Elimination Diets for Inattentive ADHD

I am in summer mode, with the kids at home and involved in various fun summer activities and travels. Alas, my blogging has fallen a bit by the wayside. My sincerest apologies! I promised to write a bit about the Feingold diet or more specifically about elimination diets so here it goes.

 As we discussed earlier, there are people who have reactions to certain foods that cause them to have inattention or hyperactivity or both.

Dr. Feingold discovered that if you eliminate certain things from the diet of some ADHD children, their ADHD symptoms improve. Dr. Feingold was a pediatric allergist but no one is sure if the improvement in symptoms is related to diet 'allergies'.  Some other interaction may be occurring with the offending food and the brain of the person whose symptoms worsens when they eat these foods.  No one is sure but if appears that Dr. Feingold's elimination diet may, according to some studies, work for some people with food sensitivities.  

Foods that people frequently have reactions to include; milk, dairy, wheat, nuts, MSG, Processed meats with Nitrates, some fruits, eggs, seafood, chocolate, and foods with certain food coloring or preservatives. The idea behind an elimination diet is that you start with food that are not likely to cause a reaction and you observe the ADHD symptoms for three days. If no ADHD symptoms occur, you slowly add a food item or food group and then you observe again. This goes on until you have eliminated foods that cause ADHD like symptoms.

The foods that are the least likely to cause a reaction are: lamb, chicken, potatoes, rice, bananas, apples, cucumbers, celery, carrots, parsnips, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.  Salt and pepper are O.K. as are vitamins without artificial colors and preservative.  This diet is quite restrictive and if you are in a very controlled setting with very cooperative children it may even be doable.  I have to admit that I have not tried my children on an elimination diet.  They like chicken, rice, bananas, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, celery, and cauliflower so it may be possible that I give it a try.

My youngest son used to have a dairy allergy but now eats lots of yogurt and milk.  My inattentive son does not like milk as much and tends to stay away from ice-cream, yogurt, or other dairy.  It may be hard to talk my younger son our of his milk with cereal but I will keep you all posted if I decide to suffer the wrath of denying him his multi-grain cheerios to give this a whirl.


  1. Morning,

    First thing is first...when you haven't posted in a while my first reaction is "Wow she must be busy" I think that is something that we can all relate to.

    I was wondering if it is possible to point us in the right direction on how to identify "Preservatives". What actual ingredients am I looking for. I have done my best to eliminate most foods that have ingredients that I can't pronounce. But are there particular ingredients that we should be looking for.

    Once again great job in helping all of us deal with this. Have a great day and I'll be enjoying a coffee with you in spirit!

  2. Over the past 3 months our family has undertaken an elimination diet and done a range of challenges. My elder son is ADHD/oppositional defiant and my younger son is probably ADHD, both are very challenging.

    It's been hard work (particularly mentally figuring out what to cook) but we discovered our boys are sensitive to food colours, preservatives and (espectially) glutamate (which is very high in soy sauce, MSG-type additives, yeast extract, any type of hydrolysed or textured protein, and vegemite, yes we have Aussie kids.)

    Now we've been through the elimination diet, we've made some permanent changes to our diet, and we've seen an amazing improvement in both boys' behaviour. School has reported big improvements especially in our 8yo elder son.

    I won't pretend doing an elimination diet was easy, even with reasonable cooperation around food choices from the boys, but it has been well worth the effort.

    We used the Failsafe diet which is a variation on the Feingold diet.

  3. It is so great to hear a success story. Clearly many people are helped by eliminating certain foods from their diet. A recent study that I will post about soon investigated the symptoms of ADHD in children with a 'Healthy' diet vs. a 'Western' diet and found that children with a healthy diet were less likely to have ADHD symptoms. Since a healthy diet would be less likely to have as much pre-prepared food, the amount of preservative and colorings would be less as well. I am sure that we will learn more about the relationship between diet and ADHD in the future. Thanks so much for your helpful comment!!


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