foods cause certain behaviors. We have learned that my daughter cannot eat apples, they make her turn into a  crazy child that cannot be controlled. That is something I never ever in a million years would have blamed on apples! 

          Check out the Feingold website if you haven’t already and see if it is something you want to try. It was the answer for us and I tell anyone I can about it! When I mention it to any doctor, they look at me like I have 2 heads and tell me they don’t believe in any diet-behavior relationship! It’s such a shame that most doctors just want to prescribe a drug and be done with you.

          Anyway, I’m glad you found this discussion! Good luck to you!

  • Mary P.

    Christy, thanks for sharing what has been helpful to your family! I love that you are honest with him and he knows it is all out of love. He is one special little boy!

  • Nancy

    Awesome Christy. You are such a good mommy.

  • Anonymous

    Dealing with “food allergies” of any kind can be a real pain in the patooty but our kids are soooo worth the trouble! It’s amazing to see the changes that can be made just by changing their/our diet! So glad that you have found the way to help you guys! I think I will read up more on this…I’m guessing it will help my 7yos’ food allergiy issues as well!

  • Marcia

    Our son, now an adult, started the Feingold Program when he was just 4 and is still following it. My other son continues eating very carefully as an adult though it wasn’t what he wanted as a child. Welcome back!

    • http://christy.shrinkingjeans.net Christy_TheSistherhood

      That’s awesome, Marcia!! It’s so wonderful to read the success stories from ADULTS who have been Feingolders.

      Thanks :)

  • Anonymous

    So glad this has gone well for you and especially for BJ. How has it impacted what you spend on groceries? If we ever went this far, I would have to be able to buy some of the natural ready made things like snacks, etc because of our crazy schedule… and they are usually so much more money. We are doing quite a bit of this as it is, but I am really intrigued by taking it a step farther.

    • http://christy.shrinkingjeans.net Christy_TheSistherhood

      In the beginning it seemed to impact my grocery bill a little, but now, I honestly think I’m spending less because I’m not buying so many pre-made things. It is a little more time consuming (which who has extra time) to grocery shop in the beginning because you basically have your head buried in a book while you shop. Once you get the hang of it, it’s much easier. I do make a lot of things from scratch now, and that takes more time too, if you’re not used to it. Things like breads and baked goods.

      The hardest part for me is living where I do. Whole Foods is in San Antonio – 2 hours away. I buy EnviroKids granola bars (look them up) on Amazon now, and they’re actually cheaper than buying at the store. I do have to buy 6 boxes at a time, but it’s our GO TO snack and cereal these days, so I don’t mind the bulk.

      • http://www.facebook.com/misty.pounds Misty Pounds

        Do you have to shop at specialty stores for these things…or are these things you can just run to walmart and buy?

  • Marcia

    With the Feingold Program, you just buy a different brand. And once on it, your grocery bill will stabilize. Buying processed foods is much more expensive than making things from scratch –IF you go that route.

  • Marcia

    With the Feingold Program, you just buy a different brand. And once on it, your grocery bill will stabilize. Buying processed foods is much more expensive than making things from scratch –IF you go that route.

  • Virginia

    Way to be an in tune mom. My son has allergies to food and evironmental things. They have switched over time. We were having a tough time this fall and he wasn’t getting sleep. We got him on 24 hour allergy medicine and an inhaler. Lately he has been the boy I know that is inside and it is awesome. My family always thought he was an out of control kid when we visit them. It is a farm with lots of cats and dogs. He is allergic to both so of course he was acting out.

    • http://christy.shrinkingjeans.net Christy_TheSistherhood

      It’s so strange how so many things can affect a child’s behavior. The sad thing is they are not able to recognize and articulate how they are feeling and why. So glad you understand and do all that you can for your son, too!

  • http://www.whereverimaywander.com Lissa_ShrinkingJeans

    I am sooooo glad this is working for you and allowing BJ to be the amazing child he is! MWAH! Love you!

  • Krista_devoe

    I just ordered the Feingold program because of this blog.
    While reading this, I was astounded. I wondered how you were writing about my life if we hadn’t met. The clothes-chewing is what threw me off, I had no idea that others are having this struggle.
    Hopefully in 2 weeks or so, I will start living a little easier each day.
    Thank you very much

    • http://christy.shrinkingjeans.net Christy_TheSistherhood

      Krista, when I wrote this post I was hoping it might help just one person!!! Please let me know how it goes and please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

      My first piece of advice? Shop alone the first time you go to the store with your food guide. And allow yourself a lot of extra time. Once you get past the first few trips to the store, it will get SO much easier!!!

  • http://www.crazyadventuresinparenting.com/ LisaCrazyAdventuresinParenting

    This is FANTASTIC! I just caught this update! YES! So thrilled to hear it’s helping him (and you) :) :)

  • tennisgirl

    Hi, way to go! I am just finding out the details about the FP and I am planning to order the materials so it will make my grocery shopping easier. Do you know what kind of deodorant I should buy? And also what kind of toothpaste? My kids have been using blue mouthwash and I’m about to switch that as well. Thanks for your help!

    • Anonymous

      Hi!
      When you get the Feingold materials, it has a whole section on personal care
      items as well. There are a few varieties of Tom’s of Maine toothpaste that
      are approved. One for children, but my son hates it! I started buying a
      Weleda Children’s toothpaste from Whole Foods, and he likes it. And yeah,
      all colored mouthwashes you buy at the regular grocery store are pretty much
      out! Not sure on the deodorant, because I didn’t change mine.

      Let me know if you have any other questions! Good luck :)

      Christy Mensi
      Founder/Editor
      The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans
      http://shrinkingjeans.net
      @shrinkingjeans
      @reallifeadv

    • tennisgirl

      Thanks! Unfortunately the Tom’s products don’t work for us either. I will wait on the book. I wish there was a list somewhere online, but if there is, I haven’t found it. Thanks again!

  • Slim From the Bayou

    Christy, I was extremely pleased to see this blog. I started this journey 10 years ago with my then 3 year old daughter. And this was before, dispite Feingold’s studies, anyone believed that food additives were a problem (they called him a quack); or the new food guide you now have available.

    Like you I was pulling my hair trying to figure out what happened between toddler and about age 3 that change my well behaved child into, at times, an inattentive, uncontrollable and belligerent pre-schooler. I had no desire to drug my child, which was the first thing brought up by teachers and daycare. It wasn’t happening. After many hours searching online and in the library, I found Feingold’s study. I had nothing to loose and everything to gain by giving it a whirl.

    With a magnifying glass and list of what additives ‘were’ I when through the entire house eliminating all the contraband and then hit the grocery store. Needless to say I was shocked. Instantly I went from buying to making most all her food and snacks, including the chocolate syrup for her milk. After 2-3 weeks, the PDO (Parents Day Out) teacher wanted to know where Tay was, because the child I was dropping off wasn’t her. The change was that drastic. And if there was a violation, I knew it before I ever got out of the building when picking her up.

    Colors and preservatives are not the only problems. Artificial flavorings are just as big a culprit, like vanillin/vanilin. To you realize how many foods use fake vanilla?

    Your son being 7 was your advantage, he could understand. A 3 y/o doesn’t. As the parent, I had to stand on everyones head about what she could and couldn’t have, that I would provide her pre-school and daycare snacks. At 4-5, she understood that if it was red, orange, yellow, blue or green, she could not have it. Around 8 or 9 she was the one picking up things at the store, checking the label and putting it back. And even now, in the 7th grade, she has never eaten school lunches….BAD BAD BAD. I pack that lunch box every day.

    IMHO this should be the first thing parents try before using drugs. It’s not more expensive, it’s actually cheaper and a heck of a lot healthier. It may take a little more time but saying this is too much trouble is a cop out, it sure is easier to shove a pill in the kid.

    • http://christy.shrinkingjeans.net Christy_TheSistherhood

      I’m so sorry I missed your comment and didn’t respond! It is so scary how much bad stuff is in the food we eat every.single.day. And what’s even scarier is how it affects us and out beautiful children.

      Bravo to you for doing what you had to do for your daughter!!

      I guess I forgot to mention that we’ve also eliminated all artificial and ‘natural’ flavorings as well. Did you know that ‘natural’ flavors are not usually natural at all? Shocking, right?!

      • Slim From the Bayou

        Nothing to be sorry over, everyone has busy lives.

        On the flavorings? Yes, there are some of those we avoid also.

        Another thing most people don’t realize is that ‘caramel’ coloring, especially those in colas/soft drinks, is not natural. This is why (besides being HFCS wasted calories) there are no Cokes, Dr Pepper’s or any such drinks in our house. Here is a more recent article on how it’s produced.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-f-jacobson/caramel-coloring-in-soda-_b_823639.html?ref=fb&src=sp

        Keep up the good work.

  • @MonicaBenavidez

    That is amazing! I hope it helps, and I am proud of how much research you’ve done about it. Hugs!

  • Marie

    I think I’m going to embark on this… my son is 4.5 and his behaviour has gotten worse and worse. Still not as bad as so many of the stories I read, but bad enough that he is having a really hard time at preschool and has been kicked out of one already. We have an appointment with the pediatrician next Friday and I’m pretty positive she’s just going to say he has ADHD.

    I have no problem with the idea of getting rid of the artificial colors, dyes, etc… I’m wondering how your son faired with the salicylates? Were you able to reintroduce many of the fruits back into his diet? I hope we have sucess reintroduing apples, tomatoes, bell peppers, etc…

    I also don’t want to shell out the money for the “program” :-) I wish the book was available at the library. Though I could see how the quick guides would be very helpful.

    Oh, and I’m aslo hoping for “miracles” and that it helps with his eczema and bed wetting as a bonus. But as long as his behaviour clears up, I’ll be happy.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Marie,
      Cutting the salicylates was hard at first. Especially tomatoes!! You don’t
      realize how many recipes and meals have tomatoes hiding in them until you
      can’t have them at all. We have started reintroducing some with some success
      and a few setbacks. Last night for example, I made spaghetti (using approved
      for Stage 2 sauce) with ground beef and it didn’t seem to phase him at all.

    • Slim From The Bayou

      Marie, I have been able to reintroduce most fruits back in to my daughters diet, just try one at a time with a week in between each. Since she doesn’t not like even the smell of bell peppers, no problem with those….LOL.

      As for the program, I never bought it. Back 10 years ago, there wasn’t much beyond his first two books which I did find at the local library. On the food, I just became a walking dictionary of what the additives listed on the labels actually were, which lead me to cooking fresh about 90% of the time.

  • Jessica

    We are 5 weeks into the Feingold diet for our 6 year old daughter. It has been a lifesaver for us and our daughter! Everything you described about your son were things we also experienced. We recently tried to add apples back in, but I think she had too many too soon. She had a crazy reaction that lasted a good 4 days. She reverted right back to her old behaviors. We are sticking with Phase 1 for a while longer now and will take it slow next time we try adding something. Anyway, thanks for the post, I love reading about others successes! 

    • Emily wright

      How long until you saw improvement. i know this is silly but we are on day 3 and he had such a bad day :(

  • Anonymous

    I’m so glad I found this. Just today I tweeted that I heard “mommy” more before noon that I had in the last 17 years. I thought I might seriously die from the talking, humming, spinning, kicking, and DOING STUFF. (my 4 year old is in prek, no school on Fridays)

    When my dad came over I said look man. We all need to get on board- we have to to GF or feingold or something.

    Then I started googling. Glad I found you. You’re bookmarked.

    • Anonymous

      I completely understand!!! My son has being doing great until the past 2 days – I think the culprit may be strawberries? We haven’t had any in several weeks, and that’s all I can think it might be. It amazes me still, what foods might be a trigger. I think I’ve told him to CALM DOWN more than 100x today.

      Best of luck to you!

      Christy Mensi
      Founder/Editor
      The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans
      http://shrinkingjeans.net
      @shrinkingjeans
      @reallifeadv

      Registration for the Run the ‘Hood 2011 Virtual 5K/10K/kids run is now OPEN! T-Shirts! Medals! FUN!

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  • Nursemom1764

    I am going to transition my family to this diet.  Does anyone have any ideas regarding yummy snacks that kids would like and lunch box ideas?

  • Rebecca

    Christy, I feel like we could be dear friends by reading your post.  You are a riot and honest, love you!  I have an 11 year old who is diagnosed ADHD.  I just looked up the Fiengold Diet and am tempted to give it a try, why not.  My son, Gavin is hyper on or off his current meds and I am thinking that maybe we should try something different.  Is the Fiengold diet materials worth the investment?  I hate paying people for information that I feel should be public knowledge and then it being total crap.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, Rebecca! I think you have to have a sense of humor with this, otherwise I might just cry from frustration.

      I do think the materials were worth the cost, although I wish there was a way for them to be publicly available online! The organization is non profit and volunteer driven, but the quality of the materials, the online forums, and the monthly newsletters and updates are great and very eye-opening. So much time and research goes into the food guide – they actually require manufacturers to fill out paperwork on each product, because there are so many things not listed on food labels!

      I wish everyone would get them and realize how much crap we are innocently putting into our bodies.

      If you have any questions, please drop me an email, and good luck with Gavin! I’m sure he’s an amazing boy!!

      Christy. Shrinkingjeans dot net

  • DaNay

    It’s so great to read all these Feingold success stories! I am praying that our family can be one of them as soon as we get the materials- they are on their way!  I’m a little worried about family gatherings, staying at grandparents/friends houses etc. How do you handle those situations- just pack food for them? I love that there is a ton of support out there if you look- I’m sure we’ll need encouragement along the way!

    • Andjohn821

      What books do you recommend to get started?

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  • suzanne

    I found your page accidentally when searching for Feingold information and I got teared up reading about BJ because…..  THAT’S MY SON!  Your story mimics my life and we have been beyond frustrated.  I feel so hopeful! I feel like I would do anything possible for him to just chill out, slow down, and listen better.  I always thought I was always feeding him healthy, and somewhat ‘dye conscious’ but never did I ever even think about his toothpaste or apples being the culprit.  Thank you for being so honest—  you have helped us tremendously, and I ordered the Feingold package today. 

    • http://christy.shrinkingjeans.net Christy_TheSistherhood

      I wish you the best of luck, Suzanne! Things will get better! Keep me posted on how it’s going and let me know if you have any questions!

      • suzanne

        Well, Colin has been on the diet 4 weeks now, and he went from being a kid who AT MOST had 3 good days at school in a week, to now— 2 straight FANTASTIC  WEEKS! The teacher is amazed and has thanked ME for “keeping at it.”  I am so thankful to have found this diet.  There is still a lot of work to do, but he has made some incredible changes.  The best part is,….. he loves the diet and never fights me on the foods he can’t have, because there are so many great choices  of what he can have.  I urge all parents to try this diet before you medicate you kid.  Part of me thought this would never work and medication would be the only solution—  I was so wrong. :)

        • http://christy.shrinkingjeans.net Christy_TheSistherhood

          Suzanne,
          That is FANTASTIC!! I am so happy for you and Colin. I, too, wish every parent would try this before resorting to meds. Best of luck to both of you! :)

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  • Wattersoncarolyn

    I’m sad that I am just now finding this.  I hope you will respond! I am absolutely sold, but the package is pricey.  Do you recommend that I purchase it anyway? I’m sure it would be worth it’s weight in gold one day. 

    • Anonymous

      Yes! I do recommend buying it! There is also a book called Why Can’t My Child Behave? that you might look at before buying the program. It is written buy the woman who heads up the Feingold Association and gives a lot of information without giving it all. It might be enough to get you started.
      Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions!

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  • Kristen Allen

    I totally stumbled upon this blog via Pinterest…and I just want to say “ditto” to all that you’ve said!  We’ve been doing Feingold for about a year now & I can truly say it was one of the best things we’ve done for our family!  For those of you wondering if the cost of the materials is worth it…YES!!!  Like Christy said, the first few months you’ll be grocery shopping with your head in a book :) but now it’s a piece of cake!  I enjoy cooking so the little extra time it takes to make everything from scratch is worth it, not only for our “target” child, but for ALL of us…none of us need all of those chemicals!

  • Ksnowder

    I am glad that moms are still using the Feindgold diet. I used it 34 years ago with success for my now 38 year old son. The diet seems less restrictive now then it did then. I also think that there is a greater availability of natural products then we had back the.
    Suggestion:
    Give your child’s teacher an emergency food pack in case the lunch disappears, like my son’s did. I had a package of crackers, small jar of safe peanutbetter and a drink.
    Good Luck
    by the way the carrot cake recipe he had in the book was the bomb!

  • Lisa Anne

    Just read your article about your son and the Feingold diet. Honestly, about 20 years ago, I could have written this article word for word! My son was also the child that always seemed to be the problem in school, sunday school, gym class, etc. Countless teachers talking to me about how to work with him.

    I discovered the Feingold diet when he was 4 and it also changed our lives. He was finally able to listen to me and focus. Some of the big culprits for him were high fructose corn syrup, traditional hot dogs and bacon (full of preservatives) and even chewing gum. For most of his school age years we stuck religiously to the diet and it made a huge difference in his ability to concentrate in school and connect with other students.

    As a 23 year old he is still spirited, but a delightful young man. I love hearing that there are other parents willing to put in the hard work of changing diet and that the results are worth it. Thanks for sharing!

  • Heather_keeler

    I came across your blog by accident & am am soooo glad I did. Our 6.5yr old daughter sounds IDENTICAL to your son. She does great at school(A student) & sleeps well & has always been fairly easy to get down(though very early riser) but EVERYTHING else an ADHD child is fits her to a T. It’s gotten to the point where I just want to cry & dread being around her. Some say it’s because she was an only child nearly 4yrs & now has 2 younger siblings(son age 3 & baby girl 4mo). She & the 3yr old can be relentless! Comments made(by family who are the worst) are wearing thin on me. She’s such a great kid when she isn’t “spazzing out”, which is most of the time. Have noticed it’s a diet thing, especially when her blood sugar drops(look out evil!) but where we live is tough, on an island in Belize. I have to look at the approved foods list & go from there. Can’t always get what I want here. So frustrating! Food, healthy food, is expensive but I will do what we have to to have our good child back.  I don’t allow much junk & sugars but food coloring(yellow #5&6 are her enemy) is in EVERYTHING, even pickles! I recently learned that she shouldn’t have white flour, rice, potatoes, etc. Time to get crackin I guess before, yet another, gray hair comes in.

    Thanks again!

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  • Denise O’Reilly

    Hi Christy,
    I have just read Dr. Feingold’s book.  It was written in the 70′s, so I am sure there are even more foods to be aware of than listed in the book.  My question to you is, is it really necessary to “join” the Feingold website, or can I wing it on my own?  I am willing to spend the money, but I want to make sure it is something that will really be of benefit.  My sister-in-law and I thought about possibly splitting it, but we do not live near each other.  Would that be feasible, or should we each join??  

    Thank you for your blog.  I am always skeptical of website’s that sell a “cure” (Feingold site), but having you, a REAL person who uses it, is what I was looking for!!  Found you through Google.  So thanks!

    Denise O’Reilly

    • shrinkingjeans

      Hi Denise,
      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, you can definitely wing it on your own, but having the Feingold materials makes it so much easier and takes the guesswork out. They really put a lot of resources in to researching every product they publish in the food guide. They have different food guides for different regions (they base it on the grocery stores in different areas), so you could share it with you sister-in-law if you’re in the same region. the books are pretty thick, so copying might be tedious. When you sign up as a member, you also get newsletters via email, and product updates pretty regularly.

      So it seems like I’m really pushing you on it, but it’s only because of the huge difference it’s made for me and my family.

      Good luck, and come back to let me know how it’s going!

  • me

    Is there anyone out there who would be willing to share the grocery food list (there is no way I can afford the $80+ to buy from feingold.org).  I would be eternally grateful!  I have a 13 yo diagnosed with Inattentive Add and I am really trying alternative to putting him on meds (he was on meds before, and they did not help enough to justify the side effects) I also have a 4 yo who is VERY engergetic (think: poster child for Ritalin:)  Any help would be appreciated! My email is:  sal123@email.com   THANKS!!!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/misty.pounds Misty Pounds

      I am interested to know this as well. Was anyone willing to provide the grocery list?

  • KatherineC

    Hi ~ I googled some topic and came across this, great read and valuable information.  Ineed this support and wisdoms shared, thank you !!! Mommy warriors are the best !!!!

  • Melaine

    Loved stumbling upon this!!! My son is 10, He is generaly good natured, a very sensitive boy that trys to fit in, but he interupts, talks lots, fidgets, doesn’s make eye contact when being spoken to and the list can go on. I have a hard time with where the fine line is on him being just a 10 y/o boy and ADHD. He struggles with learning difficulties (reading @ gr 1 level) and is just recently seeing a child physiciatrist (as per schools request) to see if he will be diagnosed with ADHD…. I have been reading alot lately about WAPF and am slowly changing our diets and the food we consume(I try to be frugal so I don’t want to throw food out boxed or not, lol). Next payday I am ordering this!! I don’t believe he should be medicated at all but every once in awhile I catch myself asking him why he can’t behave in the store, it makes me sad when his response is “I don’t know mom, I’m sorry” :(. This is definatley worth a shot!!

  • Kim Kamer

    I’m so glad I found this!  We are just a week into removing artificial dyes, artificial colors and flavors, and the preservatives and we are already seeing major improvement with our little guy.  It is like he has emerged from a fog of frustration, anger, and crazy impulses and we have our sweet boy back.  We’ve been eating a 75% real food diet for some time so we were experiencing a roller coaster ride with his behavior and attributed a lot of it to his Type 1 Diabetes.  Then as the behavior grew more out of control, I realized it had to be more than just blood sugar.  I started tracking his mood swings, hyperactive bursts, weird impulsive behaviors, and tantrums to foods he was eating.  I would see tantrums within hours of him eating morning cereal.  He would go low and we would give him a yellow 5 laced glucose tab (I knew red 40 was bad so I thought I was choosing the better option….) only to see him go into a frenzy of weird behavior and moodiness.  Then I remembered a mother mentioning the Feingold diet in a conversation over a year ago and decided to look into it.  We are beginning Stage 1 officially in  couple weeks and I cannot wait to see further improvement with the success we have already seen.  Such a blessing!  It’s not just about the peace in the home–though that is a huge bonus–It’s so wonderful to see my child acting like his best self so much more of the time.  I had nearly lost hope.  Amazing:)

  • Joanne Basile

    We have been following stage one for six weeks with spectacular results. The boys are anxious to add back in some fruits (me too!) though I am nervous, afraid of any setbacks we might have….

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/FJFHUYPXIZLVEG3JW3XVTYRO5U Jennifer

    Thank you for posting this!  I started the feingold diet for my child we are on our third week and the progress is so amazing! I just want to tell everyone about it.  Teacher said she thought he was adhd went to dr he said put him on meds.  I did not want to do that and asked him if colors were a culprit.  He said there was no proof that it is.  I know growing up I had problems with red and yellow so I cut out those colors and saw a little improvement.  I was online and saw feingold and joined and I am so glad I did. The whole family is on it (4 of us), (two boys 7 and 6)  youngest wasnt so hyper like oldest but he is on anyway.  Oldest would chew his shirt constantly, impulse control was zero and very angry at everything)  noticed a BIG difference the first week and I keep thinking why didn’t I know about this sooner?  It is a hard adjustment to do the feingold diet but once you are on it things get eaiser.  Thanks for sharing your story, at least I feel like there is someone else out there that is going through the same thing.

  • Mnelson3

    I’m glad to see that people are realizing how amazing this diet is for children who have ADD/ADHD and those who have Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD). I,myself, was one of those “wild children,” whom my parents of six children had not yet seen; three years prior, I had been a sweet little girl who listened and was complacent reading a book or playing house. In May of 1997,  I had such a severe reaction to a slice of cheese pizza that, at my Brownie crossover ceremony, I did not make eye contact or listen to anyone, ran wildly across the room, wet my pants in public, screamed incessantly, and was basically uncontrollable. My parents considered the question, “Could she be reacting to something she ate?”
     Mom spoke to our family physician, who immediately dismissed her claims. Thankfully, Dad was learning computer programming, so he was able to research the newfangled invention called the Internet and found the Feingold website. Dad and Mom were amazed at the success stories on the website and found that it helps children who have ASDs, which I, indeed, have. They figured it couldn’t hurt to try, and so they began introducing me to the Feingold Diet.
     The Feingold Diet truly changed my life. It made me much more alert and able to focus, calms down my nerves, and basically allows me to be a fully-functioning human being who interacts with those around her and is able to accomplish whatever is set in front of her.  I  am now one of those success stories, as I have made it through private grade school and high school, graduated with honors, participated in social groups and have gone above and beyond what a person would expect of someone who has an ASD. I would recommend this diet to anyone looking for a life change in your child, or even in yourself. You never know how much it can help someone.

  • Vmierzejewski

    I am seriously considering trying the Feingolds diet. I am doing this to prevent my 5 year old from being put on mess if he does not need to be. He is not hyper all the time but definitely chews on his clothes and it is a struggle to get him to make eye contact. My question is are there enough foods for a picky eater because he definitely is one?
    Thanks Veronica

    • shrinkingjeans

      Veronica,
      There are plenty of foods! I don’t really think there’s anything my kids can’t have, it’s just not your typical brand or preparation. You do have to make a lot of things homemade, but you can also find plenty of convenience (and even fast foods) foods. The food guide is a must have!!

      Christy Mensi
      Founder/Editor
      The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans
      http://shrinkingjeans.net
      Shrinking Kitchen
      http://shrinkingkitchen.com
      @shrinkingjeans
      @reallifeadv

      Check out our newest addition, the Shrinking Kitchen.
      Eat. Shrink. Drink.

  • Veronica

    Thank you and for those who do not spend money they now have a PDF version for only 69 dollars. I think it’s 69 it’s 60 something! I’ll be starting this Monday so wish me luck. I’m off now, but will return to work in September, is this doable for working moms.?

    • shrinkingjeans

      Thanks for the info! Yes, it is doable, but you’ll have to plan ahead, and always have something ready to go in emergencies! I keep cupcakes or other desserts in the freezer for those birthday parties at school that sneak up. I also have his teacher keep a bag of suckers and other candy in her desk for him so when she hands out treats he’s not left out. Menu planning is a great way to keep your head above water, too!!!

      Christy Mensi
      Founder/Editor
      The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans
      http://shrinkingjeans.net
      Shrinking Kitchen
      http://shrinkingkitchen.com
      @shrinkingjeans
      @reallifeadv

      Check out our newest addition, the Shrinking Kitchen.
      Eat. Shrink. Drink.

      • Vmierzejewski

        Thank you so much

  • Vmierzejewski

    Hey sorry to bother you but apparently I have to wait 24 hours til I can get on the feingold message boards. As I am reading through the materials, I somehow get the impression that you can not have milk. Could you pease clarify this. Are you able to have milk or just certain kinds of milk? Thanks, Veronica

    • shrinkingjeans

      Yes, you can have milk! There are just some milks that add preservatives to the Vitamin A they add to milk! We buy Horizon!
      Christy Mensi
      Founder/Editor
      The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans
      http://shrinkingjeans.net
      Shrinking Kitchen
      http://shrinkingkitchen.com
      @shrinkingjeans
      @reallifeadv

      Check out our newest addition, the Shrinking Kitchen.
      Eat. Shrink. Drink.

  • http://tolucagranite.net/ Alison

    You have described my son to a T. My ex has been bugging me for years to cut out the additives for him but as a single mom of 3, the thought of extra work has been overhwelming. But now, it’s time.  Thank you for the push.

  • Vmierzejewski

    I was just wondering which region you are in. I have started feingolds and nobody seems to be from long island, by. I had questions about stop and shops atral rotisserie chicken?
    Thanks veronica

    • shrinkingjeans

      Veronica,
      I’m in Texas. Your best resource is going to be the Feingold forums, or the foodlist guide! I’m not sure about that store or brand….sorry!

      Christy Mensi
      Founder/Editor
      The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans
      http://shrinkingjeans.net
      Shrinking Kitchen
      http://shrinkingkitchen.com
      @shrinkingjeans
      @reallifeadv

      Check out our newest addition, the Shrinking Kitchen.
      Eat. Shrink. Drink.

    • Natalie Ginnow

      Stop and shop is also located in Connecticut. Maybe you could find out from a Connecticut Feingold follower?

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  • Cheryl W

    Just had to post for those wondering about trying this program. I was a severely hyper active kid… “climbing up the walls” is how my mom described me. Unable to calm down, plain crazy. My mom was at her last straw when someone suggested the Feingold program. My folks say I was a new kid practically overnight. That was back in 1974. I’m now in my 40′s and grateful they found this program. Doctors were/are so eager to put kids on medicine to “fix” symptoms… not addressing the real cause of the problem. And food today is SO much worse than back then. It’s scary what they are putting in our food today. So if you’re on the fence about trying this… it is WELL worth your efforts. It completely changed my family’s life.

  • Natalie Ginnow

    I started my son on this last May(2012), and have noticed a HUGE change in my son. The Feingold diet made sense to me. I didn’t want a zombie kid on ritalin or adderall. So I researched on the internet for alternative treatment for ADD/ ADHD. I did not take my son to a doctor to have him diagnosed, but i could tell he was in one of those categories. As soon as I read that before world war 2, these things were not in the American diet. They had been developed during and after the war. (Probably to save big companies money.) Then, when I read these artificial colors and flavors were processed from oil petroleum, I thought, MY GOODNESS! Would anyone feed their child or themselves oil or gas??? NOT I! I started both my son and myself on this, my husband and older son refused to follow it. My son made a complete turn-around in 3 days! After a week, he was my sweet little boy again! I wish MY parents had known about this. I had trouble in school, getting scolded for being lazy or day-dreaming. I was told I was bright, and I was not using my full potential. I muddled my way through, but I wish I could have had this diet then. We were a KOOL_AID family. I cringe now that I know what was in it.

  • Angela

    Does your son have sensory processing disorder ? Our son has ADHD and SPD. Sounds just like your son. OT has also helped tremendously. We’ve made some diet mods but haven’t learned or gone feingold yet. Am a bit overwhelmed by all there is to learn.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Toncgaige Tonc Gaige

      My son has SPD. We started with just taking out colors and doing less processed foods. I’d suggest that as a starting point. Just take out colors then one processed food per week. We noticed a huge difference with that. We don’t qualify for OT but I’m sure that would be helpful also. We are looking into this diet next, but it should be a nice switch over as we’ve been doing color free and only small amounts of processed for a year now.

  • Teresa

    Considering this. But if it really works then why haven’t any scientific studies proved this? The only 1 I found was from 04 & the claims couldn’t be duplicated in a double blind study. But I’m desparate.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Toncgaige Tonc Gaige

      I put my son on a color free diet that limits processed foods. Big difference. I’d suggest trying something like that out before going full out. Do a journal of the behavior you see now vs what you see after the changes. If you see things changing, start looking at the different diets. The Finegold diet is similar to the GFCF diet they have going around. Just because it doesn’t have research to back it up, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it, especially if it won’t hurt anything.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/christy.paulson.528 Christy Paulson

    Christy – we are thinking of starting the Feingold diet for our 3 boys. All 3 have been diagnosed with ADHD and we have seen improvements, however we are still dealing with behavior issues. We have made the change to dye-free foods, but my question for you is……how do you handle playdates? Do you send snacks with your child to playdates to ensure they do not receive any foods with dye? I know a lot of my sons friends are not on the dye free diet. Sleepovers are hard too…..I cannot send all his meals with him and don’t want to offend the other parents by not letting him eat their food. What are your thoughts?

  • Wdenbigh

    When you mentioned the chewing and how you wished that he could look at you when you talked to him, I thought, “Wow, that’s my son.” At not quite 4, my little boy was diagnosed with ADHD. We went though PCI (parent child interaction) therapy and it did not help with us at all. I am at my wit’s end with him. There are days when I have to walk away from him, cry, and then come back to deal with him. On top of it all, I also have a newborn baby. I desperately want to improve things for us. The baby does not need to grow hearing his mother do nothing but yell at his brother. My son commands much of my time and attention. He is very mentally exhausting. I’m willing to try anything at this point, although I am skeptical because every academic journal and study I have read does not reveal a correlation of diet elimination and ADHD symptom reduction. Well, some do, but there is either not a high correlation, or there simply is not enough testing and literature published about it.

  • Lee Ann

    I started my son on Feingold in 1981 at age 3 and it worked wonders for him. Now, as an adult, he still sort of follows it. Our whole family went on it and I made everything from scratch. Then our daughter was diagnosed with Type I diabetes in 1985 and her food choices were almost the opposite of his, so things became very complicated, but we did it. Now my grandson is dealing with the same thing. Yes, it takes a lot of work, but to see what a difference it made in my son’s life was worth every moment.

    • shrinkingjeans

      Thanks for your comment, Lee Ann. I, too, was a Feingold kid, and am so glad that my mom did it for me! My son is now almost 10, and we still follow the diet, although a little bit loosely! I think it definitely a good way to live :-)

  • Courtney Hutchinson

    This blog was from 2 years ago, so not sure you’re still there…

    My son is this. This blog. Asher is four with lots of severe food allergies. He’s used to not having what everyone else is when we’re out but he loves to get in trouble. And get caught, so I’m worried it may literally kill him one day. I wake up maxed out with him and his behavior and we’re getting ready to have baby #3. Today was a game changer. He scratched my arm in anger and broke the skin and chanted “I hate myself” in the bathroom at the mall over and over. Tantrum after tantrum. Today wasn’t too different but I’ve just reached the end of my rope finally. He’s has asthma and ear infections and food allergies (and penicillin) and sensory integration issues, occupational therapy, speech therapy…yeah…

    If you’re here, let me know and maybe we can chat. Thanks,
    Courtney

    • shrinkingjeans

      Hi Courtney,
      I’m still here. We’re still dealing with some issues, but it has gotten much better over the last couple of years. My son still has issues focusing, and OMG he can wear me out, but it’s better. And we’re still doing the Feingold diet to an extent – no dyes, very few additives/preservatives, etc.

      I’m so sorry to hear about what you’re dealing with. Have you changed his diet at all? Obviously with his allergies, you have to be careful. Is he allergic to dairy?

      Hugs!!!

      Christy Mensi
      Founder/Editor
      The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans
      http://shrinkingjeans.net
      Shrinking Kitchen
      http://shrinkingkitchen.com
      @shrinkingjeans
      @reallifeadv

      Check out our newest addition, the Shrinking Kitchen.
      Eat. Shrink. Drink.

  • Jenn Van Massenhoven

    About food at restaurants…

    I am gluten, corn and soy intolerant. With gluten I have behavioural/hormonal issues on top of some gastro discomfort. Corn is a majorly violent reaction, painful and…well, violent… to the point where we took me to the hospital once. Soy is a migraine, that’s it (comparatively).

    It is stupidly difficult to eat out but we like to once in a while. Not only have nutrition guides online been helpful but restaurant staffs have been incredibly amazing. We’ve had people spend twenty minutes working with us to find (create) a safe meal. They have talked to chefs, read labelsand even called corporate. Never, ever be hesitant to ask. They want to help. They not only want to make sure you’re not going to be sick, but they want you to come back.

    It is awesome to see you have such great success with it. I’m wondering if it would help with some of my chronic illnesses. I’ll have to do some research.

    • shrinkingjeans

      That is amazing, Jenn! Thanks for the information! I’m always so hesitant to be a pain in the butt when it comes to restaurants, but every time I have questioned or made requests they have been more than happy to accommodate us!

      Christy Mensi
      Founder/Editor
      The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans
      http://shrinkingjeans.net
      Shrinking Kitchen
      http://shrinkingkitchen.com
      @shrinkingjeans
      @reallifeadv

      Check out our newest addition, the Shrinking Kitchen.
      Eat. Shrink. Drink.

      • Jenn Van Massenhoven

        You are so welcome. Anything I can do to help.

  • Jodie

    Thank you for this post. We are considering the diet as well. What are the top resources we need to purchase to follow the diet, as there are many things for sale on the Feingold site? Thanks.

    • shrinkingjeans

      Hi Jodi,
      I just bought the books. It came in a package with the Feingold guide and Food List. Good luck!!!!

      Christy Mensi
      Founder/Editor
      The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans
      http://shrinkingjeans.net
      Shrinking Kitchen
      http://shrinkingkitchen.com
      @shrinkingjeans
      @reallifeadv

      Check out our newest addition, the Shrinking Kitchen.
      Eat. Shrink. Drink.

  • stuckunderhere

    Hi, I am just realizing by reading your blog about how much I need to change our what I thought to be “healthy” vegan diet. I am about to order the Feingold diet plan this week because I just cannot handle my 5yr old son’s outbursts anymore. I do not want to medicate, so this seems like my lifesaving device. Thank you for pointing me in the right direction!! Instead of waiting the full year for our psych eval (ugh!), or dishing out 1000$ out of pocket (even more ugh!!), I will be trying this. I shall keep you posted on how it goes :-)

    • shrinkingjeans

      Good luck to you! Yes, please let me know how it goes!!!

      Christy Mensi
      Founder/Editor
      The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans
      http://shrinkingjeans.net
      Shrinking Kitchen
      http://shrinkingkitchen.com
      @shrinkingjeans
      @reallifeadv

      Check out our newest addition, the Shrinking Kitchen.
      Eat. Shrink. Drink.

  • Ritalin Awareness

    Hi Christy! Just wanted to tell you how wonderful it is that you chose to do this diet over meds. I grew up on Ritalin, and I have damage from it since I was suffering from another issue that wouldn’t have been helped by Ritalin. You can read more about my story if you like at ritalinawareness.com. I’m going to try the Feingold diet to see if it helps any of my continuing issues, and so that I can better help parents with the diet through my support group. Anyway, just wanted to say that what you are doing with your son is awesome and to congratulate you on the great results.

  • Michelle

    My son’s story is a lil’ different in that he was THE BEST BABY! He slept 13-16 hours a day. Nursed over a year, received all vaccinations, cleaned up his toys after he was done w/ them, very obedient, ate what you offered (even salads and spinach).
    Around age 2 he started to sniff ALL-THE-TIME, started clearing his throat, then he (what appeared to be) wiped his hands off on his heiny, THEN started throwing his arms out in front of him. He repeated things a LOT, usually it was like he was just clarifying things to himself. We called these “habits”, we watched them change and could tell day 1 he started something new that it would stick (habits, you do something enough it just sticks); I’d catch him day 1 and tell him don’t start that!
    At age 7 he started jerking his neck to the point of pain and he started making weird noises…
    Was your son ever “diagnosed” w/ anything? Did he have “tics” or was it more so just a behavioral thing? Neuro diagnosed my son w/ a “simple tic disorder, he’ll grow out of it.”, then it became a “complex tic disorder”, now my son has TS. From my own research I believe it to be a gut/brain issue (I mean think about it, around age 2 we start to feed our children table food, this is when symptoms generally start to appear) I’ve said for long time I think A LOT of health problems stem from what we EAT!
    My son is now 14 and struggles hiding his tics as he’s been able to do in the past and when he hides his verbals and more obvious motors, it shows big time in his facials. Not until the last 6 months have I started working on the nutrition aspect of healing. We’ve removed ALL artificial sweeteners, colors, dyes, flavors, processed, preservatives, additives, dairy, gluten, corn…i mean the list seems endless (HOWEVER, he goes to his dads every other week and it’s “party-time” b/c dad doesn’t believe nutrition could help)
    I’m wondering if the Feingold would be a good fit for MY son having tics or if it is more geared specifically for ADHD and the like?