More on Food Sensitivities By Vanessa Sheets

We received many comments regarding the article “Living with Food Sensitivities”, so please enjoy the second part to this article.
This is what life has been like with my son Brian for the last year. He alternates from easygoing to quickly becoming aggressive and upset if he has eaten the wrong foods. I’ve learned that Brian reacts to gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye) and casein (a protein found in dairy foods), along with any foods containing artificial colors and flavors.
Another mother in our homeschooling group first suggested Brian could be reacting to certain foods after hearing me describe Brian’s afternoon screaming and inconsolability. She told me what she knew about the Feingold program and thought it might explain my son’s behavior.
As I previously mentioned at first, I didn’t believe that Brian’s behavior was caused by his diet. As a health writer passionate about natural medicine, I am committed to feeding our family organic, whole foods and rarely serve my son anything processed. But days after talking with my friend about the Feingold program, we were returning home from the park and Brian was suddenly irritable, bursting into repeated screams and stomping his feet. I thought about the bag of Doritos another child shared with my son earlier on the playground and considered that certain foods could be affecting his behavior.
Once I made the connection between what Brian ate and how he felt afterwards, I began to eliminate foods that are known to cause reactions in other children to see if it helped. This elimination diet is recommended by the Feingold program.
Nutrition and Behavior
Dr. Benjamin Feingold, the late pediatrician and allergist who discovered that food additives can trigger behavior and learning problems in children, developed a low-additive diet in the 1960s. Parents who began using the diet Feingold outlined in his book Why Your Child is Hyperactive started the non-profit Feingold Association to share information and develop programs for families new to the diet. Because it also includes non-food items such as detergents and lotions containing chemicals that could cause sensitive children to react, the plan is considered a program rather than a diet.
Is Your Child Reacting to Food?
If your child exhibits on or more of the following symptoms, she may be sensitive to food additives and/or naturally-occurring salicylates, according to the Feingold Association:
* Gets upset too easily
* Impatient
* Doesn’t seem to hear you
* Aggressive
* Irritable
* Doesn’t recognize danger
* Sleep difficulties
* Bed wetting, daytime wetting
* Repetitive actions
* Talks too much or too loudly
* Argumentative
* Sensitive to noise, sounds and lights
* Uncoordinated
* Physical problems such as headaches, stomachaches, asthma, hives, ear infections and poor digestion
* Poor handwriting
What You Can Do
If you suspect that your child is reacting to certain foods, Jane Hersey, author of Why Can’t My Child Behave and Director of the Feingold Association recommends the following:
1. Visit the Feingold Association’s website (see below) to find more information and resources for parents who have children with food sensitivities.
2. Read the list of ingredients on the food packages in your kitchen. Consider tossing anything with color and number combinations (Yellow 5, Red 40) that indicate artificial colorings, along with foods that contain preservatives BHA, BHT, TBHQ and sodium benzoate.
3. Try to avoid drinks that contain artificial colors and flavors, aspartame and vanillin (fake vanilla).
4. Look at your child’s vitamins, toothpaste, and any medicine, which may also contain additives.
5. Know that even fruits such as apples and grapes can trigger symptoms in your child if she is sensitive to salicylates.
6. Test your child using the elimination diet recommended by the Feingold Association. This is the most accurate way to determine of your child’s symptoms are a result of food sensitivities.
7. Consider joining a support group for parents of children with food sensitivities. Other parents can offer suggestions on everything from how to help your child identify offending foods to how to handle birthday parties or teachers who hand out candy.
8. Maintain a positive attitude about making changes in your family’s diet.