"We were doomed from the start when you look back on it."

I grew up on the Great Lakes in Canada. My father worked at Allied Chemical (located on the water) for 20 odd years. We ate fish that he caught in the Lakes two or three times a week. I remember tumours being common in these fish in the latter days. I do wonder what effect living in this environment and eating the fish has had on the situation I am presently in.

I used to be a hairstylist, but had to give it up due to reactions to colours, perms, allergy to latex gloves and sensitivity to customers' perfumes. I also have hayfever. My husband has asthma and seasonal allergies and his whole family has asthma.

From birth, our daughter never slept more than 40 minutes at a time, day or night, and by the second week she screamed most of the time. Nobody understood why she wouldn't "just fall alseep" in her pram or her crib or the car. She was seen by a quite a few doctors, midwives and early childcare nurses but no one did much except to label it reflux and say it would correct itself. Tresillian (mother and baby program) gave a different answer every time. Nursing Mothers put me on a high salicylate diet and told me to feed her around the clock. Needless to say she was totally out of sorts, crying all the time and inconsolable!

Then an early childcare nurse lent me a copy of Fed Up and sent me to a dietitian. I immediately started on the elimination diet. My baby calmed down in the beginning, but it wasn't a cure all. I was to the point of just eating rice, chicken and egg and trying to keep my milk supply up to breastfeed. When my baby started losing weight we went to RPAH and started on Neocate. It took a few weeks to wean her but once she was feeling better she accepted it.

Once she was settled we tried to slowly introduce foods from about 6 or 7 months. Except for a small amount of potato and chicken she reacted terribly to everything. She would wake all through the night screaming, refuse a nap and scream all day, refuse her formula and food in general. She was irritable, had loose bowels several times a day, and would be very aggressive.

I also try to stay away from all chemicals in the house for cleaning. She has had terrible reactions to paint fumes in the early days when I didn't realize how sensitive she was. We were trying to renovate our house, that's on hold for a long while.

I had never heard of this before. Allergies to nuts and things yes, but food intolerance and everything that goes along with it, no

- Rita, NSW

Birth - Chris is born nearly 2 months early. We stay in hospital until Chris is a month old. Staff regularly comment on the huge amount of crying he does and his restlessness. They put this down to a consequence of being prem and assure me he will be more normal and settled by the time he was due to be born.

2 mths - Chris doesn't settle - he gets worse, screaming and crying all the time all day and night. Regularly passes out from lack of oxygen. We try every colic remedy available - nothing helps. I even try giving him a range of formulas on the doctor's advice - none of these make any difference so after a few day on each I go back to breastfeeding.

2 1/2 mths - we notice Chris has a serious hernia and needs an emergency operation - his stomach is split right across and the muscles are trapping the arteries going to the testes - we hope no permanent damage is done - staff and doctors tell me it was probably caused as a result of the bad colic he has and him pushing in pain all the time. They assure me he will be a lot better when his stomach heals and should settle down - a bit of a contradiction but I go home and hope.

3 1/2 mths - I am totally exhausted and can not cope at all anymore - sick of the lack of support and everybody telling me that babies cry and I should just get over it. They all think I am a hypochondriac. I start colouring behaviour charts showing his screaming/crying/grizzling and sleep. I now know I am not exaggerating or pulling things out of proportion - the charts show he is worse than I thought. He is crying and screaming for about 18 hours out of 24. When he does sleep out of exhaustion it will be for one or two hours only - generally throughout the night. He rarely sleeps during daylight hours.

I ring my doctor in desperation. I am afraid I might hurt Chris if I don't get some sleep soon and get him sorted out. My doctor admits us to hospital. The staff take over Chris and I get to sleep. Staff are amazed at the amount Chris screams - at first they think it is just because he is away from me and home but I assure them he is the same at home. His crying continues non stop even after being in hospital over a week and in my arms a lot of the time. The doctor suggests we try
the elimination diet. We see our local dietitian. I start the diet. The dietitian suggests we don't give Chris any solids for a while. I read somewhere that he shouldn't get them until he is about 7 to 8 months old.

4 1/2 mths Chris is getting a lot better. He isn't screaming near as much though is still crying a fair bit. We really notice it when I eat anything on the no go list - we have to cope with his screaming within 24 hours. Chris's diarrhea is nowhere near as constant. He is now sleeping for 4 to 5 hour blocks at night and settling quickly after a feed and change. His body language now shows more tiredness rather than pain symptoms when he is upset. His reflux has disappeared.

5 1/2 mths My behaviour charts show that Chris is improving a lot. He is now crying more than screaming. He is slowly getting over all withdrawal symptoms of the many chemicals in the foods that I was eating that were affecting him. I still can't get him to sleep during the day. (The diet is not as effective as it should be because I am making salicylate mistakes like drinking way too much lemonade and eating lots of carrots and pumpkin - but I don't find that out for another 10 months.)

7 1/2 mths We start using management strategies to try to get Chris to sleep during the day. Our doctor thinks he can't sleep as he doesn't know how and is not in the habit. We succeed after a week and now Chris is sleeping for 2 hours in the morning and afternoon. We also introduce some solid foods. Chris's crying and grizzling improves hugely. He is now actually appearing to be really happy sometimes.

12 mths Chris weans himself and has been on Neocate ever since - other formulas such as soy cause instant unpleasant reactions - back to no sleep and crying a lot.

14 mths Chris goes off all carrots and pumpkin - makes it really hard for me to find foods to get him to eat as he eats a huge amount of each of these. We notice a big change in Chris - he stops grizzling altogether and is suddenly really easy to manage. He is a lot more agreeable!! Have a look through my books and discover that pumpkin and carrot are moderate in salicylates - I thought they were low!! No wonder he wasn't 100%. He was obviously getting too many salicylates!

19 mths Chris is now fantastic. We are really enjoying him. He reacts to all the things avoided on the elimination diet still so it is not much fun when we try challenges. We really pay for it - he reacts differently with different chemicals. Salicylates, preservatives and amines make him scream in pain and he gets diarrhea. Preservative 282 in bread is by far the worst - within 3 hours Chris is screaming in agony and has chronic diarrhea. When I was breastfeeding and ate 282 he would react within 12 hours. Colours make him really hyperactive, uncontrollable and he ends up getting hurt. - Dani, WA

"I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) in June 1998. At the time I was at university, plus working morning and night teaching aerobics, and training for competition aerobics every day. As well, I had an active social life. With glandular fever five years before, I was probably overdoing it.

I was finally diagnosed with CFS after seven months of severe weight loss and fatigue, and various other debilitating symptoms including headaches, blurred vision, memory loss, inability to sleep, and chronic bowel and stomach irritations. This diagnosis came from a wonderful doctor who I still see regularly today. He was the only doctor not to diagnose me with an eating disorder or a mental illness!

My weight plummeted from an athletic 58kg to a frightening 32kg in the space of about 9 months. It seemed the more food I ate the more weight I lost. Taking a gamble, my doctor sent me off to the food allergy clinic at RPA in Sydney, and we found what was to be the turning point in my battle with CFS. I was extremely sensitive to chemicals both natural and artificial in foods and perfumed products.

I was put on an extremely restricted diet of boiled white rice and white fish and within days many of my symptoms had begun to disappear. I no longer suffered from stomach pains and wind, and my mouth ulcers were reduced in number. For someone who loves cooking and food this was very difficult to come to terms with but since I was facing death if I kept going as I was, I was willing to give anything a go and stick to it rigidly. The side effects of not being disciplined were too great and the consequences too risky.

So I followed the chemical free diet and within one month I had started to regain weight. It took about four months before I could start introducing the most basic of items such as green beans or potato and it didn’t take much to tip me over the edge, but using the time I had (lots of it) I became very creative in the kitchen.

Within six months we could all see that this diet and way of life was the way in which I would fully recover. It has taken me until only a few months ago really to be able to go out to a restaurant, for example, and eat a meal but even so the choices are limited. To others I know my diet is still so restricting, but to me I am now in foodie heaven enjoying the odd mango along with limited dairy products and while I used to hate frozen peas I just can’t get enough of them now. Gluten for me is still definitely a no go zone, but everything else I can cope with most of the time in moderation. Hey, I even enjoyed frozen Christmas pudding this year and felt great the next day.

I cannot say how much this chemical free diet has helped me. I am now fully recovered from CFS after a very long four years and am back to a healthy weight. I am married and have started my own business called Floradiction - a wedding and event floral and candle design business. I will always be restricted in what I eat but the positives far outweigh the negative effects that occur should I stray too far from the ‘rules’. Moderation is now the key. I know what works for me and that is important. My FAILSAFE recipe book is huge and I love adapting ‘normal’ recipes to suit my needs. I haven’t had any complaints from my husband Glen yet so things are looking good. Funnily enough when he has a meal that is out of the ordinary from what we eat at home he always feels worse for it.

I have experienced so much with my illness, but I am actually glad it happened to me. So many good things have come into my life because of CFS – my close relationships are even closer and I have a greater appreciation for the simple things in life and what it means to be able to get out of bed in the morning. I can now use my experiences to help others who have CFS and help to promote a very misunderstood and still poorly accepted illness. Raising the awareness of Australians of the serious effects that food chemicals, both natural and artificial, can have on the health of some individuals is also an issue close to my heart.

All the candles that I sell and decorate through my business are unscented. The reason for this? People like me can’t tolerate the perfumes and it is important that there are products available for others like myself." - Emma Pilcher

Emma is now a phone contact for us, see website contact list. Emma's candles make great gifts for failsafers. More details at www.floradiction.com.au

1) "I wrote to you in July 2001 about my husband's immediate improvement to his chronic fatigue syndrome after commencing the food lists recommended in your Fed Up book. It is now 7 months on and I just wanted to let you know that we are still following the diet, although not as rigidly. After having tried so many doctors, remedies, medicines, alternatives (at high cost emotionally - when nothing worked - and $$$ !! ) over the last 12 years for his CFS - I can't believe how a simple diet change has made a huge difference to his (our) quality of life. I wish I had known about this so much sooner and want to just say thank you so much for helping us get there … When people comment on how my husband has been looking so much better, we are the first to sing the praises of "Fed Up" because that's how and where it all began, as simple (and as hard, to start with, but worth it ) as that !!" - reader, WA

"Thank you from my family. It was because of Fed Up that we identified our gluten intolerance. My husband has lost the dark circles under his eyes, no longer suffers bloating, constipation and flatulence, and has a lot more energy. My 18-year-old son has no mouth ulcers for the first time in his life. And on a very serious note, we couldn't check out my husband's family history because they are all deceased. Bowel cancer through two generations that we know of. One of his cousins under 40 years old had polyps removed. I've read that untreated gluten intolerance increases the risk of bowel cancer by 40-100 times. This is a lot more serious than 'smelling sweeter'!"

"Thank you so much for the "Restless Babies" article. I recommended it to a distraught mum in the USA via a
breastfeeding support bulletin board. She was shocked to discover that the artificial yellow colour tartrazine (102) was hiding in many 'healthy' foods. Within just two days of changing her diet, her baby had a normal sleeping pattern. Not only that, but her two-year-old 'spirited kid' is much calmer, and has stopped throwing incessant tantrums. Other board members have benefited from the article, including one mum who recognised the frothy 'cappacino' poops mentioned. She had asked her pediatrician about it, but he had no idea what caused it. Changing her diet to exclude tartrazine cured both the frothy poops and the night waking."

Here are the foods that the USA mother was surprised to find tartrazine in: potato bread, yoghurt, canned soup, margarine and cough syrup. She was also eating, and feeding her two year old, cakes/cake mixes/donuts/muffins/snack cakes, ice-cream, cookies and crackers, drink mixes, lemonade, pudding mix, boxed meals, rice and pasta dishes, cheesecake, butterscotch candy, jelly and chips all containing this harmful additive.

" We first started the diet as a family 2 years ago to support our baby when she was found to be allergic to peanuts and eggs. My eldest daughter (10) had been diagnosed with mild ADHD and her wild temper tantrums were controlled with sedative medications. On the diet suddenly she became a human being with so much personality. Gone were the temper tantrums, no more holes in walls, smashed toys and windows. For the first time in all her eight years she was able to sit calmly and talk to us. I cried with the realization of how much my little girl had been suffering since birth just because I was feeding her the wrong food.

During the holidays, she went to the local shop to buy a Peters dixiecup icecream. She found they were all sold out so she bought a Cadburys icecream cup containing the dreaded 160b. I was very upset when she got home and told me what she had eaten. I prepared the family for the coming storm. One hour later it hit with a vengeance. I had to stay in her room with her to protect her from hurting others as well as herself - punching her head, head butting the walls, trying to scratch her skin and flesh off and screaming all sorts of abuse. After an hour and a half of this with patches of having to restrain her, we put her into a soothing bath which usually means the worst of it is over. Not this time. She was worse when she came out and none of us could control her. She tried to run away with only a towel on. She got frustrated when she couldn't undo the gate as well as keep herself covered with the towel. I had locked the back door to stop her from getting inside to me and our three old as I could no longer physically control her. I thought this would give my husband time to come from the lounge room to help me with her. He arrived at my side just as she put her fist through our porch window. We were all showered with glass and my daughter had dozens of little cuts all over her arm. At this moment she lost the crazed look in her eyes and seemed to go into shock. I showered the glass off her, cleaned and dressed her wounds and spent the next hour with her curled up on my lap almost empty of emotion. This episode has affected both my husband and myself in a huge way. We no longer take ANY chances with anything creeping into our diet, especially 160b. If we hadn't known the trigger of her psychotic episode we would have without a doubt had many more days like this that I am sure would have become too much of a strain on our otherwise very happy family. We owe you much gratitude for the knowledge you have shared and continuing efforts to give us up to date information." – reader, by email

Remember that yellow colour annatto 160b is not used in Europe - instead they use the alternative 160a, which is harmless. We are told it is too difficult and expensive to use. European food manufacturers must be cleverer and more compassionate than their Australian counterparts. Not everyone reacts as badly as this child - next day irritability is more common. Headbanging, even in toddlers, seems to be a feature of this additive. This episode demonstrates yet again that here is a harmful additive with the potential to affect many others in more subtle ways. 160b can cause any of the usual reactions. We've even had a report of arthritis associated with this additive.

After ten years of trying different diets - elimination, candida, vegetarian, allergy testing, you name it - I tried your diet after buying your book and the results were amazing. Convinced I was a chronic fatigue sufferer, I used to take more and more vitamins and health foods, only to find I was sicker and sicker.

But now, for the first time in 31 year, I feel normal. I have energy and have lost my coated tongue, mouth ulcers, acne and negative attitude. I am actually a nice person! I can't believe how even tempered and smiley I am when I stick to this diet. And my 9 year old daughter and 11 year old son are actually best mates. Before the diet, at times my daughter used to be IMPOSSIBLE, no matter what.

I can't thank you enough for having the insight, intelligence and love to dedicate so much time to this insane practice of adding chemicals and preservatives to food - and then trying (as the medical system does) to fix the resulting disorders with medication. - reader, Vic

We have been following the full elimination diet for 4 weeks and my children both showed dramatic improvements. My son (nearly 8) is no longer a 'space cadet' and seems better able to listen and concentrate. He is much less likely to argue and seems to be more able to mix with the kids at school. My theory is that he was so vague before that he missed the social cues from other children - such as not responding when someone said hello because he didn't even hear them. His teacher was not aware that I had changed his diet and reports that his school performance this term has been 'fantastic' compared to last term and even his swimming teacher has commented on his improved concentration. My daughter (who is four) has stopped her incessant whinging and inability to take no for an answer. We have also stopped arguing about lollies, a problem I have had with her ever since she could talk. This week we tried the amine challenge but I stopped after 2 days because she was sleeping badly, overtired and awful to be with. - father from WA

"We have recently gone onto a fairly strict version of the elimination diet - and have seen fantastic results in our 4 year old son. He is sleeping better, has become very loving and affectionate with his father, more agreeable, less tense and generally calmer and more 'angelic'. We just love it. The hardest part was just getting used to what foods were safe and allowed."- reader, email

"I went to a book party the other day and there were 8 children there. In the past, I would be nervous and on the edge of my seat as to how my 3 year old would behave. Well, I'm not kidding - he was the best behaved child there. When they all sat down for morning tea with Cheezels and so on he happily drank water and ate his Kettle chips and home-made biscuits. This is the child who our paediatrician said didn't have a behaviour problem. Well - he doesn't, NOW!" - reader, NT

"My husband and I follow the diet with our four children, aged 9 months to 7 years. We started the diet after we saw the difference it made in my sister's three children (two with ADHD). We and our paediatrician believe our two oldest children would, in the long run, be on medication like their cousins if we had not started the diet when we did almost two years ago ... it's both easy and hard, but so very worth it!" - reader, NSW

"My son has been on a low chemical "friendly foods" diet for 10 months. What a difference in his skin condition and behaviour - he now has his tantrums on the floor instead of the ceiling. However after recently reading your book Fed Up I realise there were still many foods I had been giving him that were not failsafe, especially bread. I now spend hours at the supermarket reading and still come home, with a half full trolley, frustrated at the lack of foods available." reader, email

"I have a ten year old daughter who is generally a pleasant, well behaved child. However as she has progressed through school she has become quite rude, disrespectful and at times very angry. We thought it was just the influences of TV and other children ... One weekend she went for a 2 night sleepover with a friend whose family had just discovered they were coeliacs (all food was home cooked). Instead of coming home exhausted and out of control she came home really
happy and delightful to be with ... one day in the not too distant future we will do the elimination diet ..."- reader, email

"I was chatting to my son's teacher (male) yesterday about how I am cooking all the time, but made the point that it is better than arguing with my son. He laughed and said he might pay me to keep cooking because he isn't arguing with my son either." - reader, WA

My sister is finding life much easier with her baby thanks to modifying her diet. She removed very high salicylates and amines and it seemed to have an immediate affect on his behaviour. They now have much more settled nights. She found that every time she ate even a small amount of tomato, wine, chocolate etc, that they had a difficult night and that it just wasn't worth it! Thank you for your information and support. It was also very helpful for me as a breastfeeding counsellor to be involved with a particular case and to see that diet can have an effect. I feel more able to suggest to mothers that this might be something to look into if their baby continues to be unsettled. - reader, Qld

Avoiding the bread preservatives (280s) seems to be helping me with new energy levels and lack of headaches. ... reader, NSW

I have felt compelled to write to you for some time now to let you know how successful Failsafe foods have been in our home. Our daughter, Courtney, now aged 7, was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 5. I was not convinced that the process of this diagnosis was exactly scientific so I decided to do some reading.

I read "Different Kids" and embarked on the elimination diet with the help of a dietician. We had tremendous results. Courtney's teachers were openly amazed at the change in her behaviour. With their support we started the challenges - no noticeable reaction to salicylates or amines, but a very strong reaction to the bread preservative (282) which gradually built up over a 5 day period. Once the challenge was stopped, it took 2 weeks for withdrawal. Courtney's behaviour was extremely aggressive and impulsive and withrawal resulted in lethargy and stomach aches. We have not been able to do any further challenges as Courtney was jeopardising the very fragile friendships she had begun to make. We will need to wait for the Christmas holidays before proceeding any further.

I have only recently read "Fed Up" and I was amazed to learn just how many children react to 282. Our dietician was surprised at our results. I am now a bit of a campaigner against food additives and recommend your books to anyone willing to listen! Our heartfelt thanks to you for helping us rediscover the lovely little girl we knew as a baby without the need for medication. - Heather - by email

I have noticed now that I can't have much tonic water or 7 UP - even a single glass. The symptom I get is very noticeable diuretic effect. I would go to the toilet (urinate) as much as 5 times per night (small quantities) instead of normally once, occasionally never. I also get restless legs (drives my partner insane!!) This happens when I keep all other diet the same. Now that I know that I can tolerate a small dose of amines I find very dilute lime and soda much better for me. - longterm failsafe father

Having studied your book Fed Up, and very little else, for the last week, we are gritting our teeth and getting ready to begin the diet on Monday. Myself, my eczema-ridden daughter (5) and 'behavioural-nightmare' son (nearly 3), and my parents (mainly for support but each come with their own chronic health complaints). I am greatly concerned by the demise of concentration levels, self-control, acceptable behaviour and motivation in primary students even during my own career (15 years) and strongly believe the menu offered by school tuckshops often works against the very educational aims of the schools they are supposedly supporting. I see students come into class for the afternoon session hyped-up, lacking energy, 'agro', argumentative, easily frustrated and unable to concentrate. Many students are like this all day! … Thank you for your tireless efforts and service to 21st century consumers everywhere!" - teacher, Qld

"After a few weeks on failsafe I seem to be making some progress … I had beaten chronic fatigue and MCS but rheumatoid arthritis is a tough nut to crack and I had almost given up hope of further improvement. It turns out that I tolerate moderate salicylates but amines are a real problem. Thanks to you …there's light at the end of the tunnel!"

8th October 2001.

Department of Education and Training

Northern NSW

Dear Sir,

I refer to … our son Jesse.

Jesse suffers from Multiple Chemical Intolerance (MCI). This can affect his skin, behaviour and general health. Jesse is most effected by cleaning products, food chemicals (colours, preservatives and flavour enhances), strong odours and certain plants. His reaction can be dramatic and instantaneous, or can build up over time.

Jesse is presently under the care of Paediatricans Dr M from Lismore and Dr Velencia Soutter from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. He is on the RPA elimination diet under the control of dietitians Anne Swain from the RPA and N from the Lismore Base Hospital. He has been on this for some time and the change in his health and behaviour has been quite dramatic. However, recently Jesse’s health and behaviour have deteriorated which has coincided with camphor laurel chips being placed at his school. I was made aware of the camphor chips after a spitting incident involving Jesse.

On Wednesday the 12th September X from the school telephoned my wife and said that ‘Jesse had spat on another child, was behaving disgustingly and swearing and that he was with him now and what would she like done with him’. X was aggressive and abrupt. The exact events as to what happened are unclear as there have been a number of different stories but apparently Jesse and another kindergarten child were in the toilets after the morning assembly. The other boy told his teacher that Jesse had spat on him. A teacher’s Aid was sent to retrieve Jesse from his classroom where he hid under a table. Jesse’s teacher was also in the class. Jesse called the Aid a ‘fat girl’ (she isn’t fat) and was then taken to X and later to the Principal.

I went out to the school at 11am and was approach on the veranda of the classroom by Y. She asked if I was looking for Jesse and said that he was in the office and that he had spat on one of her children and was swearing at teachers. She was obviously rude and abrupt. Parents and children were also present undertaking ‘groups’ and a young girl told us that Jesse was sitting at his desk, which he was. I attempted to speak to X but he was not in his office. Later I returned to the school to have lunch with Jesse as it was school open day.

We sat down in the assembly area where I noticed the strong camphor smell. I moved Jesse as he was becoming agitated and red faced. X then approached me in the playground area. I was uncomfortable speaking to X as there were many parents and children listening. I told X that Jesse’s behaviour in the morning was unacceptable but I thought the problem was caused by the strong camphor smell as the dumping of the chips coincided with Jesse’s behaviour and health deteriorating. His teacher had also made the link with the camphor when the trees were initially trimmed.

Prior to this incident the school had not been in contact regarding our son. We had made visits to the Principal on two occasions at which time we gave him letters from the Paediatrician and Dietitian (attached) and gave him a personal letter (attached) and information on MCI. This was done on the suggestion of the Infants Department. We did have regular contact with Jesse’s teacher throughout the year. She was fully aware of Jesse’s condition and was fully supportive. She had educated her class/parents about how food/chemicals can effect him. She even banned cleaning products from the class that she had noticed effected him. Jesse seemed to be progressing well. He was very popular having friends from kinder to year 4. He was the second child in kindergarten to be awarded the Principal’s Award (which requires 25 Merit Certificates). However, things changed dramatically in a very short period of time when the Principal became involved. The staff’s attitude changed from support to contempt and aggression. Those who showed sympathy were isolated. There seemed to be a constant vigil on our son and a concerted effort to discredit him. In the last month Jesse became obviously agitated and jittery at school, and became unwell. We were requested by our Paediatrician to remove Jesse from this environment immediately.

I decided to contact Jesse’s preschool. They informed me that the behaviour Jesse was displaying at Z School was not displayed at his preschool. I also contacted the Northern Rivers Department of Health regarding the camphor. I was put in contact with their Toxicology Unit in Sydney who informed me that camphor laurel has highly volatile oils and is probably not an appropriate substance to have chipped around a school as it is toxic. I also telephoned Far North Coast Weeds who also said the same thing. As did the Southern Cross University who are about to commence a study on the effects of camphor laurel on humans. I also contacted the Department of Agriculture who had a similar opinion.

The next day I telephoned the Principal regarding Jesse’s behaviour and the camphor laurel chips. I was met with instant hostility, impugnation and scoff. P stated that it would be impossible for Jesse to react to a natural occurring substance such as camphor laurel and that my family is using this as an excuse for disgusting and unacceptable behaviour.

P continually stated that he and the staff believe I am ‘obstructional’ in this matter and that complaints had been made. But when questioned as to how he would only comment that I am being ‘obstructional now’. He said that I have made ridiculous demands saying that he would not remove the camphor chips for one child. He also stated that I was critical of staff, in particular X and Y (I have only spoken to each once). P would not listen to the fact that I told David I supported his actions in handling the spitting incident. However, I was critical of the fact that the matter was discussed on the veranda of a classroom during ‘groups’ and in the playground in front of other parents and children on open day and very much in public. P's comment was that his school is a ‘very open school’. Jesse may only be 6 but I feel that he and myself have some rights to privacy.

Also, P refused to acknowledge that I attended the school the previous morning and spoke to Y and attempted to see X after he had telephoned my wife. He continually stated that I did not arrive at the school until 1pm. I told him that I was at the school at 11am and later at 1pm for school open day and it was during this visit that I noticed the strong smell of camphor. But P simply refused to acknowledge that I was present at the school at 11am which is bewildering seeing that I spoke to several people and was seen by many more. Another child even asked Jesse if he would spit on him.

Furthermore, P was not interested in what the preschool said about Jesse. He just stated that I was abusing X. When I said I wasn’t even speaking about X he said ‘you are now abusing Y. I kept saying ‘do you want to hear what the preschool said’. P said he was ‘not interested, you are abusing my teachers, I am terminating this conversation’ and hung up. The whole conversation bordered on the absurd and the ridiculous, a disgraceful imputation on a man charged with the responsibility of 520 children. Further, he seemed to enjoy a certain amount of satisfaction and gratitude from destroying the confidence and reputation of a 6 year old child.

P has now deliberately and maliciously misrepresented the contents of our conversation in an attempt to discredit our son and family. He has made the matter the topic of conversation throughout the school by both parents and teachers. He has made a young child the scapegoat of his obvious inability to understand what is normal and abnormal behaviour. P and some of his staff appear to have obvious personal issues that should not be aired in the school environment.

P has scorned and scoffed at medical advice and has shown a total disregard for the safety of a child with a disability. He has shown discrimination and prejudice towards a child and has shown a blatant disregard for confidentiality and privacy. He has been bordering on slanderous and has humiliated and embarrassed a child because of that child’s disability. He has shown an absolute lack of care for a child with a disability and has viewed this disability with disdain. I will refrain from commenting on the innuendo made about our parenting skills and only say that on a number of occasions we were told that it is okay to slap your child.

My family has been associated with the Z School for over 30 years. My wife and her siblings attended the school in 1960s and 1970s and our older children in the early 1990s. It is most disheartening that this association may end because of the prejudices and ignorance of the Principal. P's attitude and actions has not only drastically changed the life of our son but has changed the life of our whole family. My wife will have too cease work to home tutor Jesse under the Distance Education programme. Jesse’s Paediatrician believes that Jesse will be better off being home schooled in a more sympathetic and understanding environment as he is displaying anxiety and stress – a direct consequence of the taunts and attitude of P.

I would appreciate your comments regarding this matter and ask as to what avenues (by way of an official apology by P and legal action) are available in these circumstances. There appear to be very serious matters relating to child safety, care and welfare, privacy, confidentiality, discrimination and defamation issues that need to be addressed. P is of the belief that he is beyond reproach because of his position. Should you require any further information regarding this matter do not hesitate to contact me on

Yours Faithfully,

David & Kim.

"I just wanted to says "thanks" on behalf of my family. My wife discovered our daughter's salicylate intolerance after serendipitously finding and buying Fed Up 3 years ago. It's not easy to stick to the diet, as you will know, but it's definitely worth it for the difference. If only some of our friends and family had the willpower required.

A couple of weeks ago, she transcribed the favourite recipes out of the book, to have as a handy carry-anywhere reference, also to give to the family so they could cater for our daughter if need be. Then ... we found your latest book. She has hardly put it down in the last 24 hours, except to sleep and eat, and now, to study your website! Yours are probably the two most important books in our house.

A curiosity for us was our daughter's apparent intolerance to garlic oil capsules. She was taking them for a year or so, to supplement her limited diet, and in that time, suffered repeated attacks of tonsillitis, to the extent that the ENT surgeon had scheduled her for surgery. Then we stopped the garlic supplement, and the tonsillitis disappeared. That was 18 months ago and she's been fine since. Very odd.

Keep up the good work. Many people worry about the possible problems associated with GM foods but are happy to let their kids drink something that looks like anti-freeze; taking all the junk out of what we eat would be a better first step in the right direction. Tim Tams? You can keep 'em!"

- father, by email

Our dear Rosie was born August 2000. She is our second child, so we expected that she would be a tad easier than her brother. Alas, our Rosie had many new tricks in store. For the first 4 months or so she was 'OK', I just called her 'highly strung', and 'a hormonal girl'.

By 5 months she was really quite miserable, irritable, constantly grizzling and wanting to be held (except of course when we went out anywhere, where she played the cute, smiley happy babe).  Sometimes she seemed to be in pain, and we gave panadol with some relief for only a short time. We tried the reflux, colic, etc avenues, with no improvement. My husband was very understanding and supportive, as he lived with unhappiness, and my Mum saw the other side of her, but most of my friends didn't understand our problem, as she really was a 'street angel and home devil'.

Her sleep was poor by day, but strangely, she rested reasonably overnight, some nights only waking once or twice, and generally able to resettle quite well. I think she was so exhausted after her strung out days. For the bad nights she mostly slept in our bed, where we could all get some sleep.

I am an early childhood nurse, and had great support from my two wonderful colleagues, one saw her in a really sad state when visiting us at home. We had tried me off all dairy products at 5½ months, as Rosie was fully breastfed. That seemed to improve things a bit, but I still felt that babies should be happy, unless they had good reason not to be. Finding the reason was the trick. We also tried a naturopath, who felt she could help with a range of herbal remedies, which we started on.

Then I read your article called "Restless Babies", in the Nursing Mothers Magazine. I felt the article was about us!! It was the start of a big change in our lives. We saw our local dietitian who gave us the booklets from RPAH, and discussed it. As I was breastfeeding, and she was on some solids, Rosie and I started the elimination diet when she was 7 long months old.

My very supportive husband was quite sceptical, she was such a beautiful fat healthy looking babe, how could it be diet related?? Anyway after only 3 full days on the diet, he was very apologetic for his scepticism. Our little girl was significantly happier, and so were we.

Each day seemed to get better, she now seemed able to relax her body at times, and was able to play alone for very short periods. I found sticking to the diet quite easy, as the improvement in Rosie was well worth it. Eating was a great source of pleasure for Rosie, so the diet did not worry her at all. The added bonus for me was that those extra 'hard to shed' kgs fell off me. That gave me a needed confidence boost as well.

We had a bad experience early on. Rosie was pretty miserable with a cold, so we gave her some panadol drops and put some Vicks rub on a tissue under the sheet as we put her to bed. An hour later she woke and was 'high'. She tried to get back to sleep, but her body was so restless and I hate to think what her head felt like. I took her to our bed and held her to try to control her body for her. She finally fell off to sleep after about 4 hours.

Rosie is now 14 months old. I weaned her at 10 months, as I began to crave some tasty food. I was too scared to do any challenges, so we were on the very basics. Rosie continues the elimination diet, and still loves her food. We finally tried some challenges, wheat is OK in very small doses. Salicylates were a disaster, (pumpkin twice a day for 2 days and a granny smith apple core), she became irritable, clingy, whingy etc, then vomited, with no associated illness. We will try them again one day to be sure. We are trying amines at present, just banana to start with, OK so far.

I feel this experience has been wonderful for me professionally, and my colleagues too. I also recently heard that our dietitian who helped me with the diet (who has since moved) has tried the diet to get a feel for what she was prescribing, and has seen changes in her family she was not expecting. I have also had chats and given some of your info to our child psychologist who has quite an interest in ADHD. I will keep pushing the cause, I worry about all these behaviour problems, and see that some could be so easily sorted with food.

So thank you so much Sue, I hate to think where our family would be without your big input. I am converted. My husband is too, but he is a little nervous about how I will go when our children start school and I have some input into the tuckshop! Many, many thanks again from all our family. - Cath, by email

Around February of 2000 I was searching on the internet for some clues to my life long digestive problems, when I came across the food allergy section on the About.com website. The featured food allergy topic happened to be salicylates ... just out of curiosity, and for the heck of it, I clicked on the link, and started to read about it … I first off read the list of common symptoms. As I read it the list was all to familiar to me … I answered Yes to every symptom. Needless to say, I started to
follow a salicylate free diet. To say I felt better would have been the understatement of a new millenium...... ALL of my life I have suffered from Very frequent urination, constipation, stomach bloating, short temper, irritability, inability to concentrate, memory problems, severe acne, dry skin (especially on my hands and feet), those restless legs, and more ...<sigh>… The worst of it for me though was the constant urination, and constipation which led to a lot of gas ... Thank you so much for your work, and your book. Both have changed my life forever. I am finally free of a problem which has literally ruined my life. In case you're wondering, I'm 37 years old ... And yes, 36 years is WAY too long to suffer with this health problem. Sometimes I don't know how I made it this long with my sanity intact. - from the USA

Julie is a police prosecutor and a mother of nearly 4 children. When she saw what food did to her three year old son, she became an enthusiastic supporter of failsafe and a co-founder of the new Brisbane food intolerance support group.

Joseph gets up from his afternoon tea and goes and whispers to his father Steve. He wants to know if it's okay to eat the marshmallows in his bowl. He's four and he probably can't pronounce food intolerance but he knows how had it makes him feel if he eats things he shouldn't. His mother Julie says if they hadn't found out what was wrong with Joseph when they did he would probably be in jail for murder now.

She says Joe was "broken" from the time he was born and it wasn't until he was diagnosed with food intolerance at three and a half that a solution seemed possible for the little boy. As well as being a mother of three and pregnant with number four, Julie is also a part-time Police Sergeant working as police prosecutor in Court 1 in Brisbane.

She's so concerned about the link between behaviour and food intolerance that she's undertaking independent study on the food effects on juvenile criminality as part of her Masters Degree in Justice/Law at QUT. Steve isn't sure that food turns kids into criminals but he does know what food can do to his son.

"He was like a bear with a sore head - that's how he was. He was aggressive to other kids and defiant to adults. Now he's responsive, his speech has improved, and his concentration span has improved.

"He can sit down and watch something on TV. He can sit down and do a puzzle or colour in."

Joseph's problem lies primarily with food colours and flavouring and reactions range from aggression to asthma. With careful shopping and label reading Joseph can enjoy and happy and normal life without too much imposition on the rest of the family.

There have been slip-ups on the way. The family dyed eggs for Easter not realising that Joseph's sensitivity would extend to touch. Joseph blames his mum for that asthma attack. The solution for Joseph came when a paediatrician suggested that Julie might like to read a book called "Fed Up" by Sue Dengate. She consulted a dietitian and put Joseph on an elimination diet. His life changed.

Julie is urging people who suspect food might affecting their children's behaviour to attend a presentation by Sue Dengate … - Julie's story (above) appeared on page 3 of the September edition of "Kids in Brisbane", resulting in a capacity crowd of nearly 200 for my presentation at Zillmere PCYC.

Ginny was my second child. Her older sister had been a model baby, always smiling, rarely cried but she developed chronic asthma at age 8 months and required frequent hospitalisation. She was 2 ½ when Ginny was born.

From day one Ginny was a very unsettled baby, didn't sleep much and cried a lot. At 2 months of age I had to physically keep her awake between 6pm and 10pm so that I could feed her, put her to bed and (hopefully) get 3 hours straight sleep. By 4 months of age she had developed chronic eczema on her face, scalp, neck and creases of arms and legs.

By 12 months of age she had major ulceration on her bottom and an allergy specialist suggest we try soy milk as it could be a cows milk problem. At that time I had to get the soy milk through the chemist on prescription and it didn't really make a huge amount of difference. We tried the soy milk for 6 months and then went back to cows milk. She was getting more and more restless and would sleep for 1 hour and then wake up screaming. When Ginny was 14 months old I had child number 3. Gareth was the most placid, easy going little boy you could ever imagine. Sardi (the oldest) was still having major asthma attacks and hospitalisation. Ginny was still waking every hour on the hour - this went on day after day, night after night, month after month. Gareth developed croup and would have really bad nights where I would be up with him for hours with the steam running in the bathroom.

By the time Ginny was 2 years old, when she wasn't screaming through the night she was getting into mischief through the day or throwing dreadful tantrums because she couldn't get her own way. Climbing in dangerous places, falling up, through, on or off anything there was in sight to climb on.

A sixth sense woke me early one morning and I went into the kitchen to find her sitting on top of the oven. It was one of those stoves which had the oven and hotplates side by side with the controls for the electric hotplates at the back. She had climbed on to the hotplates and then up on the oven and had reached over and turned on all the hotplates. When I got there she was sitting looking at them glowing red and just laughed at me and said "look at the pretty colours, mummy".

She still woke every hour throughout the night and the only thing I could do to get her back to sleep was to give her a bottle which was usually filled with cordial, as the doctors told me not to give her too much milk and if I used too much fruit juice I had the nappies to contend with!

During our frequent trips to the doctor Ginny was always an angel. When I asked if it could be something she was eating, they just laughed at me and the doctor told me that I was overanxious. I came close to having a breakdown. When I wanted to get another opinion I was sent to the hospital. They wanted to put me in hospital to calm down. When I said "no", they asked me would I like them to put her in hospital to give me a break.

They said that she was just a naughty girl and to just let her scream as "she would stop sooner or later" and that she only screamed because I went into see her. Not very easy to do when she screams for 3 hours in the middle of the night and dad has to go to work the next day and the other two are awake and crying.. The doctors then decided to try Ginny on Vallergan to "quieten her down" because they believed she was just boisterous and I just was not coping with motherhood.

At age 2 ½ I was at the end of my tether and one day I picked her up and held her against the wall and started to shake her and bang her against the wall. I had tears running down my face and thank god something inside me said to me to put her down or I was going to do some dreadful damage.

About 2 months after this I read an article in a magazine which was talking about Dr Ben Feingold's book "Why your child is Hyperactive". It talked about the relationship of food colours and preservatives and children's behaviour. The article gave a list of about 14 symptoms and said that if you could answer 'yes' to any 6 of them, there was a darn good chance that food colours were playing a major part in the child's behaviour. We answered "yes" to 12 of the 14. The book was unavailable in Australia at that time and I had one of the City bookstores order a copy for me.

I read the book and then went to discuss it with my doctor and was told it was a lot of "maybe" and that nothing was proven. I discussed it with my brother (also a doctor) who told me that kids were being unnecessarily labelled hyperactive and it was predominantly a discipline problem. I tried to discuss it with others who just didn't want to know.

We still had Sardi going in and out of hospital with asthma and Gareth up through the night with bouts of croup. Their father was working late into the evenings (I think so that he didn't have to come home to the chaos) and by this stage our marriage was starting to collapse.

My husband and I discussed the diet recommended in the book and decided that it couldn't do any harm as things couldn't be much worse. The only problem was that the book was written in the USA and the diet was designed for the American market, so many of the products were not available here. I took the book one day and started to go through the pantry cupboard. I checked every label on everything in the pantry and filled 2 garbage bags with food. I went to the supermarket and read the labels on everything I bought. What I wasn't sure about I telephoned the manufacturers and asked them what the products contained. We started from scratch. I made everything we ate from scratch, bread, cakes, biscuits, ice-cream, icy poles etc. etc. We all ate the same food.

After 1 week, Ginny had started sleeping for 2-3 hour stretches.

After 2 weeks, she had stopped throwing tantrums

After 3 weeks, she was sleeping right through the night

After 4 weeks I had, for the first time, a normal child in the house.

After 3 months, her eczema had just about totally cleared.

"Coincidentally" (or not) her older sister's asthma had, by this stage, lessened to the stage where she no longer required frequent trips to hospital and was manageable to home and her brothers bouts of croup had stopped.

What really annoyed me was that about 4-5 years later the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne had adapted the diet and were using it as breakthrough treatment for behavioural problems.

As Ginny was able to communicate better and someone (usually a well meaning grandma!) would give her something nice like a red icy pole (and then send her home to me!) she would tell me that she had a "big head". As she got older, she later explained that when she had something off limits, her head felt as though it was going to explode.

Ginny is now 27 and has a 9 month old daughter. She still checks labels and she does all her own baking and cooking and rarely uses pre-packaged goods (although I noticed that the ones she tends to use are the same products I used when I changed our diet all those years ago) I have every confidence that her little girl will not have to go through the hell her mother went through. Even now, as her poor partner found out the hard way, she still reacts badly to Cherry Ripes! He would bring them home and she would occasionally eat them. Until one day when she had too many. He's now banned them from the house.

My message to everyone out there : I wish I'd had the benefit of Sue's book 25 years ago. Diet really does work. Hang in there - it gets better and better.

- Rosemary (Silly Yaks Bakery Café, Melbourne)

I contacted a dietitian through our Base hospital and with their help we managed to get through the Elimination Diet. What an experience that was! My youngest son, Tim, who is three in April, had been given an uncertain diagnosis of "Irritable Bowel???" by the pediatrician. We were told to take him off lactose, sugar and soy and reduce the fruit intake. That has little effect on his symptoms. So, Brandon (5 yo), Tim and I embarked on the Elimination Diet. My husband did not want to be involved in the "witchcraft" as he called it!

I was on the phone to the dietitian after 36 hours because Brandon, who had behaviour problems, had got 10 times worse where behaviour was concerned and had come out in an eczema-type rash on his torso and upper arms. I felt he was reacting to the soy or the cashew paste (but probably the soy) as these were the only new additions to our diet. I was told to "persevere, that reactions usually got worse before they improved". After 5 days I had a great improvement in my mucous volume and felt better than I had in 5 years. After 4 weeks we had seen limited improvement in Brandon's behaviour and no improvement in Tim's symptoms so decided to eliminate wheat as well.

The results were quite amazing. After 2 weeks off wheat I realized my restless legs were no longer worrying me and Brandon's sneaky poos had ceased to be a problem. Tim's symptoms improvement but his bowel motions never really came back to normal. We did the wheat challenge first. Brandon was OK for 5 days but on the 6th day he obviously went over the threshold and took a full week to recover. He reacted with restless legs (which I have since discovered can happen after even a few cracker biscuits) and Tim also had a worsening of his diarrhea.

The dairy challenge was interesting - my mucous symptoms were worse but Brandon improved in behaviour almost overnight and after 3 days the eczema was gone! So I was right about the soy after all.

... Brandon reacted to salicylates as I suspected he would, I didn't. The amine challenge was a disaster! We should never both have done that at the same time. Brandon and I both reacted and our symptoms were the same and severe - aggressive behaviour with a lack of self-control, depression etc. It was like world war three in our house by the end of the week and both of us took at least a week to recover. I have read in a number of places that if we react to amines then
we probably react to other additives so we have not continued with separate challenges for these. We just avoid them.

Initially I was daunted by the difficulties I faced accessing the foods we need but eventually as I learn where in the supermarket, health food store etc to find things life has become much easier ... I remember a quote in "Fed Up" from a lady who said she spent more time in the kitchen but less time disciplining the children and I have found that to be absolutely true. It is now just the way we live. I find the most difficult thing now is other people's reactions to our diet. Some of our
friends though come to our place with 7UP and kettle chips to share. Thankfully my husband is now more supportive and even grudgingly admits that he is probably reacting to some foods himself. So, Sue we have come a long way in these last 6 months. I hope it makes you proud to know that your writing of "Fed Up" has contributed to such an improvement in our lives. - Qld

Around the middle of last year I realised that I was always tired, my workmates commented on my sneezing fits every afternoon, I was very irritable, easily reduced to tears, had rashes on my legs, an ear infection which would not clear up and generally felt unwell. But worst of all was my bloated stomach, which most times looked like I was 7 months pregnant, and the related bowel problems. Looking back I had been gradually getting worse for a couple of years.

I had been to my doctor a couple of times for other things and always mentioned the vague symptoms. I was told not to worry. As the bowel problems persisted I started to worry as my grandfather had died of colon cancer. A Rotary test was negative but I still worried. I went to my doctor again and although she agreed that the bloated stomach was unusual she could find nothing wrong. However, she realised that I was really starting to worry about cancer, so she suggested I have some tests, just to set my mind at rest. I had an abdominal scan and full blood tests. Nothing wrong. But my worry was increasing, so she sent me for a colonoscopy, warning me that it would be unpleasant.

That was my turning point. The specialist could not understand my mixed reactions when he told me there was nothing wrong. However, I had had the colonoscopy on a Monday so had arranged to also have Tuesday off work as I imagined I would still feel pretty awful a day later. I woke up on Tuesday feeling fantastic. I packed so much into that one day it was amazing. I also did not eat, as I so much enjoyed feeling "empty". I wondered whether my symptoms were being caused by something I was eating.

Coincidentally, I had recently read an article in Australian Good Taste, about food intolerance, and your book was recommended. I bought your book and realised that all my symptoms fitted the pattern. I even had belatedly-diagnosed giardia for several weeks a couple of years before. I went back to the doctor, and suggested I go on an elimination diet. She was very lukewarm about the idea but I was determined so I followed your instructions and went on the strict diet for several weeks. I tried the

challenges and narrowed my causes down to dairy and salicylates (both of which I had normally in large quantities). I then got caught up in a round of end of year work functions and lunches, so I was not able to be so strict with myself. I went backwards quickly.

Now I avoid all processed foods, eat failsafe at home, and make informed choices when out. I love wine but have cut down to a couple of glasses per week, have decaf coffee, soy milk etc. The result has been a new zest for life - new role at work, back to studying part time and lots of activities. I'm back to size 12 clothes (have bought lots of new ones). I turn 50 next week and feel like 40.

I'm a bit evangelical when I tell people why I've lost so much weight, so I don't mind you sharing my story if it is of interest to others. Thanks again for providing the tools for me to get my life back. - NSW

"I have a 3½ year old son who was so over the top that I was told of your book. We have been doing diet for the last 3-4 months and he is now a changed boy." - by email

"We saw A Current Affair 12 months ago, and thought, 'Hey that's our boys!' (The eldest in particular.) We bought your book, the best money we ever spent. We have been on the diet now for 12 months and things have improved dramatically." - by email

"I took my 2 boys into Toyworld today which is normally a disaster but they were very well behaved, walking up each aisle with me and looking at the toys rather than touching and grabbing everything in sight!!" [on diet for 10 days] - NT

"Our daughter is now on the failsafe diet after the success we saw with her cousin after he started on failsafe foods, we now have a very happy, mostly well behaved and smart little girl." - by email

"On advice from our paediatrician (believe it or not) we took our 3.5 yo son off salicylates from the beginning. I typed in this unknown word and got your website and cried and contacted you and you recommended a dietitian … we have the most unbelievable son now as long as we stick close to his 'food plan', we don't call it a diet. …I just can't express our gratitude enough - life is completely different within our household and for our son himself." - Qld

"I just want to say thank you! I have my son back, a son who will listen, a son who will respond, a son who will sit quietly for longer and longer periods of time and a son that is happy enough in himself to want cuddles from us and to tell us he loves us!" - by email

"My son is 11 years old, diagnosed with ADHD, and has been on Ritalin for about 6-7 years … we have had him on a Failsafe diet for almost two months now. By the end of the first month he showed remarkable improvement, being able to finish homework more quickly and having a more thoughtful disposition. We were also able to cut his Ritalin dose by half, giving him the medication mainly for school, but not at home." - USA

"Since purchasing your book "Fed Up" and reading through it last week I immediately cut back my 5 yo daughter's intake of fruit to approx. one quarter of what she would normally have. By the weekend we already saw huge changes in our girl. Her behaviour was more evened out (not so many HUGE highs and lows) and just more sensible, obliging, less aggressive and defiant - just a much more pleasant girl altogether." - NZ

"My 3 1/2 year old has been on the elimination diet since March and it has completely changed his life (and ours, thank God)". - NZ

I have a 4 year old granddaughter who has a number of food intolerances and a 6 year old granddaughter who is just starting to show the cumulative effects of 122 [artificial red colour] with rash around mouth, also some asthma symptoms that she has never had before. I would like to receive your newsletter not only to assist me when I have them in my care, but also because I think we could all do without the "garbage" that is added to much of our processed food. - by email

I am sensitive to salicylates as the result of overuse of Ibuprofen (chemically very similar to aspirin). I developed asthma-like respiratory symptoms when eating certain foods but couldn't figure out which foods were responsible. Then I developed paresthesia in my left thigh when I took a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug which was prescribed for back pain. Ironically, all of the muscle pains etc. disappeared once I removed everything from my diet that I was sensitive to. - USA [Commonly called 'pins and needles' paraesthesia is a sensation of numbness, prickling and tingling that is normally felt in a limb or extremity.] - USA

For the past 15 years I have been unable to eat wheat, preservatives or MSG - or suffer the consequences if I do. A life spent suffering headaches, depression, lethargy and other sundry aches and pains is no alternative to avoiding the wrong foods and being able to live life to the full! - by email

I have suffered for years from episodes of fast heart beat. It can be very strong and disturbing, and I have ended up in hospital but it goes away after a few hours and they could never find anything wrong. For a while I was getting it every afternoon. Eventually I worked out it happened on the days I ate bread. A friend suggested it might be the preservative in bread. When I eat Brumbys' bread I have no problems, but when I ate some preserved bread without thinking at my mother's place, I had another episode. - NT

I react to MSG, flavour enhancer 635, metabisulphite preservatives, and yellow colour in cordial. I also have food intolerance to salicylates. From MSG, 635 flavour enhancer and metabisulphite preservatives I get very irregular pulse and atrial fibrillation. The atrial fibrillation settles down after 12-20 hrs depending on how much offending additive I have eaten (in a restaurant it is difficult to tell) - and my pulse settles down faster if I drink lots of water every hour to flush the toxins out of
my system. I've learned to read the labels and carry a reminder in my purse of the numbers to which I react when shopping. I have learned which brands or types of foods are a problem and steer clear of those. - Mary, retired nurse, Brisbane

My cousin has been having horrendous seizures for the past 2 years since she gave birth to her son. I have been trying to convince her to go on the elimination diet, as she's already noticed some foods trigger the attacks. She feels like she is going to die when she has one. She finally read the section in your book about Kerry and has found out that one of her biggest seizures which was triggered by popcorn at the pictures, was probably due to tartrazine (102) - the cinema just changed the company they buy the popcorn from. - WA

My husband has lost weight (he needed to ) and the aching joints he had-post Ross River Fever seem to be improving!! - NT

The biggest thing in my life is that my PMT has gone. I am amazed. I have had this problem for so many years. It was ruling my life and threatening my marriage to the point where earlier this year I started taking Lovan (another name for Prozac) to help me with it. I know you said that PMT disappears on the diet but I must admit mine was so bad I really didn't believe you. Anyway, my PMT has completely gone. I am convinced about this diet now! - NT

I have a 10mth old baby boy who he screamed for the first 3 and half months of his life all day and half of the night until my doc got me onto a dietitian and we tried the elimination diet. Every time I do food tests he reacts by screaming in agony within 24 hours and often gets a nasty red rash on his face and not so severe rash on his back and stomach. Before we tried the diet, we were hospitalised twice because I just couldn't cope. He reacts to most additives but the bread preservative is the worst and he also reacts very badly to amines. - Dani, WA

Restless Legs Syndrome was absolutely driving me crazy. If I forced my legs to be still, they would then jerk with even greater intensity. While I was watching TV, my legs were constantly swinging, because of this urge to move them. They were not itchy - it was just like there was something under the skin driving me crazy. Apparently most sufferers go on to become alcoholics (ref: The Bulletin 2000) which I can understand. American websites about RLS basically fall back onto all sorts of medication, which I do not want to take. Within two weeks of trying the elimination diet, I was able to sit still at night, AND get into bed without fear of tossing and turning all night because of this urge to move my legs. I now know the foods I should not touch - salicylates and additives ... when I eat any of these forbidden foods there is a definite reaction. - NSW

My husband has suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome for 11 years. We have been following the food lists suggested in your 'Fed Up' book for about a month and I have noticed a huge difference already. He sleeps better and is generally having more good days than bad. When he cheated (not on purpose) by having "junk" food, he suffered for it the next few days, not sleeping properly, and with the usual general aching and unwellness. The week after re-commencing failsafe foods, he is again feeling good and positive that eating failsafe is just the beginning of a great new life. - WA

I've read your book "Fed Up" and it certainly helped to plug the holes that my son's dietician leaves every time we talk. - by email

My daughter Rebecca developed the environmental illness Multiple Chemical Sensitivity when she was close to 2 years of age as a result of poisoning from the common sunscreen chemical butyl methoxy dibenzoylmethane, to which she was allergic. The chemical was present in a 50 ml roll-on I bought. The concentration of BMDM in the product was 3/4 of 1%, and I applied it to the lower half of her face and the back of her hands. She passed out. Her teeth turned orange-brown, her skin turned yellow-brown all over. Her urine was the colour of dark tea. Her skin and breath stank like a sewer. She appeared to be brain damaged. Some of the brown hair on the back of her head grew in pure white.

Rebecca's mental and physical function are now profoundly affected by environmental chemicals, in foods, in the air she breathes, and anything that comes in contact with her skin. She cannot have sunscreen with BMDM used by anyone around her, and we have had to have this chemical banned from her kindergarten this year, and her school for next year. The regulatory authority was notified at the time of the injury, as was the sunscreen company. The product that did the damage was Ego Sunsense Face Milk, labelled "hypo-allergenic". The chemical responsible is sometimes called Parsol 1789. In the USA I believe it is known as avobenzone.

I have also developed MCS as a result of handling the product that hurt my child. I am not as sensitive as my daughter but I continue to get worse. Environmental exposures to BMDM (other people's sunscreen) seem to be responsible for this worsening. We are trying to get BMDM not only banned but classified as a prohibited substance. Please let other people know that this sunscreen chemical is toxic and incompatible with human ecology.

• Dianne, BSc (Pharmacology, Biochemistry)

I'm letting you know how I got on with the bread preservative. I did get a reaction but not as bad as the amine test. Enough though to avoid eating it unless there is no other option. By the way, my reaction is always itchy hives. - reader, email

I'm a week and a bit further down the track on the failsafe foods and I am noticing changes already. He's really quite a cute kid underneath it all. Going out has been the biggest hurdle as school is extremely supportive. - reader, NT.

More Articles ...

  1. [097] Eliminating amines was the secret … (November 2000)
  2. [098] Her real self (November 2000)
  3. [099] Lots to tell after 8 failsafe weeks (November 2000)
  4. [080] Helped us to realise what his problems might be caused by (October 2000)
  5. [081] Parenting courses and books didn't work for us (October 2000)
  6. [082] Tastebuds do change (October 2000)
  7. [083] Some children need to avoid milk as well (October 2000)
  8. [084] Helped us to help our daughter (October 2000)
  9. [085] Scared to break the spell (October 2000)
  10. [086] "ear working now" (October 2000)
  11. [087] At the checkout, the bill was less than normal (October 2000)
  12. [088] Violent monster stage (October 2000)
  13. [089] I had to laugh - "not affected by foods"! (October 2000)
  14. [090] So many won't listen (October 2000)
  15. [091] New mum with challenging child (October 2000)
  16. [092] Itchy hives (October 2000)
  17. [093] Life threatening anaphylactoid reaction to salicylates (October 2000)
  18. [065] "A difficult baby" - reflux, colic, crying, rash, sleeping problems (September 2000)
  19. [066] "I was wondering about coping with school next year" (September 2000)
  20. [067]"There are days when Ritalin is ineffective" (September 2000)
  21. [068] "I am a 20 year old mother …" (September 2000)
  22. [069] "more personal attention and assistance than any physician" - from the USA (September 2000)
  23. [070] Tantrum was like nothing I've ever seen with swearing and screaming (September 2000)
  24. [071] Last night I actually got to sleep six hours (September 2000)
  25. [072] Doctor amazed (September 2000)