Sunday, June 12, 2011

Fairy Tales, Food Diaries, and Feingold

My last post was a story about this really nice mom who was doing the best that she could to figure out how to parent her little boy who had SPD and a host of other problems. The most frustrating thing for her was the inconsistency of his behaviors. One day everything would be peachy smooth, not a ripple in the day, her little guy was charming, articulate, obedient and talkative. The next day, she likened his behavior to a feral kitty. He was out of control and a danger to himself and others. She did the only thing she could. She brought this to her heavenly Father, not her cool earthly dad, because he was just as puzzled as she. She remembers clearly being led to keep a diary.

It went like this. Dear Diary (not really, I just added that for effect):

The diary included everything this mystery child ate, drank, slept, eliminated and any other pertinent information. The diary made her more aware of the 'triggers'. She was starting to see patterns. Like o.k. maybe the cold section of the grocery store should be off limits, also the soap isle. But it wasn't until the fateful day of the pool party that she realized what was really happening.

Friends brought over food.  She was so was busy enjoying the company, she didn't pay attention to what the little guy had eaten. After the party, where she had foolishly assumed he would eat his lunch, she asked the question.

"What did you eat today?"

"I had some eclairs. The little ones."

"How many?"


These are not chemical laden eclairs,
they are homemade by Joe Pastry.

Fast forward 24 hours later. He was curled up underneath his rocking chair crying. His first and last time babysitter was acting a little nervous. "How was he?" Amazingly patient babysitter was afraid to admit how misbehaved he had been. Little guy was not making eye contact, couldn't coherently answer any questions and was withdrawing from everyone. He was blubbering like a baby. She was trying to figure out: How can a four year-old child be so miserable? Why is he unable to get a handle on his emotions? This is a child that is loved and adored by his brothers and his parents. Why is he so filled with rage?

That is when she had her light bulb moment!  And where she started to sound like a kook. Those eclairs that are sold by the big box stores, have a shelf life of about 3 months. They are laden with preservatives. His little body is being affected by the preservatives. 

Starting Feingold after this was a no brainer. Patient husband and the mommy knew even if it did not work, removing chemicals and preservatives from his diet was still a great idea. She felt it was like the Hippocratic oath "Do no harm." Patient husband and she were not concerned about the level of work it was to begin the diet. They were desperate.

The first few weeks were rocky. He was literally detoxing. When starting the diet, any time an unapproved food was eaten, it was like being back to square one. The first week, orange sherbet was eaten while mom was outside. She was heartbroken. She killed her grocery budget. Her shopping trips lasted a few hours as she studied her food lists. She wasted oodles of money trying to find a multivitamin without dyes and chemicals. She loaded up on watermelon and Fritos. She didn't want him to feel deprived. She even found gum and lollipops that were all natural and approved. Anything to make the diet easier.

Then there was a glimmer of hope. A few weeks later, they were visiting with friends. While making sidewalk chalk pictures, little guy drew the most adorable Yoda. Another boy came over and crossed it out. Amazingly, her little boy didn't freak out, he didn't try to bite the other kid or wreck the other boy's drawing. He actually handled it well. It was his peace loving older brother who almost lost it at the injustice. She wrote it down. She had good report. Each day she noted more improvement. Things were less chaotic, but they were still off.

After a few months, he returned to the preschool that he had almost been kicked out of. A teacher asked why was he so calm with an accusatory look. The little boy's mother quickly said "He's not on drugs." She shared about the diet and thankfully the school co-operated. At last they got the know the boy he really was. The year before, their interactions with him were simply to manage his behavior. After the diet, they realized what a bright, sweet boy he was. It was encouraging to have others witness the transformation.

She realized how much food is intertwined in the daily living. She had a new persona, the food Nazi. She never left the house without extra snacks. She had to be on guard for the people who lovingly offered non-feingold food. It was a full time job. She was able to look at his behaviors and ask her husband what did he eat. It was like a measuring stick. If she suspected he had eaten the wrong foods, she was usually right.

After a few months she noticed:
He no longer flapped his hands.
The guttural moaning had stopped.
His eye contact improved immensely.
His speech and language had always been great, but it increased dramatically.
The night terrors disappeared.
He obeyed a majority of the time.
His aversion to textured foods went away.
He stopped biting his brothers.
His gait improved.
Grocery stores, libraries and large gatherings became manageable.

After a while, his improvement leveled off. She decided she wasn't satisfied with the progress. After seeing the effects that Sprite had on his ability to keep his feet on the ground, she next eliminated high fructose corn syrup. After about a month of that, many of the SPD symptoms were gone. The behaviors surfaced rarely, when the wrong foods were eaten or when he was overtired. Then it was like a magnifying glass for his symptoms.

After 9 months:
His re-evaluation showed no eligibility for special school services.
His mother dug herself out of her depressing funk and started getting out more. She always carried her trusty lunchbox with her. She was not embarrassed to bring her own food to a restaurant for him. She was just so pleased they could go out in public.

She stopped writing in her diary.

She is so thankful to God for finding this program. She became a voice to share it with others. Just like the Gospel, some rejected it, some embraced it. Next post, she will discuss the tips for implementing the Feingold diet.

If you are curious about which of my little darlings I am talking about, meet him here.

Thanks for stopping by,
I share some tips about starting the diet here.

***Disclaimers Galore***
Any similarities to people in this story are purely intentional. The identities have been changed to protect the guilty and the innocent alike. If you can relate to the nice lady in the story, I encourage you to visit There are testimonies of families who have been greatly helped by this diet. I am not being paid by the Feingold Association for this story.  This post is not to be construed as medical advice, I am a nursing school dropout who reads books. I am not qualified to offer any medical advice, the only thing I have in common with physicians is my messy handwriting.

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chacha said...

Love you FG posts.
Every word is so true for us.
I was just on the members board - there's a new mom with an older son wondering if it would help.
I happily told her we continue to see improvements at 16.
I truly can't imagine not being FG.

Amy said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. We too are considering beginning the Feingold diet. I have ordered the materials and begun making my kitchen Feingold ready. I am a speech pathologist and just finished a professional course discounting the affect of dyes. However, I still think I want to give this a shot because what do we have to lose?

Unknown said...

I adore this post Terri! It is almost earth shattering to realize how deeply some of our children are affected by what they eat. Thank you for sharing; I'm going to pass it along!

TerriG said...

Thanks for the kind words and for passing it along.
Amy: I wish you the best, I will be posting more about implementing the diet. It get's easier the longer you are on it.

Anonymous said...

Ohhh I haven't heard of this but super intersting thanks!

Mandie said...

So glad to have come across this. I can relate to your post in SO many ways. My little one was recently diagnosed with falling on the spectrum of Autism and with Sensory Dysfunction. We have switched to a more organic diet, but I am so glad to have come across the Feingold diet...something I will be researching more now and trying out. :)

Gwen said...

Found your blog through Feingold Newsletter. Thank you for writing these posts! So similar to our own story and so well stated. Bless you and yours, Gwen