The effects of diet

        Many children suffer at home and at school with hyperactivity, inability to focus, and a wide number of diagnoses lumped together as learning disabilities. Among these latter designations may be auditory processing problems and dyslexia.

        Parents, often at a loss as to what to do about their childrenís difficulties, may be ignoring the one thing that can make the most significant changes in their childrenís behavior: diet.

        Many of the foods introduced into our diet are full of fat, salt, and sugars. They are processed and full of chemicals. At my school, the teachers escort our students to the cafeteria for lunch. Iím pleased that I donít have to stay there for a long time. Itís nt because of the noise factory (although I do appreciate getting away from the youthful exuberance for a while). Itís because I canít stand to see what most of the kids are eating for lunch!

        Most importantly, enough research has been done to indicate clearly that in many cases, symptoms of hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), autism, asthma, and sleep disorders related to ADHD disappear altogether with the change of diet - and no additional drugs are needed.

        Typical programs, like Dr. Benjamin Feingoldís, suggest eliminating ingredients such as artificial food dye and flavors; BHA, BHT, and TBHQ (petroleum-based preservatives), salycylates, and corn syrup.

        As a parent trying to modify your childís diet, your greatest challenge is going to be instituting changes for your child while others around him continue to consume the same things that they have been eating. This is not easy, but it is also not impossible. You will have to appeal to your childís desire to feel better.

        Two helpful sources are available to parents who would like to delve into this subject. Thomas Armstrong wrote The Myth of the A.D. D. Child: 50 Ways to Improve Your Childís Behavior and Attention Span Without Drugs, Labels, or Coercion.

        Dr. Benjamin Feingold, one of the earliest researchers in this field, wrote Why Your Child is Hyperactive. The Feingold Association of the United States can be reached at (800) 321-3287,

This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents.

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