Several months ago our family decided to try out a new eating plan. Hunter was having a lot of extra energy that was getting him into trouble. He was also finding it very difficult to focus on a task without becoming distracted. We researched the Feingold diet and decided that it was worth a try. The basic concept of this diet is to remove foods that contain artificial colors and flavors, synthetic sweeteners and a few specific preservatives (BHA, BHT and TBHQ) as some people have been found to have an extra sensitivity to them resulting in a number of reactions (including those that we were seeing in Hunter). In addition to removing these specific items there are some foods that are also commonly associated with a reaction in sensitive individuals. These foods contain something called salicylates and include apples, oranges, grapes, all berries among others. Initially, the plan is to remove all questionable items from the diet for a few weeks and observe how the behavior changes and then at that point to reintroduce one at a time salicylate foods to see if a reaction occurs. You can watch some interesting and informative YouTube videos about the Feingold diet here.
We found that Hunter has a sensitivity to oranges. It is the strangest thing, if he eats an orange or drinks some orange juice we find that his energy level maxes out and he is full of nervousenergy (he can't hardly hold still–even standing in one place he will continue to move) and has trouble focusing. We are still working on identifying which (if any) of the other salicylate foods are an issue for him but this one is a clear problem food for him. We were totally shocked about this and would never have believed it if we hadn't seen it with our own eyes. Now that we are more careful with his diet we are finding Hunter to be much more calm and focused. His handwriting has also improved a ton. Below is a photo to show two examples. The paper on the left was before we started the diet (see the "m" row to compaire) and on the right was when we worked on the letter "m" the next time around). It makes us wonder how many kids may also have a similar food sensitivity but have no idea.
Meanwhile, we are keeping a much closer eye on the foods that he eats to try to determine if there are others that we should be aware of. If I find a new snack food that works well for this diet it is great. One example that I found recently is freeze dried fruit snacks from Funky Monkey Snacks. They are all natural, with no added sugar, preservatives, colors or flavors. They are also gluten-free, wheat-free and dairy-free. They come in four flavors two of which contain no salicylate foods: Bananamon (banana and cinnamon), Carnaval Mix (banana, pineapple, apple, papaya and raisins), Jivealime (pineapple and lime juice) and Purple Funk (banana and acai berries). Another example of a snack food that is on the A-OK list is Pirate's Booty which we get at Costco.
I would be very interested to know if any of you have found that your children have food sensitivities.