Our 4yo son's behaviour really (apparently) deteriorated while I was pregnant with our second. It is hard to know if it's because you get lazy with the food whilst pregnant and go with more convenience products or a myriad of any other things. But I certainly recall during my pregnancy knowing that this couldn't go on! His day time behaviour didn't seem terrible, just the terrible two's, right? He would play quietly by himself for long periods of time and only if you asked him to stop doing the thing that he was enjoying, the reaction was over the top response. His tantrums were unbelievable. It would start with a simple over reaction to something and he just would be quite literally hysterical. No amount of comfort or words would ease the tantrum. The only way to deal with him was to usher him to his bed where he would scream it out. He would then sheepishly come out and we could move on.

The saddest, scariest day for me, he came out of the kitchen carrying 5 toys (as kids are known to do) he dropped one, and then all of them, he just lost the plot! Screaming, out of control, and the look on his face told me his head was in agony. I knew that if he was a teenager feeling what he was feeling, there is no doubt in my mind that he would suicide. What other way out is there? He didn't sleep well, not more than 2 hours at a time, and it would generally take 3 hours to get him to sleep. Draining.

We were introduced to food being the root of our problem, thanks to my mum. First thing we pulled out of the cupboard was Heinz Baby Fruit Bars. Checking every ingredient and it is the last ingredient that is the problem: Annatto (160b)! According to The Chemical Maze "May cause irritability; head banging; hives; headache; sleep disturbance; restlessness" Our boy, of 2 and 1/2 was suffering from all but the head banging, and hives, although I would argue that he had hives on the brain, as I would describe it.

Annatto is in everything! So even though I was giving him a variety of foods, he was still getting a good dose of annatto every day. the fruit bars, vanilla ice cream, fruit drink concentrate, crumbed deli products, cereals, noodles, caramel rice cakes, almost every aisle in the supermarket contains annatto in it. And this poor little fellow was like a junky. He would go scratching at the pantry door trying to get at the products that contained his fix. I marvelled at how he knew that was what would fix his pains. But I was the same with dark chocolate, I didn't know it caused the headaches, I just knew that it made them go away. Immediately all things with annatto were removed from the cupboard and given away, with much guilt I might add. Within 3 days it was plainly obvious that he was feeling great. We had a few incidents early on, learning what products really do contain 160b. It's hard for people to understand unless they see it firsthand too. I was really lucky that Mum had stayed for the whole week and saw the turn around. And, although it wasn't a hard sell for her, she already understood the link between food and the body; it is always great to see positive results.

From there you could start to see more ups and downs, that other things were causing troubles. And every time I researched, it brought me back to www.fedup.com.au and salicylates. It took a little while to figure out that was what we needed. I read Sue Dengate's book, Fed Up with children's behaviour. The entire book was light bulby for me, my child hood would have been so much better had this information been available to my mother. All I kept thinking while reading the book; was that this is the book that should be read by mothers when they come home with their newborns. You are told to look for reactions, but you really don't understand what that means. We are also told there is no manual for babies, but I really feel that the Fed Up book is a great start.

It was pretty much a no brainer to go failsafe, but the approach was tricky, as change always is... But after a slow two week start, which I had declared we would use up what we had in the house but only buy failsafe things. Didn't work out too well, I couldn't in good conscience actually cook with any of that stuff. Before you know it we were boxing the food up to give away.

It took me a few months to find my feet, many nights crying myself to sleep, and many days worried sick. It was only after moving to rural Queensland that I was able to meet with an Allied Health dietician that familiar with the RPAH Elimination Diet and could be helpful. But this was 12 months after we had started, and I really had found my feet. We got there in the end, the transition was painful. We now live on the strict elimination diet now. Only low chemical for us. Any challenge we make ends in negative results. So there is no deviation from the path for us. My previously fussy eater is now expanding on his food palette. I would never have thought it possible. But it seems that a lot of kids with food intolerance are fussy eaters. Somehow their brain has the food/feeling connection but it just doesn't tell us.

As it turns out, my mother doesn't fair well with Annatto in products either, it gives her terrible dreams and for her, it is just best avoided. Of course, I would advocate for its removal from our food. Is it really necessary, it is just a colour, a colour with other safer alternatives? – Jayne from Qld.