Growing pains and diet


Doctors say they do not know what causes growing pains, but they do know that growing pains

  • are not caused by growing
  • are equally common among boys and girls
  • may run in families
  • aren’t a sign of something more serious
  • are painful, but they’re temporary; they’re usually gone by the teen years


In our experience (25 years of supporting families doing the RPAH elimination diet)

    growing pains are a symptom of food intolerance

A mother wrote with the following question -

Q. I'm researching failsafe eating for my son for behavioural issues however he also suffers growing pains.  I presumed they were hereditary as I used to suffer them badly as a child.  Are growing pains linked to a particular food? 

A. With food intolerance, everyone is different and any symptom can be associated with any food chemical, depending on individual sensitivity. You can find out exactly what affects your son by doing the RPAH elimination diet with challenges, see

Reader reports

My 4 yo son used to wake up complaining of pains in his legs, sometimes they were so bad he would be sobbing with the pain. The doctor said it was just growing pains but after reading your website we tried an additive free diet. We found that he only gets these pains if he has been eating ham and devon (with nitrate/nitrite preservatives). [857]

My youngest daughter seemed to be the only one that reacted to the 282 (calcium propionate) challenge. By the afternoon of the first day of the challenge she was once again complaining of aching legs. She had not complained the whole time while we have been on the diet, and she used to wake up crying, we had previously put it down to growing pains. [849]

Our older daughter was well within the scope of a 'normal' child before the elimination diet.  The only reason she did it was because the whole family did it to support her sister.  We would never have sorted out why she ... got such growing pains [and some other problems]. All these disappeared on the diet ...[613]

 ...since discovering failsafe eating ... my family's diet changed for the better as well, and my younger son's mysterious "growing pains" disappeared. [1173]

Growing pains facebook thread

Any suggestions for likely culprits for growing pains or pains in legs for 11 yo?  - Glenda

For my son it’s salicylates. He also gets nose bleeds and headaches when he has gone over his threshold - Claire

Amines for my two daughters - Julie

My 10yr old has got better off sals (salicylates) - Leigh

Sals (salicylates) cause growing pain type leg pain here, without fail, every time - Susie

Cutting out all artificial and natural food colouring from our daughters diet had stopped all her restless legs and muscle pain! Has worked wonders for her!!! - Michele

In our case glutamates and salicylates - Adelie

I used to think my daughter was faking growing pains. When we did the elimination diet I was absolutely shocked to find she wasn't 'faking it' almost every night for attention and it wasn't 'normal'. The amine challenge was the only time she had them. Once upon a time sleep didn't exist in our house due to night time leg pain. Now the only time she gets them is after too much cheese (we have added mild cheese back in to her diet) and after other cheat days (at parties with friends/relatives) that include too much amines or natural flavours ... - Tanya1

My 13 year old suffered horrible growing pains. We started FS 12 months ago and have discovered for him it is additives - Tanja all from [1254]

More info

Intro to food intolerance

How to start failsafe eating

The free Failsafe booklets

Our list of supportive dietitians

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