Friday, March 12, 2010

Not as hard as it sounds

So, a couple of posts back, I gave a bit of an explanation of The Feingold Program. In short, it's a diet (although it's more, since it also involves cleaning and personal care products) that eliminates artificial additives (colors, fragrances, flavors and certain preservatives).

Having to follow any special diet takes some getting used to. And it's certainly more difficult than walking into the supermarket and buying whatever you fancy. But following Feingold isn't really as difficult as it might first sound.

Of course, I'm lucky. I live about ten minutes from a Trader Joe's. While only a few of TJ's products are officially on "The Foodlist" (see "The Medless ADHD Son" for more on the Foodlist), all of their private label products are free of the offending artificials. Admittedly, many hard line Feingolders would say this isn't following the program. But I'm not really a hard line kind of girl. When I learned about the artificial-free nature of TJ's in-house products, I was cautious at first. I knew what a reaction would look like (short temper, impulsiveness, more fidgeting than usual) and kept a sharp eye out. The only TJ's products that elicited any such response were off-list breads. When we started on Feingold, I learned that cooking spray is often laced with preservatives, but isn't considered an ingredient. So, I assumed that the offending breads used inappropriate sprays. Now we stick to the breads that are on the list. But otherwise, TJ's makes our life on Feingold pretty easy.

If there weren't a Trader Joe's nearby, my second choice for shopping would be Whole Foods. I know what you're thinking...EXPENSIVE. But here's the thing, their in-store private label brand (365 Everyday Value) is actually quite reasonable and of good quality. Plus, most of their products are on the Foodlist. In fact if a Whole Foods were closer to my home, it might be my first shopping choice, just because as much as I love TJ's - they just don't carry everything. As it stands, the nearest Whole Foods is about 30-40 minutes away, so second choice it remains.

If neither of these were available, I'd be leaning much harder on my darling Foodlist and hitting a conventional Supermarket. When I first started Feingold shopping, before I learned about the magic naturalness of TJ's in-house brand, I did this quite a bit. I would hit the store with my shopping list in one hand and the Foodlist in the other. Doing the weekly grocery shopping this way easily takes twice as long (and I learned early NOT to do it with the kids), but it certainly can be done. And it can be done for not much more money than pre-Feingold days. I did a bit more cooking from scratch, but I enjoy cooking, so this was no big deal for me.

So, does Feingold take a bit of effort? Yeah, but not nearly as much as I thought it would be going in. Does it cost a bit more? Sure, but not as much as a prescription would - and nowhere near as much money as dietary measures some others have to take (gluten/casein free, for example). But the joy of having a kid who's on the high-energy-end of normal rather than out of control is more than benefit enough. Add to that that we get it without the side effects of drugs and you got yourself one satisfied Mommy.

So, what should we talk about next time?


  1. If only. I don't dare take them off of the meds, since they are for far more than ADHD. But I have a secret wish that eventually it will happen. Funny thing is that when we eliminated Wheat from Ian's diet it did make a HUGE difference in his behavior because his stomach didn't hurt and his rashes weren't so bad so he was much calmer!


  2. I absolutely believe that there are some kids who need the meds. There are kids like yours, who need them for multiple diagnoses. There are more severe cases of ADD/ADHD than A's - for whom dietary restrictions simply aren't enough. We're lucky that the diet works for him. And since A is the shortest kid in his class already, stunted growth (one of the side effects we're avoiding) would be pretty hard on him.

  3. Thanks for posting this! I'm thinking about trying it. Our younger son is nutty with ADHD and the meds have made his (and our) life so much better, but they are not a "ucre". He still has symptoms and daily life can be quite challenging for him. Our older son is most likely going to receive an ADHD diagnosis in the next few months. However, I think his symptoms are not as life-altering as our younger son's.

    Both of them might benefit from Feingold. Maybe not enough to forego medicine, but enough to partner with the medicine and make their lives even better.

    I reserved one of the Feingold books at the library and I'll check it out more. Don't be surprised to hear me asking more questions of you!