Well, after 3 months failsafe, my 8 year old son had a terrible reaction to what I suspect was 635. We gave in to Chargrill Charlie's, and within 12 hours, my son was coughing incessantly. He seemed ok to go to school (I didn't recognise what was happening), but I got a call from the school that he was having difficulty breathing. They gave him Ventolin (as per Asthma Attack protocol), and I brought him to the hospital as he was white, sweaty, shaky and very frightened. He later told me he had a blinding headache and felt like there were bubbles in his throat.

His headache dissipated over about 3 days which I treated with Panadol and Nurofen. He was quiet for several days, which is very unlike this energetic boy!  - Kathy

(Note that Nurofen is not failsafe; people who react to salicylates can be affected by it depending on dose)

Sulphites send my 17 yo into a complete ODD asshole, more than typical teenager shit and attitude, he has had it all his life and only cottoned onto food intolerances when he was 15.  Since cutting out the crap that sends him loopy, from depression, out of control anger, tears and stuttering and almost like Tourette type syndromes, he has gone from a failing student all his life to one getting A's and B's in most subjects and doing uni pathway for year 12 next year. Honestly we are all in amazement this is happening, its hard work, nothing in the supermarket is hardly ever suitable and he's fussy but so worth it because the whole family pays for it when he goes off track, as you can imagine a 17 yo with his friends eating and drinking anything they want, I have no control when he isn’t home.

I love the facebook group, makes you feel not so isolated and alone with issues like this, people think you’re being fussy or just making it up but if they had to live with consequences it would a different story. I have a six year old daughter who is thankfully benefiting early on from what we have learnt from my teenage son - Bec

I have had diarrhea for 20 years. I eliminated salicylates one week ago, and have seen a dramatic turnaround! Amazing! ....I've completed three weeks now, with excellent digestion! There was only one exception. We ate out in the mall. Got bad diarrhea. Interestingly, it hit 36 hours later. A delayed reaction, that I've learned from you. Two days to recover. After that, no salicylates, no problems! Consistent good digestion! This is so fantastic! - American living in the Philippines.

That book you sent me has done wonders. His teacher and counsellor just said WOW that diet really is amazing, Tyson is with us on this trip - thanks Kate

Being failsafe is something you have to do before you believe it. I taught a preschool child once who was following the diet to improve his behaviour. I commented that he should have been medicated. Now that my son has been down that road (becoming failsafe for behaviour) my tune has changed. Diet does make a difference. Unfortunately advertising sways opinions - Claire

I am another of those mums whose 2.5 yo went from numerous huge melt-downs a day, very clingy, hitting, defiant (the list goes on...) to a wonderful angel.  I am a bit disappointed that when I've asked for help from a counsellor and my GP, the responses are always about behavioural strategies! - Erin

My son has been on ADHD medication for 5 years (he's now almost 12) - while it served its purpose in the beginning, in the last 12 months he'd been aggressive, had a racing heartbeat and severe verbal and physical tics. Two weeks off his medication and three weeks on failsafe and all his symptoms have stopped and his teacher says he's more focused in class. I wish I had of been informed of the diet option before being told medication was the only solution. What's safer for our children? Dosing then up in medication (even if it is working) or changing their diet. I almost feel I was a lazy parent for taking the easy medication option without even looking at possible alternatives - Larissa

Pity this article on ADHD http://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2011/october/1317868852/gail-bell/prescribing-behaviour  didn't include Sue's work. A major and disappointing omission.

Over 20 years ago our family went through the whole drug treatment, Connor rating...all the things referred to in this article. We changed schools, endlessly we tried to work out why one child hyperactive, the other so very withdrawn. Tested high IQs but little school engagement. Medication was all we got from paediatricians. Things were bad......ritalin awful, I felt terrible drugging them but both not functioning at school without it: what to do? Eventually we were lucky enough to find failsafe and things turned around big time. No drugs. Life unbelievably better. As adults the ability of our kids to study and manage other aspects of their life has depended on whether they have chosen to be failsafe: this article suggests this is a childhood condition butIi am sure that once a person has these intolerances it is highly likely they will carry them into adulthood.
Reading this article I couldn't believe how little has changed.....except, all those years ago, ADHD was little recognised in schools.

Now a grandmother, I look back and strongly urge families to really hang in there with failsafe.....read Sue's books for inspiration. The minor inconvenience of going FS is nothing compared to the joy of having a happy family. One shouldn't have regrets, I know, but our family life, loving and close as it was, would have been very very much better if we had come across FS much earlier - Jane

I'm really sad today. I'm in a mums and bubs group and one of the mums posted that there child was diagnosed with ADHD and now she has to medicate her child. I posted about the great results I have had with being failsafe. And I was made out to be the freak using alternate ways and I should be using the medications. . But they didn't want to know that I'm now symptom free..I NO LONGER HAVE ADHD!

Thanks to Sue and her amazing network. I'm just sad that it's the freaky way to go.. Kylie

My son was diagnosed as ADD in 2006 age 5. Instead of Ritalin (as was prescribed and given to us in a brown paper bag after our visit to a paediatrician at Adelaide Children's Hospital), we did the elimination diet and found he is lactose intolerant. If he has lactose it affects his behaviour, concentration and memory for up to 3 days. Even after 8 years of sticking to lactose free, if he has proper dairy he gets quite sick (vomiting and loose bowels). Just to clarify, my son CAN drink and eat lactose free products with no effect at all, but if he has "normal" dairy products, he has the behaviour/memory issues and vomiting and loose bowels.

His behaviour has gone from what was classed as "off with the fairies" before we became lactose free, to now after even small amounts of dairy he becomes full on, silly/naughty and asks silly things and runs about crazy, his pupils dilate, he can't keep his hands still and definitely not concentrating - Kerry-Anne.

Oh what a journey I have had! As I said before my 5 year old son developed a chronic tic disorder and I was at my wits' end, I took him to so many doctors who told me that nothing can be done, then  I found your website.

I noticed immediate results by cutting out the additives but I could not get him to baseline. I then contacted one of your recommended dieticians. I cannot speak highly enough of this lady. She has been a light in the darkness. As I have told her myself she was the first person to say “yes I can help you” when so many others didn’t want to know. With her help we got to baseline (which means symptom free!!!) within about a month and worked through the challenges. He can now have mod to high sals, mod amines, glutamates on occasion and no additives at all!   But he looks normal and is getting on wonderfully at school. I have learned so much about how food affected both my children’s behaviour as well – even though this was not why I was doing the diet.

Doctors and dieticians here are amazed at our story and results!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, for without your work my adorable little son who was born perfect, would still be living with this chronic condition, and I have no doubt that the knock on effect of this on my entire families mental health would have been a negative one - Karen

See also 7 pages of other stories on tics and Tourette's syndrome

Almost three weeks into our salicylate free diet and seeing some nice changes. I should add we have also changed to A2 milk and less wholegrain wheat in breads and cereals. My boy seems calmer, less oppositional and able to reason with. But we've also noticed a change in his fine motor skills...his hand writing has changed and he has done up the buttons on his shirt for the first time ever. His language also seems better, with lots of new words and a subtle change in the way he speaks.

Our boy has a chromosomal deletion, a severe speech delay, global developmental delay and sensory processing disorder so we've been dealing with a lot his whole almost 7 years! I kind of wish I had looked into his diet earlier but we are here now.

3 months later: We still doing low sals and things seem a bit calmer. Still some challenging behaviour but hes got a lot going on poor boy! Interestingly his craving for fruit has gone, I'm limiting to golden delicious apples, pears and bananas...max two pieces a day now - Sandra

I found a great dietitian through your website and can't recommend her highly enough.  She was smart and compassionate, up with the details and yet practical.  Nothing loopy or vague about her, and yet she understands when feeding a child you really need some options you can make spreadable!

I also want to share that after 3 years of seeing a gastroenterologist with encopresis, my 7 year old son was CURED after five days on the diet.  My husband who was initially a little bit sceptical (although supportive of trying) is also totally amazed after seeing the results, and telling our friends about our success with the Failsafe diet.  Our son's whole personality has changed now that he doesn't have a sore tummy and solidified poo all the time.  I hope that one day soon there is a refereed medical paper on this, as there are so many specialists saying "it's only anecdotal".   I have to say that the dietician said she has rarely seen such a quick response so we may be somewhat unusual.  Our son also had strong negative responses to the challenges we did later on (although each one took about 5 days to show).  In fact after the amines challenge we could not get him feeling healthy and having normal bowel movements again without a laxative "washout".  We have decided to keep him on the strict elimination diet for six months before we try to do any more challenges. 

Interestingly, although my husband and other son found no changes on the elimination diet, I felt better than I had for years and have chosen to follow the strict diet unless I am eating out with friends.  Both salicylates and amines (and I suspect sulphites although have not bothered doing a specific challenge) affect my mood, and muscle fatigue and pains I have lived with for years.  I have been a functional parent and employee as viewed by outsiders, but insiders know how much I struggled to keep it all together.  Things are much better now on the diet.

Thanks for your great work with the books and the website.  We would never have heard about this otherwise. - Marita

I am 52 and been having extreme IBS symptoms, heart burn, upset stomachs, stomach ache when eating bread and a sensitivity to wine, I also found out I have an intolerance to preservatives. For the past four years I have noticed I have become lethargic and feeling exhausted after eating fruit, particularly bananas.

I have lost count the amount of times I have been to different Drs and believe I have been misdiagnosed. I used to put it mostly down to stress then going into other stressful jobs also getting older etc. I started my own research on Dr Google and found out that preservatives, amines and salicylates are a problem for me.

I visited one of your recommended dietitians as I was getting further and further confused on the internet and thought she could give me a sensible food path to follow. One visit to her and she suggested I consult a doctor to possibly see if they could help.

Well the doctor was surprised I hadn't been referred to have an endoscopy....One endoscopy later and I'm a Coeliac....YAHOO, ONLY TAKEN 30 + YRS TO FIND OUT. I was recently diagnosed as fructose intolerant but they said I could be dairy intolerant also. I am hoping this is just my stomach reacting and that I will be able to have dairy at a later stage. I miss my coffee and rice milk just doesn't cut it.

I also could have Barretts disease, which explains all the heartburn and acid which was not stress.

The stomach pains, depression, severe mood swings and general feeling of waking up and already completed a marathon have started to slowly dissipate, every day I am feeling just a hint better, the feeling of being depressed is actually more than 90% gone.

Now that I am in a better frame of mind I will look at some support groups to help myself and share my knowledge with others. I am disappointed that many Drs did not recommend me to have an endoscopy. It would have saved having my coccyx removed for a start; over 20 years ago they thought my coccyx was playing up when I discovered bread was causing me to have haemorrhoids, but nothing to do with the tailbone at all. - Anthony by email.

My 3 year old daughter gets hives from potassium sorbate (preservative 202). The first reaction came from home made pizza. I made the base from scratch but used a jar pizza sauce. The reaction was quite dramatic and scary. She came up in bright red hives all around her mouth within minutes. They lasted approximately 1 1/2 hours. I raced her down to the GP (I have another child with severe food allergies so I was terrified it was happening again). I also had no idea what ingredient in the pizza had caused the reaction. Obviously pizza contains some high risk foods as far as allergies go (dairy, wheat) but she'd eaten every ingredient in the past except the pizza sauce. We were referred to a paediatric allergist. He didn't know what ingredient caused the reaction and felt it was unnecessary to put such a young child through further testing.

After 2 weeks we tried the pizza sauce again and she reacted again. We were told it wasn't a serious reaction and to avoid that brand of pizza sauce. A couple of months later she reacted to a new brand of margarine and the only ingredient they have in common is preservative 202. One other thing, she didn't have any other obvious allergy symptoms (vomiting etc) and, at the time, she didn't complain about the inside of her mouth but I also wonder if it gave her an unpleasant sensation inside her mouth. Months later, she still refuses to eat pizza and margarine/butter. It's pretty unusual for a 3 year old to request vegemite on toast with no margarine or butter. Prior to the reaction she happily ate sandwiches and toast with margarine. - Vicki, by email

I have been dealing with what is at times a very debilitating rash. It is a burning rash - typically not itchy - and is located in the flexural areas -armpit, groin, under breasts. The skin burns, sometimes develops blisters that are easily popped, scabs in areas, and skin that literally peels away.  I've been to several dermatologists, doctors, allergists, etc. in an effort to find the cause of this rash for 7+ years and really never been completely without it during that time. Any dermatologist I have seen has refused to consider that the rash could be food related.

2 weeks later:
This is day 6 of the failsafe plan and I have not experienced the burning sensation for the last couple of days. I am feeling very encouraged by the improvement. I will definitely carry on with the diet and hope to see continued clearing of the rash. I am so grateful for your website. This has been such a difficult process and I truly felt like I just didn't know what else to try - Janet, by email

I underwent the diet with a dietician about two years ago - I'm now 38 - and finally uncovered what had been basically destroying my life for about a year before that - severe intolerance to amines, salicylates, glutamates, colours and preservatives. My symptoms are generally: extreme irritability; extreme sinusitis-like symptoms, including ear aches and imbalance, near-permanent blocked or runny nose, and general flu-like symptoms (body ache, chills etc; extreme tiredness; and skin problems). I use "extreme" in all of the above because I'm so used to people saying "That doesn't sound too bad".  - Diego, by email

I just want to say that I am very thankful for the failsafe diet, all the books, groups like this and support from people near and far. I have had my family on the strict failsafe diet for 9 days now and my daughter's eczema has reduced by about 80%!! It's incredible as a few days ago there looked to be no improvement and it was like a switch has turned her eczema off. The only patches left are a handful of really deep ones that I am sure will disappear in another week or so. So exciting!!!

Another big win was yesterday my daughter went to a birthday party and I packed her failsafe party food and drink. On pick up time she was zooming about with her friends so I assumed just another crazy party with a meltdown to occur around dinner time. Once in the car she settled immediately and we got on with our evening with her chatting happily about the party. No tantrums, negative attitude, harsh words, nothing! It's times like these when you eat yet another serve of only beans and potato (I miss my carrot and broccoli) that you realise time and effort well spent - Tameka from facebook group

Just a little note to say how grateful I am to have found this page and how much I admire all of you on here. The support I have found has been truly amazing and I have never stumbled across any negativity in the slightest. You all make my Failsafe journey so much easier - Misty on facebook page

It is worth doing the RPAH elimination diet; my son is currently on it. He is 4 and was waking every night - thank god I did not persist with sleep school which was what everyone wanted me to do... Now he sleeps when we stick to the elimination diet. I too had the looks from my husband but he has now seen the proof and believes me now! - Frederikke

Eliminating 282 (also known as calcium propionate or cultured dextrose) from my diet almost completely eliminated my migraines :-) - Deborah by email.

These are the comments in just 24 hours after asking the above question on the Sue Dengate facebook page

38 years ago, at the age of 2, I was put on the earliest versions of the failsafe diet. It saved my family's sanity and allowed me to tame the "grumpies and the sillies", which is what it felt and often still feels like - Jodi

Not only has failsafe changed my son's inappropriate behaviours and many more mild health conditions, it has also given the family a better understanding of the bad chemicals in a lot of healthy and non-healthy foods.  I love that our bodies are now consuming less chemicals - Danielle

Failsafe gave me quality of life again after years of terrible eczema. Now I control it instead of it controlling me and my family! - Ruth

Failsafe woke my brain up! - Carlia

My children are no longer animals. I've discovered how wonderful life is with them again! Thank you! - Melissa

Bub was up hourly, all night every night, on a good night. Now sleeps 12 hours. (Started elimination in February when he was 8 months) - Karissa

Finding sanity in the midst of utter chaos and despair. When no one else will listen or believe you, when you think you are alone, you find this, and some sense of normalcy and equilibrium is discovered - Elizabeth

At my absolute worst, with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and IBS, with speech issues, constant headaches, psoriasis, untold medications and a very real chance of having to use a wheelchair, I can easily say FS saved my life.  I'm now fit and active, run a business, teach belly dancing and thoroughly enjoy life - Sue

My daughter can be who she really is - Tina

I used to be alone, googling like a maniac trying to understand why I was so sick from eating. My googling led me to Failsafe and suddenly I wasn't alone anymore - Sonja

My son was diagnosed ADHD/ODD 4yrs ago. Luckily with a supportive paed & knowledgeable nutritionist we made our way thru elimination & challenges to find a reliable baseline. My son can now function acceptably in school without the need for medication - Samantha

Was unable to sleep, itchy, always tired and cranky, loss of motor skills and at times loss of speech and thought. Failsafe has given me my life back thank you - Rona

My son had terrible weeping and bleeding eczema, and we were spending a fortune on prescription creams and remedies that weren't really working. His skin cleared up once we eliminated food chemicals, but that was just the start of his improvement - he was sleeping better, his stomach pains disappeared, and our doctor (who had been watching him as an early diagnosis case of ADD) told us that he saw an enormous improvement and wasn't concerned anymore - Lindsey

Health and Happiness - Amy

My son spent the first nine months of his life miserable and in pain. No one was able to help us. I stumbled across the failsafe diet by accident and tried it in desperation. It worked where nothing else had - Veronica

Our family was falling apart over our very bright 7 y.o. son's loud, argumentative, nonsensical melodramatic behaviour. Failsafe eating returned him to the calm, loving, intelligent child we thought we'd lost. From struggling with Year 2 Maths he is now a self-sufficient straight A student with an academic scholarship for Yrs 11 & 12, plans to study Law, his driver's licence - and a girlfriend! - Belinda

School mornings have gone from hysterical crying daughter (and often Mother) to up and dressed and keen for school! And Mum has gone from sick in the stomach stress ball to being able to enjoy hanging out with my girl again! THANK YOU! - Strawbz

From tummy aches, ear infections, motor tics, sleeping issues and behavioural problems to happy and healthy boys who maintain beautiful relationships with friends and family - Jenny

It means being able to laugh with my children, not constantly feel at war with them! Now that my older daughter is 12 she thanks us for caring enough about her to keep her failsafe - Kylie

After 10 years of suffering breathing problems which I knew were food related and not being believed by my GP or the Chest Clinic to discover Salicylate Intolerance and FS was wonderful - Barbara

I prayed to God for help to heal my beautiful daughter & he answered ... I found the Failsafe diet & we are forever thankful!!! - Vee

Our 12 yr old son was diagnosed with high-functioning autism, and we'd experienced over 15 school suspensions between year 1 and 2 due to periods of uncontrolled violence. Since we found the Failsafe diet 7 years ago, our lives have turned around, and it is so easy to love him, including his wicked sense of humour and self-confidence - Natasha


I tried vega testing, naturopathy, hair analysis and 'special formulas' for my wild child....was all a waste of money with the 'cure' at best doing nothing but usually making her worse. FAILSAFE saved me and my dtr. I was seriously having thoughts no mother should have. FAILSAFE changed both our lives - Simone

Rruugghh after being so careful of my foods I had takeaway tonight and my skin has gone into melt down, bright red itchiness rash .... I have heart palpitations and a headache within 30 min! MSG is my killer ... Just had to take two antihistamines, two steroids and pain killers. So cross with myself! - Brianna from FB group

My daughter is 8 has been diagnosed with ODD. We have all been failsafe since mid Feb 2014 and I cannot believe the difference this has made to our lives...Trina from facebook group


Smells have never been much of a sensory trigger, mostly proprioception, crashing, possibly noise, he talks so loud and it appears he has difficulty filtering noise.. I feel those triggers are the ones that food may not help.. ? After all this, however, I would love to tell you all we had the most amazing afternoon.. He got out his homework, without me asking, and proceeded to do 3 nights worth of HW in one sitting.. Then went on to go over his spelling words.. Now before this would have been 10 minutes of struggling to get him to finish writing one word on the paper.. One word.. Constant redirection.. And crying.. And emotional overreaction.. And anxiety about performance.. I mean.. There have been some ups and downs.. And there will always be.. But I have never seen him so engaged in an academic task.. Ever.. And has gone up in reading levels too.. Reading his first chapter books.. It really is pretty incredible.. He is trying so hard.. So much to bear at just 7 years old..- Susan

I get very sensitive to noise light and smell if I am not strict with the diet. My 11 has no control over her emotions. She is a different child on the diet. Before we started the diet and when she was a toddler she wanted to kill her twin sisters. When she got older she was obsessed with leaving them in the forest. We stopped reading Hansel and Gretel to her. Funny now but wasn't then. When she had her first food challenge we could not leave her unattended with the girls. We had to literally sit between them or keep them in separate rooms. You be surprised the impact food can have on behaviour - Michelle

In relation to reading: when I am not strict with the diet my eyes can’t focus on written text. Reading and processing becomes very difficult. It's difficult to explain. I find it even difficult to look at faces and keep eye contact. My brain finds it too difficult to focus and my communication skills go downhill. Can't explain why but when I’m like this I can relate to children on the spectrum. It's a horrible feeling - Michelle

Wow thanks Michelle, what a great insight into what it is like.. I have no issues like this so I am learning as I go with my son as he can't articulate what it feels like. He is starting to have moments of clarity like never before and the closest he has come to explaining what you are describing is.. "Mummy, sometimes when you talk to me I don't understand what you are saying.. Could you please be more clear?" Which was HUGE for him. And he struggles to maintain eye contact.. He can do it, but it is obvious he wrestles with it.. Thank you for explaining, and the diet has definitely made a difference..- Susan

My other girl had problems understanding her teacher. She would come home and say that she doesn't understand her teacher and it turned out she meant that literally. Also I have to be very clear with my eldest when she is not well. It's either yes or no never maybe or we will see. I still find that concept very difficult as I like being flexible. When she wasn't well she would keep on saying I don't understand adults they say one thing and do another and became very distrusting and emotional and depressed - MichelleI find the same thing with my son, I have to be very clear, sometimes just ONE or two word instructions. Too many words and he starts staring through me and my words are just arbitrary noise. At school, since the diet, he finally now is actively walking (walking! not running!) up to his teacher and telling him he doesn't understand and asking for help, who couldn't be happier to oblige because he is finally engaging in the work..He even said last week he had his first 'beautiful day' that he has had at school, ever (Gr-2) ...- Susan

See also http://fedup.com.au/factsheets/symptom-factsheets/sensitivity-to-sound-hyperacusis

I have 2 boys now 7 and 5. Both have had a range of true food allergies and also intolerances along the way, my eldest in particular. It was at age 5 when we saw our RPAH allergists for our annual review that I mused that I still wasn't convinced about his gut health despite our FAILSAFE diet etc etc. I wondered was it the salicylates intolerance causing this poor gut health, or was it the gut health causing the salicylates intolerance...? We had some pretty full-on behavioural issues to contend with also - defiance, oppositionality, anxiety etc. ADHD was thought about, but dismissed as there was no evidence of this behaviour at school, rather more a case of the street angel home devil scenario. Was it our parenting? I felt I had always set firm boundaries and given lots of love etc etc. Lots of questions....

Lo and behold, we were finally advised to "let’s just rule out coeliac disease".

And the more I read after that next bombshell, the more I came to terms with that being the problem, before testing had even begun! And what do you know. FINALLY, at age 6, he was diagnosed with coeliac disease. It was almost a relief!!

Now almost 18 months on, his gut has healed well. My suspicions (my "gut feeling"!) were on track; his poor gut health had paved the way for his predominantly salicylate food intolerances. Now that his gut health has improved on his gluten free diet he tolerates whatever salicylates he likes (hooray!!!!).

His energy levels have improved. His behaviour has improved. Life has improved!

I should add that we obviously tried gluten free for some time on the elimination diet, but it just wasn't a long enough period for the necessary healing to happen. We never seemed to reach baseline, no matter what we did. But low sals helped a lot, with behaviour, and skin. So that was our general approach along the way. Because we were nut free and low sals, low dairy (previous allergy) and all the rest of it, we were pretty low gluten too. The kids were used to buckwheat pancakes and other ORGRAN products! So the transition to a completely gluten free diet for us has not been difficult at all.

But herbs and spices have made a comeback, as have lots of colourful vegies and fruits.....IN MODERATION.

I will never be able to let go of what FAILSAFE has taught me along the way though. The over-abundance of foods in our culture, the demand for out of season produce, the international cuisines having changed out palates and minds to thinking we need these flavourful foods all the time, despite out bodies not always agreeing....

I have a far more balanced approach to food nowadays. Whilst they'd always been fairly healthy considerations, I know we overdid the fruits and probably underdid the vegies.

Moderation is certainly the key. Variety. Simplicity. Good whole foods. Fermented foods. Old-fashioned ways. Bone broths. Seasonal produce. Local produce. But it is so lovely to have the choice back!

So thank you for all you do. Little by little people are learning to cut out the crap, wising up to the old ways! Supermarkets are changing (a little). School canteens are changing (a little). There's still a LONG way to go!!! - thanks to Kim who has been our Newcastle failsafe contact.

I had to give up all food additives and chemicals at the age of 55 because of the physical and mental problems they were causing me. Now I just eat veggies and fruit. Nothing else. I lost 137 pounds (62 kg) in 18 months. I am 5 feet 6 inches tall and at 137 pounds. So I'm at a 50/50 weight loss ... 137 lost and I weigh 137.  I think I may have finally found my body's equilibrium where it wants to hang out at :-) I keep going up and down a pound or 2 or 3 every few days. 

The youtube video that started me on the diet September 2011 is the Last Heart Attack by Dr Sanjay Gupta. Among the reasons I forced myself to do this diet was to get the weight off of my spine as I have a lower back spine injury and can't take pain meds for the past few years as they make me suicidal and cause me more pain. Also the main artery in my heart - the left descending artery - is 40 % blocked but not enough for a stent. So my family doctor told me not to worry about it until I need a stent. Like what!!!  Needless to say I didn't listen to him. I now have a cardiologist who is going to see me once a year in September and see how my blockage is doing and if it gets better or worse with this diet.

No wonder the USA population is so sickly  and diseased. If people would eat real food and not what man has created, they would see things change. As Jack LaLanne always said... "if man made it...don't eat it."   - Tim, Pennsylvania


I found Tim's story inspiring, but as an Aussie, hadn't heard of Jack LaLanne. This amazing man was born in the US in 1914, describing himself as a hyperactive kid with a tendency to lose his temper and an addiction to junk food. The turning point in his life came at age 15 at a lecture by a nutritionist who told young Jack he was a "walking garbage can" and advocated the benefits of whole grains, a vegetarian diet and exercise. LaLanne went on to became a fitness and nutrition guru credited with opening one of the first health clubs in the country, preaching the health benefits of regular exercise and a good diet while doctors reviled him as an exercise 'nut' whose programs would make their patients "muscle-bound" and cause "severe medical problems" like heart attacks. He lived healthily to the age of 96 and kept up his daily weightlifting workouts until the day before he died of pneumonia in 2011.

LaLanne's two simple rules of nutrition could have been written for failsafers: "if man made it, don't eat it", and "if it tastes good, spit it out".

More information:

The Last Heart Attack by Dr Sanjay Gupta  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Op9fow8JKW4

I recently came across your website while googling symptoms my 4 yr old daughter displayed after eating KFC chips. My partner had taken our children to town and as a treat got some KFC. When I came home from work both my kids were asleep which is a bit unusual for 6pm. My partner was in an incredibly cranky mood and said he felt like crap because of the KFC.

When my 4 yr old woke up her eyes were very red and swollen and weepy. At first I thought she had conjunctivitis and washed her eyes with a warm salty water mix. My partner then said her eyes swelled up immediately after eating the KFC. I believed straight away that she had an allergic reaction to the chips, which is all she ate. Our 1 yr old would not eat any of it. 2 weeks later we went to the movies and my 4 yr old ate a child size popcorn and had a similar but less severe reaction of red eyelids and drowsiness. I was now convinced she had developed a reaction to the salt used. Neither of these foods had labelling about what the ingredients were. Once I had read stories and information from your website it started to dawn on me how many other times she had reactions to foods. The biggest one being after eating a peanut butter sandwich some months before the KFC incident. After eating the sandwich she threw up, she had never had that reaction to peanut butter before. In fact she had never thrown up since being a baby.

I truly believe the 600 numbers have created her allergic reaction to peanuts and have since started to read all labels of the foods she eats. The doctor and nurse at my daughter's last check up did acknowledge that she could be allergic to those numbers but could offer very little advice except to cut them from our diets. On the peanut allergy they recommended not giving her peanuts for a while to let her immune system settle down. 

Since cutting out any food with those numbers and not eating fast food my daughter has not had any more reactions with swollen eyes or runny nose. - Rebecca, by email


Some experts think that food allergies are increasing, but they don't know why. The newer flavour enhancers called ribonucleotides (635, 627 and 631) are known to boost the immune system, so in theory it is possible they could lead to true allergies which are essentially an over-boosted immune system. This is not mentioned in the scientific literature but was suggested to me by an immunology graduate whose own child developed true allergies during two weeks of 635 reactions while her parents, doctors and caregivers tried to work out the cause of her rash. (It was chicken flavoured crackers with E635 given to her at the childcare centre). We have noticed that some other children and adults in our network have also developed true allergies after reactions to 635. We wonder whether these additives could contribute to an increase in allergies particularly since they are added to baby formulas. But is anyone looking? 

We would like to hear from anyone who has developed true allergies after suffering a reaction to the 600 number flavour enhancers.

More information at http://fedup.com.au/factsheets/support-factsheets/allergy-or-intolerance

Your site is a life saver. I've been suffering from many of the symptoms associated with salicylate intolerance, especially dermatitis. Poisoning myself on what I thought was an extremely good diet. What an education. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Four months later: My symptoms have completely resolved, simply through steadfastly following failsafe eating. When you've been ailing as badly as I was and to now to be well, merely by eliminating certain foods, that’s proof.  I have healthy skin, hair and stronger nails. No more frequent urination, no more constipation and my sleeping patterns are normal. I breathe easily, have strong energy and a clear, happy frame of mind.  I'm living again instead of dying. The old saying "the proof is in the eating" is true. Failsafe eating works. My doctors agree.

Failsafe eating is being kind to your body and eating what’s right for you.

Your research, diet and site is a life changer. Sincerely, I can't thank you enough - reader from Victoria.

riborash1266a        riborash1266b

Before coming across your site trying to understand a reaction to Lay’s Bar-B-Que potato chips, I’d been tested for food ‘allergies’ and have experienced increasingly severe rashes since 2008, when I had the mother of all skin reactions that lasted for several months (chronic hives (uticaria), swollen, droopy eyes, and rashes) .  The doctors simply diagnosed eczema and food intolerances and said there was no cure.  Well, SOMEthing changed to suddenly cause all these reactions ­ I just felt I should be able to ‘change it back’ somehow.

I now know that MSG, yeast extract, and of course the disodium guanylate E627 and disodium inosinate E361 (found in those evil Lay’s potato chips) are absolute triggers for me.  It’s difficult to avoid, but the good thing is I know now and can avoid feeding these excitotoxins to my family.  I’m outraged at these chemicals being added to our foods  Excitotoxins, in addition to making foods delicious, frequently cause permanent nerve damage ­ is it worth it??  Not for me, but for the companies that make these foods, YES because they taste good so people buy them.

Thank you for this information !   I'm including some pictures of this rash in varying stages of severity; you're welcome to use them on your site if you wish.  - Jodie


Your website is AMAZING. Thank you - Julie

I have been on a low salicylate diet for 9 years and it has dramatically improved my life. I am no longer plagued by asthma if I keep to a low salicylate diet- what a relief to be able to breathe. Other benefits are-  never catching colds and flus; no constant phlegm,  blocked nose and hayfever; no headaches at all instead of daily ones; and no PMT. I am now full of energy and am able to live my life fully - Rosemaree

I am a recent convert to failsafe eating after a friend told me how she cleared up her daughter's eczema. Our family is currently on the elimination diet to try and figure out exactly which food chemicals affect whom and in what way ... Our oldest daughter's eczema and mood / engagement has already been transformed by cutting out gluten and cutting down on salicylates from term 4 last year. She is literally a different child. My other daughter's problems (6 yrs old) with wetting her pants during the day / sneaky poos / wetting the bed occasionally have absolutely stopped since she went off dairy - Edwina

Our message is not popular, doesn't make anyone any money, is complicated and doesn't need supplements, but IT WORKS, as thousands of families can confirm! - Howard Dengate


I bought ‘Fed Up’ in around 2005 when my daughters were 7 and 10 – we were living in the UK at the time and I was between marriages.  My eldest was pretty much OK (I thought) but the youngest had always been a bit more tricky – she was grumpy and inflexible.  We were pretty strict with the elimination diet and all three of us did it.  Within less than a week it was like someone had returned two beautiful daughters to me – they were chatty , happy, positive and life was good.  I was struck by how it proved that adding sugar to food does not cause bad behaviour – as youngest could add as much sugar to her weatabix as she liked and it had no effect – one mouthful of cocoa pops were enough to send the eldest into tears and the youngest back to her former behaviour.  You have to remember this was 10 years ago though now – so my memory is a little faded.  Ketchup was a big deal in our family – and still raises its ugly head sometimes.  I know that one trial we did (with the cocoa pops) led to the girls asking me to throw the food out though – as they felt really weird.  I really wish we could all go back on the diet sometimes – but it’s not so easy with teenagers.  I may try again though – one way or another.

My working life has been devoted to plant chemistry – I specialise in the things in plants which make them coloured, flavoured and bioactive.  Mostly the phytonutrients.  I have never been, and never will be, a believer that fruit is an essential part of our diet.  In our family it is a treat.  Vegetables are where it’s at.  There is very little unique to fruit – whereas vegetables are our only dietary sources of:

•         Cysteine Sulphoxides (Allium family – onions)
•         Glucosinolates (brassicas)
•         Polyacetylenes (carrots, parsnip)

And are a very rich source of fibre (soluble and insoluble), folate, nitrates (which reduce blood pressure), vitamins and minerals.  Plus flavonoids, anthocyanins, carotenoids, chlorophyll, betalains.  You name it. Eat more vegies!  www.veggycation.com.au  - Dr Hazel MacTavish-West



I'm so happy I could cry, I have cried with frustration over the last 4 weeks but at the mo I am so happy with the diet. Check out master 6 homework. What a difference 4 weeks makes. Did it himself, with focus and within 1 minute! Thank you failsafe! One proud mummy. I tried to also show the scrawl from 3 weeks ago but couldn't.

LATER: Would you believe it, today marked our d day. Saw our fantastic dietician after 4 weeks of elim diet. Pricipal at school today asked me to read her blog because it was written on my child with good manners being the topic. I am so proud of him I might burst.  - Lisa from facebook group


In October 2012 a strange rash started to appear on my hands and slowly started to cover my entire body, after multiple visits to the doctors I was put on steroids as they believed I had a reaction to something. Two months later, more doctors visits and this rash now covered my face, ears, back and everything in between. I ended up on antibiotics due to golden staph from all the itching and resulted to bathing in bleach every couple of days! A visit to the dermatologist and I was given a stronger cortisone cream and advised to have 3 (yes 3) 24 hour antihistamines to control the itch. After living on antihistamines, steroids and cortisone cream for 12 months I was miserable. I felt sick all the time and just couldn't get a handle on my skin. I wasn't sleeping, I became depressed and each doctors visit the doctors threw their hands in the air unsure of what to do. This on top of getting a sudden onset of migraines in 2011 told me something wasn't right ... tonight for the first time I've just seen a photo that looks like my rash - it's the one you put up on the screen for ribo rash.

Update: My rash started improving within 24 hours of removing MSG boosters in liquid stock and others from diet. 7 weeks in and massive massive changes. I have converted to rice milk and removed 220, 600's and 950 & 951 and look at the result!  Such a relief to not be on all the nasty medications and feel so miserable.

I am a new failsafe ambassador and have been telling everyone .. THANKYOU !!! - attendee at the Melbourne roadshow talk


I suggested gluten free to my 12 year old niece as she's S-H-O-R-T. She's been gf for about 6 weeks, and yesterday I saw her for the first time. Wow!!!

1) She's been able to wake up around 6 am whereas before she would have extreme difficulties getting up in the morning her entire life.

2) Her mom says her hair had grown in those 6 weeks much faster than ever (she'd always had a weird problem where her hair grows REALLY slowly).

3) And the best surprise: her behavior has always been totally normal and even better than that, except for being a bit socially withdrawn, maybe even a snob... Yesterday for the first time she was really friendly, cute and sociable. What a change!!!

And before having those gains, her mother said she had had huge emotional withdrawals (as I said, she's always been very stable emotionally, so what a surprise) for several days.

I'm "used" to the emotional / mental gains within my own 4 person family, but this is the first time I recommend diet to someone else, they actually do it, and I get to see the difference with my own eyes. Incredible!!! Now let's see if she grows taller too (she's about the height of a 9 year old) - Sivan from facebook page.

Just thought I'd pop and let u know the great success I've had so far with my daughter - I think we are going into week 3. Recently diagnosed with ADD. Have eliminated all salicylates from her diet and she is only having the permitted vege on the elimination diet and only fruit is Pear. No additives or Preservatives......I THINK I HAVE A NEW CHILD!!!!!! Difference is unbelievable..... Can't thank u enough Sue and your cookbook is a saviour and I think you've also cut my grocery bill by over half - Megan

When I drink Starbuck's cafe mocha I get significant irritation on my face. It affects the skin between my eyes, my cheeks, the crevices of my nose and my chin. At times it has spread to my scalp. It can also affect the center of my chest. It mainly just looks bad but the affected skin can be tender and sting. Without further exposure the redness lasts a few days.  After researching the ingredients it seems likely the potassium sorbate ingredient is the cause, though it will take exposure to potassium sorbate through other products to be certain. 

Starbuck's cafe mocha is made with Fontana Bittersweet Chocolate Mocha Sauce which contains this ingredient. The ingredients for the Fontana sauce can be seen here:  http://www.starbucksfs.com/Products/Details/Bittersweet_Chocolate_Sauce - Rick, by email

Sue's comment:

I agree that potassium sorbate (preservative E202) seems the most likely cause of facial irritation.  It is well documented in the medical literature that sorbic acid and potassium sorbate can cause contact dermatitis but less well known that foods containing sorbates can cause erythema (reddening of the skin), most frequently on the face and back, worse in people with rosacea.

Reference: CRC Handbook of Food, Drug and Cosmetic Excipients, page 366 

See 200-203 Sorbates factsheet

We would be interested to hear any other reports of a reaction to this product: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

My failsafe baby started high school this week. Twelve years ago I was at breaking point trying to find a reason my baby was covered in eczema, never slept, did frothy green poos, and never smiled. Sue Dengate saved both our lives, literally. My little Firecracker was one of the first babies to join Sue's support group and the affirmation and support I received from others on those groups has seen me forge lifelong friendships. Today my daughter is a fierce warrior. She is eating foods, her body continues to lead the way and we all listen. It's not an easy road by any stretch of anyone's imagination, but this works.

I've recently been reminded of what life was like before Sue pointed me in the right direction and I realised how far we've come. My little Firecracker is the best person she can be, and it's all thanks to you. But it's not just about her and babies. Failsafe also gave me my life back and I do my bit to pay it forward. Thank you Sue, for showing me how - Blanca

Any thoughts on/experiences with constantly switching between failsafe and non-failsafe for kids with separated parents? My ex and his family won’t even acknowledge our kids’ bad nut allergies despite a couple of hospitalisations! They "forget" so I have no hope of them acknowledging food sensitivities and they have used artificial colours "against me" on purpose in the past (given boys red frogs just before they are returned to me).

We have been failsafe for four days (been avoiding artificial chemicals for years but it appears natural chemicals are the problem). Changes almost instantly and amazing. I have different children!

Unfortunately I do not have the kids long enough in my care to do challenges properly (10 nights a fortnight but with only 7 days straight).

Is avoiding food chemicals completely part of the time likely to increase bad/extreme reactions? Would this be unhealthy for my kids to switch between low chemical and all chemical diets? Any advice? - Gail


Just going by my son, if he has chemicals just once then it could affect him for a long time, days, weeks. But there is a big difference between his behaviour if he has them now and again, compared to if he has them daily. I think having some additive free days a week is better than none at all. Also you probably are already, but try to make sure your kids know why they eat additive free. Point out to them when their behaviour changes due to additives. Make sure they know that eating better makes them feel better. The best "revenge" on their father and family will be when they turn down the red frogs and other junk because they know it will make them feel bad later - Melanie

That’s a tough one, seems they’re willing to risk kids health for spite? Would having a doctor confirm the nut allergy make them take care? -  Melissa

I've been through this with my ex...not a pleasant situation to be in. My suggestion is to start with a doctor's letter about the nut allergy. If he fails to comply, contact DHS as he is endangering the life of your child. They will contact him and have a word...if he does it again, they'll take action against him (I went through this with my second eldest and his asthma). As for diet, get yourself a dietitian and again, provide the father with a letter. Also, contact the Family Relationships centre and get the ball rolling on some parenting plans/orders and have a clause included that states that all medical and dietary requirements are to be met and that you, the mother, will notify him by email of any and all changes to the children's needs in those areas. I say email because then you'll have an electronic record of all correspondence regarding these matters...trust me, letters get "lost". Keep a copy of all medical letters sent to your ex and document the dates they were sent (scan and email also, as a precautionary measure). Provide him with names and numbers of all medicos as well - Shawna.

I would stick to the low chemical while you have them. Living with some chemicals in your system some of the time is a much nicer way to live than having high chemicals all of the time. They will be a bit more up & down, which is tough on them, but at least they will feel ok some of the time. As they get older hopefully they will recognise the difference, and speak up & say, I don't want to eat that! Good luck, it's a very difficult situation - Renee

I think Shawna has a great long term plan on how to force control, I am lucky to have family that helps. But I think going strict on and off is just really hard on the system in general, I have seen in my own children that consistency changes things, it takes their little bodies so long to heal. What I would do is maintain low as you can at home, marathon cook pre visits so they are getting at least some of the food their bodies can work with, and work really really hard on getting some legal help on your side. Depending on how old the kiddos are I would really work on them, more than on the inlaws/ex. I would have them write or describe for you how they feel each day, how much trouble they’re getting into, how hard it is to control themselves etc.  Start having THEM refuse the foods that inlaws are shoving down their throats, let them be the one to offer up something from their stash as a replacement so they can feel good.

I only say all of this because I have an ASD 5 yr old boy that has extreme fructose malabsorption and many other food related issues and has been on a strict diet for a long time. Family support was great but the early years were all about him sneaking foods. Between 4 and 5 we started doing the above with him, we made funny names for some of the symptoms like "fire poop" and made it kinda fun for him to understand his own body, and due to delayed reactions to foods we had to really help him understand what caused what. We allowed him things and said "this is going to give you your tummy aches, but if you really want to have it I will let you have a small amount so you can see" Later when he was uncomfortable I would remind him gently "this is why mommy says no to so many foods, like that apple you ate today. Because I don’t like it when you are hurting I would rather make you special food that doesn’t make you hurt".  It only took a couple of special allowances, and never did he ask for the same one again, for him to totally grasp the concept, within a very very short time he stopped asking for things he knew were off limits, Instead of trying to sneak away with a candy someone gave him he would trade it to us, or just refuse it with "I have allergies". He tells his teachers and friends that he cannot have this or that freely and is no longer feeling like he "can’t" but now like he "doesn’t want to!" - Adrianne

We have the same issue. It's impossible but at least my stepsons’ mother values "natural" foods. But her refusal to believe in Twin One's MAJOR amine intolerance is ridiculous. She TOLD him to eat the chocolate cake then complained she didn't want custody of him because he was too aggressive and violent. Got nowhere with dietician letters etc. Mediation not an option either. SIGH it's hard. Shawna your suggestions are great  - Megs.

I've had the same problem and battled for nearly a year before my ex finally realised the effects of foods. I have my son 2.5 weeks out of every three so was never able to do challenges although there was some foods I knew were definitely out. I just now keep it failsafe as much as possible. It's hard but like others have said it's better to minimize the chemicals as much as possible. I also always gave my son a bath in Epsom salts (about 1/2 cup Epsom salts and 1/4 cup bicarb in a third full big bath for my nearly 7 year old) the first two nights he was back to help speed elimination of chemicals - Vanessa

Do the best you can for your kids while you have them then throw them in a bi carb bath when they get home from the exs.  It might help with the fallout. As for your ex and new partner how bloody rude and irresponsible - Leanne

I find going high and low leaves me feeling worse (and better) at times than before going failsafe. I wonder if moderate failsafe might be the option for you until you can work out some parenting plans (e.g. Shawna's suggestions) and then go from there - Janelle.

Really feel for your situation.  I did FS with my then 4 1/2 year old daughter and explained it all to her. She thankfully understood and would say to people that she was allergic! It was enough for them to stop and ask me of it was ok. I know you don't have that option, but getting the kids (if they are old enough) on board might be the only strategy available for you! - Megan

If your child can swallow capsules, you can fill them with bicarb. My younger has probiotics that I have to empty out, and I fill the capsules with bicarb for the older one - seems to work on him - Alice (see link to bicarb antidote at bottom of this story)

I too have the same issue whereas my son's father doesn't believe in food intolerances, although there has been fantastic improvement at his school, after school care and in my home. I bought my son the book 'Oscar's lunchbox', it's fantastic in that he understands why we are doing what we are doing, not to mention he knows he is a lot calmer in his self and doesn't get in trouble as much. I constantly praise him about his good behaviour and link it back to the food so he is aware within himself. The problem I have is his father will not acknowledge this and when my son goes crazy over there and says to his dad it's the food he has given him, he tells him it's rubbish. I do the Epsom salt baths when he comes back from staying with his father just to assist in eliminating the toxins. The other thing I have done when told by my son he has been given something, for example, custard, I say to him, do you have custard when you are here with mummy? And try and let him know if he has not had it here, he should not be having it there. It is hard, especially with a young one as they don't get to have the voice as an older child. I am just persevering as best I can in this situation, however you cannot help but think it is like child abuse in a way, giving them foods that react in their body - Rae

Gail responds: So nice again to hear I am not the only one!!! So what do you do Rae when you get your son back from seeing his dad? Does he go to straight to school after contact?

He does go straight to school after contact on a Monday morning and I pick him up that afternoon, however the school is well aware of what I am doing and they are behind me 100% as they see the improvement also, which makes their life easy. They are aware of the timeframes he is with his Dad and with me and give him a little more space if he starts to misbehave for the first couple of days after being dropped off by dad knowing he doesn't follow the failsafe diet like he should. My suggestion is to be open and honest about the whole situation to those who need to know, like the school, etc. My pride would get in the way in terms of not speaking out of school regarding the shortcomings of his dad, but found as long as you discuss these issues without your child in earshot, you will get a lot of support and empathy for that matter as it is not easy dealing with a child who has meltdowns and I have been told numerous times that I am doing a good job helping my son to be better within himself - Rae.

Gail responds: Have you considered replacing the contents of the lunch box?

I'm unable to do this as I don't pick him up until around 5.30pm in the afternoon, there have been times where I have found a chicken leg in his lunch box, great considering he's intolerant to amines, At the end of the day, you can only do what is within your control, it's hard enough raising a child with intolerances to add the never ending arguments on top of this. I just know what I'm doing is benefiting my son and thankfully he's in my care more than in he's his dad's over a fortnight, so that's in my favour and my little boy when it comes to ensuring he is getting the correct foods - Rae

See bicarb antidote

See factsheet on divorced families and coping with diet for more ideas

The "Failsafe" elimination diet is a very specific diagnostic tool, which will give you many answers, and for us (myself and my kids, we have various food reactions) doing this elimination diet was the fastest, most direct way to a resolution. It changed our quality of life from hard, to absolutely lovely - Susanne from facebook group

I just wanted to send my congratulations to the moderators and members of this wonderful group. Everyone I have seen posting on here has been supportive, uplifting, and informative. This is a real change from the normal on facebook, and I as a mother have found this group wonderful. Thank you - Natasha from facebook group

I could chat on all day about how you've changed my life - which wouldn't have changed at all if my now 2 yo son hadn't had food intolerance symptoms as a breastfed bub - thank you, thank you, thank you.  The most frustrating thing is I want to sing it from the rooftops but no one really cares - and I know their lives could change too! - Katie from Victoria

I asked my son today (which is day 3 on FS diet), "Can you tell a difference in yourself? Do you feel any different?" At first he said,"No, not really." Followed by," Well, I don't feel so negative anymore...and I feel happier." Praise The Lord and raise the roof! - Alicia from facebook group

My DS7 admitted tonight that he is doesn't listen because he does not like what he may have to do at the time (i.e. defiant after they didn't practice enough flips at gymnastics tonight). Is then just a derivative of ODD or is food intolerance contributing to it? I hate to keep him on the elim diet if he is just naturally defiant...lol, if you know what I mean - Michelle

I think that defiance, tantrums etc are part of my DS4 personality, but I def think that Failsafe helps to control it and lessen it! - Megan

My dd6 said the exact same thing, and he's the child without intolerances! - Teresa

How long has he been on elim diet? It is hard to tell as even the person having the intolerance doesn't know the difference until they have been 'clean' for a while. The feeling of being persecuted and your reaction being appropriate remains even when you come out of it - Kim

How long have you been on the diet and was your son able to communicate this defiance to you before failsafe? My son (ODD and ADHD tendencies) always told me he didn't know why he behaved the way he did or why he did something wrong, but after starting failsafe has at times made up excuses for his behaviour that had I believed him would lead to going off the diet - ODD related I believe, they can be cunning (from personal experience) - Kylie

Good on you for sharing Michelle and trusting us with this. My son has ASD and tells me exactly the same thing. Exactly. All you can do is give FS a go and see if his behavior changes. I remain calm with my voice and don't get sucked into the turn-taking in arguments with our son. I let him have his say (because he loses it if I go the power play and try & shut him down) & then I say, okay it's my turn. I keep my language simple & repetitive. I also suggest talking when there's no eye contact, like in the car. Explain that sometimes mums ask kids to do things and they have to do it. That's the rules. It's tough. But I'm sure you are doing great - Helen

Two thoughts come to mind. Your son says now he has choice - failsafe gave that to my son and before failsafe he had no choice or control over his level of frustration. But frustration is a normal human response too and kids learn and pattern successful behaviours that work for them early. I therefore believe it is possible to learn and unlearn destructive but successful behaviours. We used a combo approach of retraining with failsafe. Have you done challenges yet? Watch for his level of self control when you do them,  not just the amount of defiance exhibited. It might answer your question. But consider normal learned behaviours too. They are usually harder to identify as we the parents are part of the cycle of reactions in relationship. Sounds like progress to me if he can identify his own behavioural choices. Pre failsafe for us this was impossible; now he can be defiant but we know the difference between reactive defiance and normal kid defiance.. even when it seems huge...Ries

My middle daughter is an absolute angel when she is not affected, but when I'm challenging a food which doesn't agree with her body, she is a feral little girl with ODD tendencies and extreme fatigue too - Julie

Michelle responds:  We have been on the elim diet now since Sept. 13 but were making mistakes and cheating. I think we have now hit a baseline. Thank you everyone for your comments. It is absolutely true...my DS7 didn't have control before over his defiance and it is a blessing that now he can voice his reasons for not wanting to do something. In October we introduced peeled cucumbers and sugar snap peas and he had a headache and lethargic for two days. Ate garlic bread with cheese on New Years's Eve (we are vegetarians, DF, GF) and he wanted to beat up his best friend over something small the next day. However we are going to try challenges again here shortly.

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

For my daughter it's amines. Natural flavours are included in this. Not sure what they are classed as but we trialled and the result was the same as amines with leg pain. It's the first sign we get that she has had amines  - Tanya1

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

That is interesting our son was complaining of headaches this arvo and the leg pains half hour later hmm time to start a food diary I think - Glenda

Amines for my two daughters - Julie

Magnesium helps - Jasmin

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

My son had 'growing pains' before failsafe, either amines or sals. I'm suspecting amines as I knew it was a trigger (after reading the website and book and noting the timing of our meltdowns in the past and the fact that a choc overload bought me to find failsafe lol) didn't challenge it, pains did not reappear during sals challenge (other symptoms did) - Kylie

For us, it was lack of calcium. When they drank less milk, they got the pains... Jen

A preventative that has worked WONDERS for my sons is one each of Schuessler Tissue Salts: Calc Phos (Bone Health) & Silica (Cleanser&Conditioner) each night.  My two sons, especially my youngest, used to wake up screaming in the night with 'sore legs' etc. Taking these as a preventative has helped immensely - can't remember the last time they complained. We have cut back now and don't do it every night, but if they say they have sore legs before going to sleep now, they have them (youngest will ask for them) - Tanya2

My son was at his worst with pains pre failsafe. I have since found that amines trigger his pains. He usually asks for some milk then he is fine to go back to bed after 3 - 5 mins. But now he asks for his soda water mix before bed when he feels it coming on. He is 3 1/2. Soda water drink helps him through the day only when he feels he needs it mainly due to amines in meat. Soda water mix is 30mls Schweppes soda water in a small kids cup, sprinkle of citric acid, sprinkle of ascorbic acid, sprinkle of Himalayan rock salt, sprinkle of sugar topped up with filtered tap water. Taste and adjust. Just got to get the right balance of flavour and bubbles. My other two kids don't like it. But they don't have amine Issues - Tanya3

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

I wonder if the Tissue Salts that my boys have are a counter/balance for sals?? - Tanya2

A warm wheat bag also helps for the pain - Amanda

My boys have all had the same pain. It's only now we know it's when it rains or the weather has a big change coming. He's had to have panadol tonight. He's 13 - Kerry-Anne

We have worked out three definite triggers for "growing pains" with my daughter. Cadbury cocoa (amines), soy vanilla ice cream (flavours) and lemonade (even though it was the preservative free schweppes one) - Kylie

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

It normally occurs after a very active day. And it's just that. .. growing pains. Heat and pain relief. Mine got so bad I couldn't walk and would have to crawl to my parent’s room in the middle of the night and I was a very active kid - Nicole

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. Several times we couldn't work out what she'd had and then she would say, 'oh yeah, that's right.... I may have had this today, sorry' - Tanya1

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

I would just like to add that if your boys are having painful hips & are walking with a limp this may not be growing pains but something more serious. My youngest had "growing pains" but it turned out to be Perthes disease (femoral head broke away). So please don't just think growing pains when it is in their hips - Roslyn


Last year my  6 year old daughter was diagnosed with ADHD and given a trial of Ritalin.  I felt sick in the pit of my stomach when I gave her that first tablet and I knew there had to be a better way. So, I began searching and found Fed Up. We went on the elimination diet and in week 4 I did not give the Ritalin to her (on the Thursday and Friday) and the teacher did not notice!!!!!!!!  I can not tell you how happy and relieved I was. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience. - Julia, WA

I was sitting at home, reading about 'alcohol-fueled' violence in Sydney, while listening to my seven- and five-year-old having a Category 5 tantrum outside as they recovered from the preservatives and artificial flavourings and colourings they'd been plied with at family holiday functions.

Then I had what may or may not have been a Eureka moment. I'm sure someone has brought this up before, but it could it be that ingredients other than alcohol in beer, wine, spirits and mixed drinks could be at least partly responsible for the so-called 'brain snaps' which have led to recent violent and tragic incidents?.

While I was contemplating this, I was drinking a 100% natural, preservative-free beer. I do this not because I like spending the extra money or think it gives me street cred. I do this because I've had some terrible experiences with some mainstream beer and mixed drink brands. I have had what some might term brain snaps, not leading to any violent behaviour on my part, but certainly reckless in terms of self-harm. I've also had massive headaches and allergic reactions from these drinks and, when I've told other people about this, some have described exactly the same symptoms.

I'm not saying everyone who drinks the same products would have the same reaction, just as preservatives and colourings affect my kids more so than others we know, who can scoff every candy cane on the Christmas tree and still remain so placid and angelic, perhaps they should be used to decorate the top of it.

I'm also not saying that alcohol should be disregarded. Even if other ingredients are only a factor, the alcohol obviously lowers inhibitions and reduces the ability of adults to moderate altered moods and feelings of unease - bringing them back to the unfiltered child-like state of my two, who don't have the skills or the desire to curb their tantrums and will start fighting, sometimes physically. Or it could be the interaction of these alcohol and these chemicals creating an altogether different situation. I'm no scientist so that's just speculation.

Then there is the question of what impact the snack foods being eaten with the alcoholic drinks might have. And this is before we even bring in other factors like caffeinated alcoholic beverages, other drugs, the ingredients of high-protein dietary supplements and steroids.

Or perhaps I'm completely wrong and it's just a coincidence that I'm blowing out of all proportion. However, I'm thinking if they're serious about doing something to reduce these violent incidents, they would be as keen as anyone to ensure they're targeting the right ingredients and that the right approach is taken. – Michael, NSW

Sue’s comment: While we certainly agree that additives in drinks, mixers, snacks and fast foods can contribute to temper outbursts and removing them would be a giant step in the right direction, this particular issue is complicated by the fact that all alcoholic drinks except gin, vodka and whisky are very high in natural salicylates, amines and glutamates. I can't see the general public wanting to embrace a message that says "drink only gin, vodka and whisky - and don't mix your vodka with tomato or fruit juice" although for a certain proportion of the population - possibly the ones in the news – this could make a huge difference. It would be good to see more awareness about food intolerance at an earlier age so that people know what affects them long before they get to legal drinking age.

See also story [304] "Last weekend I assaulted my wife and did horrific damage to her face ...  I had been drinking most of the afternoon, then consumed two strawberry sundae tubs of icecream ..." Was it artificial colours or the very high salicylates in strawberry flavouring or both? We don't know, but this story illustrates what Michael says, that a combination of alcohol plus food intolerance could be potentially lethal read more.

My children have been following a failsafe lifestyle for quite a few years due to behavioural issues and weve found it has improved our quality of life significantly.
Our little dog has been incontinent for about 3 years and has been progressively getting worse.  She has been on medication for about 2 years to help, but lately its been getting less and less effective.  Im not sure why I hadn't thought of it earlier, but about 2 months ago, I looked at her diet and found that all of her food had preservatives in it.  I decided to experiment and changed her diet to a natural brand from the pet shop.  For the first time in years, she has stopped leaving little puddles all over the house and has now also been medication free for the last month.  She is calmer too now… no more running around fretting when there’s a thunder storm. What a relief! 
Thank you for changing our life once again!!  - Cristi, NSW



Thats it! I'm convinced!....For the past 11 months my children have not been able to eat in the same room, let alone next to each other at the table without some kind of temper tantrum explosion, because my youngest (miss 8) has what I can only describe as some kind of anxiety attack over the noise her sister (miss 10) makes when eating anything. A couple of months ago my mum saw Sue Dengate on the TV talking about salicylates and how they can affect children and when she showed me all I kept thinking was...."That's her...that's what she's like." It wasn't only the eating thing but any tantrum she threw was extreme. Only at home though, my parents and husband were the only ones to see the full extent of it for a very long time. I looked into the failsafe diet and had been experimenting with things until I received my failsafe book recently. I was cutting back or cutting out salicylates where I knew they were, and had good results. Keeping a food diary I was able to link explosive tantrums which lasted for days to foods that I hadn't considered for one reason or another. So I began being a little more strict with it, recently cutting out preservatives where I could as well, (we haven't done the strict elimination diet). A few days ago she had a massive melt down, followed by something that surprised me....she was unable to make a decision, just a simple one.....but as there was no logic in her head that told her how to do it, she looked at me blankly and said "I can't decide". She's a very bright girl so it was very surprising to see it, I think it was something I'd not noticed previously as it was hidden by tantrums when she couldn't decide something. Tonight, after not having preservatives and only having very little salicylates for about a week, she came to me and said "mum....Em was sitting this far away from me (showing me a few cm's with her fingers) and she was eating popcorn, and I didn’t even hear her!!!" She was so excited and proud of herself, and once she left the room I burst into tears of happiness. She's been amazingly accepting of this diet, I've not kept it secret from her, and I believe she understands how its helping her and all of us. Thank you Sue Dengate, you've changed our lives thanks also to my family for being so supportive - Kristy

The irritation to noise is called auditory sensory processing disorder (ASPD). We have also found that my son who suffered terribly from it can show no signs of it when managed with diet. It always creeps back whenever there is the smallest of slipups. Two days ago when he accidentally consumed corn he was an emotional wreck on the couch covering his ears crying and begging me to turn the vacuum cleaner off. Today his reaction was over. I vacuumed in the same room and he had no problem at all - Emma

Wow! I never considered that! My two year old is highly sensitive to noise and so is my 15wk old. Both my boys! We are already preservative, artificial colour and flavour, and chemical free. High sals are mostly out but realised we weren’t meant to be having avocado! Think it’s time to fine tune the sals! -Kristie

It's not always just salicylates. Gluten can be a major factor. I have had SPD my whole life. It is something I think you learn to cope with but it is so hard for kids to deal with. I somehow managed to graduate from the law school with honours. I pretty much spent the whole of my VCE and law degree studying in the state library in Melbourne (in the dome) where making any noise is strictly forbidden. The only way I could study without feeling the need to punch people out for making noise. The other thing to note is that lots of people don't understand SPD because often people who suffer from it (commonly kids with ADD or ADHD etc) can be quite noisy themselves. If the child is in control of the noise (making it themselves or choosing to listen to it, e.g music), they will cope just fine. It is noises they are not in control of (e.g music or clashing conversations by others) that they can't cope with. My one year old has sensory processing issues with touch not sound. He hates the feel of things touching his hands. When he starts to touch his food he acts as though his hands are burnt (like he's handling a hot potato). Some people have sensory processing issues with bright lights - Emma

Amines also, especially chocolate, for auditory processing disorder here - Adelie

My daughter has sensory/sound and OCD issues which are definitely magnified by eating a high salicylate diet. Great to you found it too and now know why she behaved that way - Jan

Thank you for your post. I thought this was not due to food but a part of the ASD, as our doctor & speech pathologist said! - Louisa

See also factsheet on hyperacusis (sensitivity to sound)

So I have now cut out all artificial flavors/colours/preservatives, changed milk to A2 - but he doesn't really have a lot only in mashed potato etc, Bread to Brumbys, restricting fruit to mainly pears with the odd piece of other fruit, and we already used Nuttalex etc for about 2 weeks now and I must say although we are not on the Strict Elimination - WOW what a difference!!!! I'm really impressed!! There has been a huge change in behavior and his sleep patterns and he is managing on his own without any medication to help him sleep. I truly do hope this continues. I even had my mother mention last night that it was a very peaceful night and how lovely it was, so it's not just my imagination.

Oh and a big one I forgot to mention is that my son’s tutor called me into talk with her and mentioned how happy she has been with his progress over the past 2 weeks and have I been doing extra work with him at home. I don't think that I have, I just seem to think that he is taking it all in better! *Happy Dance* It's just so so lovely to see him this way – Mandy from facebook group

My son was about to be put into hospital for his severe eczema but doing all these things below as well as the RPAH diet has seen his eczema almost disappear, and his rhinitis as well. One thing I've noticed is that if we relax the diet, his skin goes dry and scaly, and then next thing is the inflammation and full blown eczema. So I believe that, in our situation at least, the condition of the gut (what you eat) affects the function of the skin (goes dry and scaly), and then the environmental allergen can get in and cause the inflammation. This goes for rhinitis as well.

There are a number of things to limit your exposure to dustmite, but you can't get rid of them (unless you live in the desert!).  It's important to remind yourself of that because, like the food situation, it can send you a bit bonkers trying to do everything, all of the time. However there is a lot you can do and it works.

Dustmites like warm moist dark places and they live off dead skin cells and mould. So your bed is the first place to start. Get good quality mite covers (see Melbourne supplier below recommended by allergists). Cover the mattress ( and the base if it's not timber) with the mite proof covers, cover your pillow as well and doona/quilt. You'll need to wash the covers fortnightly, and the rest of the bedding (sheets) weekly. Hot wash 60°C will kill the mites, but it's the mite poos that actually cause the allergy so a long cycle in the machine will wash the droppings away.

Get rid of carpets, wash curtains regularly. Eucalyptus will also kill mites, so use the Bosistos http://www.fgb.com.au/about-bosistos range of cleaning products, sprays and detergents, which work well but limit exposure because they aren’t failsafe. Anything that can't be hot washed can but put a plastic bag and into the freezer overnight to kill mites, then washed on gentle cycle next day to remove the droppings (I do this with soft toys and delicate fabrics). A de-humidifier is an option as mites need humidity to survive. So if the constant washing gets you down, that is something to think about.

Check out helpful www.housedustmite.com and http://www.allergend.com.au/  – Diana from failsafeeczema group.

See also story [1012] Eczema exacerbated by dust mite allergy (March 2006)

I am a food technologist and I am unhappy about the way food technology is going: I have sat in technical meetings discussing what to call the MSG that we want to put in a product  – Fedup Roadshow 2012

That's the thing about failsafe - as overwhelming as it all seems, you are not just bumbling around in the dark. There is a specific procedure, which will give you a lot of answers - Susanne

My son is doing wonderfully behavior wise too. It amazes me how he has progressed in the three weeks. With Halloween, we decided to let him have a small piece of chocolate and immediately he regressed to where he had been. Now we know...no deviations, especially with regard to preservatives/flavors. That was a wake up call - Meghan

I found Failsafe after 18 mths researching. Couldn't believe it was something I was eating as my diet hadn't changed & I was in my 40s & had always eaten a "good" diet. All the medication can only hold it at bay, failsafe allowed me to find a cure, for which I am so grateful. I followed a tiny thumbnail pic of a girl's face & thought "her rash looks like mine" and it was a blog about Ribo Rash! - Kate

I went to Sue's Fedup Roadshow looking at behaviour kids for my son. She was showing some photos and one was the rash ... "Lightbulb" that's my rash!  - Brianna

Just realised my 3 year old has stopped stuttering since starting fs nearly 7 weeks ago! Another tick in the box for the one kid we thought didn't have a problem - Kylie.

I was chatting with a school counsellor about the problems *we* face... being THAT MOTHER. The one that groans inside when our child runs out of class clutching a Freddo frog from another kid's birthday. The one who asks at the fete meeting "Will there be any healthy food?" The one who says "Can't we get better snacks at the canteen?" and "Shouldn't the school be sending a better message about food?" So... he put the question back to me... to put to you...What have other schools DONE to tackle this issue?.. I'll kick off with our school that banned food rewards. That was a no-brainer! Instead of a drawer of lollies the teachers have "Treasure Box" full of silly tid-bits that the kids get to choose from.

At the end of the year, the Principal reminds parents via the newsletter that they discourage candy canes and other food gifts "due to allergies and food intolerances. A card is enough -( thanks to Frilly for putting this topic forward)

My kids went to a school that did not have a canteen, so all lunches were packed from home, so much easier - Kathy

Our school has banned lollies at the school disco - Leigh

Food policies for birthdays etc at our school - no food allowed due to allergies.

Our canteen has been lovely, they often ask and accommodate our needs. They have some stuff we can't eat, but they also put out things like fruit kebabs, apple slinkies, etc. We found that when we got alongside the canteen ladies they were very happy to work through the menu with us and see what was ok and what was not - for example they buy in packet cake mixes, but they were happy to take input on what our kids could have and ordered in the brand without the additives. With lollies, they bought a pack of naturals and keep them in a special jar for our kids. It's not too hard to have a few natural juice poppers, milk poppers, or water bottles in the canteen, so even if they aren't popular with all the kids there is always an option for ours. Our canteen caters for the fete, so they have their normal menu as well as special stuff. When there are special days on, we work with them a day or so in advance to figure out the alternatives. For example, my son's year group had a 'machines' science day where kids could order a special lunch of 'nuts and bolts' (chicken bites and chicken sticks I think), tyres (donuts), oil (apple juice), etc. there were a couple things he couldn't have, but they just left those out and put in extra of the things he could have - Lindsey

Get more involved in the P&C to have input on fundraisers. I'd much prefer things like cards/wrapping paper or the sponsorship walks and activity days rather than the chocolate drives and cookie dough - Lindsey

Our school is in the process of converting from "bad foods" to healthy foods. Lollies were phased out, even though they still sell chips, and curly whirlies amongst other things. They have meal deals every fortnight that provide a "healthier' option. From memory, this week it was a hot dog in wholemeal roll, yoghurt, sultanas and packet of popcorn. Even though the parents requested healthier food, the meal deals are not selling. The foods the parents did suggest, such as sushi, casseroles, etc are too impractical for our canteen lady to make, and we cannot get parent helpers to assist - Janine

Our school replaced the chocolate fundraisers with a fundraising spell-a-thon where kids are sponsored (normally by family) per word they get right. They raise more money and nobody has a box of chocolate in their house. Unfortunately I still have to battle when they give lollies as rewards - Kristen

I work in a role that encourages healthy eating and physical activity for kids. These websites might give you some ideas for policy change, canteens and fundraising if you haven't seen them already - Parent's Jury: healthy schools http://www.parentsjury.org.au/key-concerns/healthy-schools Parent's Jury: healthy food ideas that make a profit http://www.parentsjury.org.au/healthy-fundraising-campaign-guide/healthy-fundraising-ideas-that-make-a-profit#profit Sweet Deals (this is a resource for Canadian schools, so most of the specific product deals and companies aren't relevant to Australia but it still has lots of good info and ideas that can be used here) http://www.cspinet.org/schoolfundraising.pdf - Lisa

Our school designated a bake shop to buy bday cupcakes from....we can only serve bday cupcakes from that shop (though not fs, it's allergy-friendly...). Also, no sweet treats in the bday goody bags (party favors). For snack time, parents are assigned a specific snack to bring each week....again, not fs 100%, but healthy (no artificial additives) and nut/peanut free - Caroline

My son has a 'mummy approved' treat jar the teacher keeps for him & gives him one of those when birthday treats are handed out in class. The tuck shop also stocks FAILSAFE icy poles - Samantha

Our Principal visited a large independent school that had gone additive-free, and now wish they hadn't because of how much time and effort has had to go into policing non-compliance from parents. What she has started this year, though, is a plan for children/parents to donate the $ they would normally spend on cards and candy canes that often end up in the bin to better the lives of children elsewhere - specifically a village in Fiji that older students will be visiting next year to help build houses (P-12 school). Each class has discussed and decided what to put their money towards (food plants, school supplies, etc.) We'll see soon if parents resist the temptation to simply do both – Tracy

Our kinder teachers have asked what foods my son "can eat" & are going to make a halloween treat tomorrow to FS ingredients for the 'whole class'. I wait how it turns out. But instead of a black icing witches hat with orange sprinkles, we have come up with a white icing ghost cone with carob icing for face - Emma.

When there's a reason for a party (eg farewell to a prac teacher), they use fruit break/crunch and sip time to have a party. Kids bring chopped up fruit or vegetables and it's all laid out on a table. Teacher provides bowls, spoons & serviettes, and the kids can help themselves to a beautiful spread of colourful food. He has been impressed with how much the kids enjoy the variety and chance to try new things, and they often ask for seconds.

The other thing this does is restore some of the purpose of a class party. It's supposed to be a social occasion and a celebration, but so often it turns into a race to see who gets the good chips or the last marshmallow. This way it's more an emphasis on the social sharing of simple and delicious food – Lindsey

Our school has gone 'nude food' and Opal (http://www.playford.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=1648 - South Australian government program to promote healthy eating ) are visiting the school with recipes and breakfast this term, while not failsafe it's a step in the healthy food direction - Denise

Our school canteen doesn't have a lot for a failsafe child, but it is pretty good health wise. Recess you can buy fruit, muffins with cheese and tomato, or baked beans toasties. They have sushi available for lunch, and frequent Indian food. There is very little in the way of typical school rubbish - Nicola

It does take small steps... I know that when my son first started school, many of the things I've mentioned were not in place and the lady in charge of the canteen was not as receptive and felt all the kids needed their 'treats' at the canteen. He's in year 4 now and things have changed a lot over time, but I'm aware it has come in tip-toes rather than a sudden leap - Lindsey

Note from Howard: Thanks for your positive ideas. If you are taking action, you can tell the school that the additives we avoid are explicitly recognised in the National Healthy Schools Canteen Guidelines (page 47): National Healthy School Canteen 2014

More ideas in http://fedup.com.au/factsheets/support-factsheets/healthy-choice-school-canteens

I developed 202 intolerance in my mid 40s and now avoid 202 like the plague as it gives me pain in the splenic flexure of my descending colon, sometimes inflaming the whole descending colon. I suffered a barium meal, and no consult with any doctor delivered me an answer to my difficulty. Elimination of 202 solved a range of unexplained symptoms. I picked up the problem by timing my recurrent pain 1.5 hours after spreading margarine on my toast. - by email, New Zealand

I was diagnosed with a heart valve problem late last year and also with 2 out of 3 coronary arteries being blocked by 20%. The latter was not enough for the specialists to intervene but a wake up call for me! One cardiologist wanted me to lower my cholesterol levels  through medication. When I said to him I would like to try it through diet the answer was: "That is not easy, I wish you good luck".  I really had the idea that there should be a natural way through diet.

Seven months later my conclusion is that a vegetable based diet very low in fats with some grains and legumes is at least as good as being on statins for both the cholesterol level and protection against heart attacks. Taking the side effects into account, I think it is actually much better since the side effects of a healthy diet are much more far reaching than heart disease. Hence I’m no longer using statins and the cardiologist is quite happy with my cholesterol levels.

Apart from achieving good cholesterol levels, improved energy, much better skin and a clearer head, I discovered that the rates of heart disease, strokes, diabetes type 2, cancer and even autoimmune diseases like arthritis, lupus, MS, Crohn’s and more are actually heavily influenced by what we eat. Strangely enough this does not seem common knowledge, not among our specialists either. Currently it is not reflected in our dietary guidelines.'

Update after 14 months on the low fat plant based diet, avoiding all processed foods:  My total cholesterol has come down by 27%, the LDL by 38% without any medication (total/LDL was 5.3/3.4 on 1 Sept 2012 mmol/l = 205/131 mg/dl and on 6/11/2013 this was 3.9/2.1 mmol/l or 151/81 mg/dl); my dry and cracked sometimes bleeding skin is gone; my excess weight has come down about 7 kg. I feel good and energetic and never hungry. I know that salicylates affect me with IBS and severe amplification of feelings, so now I eat any veg but stay away from fruits and garlic and that seems to be OK for me.

 -  Peter, by email. See the full story at http://users.tpg.com.au/freestro/The_Ideal_Diet.pdf

I recently discovered that I have a sensitivity to salicylates after getting a rash (not for the first time) which seemed due to taking aspirin for a cold. In researching what in aspirin I might be sensitive to, I came across numerous articles linking asthma and aspirin, and one case study very similar to mine where a woman thought she was allergic to numerous medications, but it turned out it was only aspirin, and the salicylates in mints that she was sensitive to. Each time I've developed this rash has been when I've had a cold, bad enough that I probably should have stayed home from work. In order to speak with people while working and not cough all over them, I use cough drops, the natural ones, which are loaded with all kinds of mint and mint-related herbs, and usually honey too. This last cold started on Christmas day, and after the cold left I was left with what seemed like asthma like wheezing and coughing, bad enough that I was using two cough drops an hour. Last week I caught another cold, and when I started to get a sore throat I took aspirin, and continued with the cough drops. After two days of aspirin (only about 250mg, maybe twice a day), I developed the rash, and worsening sinus symptoms. Imagine my surprise when in the course of my research I happened upon one of the failsafe websites, and realized how many things I eat and use (I don't like to use chemicals so I've been using natural products that have a lot of essential oils in them) that have high levels of salicylates in them.

Since stopping the cough drops and starting on some version of failsafe, my asthmatic symptoms have really receded, so I hoping some other symptoms will improve as well when I get some of the personal products - such as deodorant and toothpaste - more under control. - Glenda, Canada

When I started on the weight watchers program, everything was going well for the first few days then I developed gastric problems. I was losing weight but I had terrible stomach pains all the time, so I had to give it up after six weeks and the problem stopped. Yes, I was eating their products.  – by email (see similar reports in [873]  [1099]   [1100] etc)

Under the supervision of a dietician, I embarked on my Food Intolerance Journey 2 .5 years ago. I had no idea it would become my ticket to a transformation in wellbeing, energy and better health! I should point out that we are at the extreme end of the spectrum with a heavily restricted diet. A dietician’s fine toothed comb has decreed that it contains all the necessary nutrients that my children need to grow and that I need to train hard and compete well, as an athlete. I am a triathlete, and race triathlon (swim, bike and run). I have just been selected to compete on the (amateur) Australian Team for the Triathlon World Championships, London 2013.” – from NurseNaomi  http://nursenaomi.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/introduction-to-food-intolerances-and-training-as-a-food-intolerant-athlete/

After reading your website, I am wondering whether my mother’s final illness may have been due to nickel allergy. She started having problems with slurred speech soon after going to the dentist, and we all thought it must have been due to something not right in her mouth. She actually went back to the dentist to check. From then on it was downhill all the way. Over 2 nightmarish years she lost her ability to speak, to swallow food or drink including water, and was losing her ability to walk. She was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and chose to end her life by refusing a peg feeding tube rather than to end up completely helpless. – by email.

See factsheet on nickel allergy and other heavy metals

My salicylate-sensitive teenage daughter started having scary episodes at school where she seemed to zone out for 15 minutes or more, staring at the ground, not responding, as well as other longer lasting episodes, where she was confused and shaky, with red cheeks, and described afterwards that she was aware of some things while it was happening, but it was like she was hallucinating. We think of these as hypo-episodes and have tightened up on her diet. They've been diagnosed as absence seizures but a brain scans recommended by a neurologist didn't show any abnormalities. 

The most recent presentation is for things to happen that she cannot remember doing. e.g. one day I found her in the bathroom scrubbing at her arms, trying to remove intricate patterns of drawing from her left arm. She was upset, and said she could not remember drawing it, she first noticed it at lunchtime. The patterns look like those I've seen her draw quite often. She has previously shown me writing in notebooks that she can't remember writing, some of it not in English! This type of episode had been happening along with "absence seizures" and also full-on "hypo-episodes".  We  have not had reports of absence seizures or the hypo episodes for some time, but how can you be sure that the absence seizures are NOT happening; they are so subtle.  Over the time that these episodes have been happening, her maths performance and attitude has dropped off dramatically, to the point that she now refuses to even try. 

Update one year later: When her dental braces were removed, we finally discovered  that our daughter's "unexplainable" neurological issues over 3.5 years had been due to a reaction to the nickel in the stainless steel.  Many things have settled down now, but it's been quite a journey. - by email

How long have you had MS?

I was diagnosed with MS 13 years ago. In retrospect, I think food intolerances have been with me since childhood: I endured terrible growing pains and had my adenoids taken out at 8 years of age because I supposedly talked through my nose. After years of bowel pains and then my MS diagnosis at 15, I finally decided to eliminate dairy foods four years later and noticed a dramatic improvement in my health.

How does MS affect you?

The MS symptoms I experience day to day are mostly sensory symptoms plus fatigue. The sensory changes mostly relate to feelings of cold particularly in my legs (not cold to touch but I perceive them to feel like ice blocks). This sensation changes from being really noticeable (both my legs feel cold 8 on a scale of 1-10) to not much at all (limited to the smallest spot on one leg but hardly noticeable - 2 out of 10). Early last year I went 100% failsafe after a period of not being so strict and after 4 weeks my cold sensations had reduced dramatically to about 1- 2 out of 10.

I have discussed my experiences with my allergist and he said other people with MS he has treated have had positive changes in their symptoms when following the RPAH elimination diet. I certainly notice a difference in sensation and fatigue when being failsafe. It has taken me years to finally accept this because I, like so many, kept thinking how can a meat and potatoes type diet be good for me? (Comment from Sue: it is possible to do a failsafe very low fat vegan diet)

Have you ever tried the standard MS diet?

All research into MS says to eat heaps of fruit and vegies, follow a low saturated fat diet and supplement with fish oils. After years of eating a mostly vegetarian diet, popping heaps of evening primrose oil and fish oil, I can now say that being failsafe is helping me the most. In fact, I follow failsafe eating principles but make sure my diet is low in saturated fat.

Do you have any opinions on Professor Jelinek's recommendations about sunshine?

I have read Professor Jelinek's book and think there is definitely something in the research about sun, vitamin D and calming an overactive immune system. It is quite interesting that over the last 13 years since my MS diagnosis every relapse I have had occurred in winter or very soon after! I certainly feel more energised in summer and even a few rays streaming through our lounge window see me on the floor soaking up the sunshine in winter.

Any hints for others?

I have noticed that taking bicarb soda in water makes quite a difference to food intolerance symptoms, particularly with facial flushing and itchy skin which is one of my more obvious reactions to salicylates, amines and MSG. How or why failsafe works is a mystery to me but I am happy to benefit from the impact it is making on my day to day health.

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in August 2011 at the age of 30. An MRI scan showed two large lesions in my brain. Prior to diagnosis, I had experienced the following symptoms over a six year period:  numbness in my arms, itchiness of the upper body, fatigue, loss of taste, blurred vision and very scary double vision.  After diagnosis I had some medical treatment with steroids and interferon but decided to stop this treatment due to the numerous side-effects.


Things I did:

Changed to a wholefood diet - 3 plates of vegetables, nuts and fruit per day (no additives, no alcohol, no added sugar, changed soaps for hair and body to natural ones)

  • Eliminated metal I was found to be allergic to (nickel and titanium, www.melisa.com) :

- my nickel dental bridge and root canal tooth  
- titanium dioxide  in my make-up and sunscreen (changed to www.bewellstaywell.com)
- aluminium and fluoride in the town water  (drank only pure spring water)

  • Sunbathed 20 min a day during the cooler months
  • Took supplements
  • Read web pages by others who have recovered from Multiple Sclerosis
  • Researched, researched, and researched.
  • Prayed and praying always.

One year later, the symptoms and brain lesions had gone, see image of brain scans above.  Anyone can contact me via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – thanks to Danelle, who attended the 2013 Albury Fed Up roadshow talk. You can see her full story at http://www.msdietforwomen.com/beating-ms-without-medication-is-possible

See also Factsheet on multiple sclerosis and diet with references

Started my daughter on FS on Wed and I think there are changes already but am I imagining it if it's only been 3 days? So many of the symptoms in Fed-up book are her (low muscle tone, speech/gross/fine motor delay, insomnia...) so am feeling very hopeful right now! - Christie

In our experience, the results were nearly instant. By day 2 half of DD3's symptoms had gone. We thought it was all in our heads... but now 4 wks down the road she just keeps getting better! Good luck:-) - Susie

Mine were the same for the first 4-5 days & then withdrawal symptoms kicked in, especially the sleep issues... We're on day 12, so hoping it is going to get better again soon. Good luck! P.S. speech concerns are getting continuously better! – Di

We saw results in two days. Still have steps backwards but all boys behaviour is so greatly improved we will never look back - Megsie

We saw results straight away as well we also see them immediately if he has something he is not meant to or if he goes into over load ... Good Luck - Olivia

When I took my son off gluten I noticed big improvement starting only 2-3 days later - Ginny

Lots of people see changes quickly. Withdrawals can sometimes kick in and you may start to think you got it wrong, but they do go to - Susan.

See withdrawals factsheet

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