When it comes to food, we live in a colorful world, especially in treats for kids. But what if those artificial dyes completely change your child’s behavior? There may be a possible link between food coloring and attention deficit disorder.
When Paul was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, Liz wanted to alternative to medication. She decided to try the Feingold program — an elimination plan where you take certain ingredients completely out of the diet.
Those bright colors in cereal, candy, drinks, even vitamins appealing to kids, but could they also be life-altering?
“I just started taking him to specialists because he was impossible to live with," says Sherborn mom Liz Parrish about his son Paul.
When Paul was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, Liz wanted to alternative to medication. She decided to try the Feingold program. It’s an elimination plan where you take certain ingredients completely out of the diet. Liz had to remove products that included artificial coloring and flavors, certain food additives, aspartame (also known as NutraSweet) and aspirin, which occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables.
For people with sensitivity to these items, it can cause problems says Dr. Cathleen London, a family practitioner in Brookline. "There is something to this combination in bodies; it’s an irritant to the nervous system.”
The diet requires work. You need to closely check labels. Even the colors in some toothpastes and the pink in medications like amoxicillin are out. The initial test period usually takes about two weeks, but Liz saw a difference in just days. “Our life has been so much better. Just his whole social interaction with kids and his school work.”
But not everyone in the medical community thinks diet is the problem and that the Feingold program the answer. “The consensus is out on whether this works or not, “says Dr. Anne Wang-Dohlman, an allergist at Newton Wellesley Hospital. She says other factors may be at work besides diet. “I would want to figure out whether there were other types of triggers that I can document objectively before going right to the Feingold diet.”
But Dr. London says it can’t hurt to try the program, “Isn’t it worth two weeks before we start medication that they may be on for the rest of their life?”
And Paul says it’s pretty easy for him to resist temptation, “I say I’m allergic to that and I can’t have it.”
For families struggling for answers to ADD, this is some food for thought.