Fedup Newsletters




Newsletter of the Food Intolerance Network of Australia

July 1998


FAILSAFE (formerly the Dietpage) supports families using the low-chemical elimination diet recommended by the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital - free of additives, low in salicylates, amines and flavour enhancers - for health, behaviour and learning problems.



Welcome to FAILSAFE newsletter, formerly known as the Dietpage. Thanks to families who sent the following comments:

• 'all feel much better' after 10 days on diet

• a little girl who asked 'when are we going to get the lemons?' - because it is a 'lemonation diet'

• numerous accounts of 's/he has really changed - like a different child'

• and of support from schools, see details below

Also in this issue, diet drinks and hot dogs.


Sue Dengate Editor

Do you react to diet drinks?


Parents sometimes confess they are 'addicted to diet cola'. This letter is from a young woman to food researcher, Dr CK Conners. I suppose the best way to sum up the past three years of my life would be to call them a living hell. I was trapped in a deep dark and seemingly endless state of depression that neither my doctors nor I could find reason for. The only way to explain the magnitude of my turmoil would be to start at the beginning and therefore give you a clear impression of my life before and after aspartame entered it. Before aspartame was introduced to the public my life had been full and very rewarding. I was a top student and very active in all sports and social activities. The highlight of those years being when I competed in [World Championship Games in Europe]. It was just months after this event ... that aspartame was introduced ... into my daily life.

Teenage girls


This low calorie sugar substitute instantly became a success and the 'saviour' of teenage girls like myself who were diet and health conscious. With this product in the new diet sodas we could drink as much as we wanted and not have to worry about our waistlines or possible health hazards that saccharin was reported to have.

I would drink a diet soda to quench my thirst after a workout and it soon became a regular routine for me to opt for a diet drink over all other drinks whenever possible. It soon became a well known fact amongst my friends that I was a total addict of the drinks. A fact we all laughed at because what could be the harm in such an addiction?

A swig between classes


It got to the point where I would always have a huge bottle of the stuff in my locker so that I could take a swig between classes. The teachers even kidded me that they should have the stuff analysed to see if it was spiked. They even documented the fact by mentioning my 'addiction to Tab, Fresca and Coke' (all diet drinks containing aspartame) in [the class magazine].

The last two years of school ... were radically different from the previous years. I became gradually more and more depressed. Many times unable to leave the house for classes or to see my friends. I began to lose interest in all those extra-curricular activities and rarely could bring myself to do those things that I used to thrive on such as jogging, biking, dancing or just horsing around. Nothing was FUN anymore.

It's only now, four years later that I have learned about the side effects of aspartame that I have realised the correlation between the introduction of aspartame into my life and my gradually growing depression. But back in high school I had no idea why I was feeling the way I was. It honestly seemed at the time that the only enjoyment I was getting our of life was a cold can or bottle of diet soda. I had somewhere along the line lost the ability to enjoy anything else.

A lump of flesh


It got to the point where my daily routine consisted of watching TV, eating, and the consumption of at least 10 to 15 cans of diet sodas. But to add to the problem I began to gain weight because of my inactivity and poor eating habits brought on by my depression. In those few years I had gone from a vibrant outgoing person to a lump of flesh on the family-room couch.

I tried many times to overcome my depression but to no avail. I just continued to drain can after can after bottle after bottle of the stuff hoping that I would somehow just snap out of it [She then goes on to describe her unhelpful experiences with a series of doctors. After seeing a news report about aspartame she stopped drinking it. She continues:]



In conclusion I'd like to say that since I've stopped using aspartame I have noticed an improvement in my attitude. When I first tried to stop use I experienced shaking, nausea and a tremendous urge to have a diet drink. I wasn't able to stop immediately so I gradually cut down the number of cans each day until I had quit altogether ...


This letter is from chapter 2 The Aspartame Story in Dr Conner's Feeding the Brain (Guilford Press, 1989). Symptoms such as chest pains, blurred vision, skin rash, headaches in temple area, behaviour outbursts and seizures are also mentioned. To read more, try your library or Silvereye mail order bookshop, ph 02 4987 3457.


How schools can help


Thanks to two Darwin rural primary schools which have introduced a strict no-lunch-swapping rule. This is the very best support schools can give to families who are using diet. Thanks also to Virginia creche for providing suitable food for a two-year-old on the elimination diet plus food to share one day a week so he won't feel different.



Reader question


Q. What's in hot dogs?

A. In Watsonia frankfurts and saveloys we found:


• Preservative 250 (sodium nitrite).

Nitrites can change the nature of the red blood cells and cause breathing difficulty, pallor, dizziness or headaches. For this reason, nitrites are not permitted in foods intended for infants and young children. Nitrites can also react in the stomach to form nitrosamines which are potentially carcinogenic. Eating fresh yellow and green vegetables in the same meal is considered to give protection against stomach cancer.


• Preservative 223 (sodium metabisulphite)

Sulphites are considered to be a particular problem for asthmatics.

Treatment of food with sulphites reduces the vitamin B1 content, so is not recommended for meat products.


• Preservative 318 (sodium erythorbate)

An antioxidant like BHA and BHT.

All three of these additives have been associated with problems such as headaches, stomach aches, asthma, eczema, restlessness, irritability and sleep disturbance. Symptoms may occur a day or two after ingestion.

Further reading:The New Additive Code-Breaker by Maurice Hanssen, Lothian, 1989 and Friendly Food by Dr Anne Swain and others, Murdoch, 1991



The big picture


In my general paediatric practice in Jackson, Tennessee (population 50,000) in the 1950s, my partners and I were 'the only game in town'. No other full-time paediatricians and only a rare family practitioner.

Yet we saw only an occasional hyperactive kid ...


In the 1970s, I saw so many hyperactive children that I kept records of every new youngster with this problem during a period of five years. In 1980, I reported my observations in the Journal of Learning Disabilities. The parents of 136 of the 182 children found that their child's hyperactive behaviour was diet-related. - Notes from a presentation by Dr William Crook, well-known American author. Reprinted from FAUS Newsletter.

Around Australia


Dietitian in Adelaide: Tania Emms has a strong interest in dietary management of ADHD. She is now consulting at Dr Ian Buttfield's surgery at 225 South Road, Mile End.on Saturday mornings. Ph 8234 5055 for bookings.


Diet support in Melbourne: Jenny Saal, ph 03 9740 5645


The shopping news


Look in Asian shops for:


3 Chefs Rice Paper gluten-free pastry substitute (ingredients, rice, water, salt - place in a plate of water for a minute to soften then spread both sides with nuttelex or oil, wrap around filling and deep fry or bake for about 1 hour).


Spring Home frozen spring roll wrappers: (wheat flour, water and salt) for spring rolls, sausage rolls and sweet rolls like pear strudel. Most Australian frozen pastries contain antioxidants except Pampas Butter Puff.


Birgit's pear jam (pears, sugar, pectin, citric acid) and Birgit's pear ketchup (pears,brown sugar, salt, citric acid, cornflour, water) at $5 per 500 ml tub is now available for Darwin readers. Order on the answering machine at 8981.2444 (BH) and collect from the group meeting or from Master Coaching Thursdays 4-5 pm (specify pickup when ordering). For readers in other locations, try Pear Jam and Pear Chutney recipes in Friendly Foods. If you don't have sterilized jars, just allow to cool, spoon into plastic tubs and store in the freezer.

Cooks' Corner


Grilled chicken - thanks to Chris GriffithsMarinate chicken thigh fillets in a mixture of golden syrup, garlic, oil, water, citric acid and salt for at least half an hour. Grill and serve on rice or fried rice with chopped swedes, bean shoots, green beans, shallots, garlic and salt.


Gluten-free carob cake- thanks to Marilyn at Virginia Creche


125 gms butter or Nuttelex

1½ cups sugar

1 cup water

2 tbspn carob powder

1 tspn soda bicarb

2 well beaten eggs

1½ cups rice flour

¾ cup cornflour

1 tspn baking powder

Place Nuttelex, sugar, water and carob in a saucepan and simmer until mixed. Remove from heat. Add 1 tspn of soda bicarb and stir. The mixture will froth up. Leave until cool, add beaten eggs, flours, and baking powder/ Bake in a paper-lined greased cake tin at 200°C for 50 mins or until cooked. Ice when cool.

© Sue Dengate