FOOD INTOLERANCE NETWORK FACTSHEET

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Withdrawal symptoms

Introduction
Antidote
Reader reports
Further information

Keywords: food intolerance, withdrawal, detox, addiction, food additives

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Introduction

from Sue Dengate’s Failsafe Cookbook, page 20:

Withdrawal symptoms often occur within the first two weeks, in our case on days four and five.

These can be:

  • feeling tearful and overwhelmed
  • strong food cravings
  • irritability
  • forgetful, difficulty concentrating
  • any behavioural symptoms that existed before the diet, e.g. aggression
  • flu and other illnesses (see p.274)
  • mouth ulcers
  • other physical symptoms that existed before the diet e.g. headaches


Howard and I were both surprised by my uncharacteristically aggressive outburst when he ate a mango in front of me on day 4 (he didn't do that again!) Because I've been through it, I feel strongly that children shouldn't be punished for outbursts during withdrawals, but should be kept home from school if possible and kept away from stress. It's not their fault. We probably made our withdrawal symptoms worse by bingeing on fruit and takeaways the weekend before starting.

Withdrawal symptoms are good news because they mean the diet is working and as soon as you get through them you will start improving - and keep on improving while sticking to the diet.

 Antidote

As a temporary antidote for food intolerance reactions and withdrawal symptoms you can use Eno Regular Antacid powder according to packet directions or 1 tsp of soda bicarb in a glass of water (half or less for children). People usually feel better within a few minutes and the effects last about an hour. Don't overuse it - as well as hastening the excretion of food chemicals such as salicylates, these home remedies also hasten the excretion of essential nutrients.

Oliver TK, Dyer ME, The prompt treatment of salicylism with sodium bicarbonate. AMA J Dis Child. 1960 May;99:553-65.

The ingestion of toxic quantities of salicylate results in alterations of acid-base homeostasis which at times may be profound. The pathogenic mechanisms include hyperventilation secondary to respiratory stimulation, increase in metabolic rate, and disturbances in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism.1-6 Further alterations frequently follow the vomiting and dehydration which are so often associated with ingestion of larger amounts of salicylate.

There is no specific antidote for salicylism. Treatment is currently aimed at augmenting elimination of salicylate via the urine or, in severer cases, directly from the blood by hemodialysis or exchange transfusion. Ninety per cent of ingested salicylate is excreted by the kidney. It is eliminated in three forms: free salicylate, salicyluric acid, and salicylglucuronide. At an acid pH, free salicylate accounts for approximately 20% of the total excreted. However, as the urine pH rises above 7.0 both the relative percentage and the total amount of free salicylate increase progressively.
FROM http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=499470#References

 Reader reports

See 3 page collection of reader reports about withdrawals

[1174] Withdrawal symptoms occur in the first 2 weeks of the diet – 12 reports from failsafers (February 2013)

* Day 4 now and into withdrawals - my thoughts are scattered, disjointed, I can almost hear my brain "creaking" as it tries to work!! Even put some bicarb into a glass and then left it there on the bench, instead of adding water and drinking!!!! Found it 1/2 an hour later. My other physical symptoms seem to have improved since day 2, but we'll see how it progresses from here, carefully recording everything too. Boy you wqouldn't believe how long it's taken me to write this email!

* We are on Day 6 today and going fantastically! No withdrawal symptoms so far, just a bit teary at night time (she says her body just wants to cry) ...

* Our son's issues decreased within the first week of the diet. He was less hyper, more compliant, and able to sleep better, except for one noticeable withdrawal episode - his first on-the-floor kicking temper tantrum. - from story [908]

* We booked into a failsafe dietician and started the elimination diet. Our baby son improved a little, and then had textbook withdrawal after a week and a half. In week 3 he slept through the night for the first time in 15 months ...- from story 878

* About a month ago my daughter had developed a cold-sore as part of the withdrawals associated with going back onto the very basic elimination diet after we'd let a few too many fruits and veges creep back into our diet - from story [860]

* I only took out gluten about 1.5 years ago, as I still had some unexplained joint pain. Didn't realise it was connected with my moods, till I came off it and had severe withdrawals - headaches, depression, diarrhoea. On challenging it, I had severe depression, disconnection with reality, had trouble making my body respond to my brain, like I couldn't make a decision to move, and terrible anxiety. So even though I was doing very well on Failsafe and not gluten free, I'm doing even better off gluten. - from story [806]

* At this stage we think that too many amines make our son nasty and too many salicylates make him hyper. Since we took him off the cows milk as well and got over the withdrawals he no longer needs speech therapy, has a great appetite and is putting on weight, is able to enjoy play dates, is calm, doesn't complain of tummy ache etc and our life is much easier. - from story [716]

* We did the diet for our 9-year-old daughter's behaviour problems (fighting, defiance, stealing etc). Within weeks, apart from a few withdrawals, everyone noticed an improvement and now, nine months later – what a difference! - from [528]

* We are doing the elimination diet for my three children. I have been on the diet too and on the two occasions I had chocolate with my husband, I had a huge headache the next day. I have been a chocoholic all my life!! I also had a headache for the first week due to withdrawals, I presume. - from story [212]

* We are doing the elimination diet to try and help our 8 year old daughter. Her main problem is that she has suffered from regular, unexplained and excessive fatigue for several years. We have also recently realised that she suffers a lot of dizziness and light headedness too. On day 3 and 4 of elimination she "lost it" - picked fights, became over emotional, almost hysterical, restless, teary, irrational, and claimed we were all against her. I was a bit scared as this was not in the least her normal behaviour. She also had some nausea. However thankfully these withdrawals eased off by day 5. The first improvement she noticed was that she didn't feel irritable any more. Then she started to say she had more energy. - from [156]

* I went onto failsafe for symptoms that my doctors were calling irritable bowel. I had gone off antidepressants for about six months before testing for IBS, but the first thing the doctors did when looking into my bowel problems was to put me back on antidepressants. During this time I had still been eating my old diet of chocolate, plus other foods that are high in amines. So for my bowel reasons I went onto failsafe, cutting out everything including wheat and dairy. This was very hard, and the withdrawal symptoms were awful, my husband put up with me yelling at him for no except that he wouldn't go and get me chocolate! - from story [344]

* This is our second week Failsafe and the seriously awful headaches from the withdrawal seem to have stopped and I am feeling energetic again. - from story [1137]

[908] 160b: irritability, defiance, head and body banging (June 2010)

We adopted our son from Russia two years ago (he is now three). He is sensory seeking and delayed in speech. We have only recently uncovered a link between his food and behavior, particularly with Annatto. It makes him hyper, sleepless, defiant, irritable, and a body banger against furniture (not limited to head banging), starting within 1-2 hours and lasting up to 24 hours.

Our son had been seeing an occupational therapist 2x's per month for sensory seeking behaviors. The OT recommended looking into a link between nutrition and behavior. We met with an allergist first. Her tests proved negative for protein allergies. She suggested that we start saving food labels any time we suspected reactions and compare them for common ingredients. The first food we noticed was Pepperidge Farm Cheddar Goldfish Crackers. Our son was very stimulated and not able to nap. I saw Annatto listed and wondered what it was. I did an internet search and found your website and others. The next time I saw a reaction, Annatto was in the peach yogurt I had fed him. On this particular day at naptime, he sat backwards in his rocking chair and banged it continually into the wall.

We started the Feingold program here in the U.S. and, as you probably know, it does not address Annatto so we eliminated Annatto as well. Our son's issues decreased within the first week. He was less hyper, more compliant, and able to sleep better, except for one noticeable withdrawal episode - his first on-the-floor kicking temper tantrum. My favorite result to cite is when I asked him to put books away. He answered "Okay, Mama" and did it right away. This is the sweet little boy who was there all along. I hate the idea that the foods I thought were good for him were causing him to misbehave and causing me frustration. We are happy to be Annatto-free now.

We are finding it hard to identify products with Annatto since it is not always stated by name or number in the ingredients list. We are learning to stay away from products with "natural flavors & colors" even if Feingold approved. There are many products that we have since cut out of his diet after discovering the Annatto link.

Changing our son's food and skin care products was easier than I ever imagined. He hardly notices, except for the times I have to say no to certain foods that do not have good things in them for him. It does take extra effort but it is well worth it. Still, I look forward to the day when the food-behavior link is widely accepted, forcing companies to eliminate these harmful additives from our supermarket shelves. – by email, USA

[878] Sleeping problems solved - thanks to sleep webinar (November 2009)

Calvin was an easy baby, slept well, settled after feeds beautifully and was just lovely. Once we started solids, things started changing for the worse. By 12 months he was waking 3-6 times a night screaming and was impossible to soothe. Only sheer exhaustion put him back to sleep. I looked into all sorts of options for sleep training, but none of them sat well with me as I was sure it was a pain issue, not a sleep issue, so I resisted urging from friends and family to control cry and looked into the possibility of food intolerance.

At that same time, Sue was advertising a webinar on sleep and food intolerance. I registered and joined in on the night. I listened and took notes, but still wasn't convinced this was us, I just hated the idea of a restricted diet for Calvin.

By 14 months things were desperate and my husband and I were chronically sleep deprived. We booked into a failsafe dietician and started the elimination diet. Calvin improved a little, and then had textbook withdrawal after a week and a half. In week 3 he slept through the night for the first time in 15 months and then slept through for another 3 nights after that. We have had some up and down nights since then, but nothing like the screaming fits he used to have. 7 weeks on, he has slept through 10 full nights and only woken once or twice for a pat most of the other nights. Now we are slowly introducing challenges, but our need for sleep catch up and Calvin's age has meant that we have opted for the slow route rather than overload challenges. This means we still have a long way to go, but have felt very encouraged by the Fed Up website, book and cookbook - Thanks Sue for all your hard work!! - Pippa, by email

 Further information 

Introduction to food intolerance

www.fedup.com.au

The information given is not intended as medical advice. Always consult with your doctor for underlying illness. Before beginning dietary investigation, consult a dietician with an interest in food intolerance. You can see our list of experienced and supportive dietitians http://fedup.com.au/information/support/dietitians 

© Sue Dengate February 2017

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