Trump: food-induced oppositional defiance?



“We have a three-year-old in the Oval Office,” wrote an American journalist this week, describing Trump as “our infant-in-chief” for his handling of the current racial, health and economic disasters in America.

Then there are the tantrums

“A toddler threw a self-pitying tantrum on live television … he was 73 years old … and running the world’s most powerful country.”

Other Trump behaviours

So, is ODD a worry?

According to American psychiatrist Dr Michael Goulson, Trump has ODD - oppositional defiant disorder and I agree. Among other behaviours, he describes Trump’s “scornful, smug smiles” when defying authority figures,.

Irritability is the core feature of ODD, and other symptoms include:

  • losing temper
  • arguing with adults or people in authority
  • refusing requests and defying rules
  • deliberately annoying others
  • blaming others for own mistakes
  • touchy and easily annoyed
  • angry and resentful
  • spiteful or vindictive

However, Dr Goulson concludes that this is “troubling and concerning” in Trump’s case because there is not much you can do to stop ODD. It’s true that medication for ADHD makes kids with ODD worse because they are better able to focus on being defiant. But like most doctors, Dr Goulson has completely overlooked the magic answer for ODD – diet!

Effects of food on ODD

The science has shown (1) that the 4 main behaviours caused by food additives are:

  • irritability
  • restlessness
  • inattention
  • sleep disturbance

As we have seen in the list above, Trump appears to have all of those. In our experience - more than 25 years running the food intolerance network - the symptoms of oppositional defiance can vanish when you change what you eat.

“My eight year old son was recently diagnosed ADHD and ODD by three different doctors. They all said we would be wasting our time altering his diet … we started the diet. My God, the improvement was almost instant. He changed from an aggressive and argumentative little creep to a loving and caring little boy almost immediately …. He now realises that some things make him cranky and steers away from them … he says he doesn't like being his angry self”.– concerned father from story [039]

“Through this diet, my child (with ASD, OCD, ODD and anger), appears more and more balanced. Our highly qualified psychologist took one look at my child in the waiting room at her last appointment (a month into the diet) and said “This is a completely different child. What on earth have you been doing to achieve this?” (The achievement being a calm and responsive child.) “– from story [1413]

Trump’s diet

According to Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager who wrote the book “Let Trump Be Trump”, Trump’s main, frequently eaten foods are McDonald’s, KFC, pizza, and Diet Coke. He says Trump would often skip breakfast then have a full McDonald’s dinner of two Big Macs, two Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, and a small chocolate shake. He avoids alcohol, tea or coffee and drinks 12 cans of Diet Coke per day. He also likes steak with ketchup, ice cream and snacking on crisps, and apparently had the White House kitchens stocked with Lay’s potato chips and Doritos.  Oh, and he also takes aspirin (salicylates) as a daily medication.

All of those items can cause problems for people with food intolerances. The RPAH diagnostic elimination diet (2) that we recommend avoids 50 additives and 3 natural food chemicals including salicylates. A big Mac contains 6 of the 50 additives we avoid. Salicylate-sensitivity is often a problem for those with oppositional defiance, and one aspirin contains more salicylates than a whole day’s worth of food in a typical western diet. (3)

What would happen if Trump went failsafe?

Maybe it would have the same effect on him as on our readers, like this [1327]

More reader stories 

“My husband was so amazed at the difference diet has made to our daughter’s mega-tantrums he has decided to cut out lots of the bad foods he eats at work … he figures it must be affecting him in much the same way!!” – Andrea from story [861]

“I have ADHD and when I was following this diet I was so much better … it was easy to think and concentrate ... it works, definitely do it” – Ash from story [1503]

“I took my son for his first ADHD paediatric psychiatrist visit since being on failsafe. Although the psychiatrist had approved taking him off medication he didn't have it in his notes so we decided to not tell them until after testing that he wasn't medicated. Well, the results were the best he's had in over 7 years. He had greatly improved in all areas academically and his brain function test showed he was much less distracted. These results are better than any he ever had when being medicated so we are very proud of our young man … He's very proud of himself too. The absolute biggest thing for us is that he has friends now. No one used to want to play with the naughty kid” – Larissa from story [1332]

“My 2.5 yo showed symptoms similar to very similar to severe ODD, ADHD with anger, over emotional, anxiety, inability to concentrate on a task, several tantrums a day with each lasting anywhere up to 45 mins, irritability, aggression, frustration, sleep disturbance … within two weeks of changing diet we saw a completely different child … She became a calm, normal, loving, happy, intelligent, creative child“ - from story [1327]

“I have been an insomniac since I was 16 … I have lived on approximately four hours sleep a day … I eliminated many foods ... and suddenly found myself able to fall asleep in ten minutes … I have realized only today that I am probably salicylate sensitive” – Ingrid from story [150]

“My son now 3½ was always active … and he had no attention span…His biggest problem is salicylates and colourings…Three days on the elimination diet (through RPA) and he was a changed child… far more teachable with … the ability to pay attention to things better than before…” – from story [215]

“Annatto (160b) … makes my daughter extremely defiant, teary and she throws mega tantrums … it is in so many "healthy foods" yoghurt, icecreams, cheese, etc” – Tamsin from story [888]


1. Rowe KS and Rowe KJ, Synthetic food coloring and behavior: a dose response effect in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, repeated-measures study, 1994, J Pediatr 125(5 Pt 1): 691-8.

2. Swain AR et al, Salicylates in foods, J American Dietetic Ass, 1985;85(8): 950-960.

3. Swain AR et al, Salicylates, oligoantigenic diets, and behaviour, Lancet, 1985; 2(8445): 41-2.

Sue’s blog Study: diet can cause insomnia in adults

More info

Intro to food intolerance

List of supportive dietitians, many of whom will do Skype or phone consults (including internationally)

RPAH diagnostic elimination diet, Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital allergy clinic

Factsheet on Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)