The Feingold Program for ADHD - Our Story

Feingold Program for ADHD

The Feingold Program for ADHD - Our Story

I feel like I’ve gotten away from one of my original focuses for this blog, which is talking about ADHD, and eating dye-free and organics has made such a change in our life. I don’t know if I ever completely told my story about how it all began, so here it is.

When we went dye-free in 2009, I was at my wit’s end with my son. We were staring down a brand new diagnosis of ADHD and ODD (oppositional defiant disorder). My husband was deployed, and we were riding the ADHD medication roller coaster, playing games with dosages, rebounding, it was terrible. He was a mess, I was a mess… I don’t know which of us cried more. It wasn’t a way I wanted to live, and it certainly wasn’t the little boy I knew and loved. What I had always chalked up to being a “spirited child” was spiraling out of control.

When I originally heard about the Feingold Diet for ADHD, I was a bit skeptical. I mean, I was a total Mountain Dew addict (which is another post altogether on the subject of managing adult ADHD) and I never had any kind of behavioral problems because of it. However, we didn’t have anything to lose. I ordered the package from them (which I believe at the time was around $75) and waited.

It was a little bit overwhelming to begin with, because you’re hit with SO much information. Feingold encompasses cutting out a few other things besides just the dyes as an elimination process. While I didn’t notice any kind of reaction from the other things, the dye-free difference was noticeable almost the first day. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it never did. My family wasn’t completely on board to begin with, but when they saw the difference they hopped right on the bandwagon.Feingold Program for ADHD

There were no more meltdowns, no more inconsolable crying fits, no unreasonable demands or tantrums. Slowly, he became the lovable (yet energetic, that has NEVER changed) child I knew he could be. His ODD diagnosis was dropped by his therapist. He graduated from therapy altogether because she didn’t see a need to see him anymore now that he was in control of himself. I have to say, I was smug with self-satisfaction that day, because she felt his “problems” were psychological and just couldn’t believe it could be diet related.

Over the years we’ve had some slip-ups, some members of the extended family who didn’t follow the diet, some goofs on my part when exhausted and not reading ingredients. We have found that even different colors cause different reactions in him - the reds turn him into an unreasonable maniac, and the yellows turn him into a sobbing mess. Blues don’t seem to effect him, but to be less confusing we make sure everyone knows it’s NO DYES at all. When we inquire about food ingredients in restaurants or functions, it’s just easier to explain it as an allergy than an intolerance. People hear “allergy” and want to cooperate, “intolerance” — not so much.

My son doesn’t have a problem with the diet. He has learned to instinctively read labels when I’m not with him. He doesn’t feel deprived, because much like a celiac will suffer from an unintentional “glutening” — he knows he’ll be very unhappy with an accidental ingestion of a dye. Even my youngest could pinpoint color numbers on an ingredient label before he could write his own name. We all keep our eyes open, but it really becomes second nature. Food companies have come SUCH a long way in the past few years, which makes it SO much easier. The kids automatically know when a food is labeled organic, they don’t even have to read the fine print.

I’ve spoken to people through this who have children with ADHD, ODD, Autism, or are “on the spectrum” and many have found success with this program as well. I have also spoken to people who refuse to take away their kids brightly colored food goodies to even attempt it. That bums me out, because I feel so strongly about the correlation between diet and behavior - and some people are just so closed-minded about even trying it. On the flip side, I probably would have thought the same thing had I not been at my complete wits end with my son. Maybe it just takes people hitting behavioral rock bottom to be willing to take away the brightly colored foods and see what happens.

He is still on his stimulant medication, but that is more for his focusing, where the dye issues are behavior. For us, it’s a total package that works. I know there are people out there who have found total success and have eliminated the medication - but that doesn’t work for us. It all depends on the child.

So, that’s our story. We are happier and healthier with our organic, dye-free life. You can find more information at the Feingold Diet Program for ADHD (I am in no way, shape, or form connected with them, just a happy mama for knowing about it.)



  1. Bridgette Klose says

    Thanks for sharing your story Nicole. I wish more people would know about this and stop feeding their kids all these foods with dyes. Happy to hear this worked for your son and he’s doing well!!
    PS…I love your posts :)
    Bridgette Klose recently posted…HALO SwaddleChange Review & Giveaway

    • Nicole Q. says

      Thank you Bridgette :) I just get so frustrated sometimes. Especially when I’m on Pinterest and I see treats that are pure chemicals. Ack!

  2. Brooke Engel says

    Nicole, I wish I would have been able to hear your story sooner. About 1 1/2 yrs ago I asked my ped. About my sons behavior. At times he would zone out, tantrum, repeat words or phrases,become a completely different child, and would not be able to maintain eye contact with me. I asked if it could be sugar, she mentioned that some people have had success eliminating preservatives and/or coloring. I was willing to try anything. Sure enough his behavior seems to be affected by the artificial colors. I haven’t narrowed down the colors but that is so interesting to me, because it seems as though some don’t affect him the same way. I am going to look into differentiating his behaviors from the particular colors. Thank you so much for this post. I am definitely going to look into feingolds theory. Thank you!

  3. Victoria • Restoring our 1890 Victorian says

    I’m on the extreme end of the plant-based, no-toxic-crap spectrum, and I find our entire food system horrifying. That this stuff is even in our food to begin with… it is a never-ending mystery to me.

    If you’re into documentaries, I really enjoyed “Forks over Knives.” Not about color additives specifically, but interesting insight into the way we feed ourselves.
    Victoria • Restoring our 1890 Victorian recently posted…I’m like Liberace… but with more flair.

    • Nicole Q. says

      Oh I’ve seen all the documentaries. My husband rolls his eyes at me every time he walks in and I’m watching one. My uncle is a hydroponic farmer and one year he brought me Food Inc to watch. From there on in I was hooked on food documentaries. Some scary stuff going on out there!

  4. Lisa says

    I’m glad it worked for you. I’m certainly an advocate for healthier eating and I’m horrified at what is going on with American food these days. We need to value our own health and nutrition more. That being said, my opinion on most “alternative” treatment options is not usually a popular one. I know lots of people get squirmy in their seats when I remind them that Feingold is not really held in high regard by most of his medical peers and he does make unproven claims about things. As do many of the other “holistic” providers. If it works for you, great, but most evidence is strictly anecdotal. I just find that too many families are not willing to listen to the criticisms about the programs and treatments that they have chosen, and really get defensive right away-in the holistic arena. Just like I read about all the side effects of any medications for my family, you have to read about any side effects of anything. I understand not wanting to medicate your kids, I really do. But I always say, if your kid had pneumonia or cancer or an infection…you’d give them medicine, so why not for ADD or something like that, you know?
    Lisa recently posted…Live in Chester County? Take quality of life survey.

    • Nicole Q. says

      Oh Lisa, I understand completely. I’m pretty sure I put that in my post too, he’s still on meds. He needs to be on meds. This is hand-in-hand with his medical treatment, and it works for us. I would never advocate for someone to go off and start shaking rain sticks and hope it cured whatever their medical diagnosis was, KWIM? It just can’t HURT for people to try it, as it’s just cutting out crap we shouldn’t really be eating anyway.

  5. Markey says

    Thank you for sharing your story. My family has been a Feingold family for many years and now my sons raise their children without food additives.

  6. chelesa sims says

    This is very intresting. I have never really looked at dyes being the sources of behavior problems however i do know certain foods have certain compounds that can affect people in different ways. Thank you posting this ,i found it to be very informative.

  7. Markey says

    There is science proving food dyes affect all children. The study was so profound that warning labels are required on products in Europe and many are banned. Not so in the US unfortunately. Watch the video on the Feingold website that Nicole posted and you might look at the yahoo group: So many kids are being helped.

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