[599] Anita’s speech: a 10-year-old tells her school about food intolerance (November 2007) WINNER OF THE COURAGE AWARD

Near the end of 2006 I was getting sick and tired of all the kids at my old school ripping me off and teasing me for being on a ‘diet’. In October I had a school project to do, something that we were passionate about. I asked my teacher if I could talk about the diet. So I spoke in front of 380 children, parents and teachers at Maitland Public School. See my speech below.

Parents, Teachers and Classmates,

In June 2005 mum put myself and my brother on a diet as I was very hated and always getting into trouble and even being called ‘Hekyl and Jekyll’ by our school counsellor. No matter how hard I tried, I could not seem to behave better.

At first we hated the ‘diet’ because we couldn't have our ‘normal’ food and we did not like being teased some of the kids at our school, some of you did not invite us to birthday parties because of the diet. We soon realised how much better we felt and how much better we were behaving, the food wasn't that bad, it was really good and good for us, so we both decided that when people ripped us off we would say ‘We are not on a diet, but an ‘Adventure’, we are not made to do it, we choose to because it will make us healthier’. So everyone in our family and friends call it our Adventure, not a diet.

On the adventure we have found that I react to Amines as well as the artificial stuff and especially 160b, and my brother reacts to Sulphites and the artificial stuff as well. Mum also found that I get very sick when I eat stuff with 160b which is advertised as natural, which I guess it is but they do not tell you it can make you extremely sick. When I eat these types of foods, I get very irritable, cranky, aggressive, violent, black bags under my eyes and sometimes would bang my head against things to try and make the pain go away. I do not mean to do this but I cannot stop myself from doing it.

I have not had and neither has my brother any problems since June. It feels so much better to able to control myself and not get into trouble. I know that some people especially teachers I have already upset, and sadly I know no matter how hard I try or how good I get, you will not change your thoughts about me, so I have decided with my mum, dad and brother to move to the new school that is being built, just around the corner from our house to start a new ‘Adventure’ and hopefully will make new friends and people will accept me for who I am.

We cannot believe that the big companies are watching out for us, because they aren't, if they were, they would not be putting all of this stuff in our food when it makes us sick. They are more interested in getting money, which is wrong. Once you start looking at what is in our foods, it will make you sick to think that is what we are putting into our bodies.

Just by cutting out the additives, preservatives and natural things like 160b, you will see how much better you will feel, not just for us kids, but the adults as well. Our Adventure really has made a huge difference. Give it a try, it is a lot of work to make sure you don't eat the bad things, but if you have the support of your family and friends, it makes a great difference.... My brother and I are very lucky, we have mum, dad, grandma, grand-dad and our church all supporting us. Church, Before & After school care phone mum when they are having ‘party’ days and mum makes something that we can enjoy.

Parents, all you are pretty much doing is going back to basic eating like my parents and grandparents used to do not that long ago. We are all tired, but mum & dad both work full time and can manage to do this for us - to make us healthier. The more people that do this then the quicker the big companies will click and realise we won't be buying their unhealthy food.

Thank you for listening. I hope it makes a difference.