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, :

- my nickel dental bridge and root canal tooth  
- titanium dioxide  in my make-up and sunscreen (changed to
- 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

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

Want to share - thanks to Failsafe strict elimination diet then ongoing challenges since Nov 2012 (dietitians free rural FNQmedicarelocalcare): no migraine, less anxious, less mood swings, decluttered life and home, learning how to be organised, meditate regularly = makeover. :) – Robin Qld

Just wanted to say, I am having AMAZING results with my 5 year old son!! He has gone from what I would describe as "difficult to handle at times" is now "a delightful child". It is nothing short of a miracle. Thank you so much, it brings tears to my eyes : ). Just wanted to add, school was talking about possibly expelling him about 6 weeks ago. Now he is getting good behaviour certificates! - Nadyne

Thank you for all the effort put into helping others.  I greatly appreciate what you all do, and it has changed my life and my family's life – Nicole

Was joking with my husband about feeling like a 1950’s housewife having to make everything from scratch and not having access to ‘convenience’ foods, I think he quite likes that concept…! - by email, Tas

Fantastic website, have just discovered it & can't stop telling people about it – Michelle

Sue's book has been really helpful with our 2.5 year old boy. He was developing a stutter and drawn out speech impediment, but since we have changed his diet, it seems to have rectified the situation. It is alarming to learn that this was caused by foods - Ryan by email

A comment on the excellent Failsafe community...have had lovely offer from a local lady to supply very fresh eggs for my sons baked egg challenge as well as cook us some failsafe meals when baby no. 3 arrives, and another local lady more than happy to accommodate our requests for a failsafe box of fruit and veg during her co-op market run -- Amelia by email

After 10 days of withdrawal symptoms, our son stopped his 3 years of rage and  ceased his incontinence, night pains and violence. A neighbour saw him sitting still and eating dinner and was so surprised by the calm picture that she asked if we had started training him. Ha ha...gotta love disinhibited neighbours. So thank you to you and Sue. Many many thanks – Elizabeth


On Friday 23 August the Food Intolerance Network saw its 5 millionth visitor. Over 4,000 people a day visit for independent information about the effects of food on health, behaviour and learning for adults and children.

 Thank you for providing us with all the info we need, I appreciate it so much - Sue

Wonderful support. I couldn't have done it without your help. "Thank you" just doesn't seem enough! - Sue

The power of social media! I remember finding your website some 9 years changed our lives! Thank you x - Tina

Oh my goodness - thanks to both you and Sue for your amazing work - and to everyone who so selflessly shares their knowledge and experience - esp Teresa and Tracy! - Vida

Congratulations! Fantastic outcome - Jude

Thank you for providing such a great forum for those needing advice and a place to vent their frustrations and/or happiness. Congrats! - Kim

The number of visits will escalate as more and more people become aware of the dangers of food additives ... thanks also to your roadshows and TV appearances, etc. Thank you for your tireless help and support over the years - Jenny

You are awesome. Thanks for all the support over the years - Sonia.

I was diagnosed with severe salicylate & additive reactions 20 years ago. It turned my life around.  I have been on a strict diet ever since and no longer have the fatigue, headaches, aches & pains etc  I used to experience.  Now and then I slip up and have insomnia and headaches but overall my health is much better.

I was so ill for many years, getting worse and worse with my GP inferring I was a hypochondriac. After a run around with a hormone specialist and a gastroenterologist I was finally seen by an allergy specialist. He seemed to think he couldn't help me until he put me on an elimination diet, and the result was amazing. I felt well for the first time in years.  I have complications in that I have a couple of auto immune diseases - pernicious anaemia and primary biliary cirrhosis. However if I watch my diet, take my pills and get plenty of exercise I keep well. I don't know if there's any connection between my intolerances and my diseases. I am now nearly 71 and going strong - Denise

My son has just been diagnosed with Aspergers. Just wondering if anyone has tried fs or other options for Aspergers such as pres and add free? - Kelee

Not Aspergers/FS as such but I worked with a little boy (5) who has autism and when on a FS diet he was back to all normal development until he had something not on the diet...and then he would literally be in the corner of the room banging his head on a wall and no speech at all - Tallara

My ex-husband had/has Aspergers and when I was able to limit those foods which i knew had negative effect he was a lot more emotionally and socially connected - however as an adult who refused to acknowledge the diagnosis or that FS can work he would often eat foods he was 'addicted to' (bread with 282 was his major addiction).... I honestly believe that if he reduced those foods he was able to cope a lot better – facebook member

Yes my daughter is off completely artificial chemical free, a few natural chemicals she has reacted to I have eliminated.  Nearly completely dairy free and now I'm going gluten free.  She has recently been diagnosed with Asperger's and although this is not a cure it has made amazing changes in her behaviour for the most part. Gluten apparently affects their speech and such and most cannot tolerate dairy - Haylee

Yup we are additive free, I have also found that foods such as bananas can effect his behavior. The kids themselves hate the diet! Esp if they have food aversions. It takes a good week of horrible to see the effects - Carolyn

My autistic boys have several food sensitivities. Fruit, dried fruit, salami/cured meat, 160B is a HUGE one. I avoid MSG(natural ones too). I limit the amount of bread and milk they have- Tess

My aspie son went from sitting under his desk chewing his shirt all day at school (we were told that he'd never pick up a pencil) to an A grade student thanks to fs diet / gluten and dairy free. Best thing we ever did for him - Kim

Went pres, additive, colour free, 99% failsafe, autism tendencies disappeared. Also switched to A2 milk (if can tolerate dairy)-  Kath
I did for my daughter many years ago. It worked - Margo

My son has Aspergers and is on a gluten and dairy free diet and that has helped but the biggest surprise was removing anything red - tomatoes, apples etc - Different child completely without the red. And when I say dairy free I mean all milk products are goat milk products - this diet has helped him majorly with focus and attitude in all areas - Anna

We went Full elimination for my HF Autistic 12 year old son 12 months ago and had amazing results. Teachers could not believe the difference. I only wish we had known about Failsafe when he was younger - Michelle

There are many more Aspergers stories in this collection

I found it hard to start too because I went against everything I thought was "healthy" and my first fs food shop was mainly white and seemed so odd to me, but after 2 weeks of the strict elimination diet and the results are incredible xxx - Deborah

Failsafe isn't about eating healthy, it's about avoiding food chemicals that you have a low tolerance for - or a diagnostic tool of avoidance in order to identify those food chemicals. Completely different thing. You then decide how to eat healthy within those limits (and, yes, it is absolutely possible to do that) - Tracy Gaze

I found the same thing when we started (we are on about week 9 now); it's a mind shift, but the results are absolutely worth it. I am very health conscious and we are able to eat healthily within those limits easily, although I'm so looking forward to being able to expand the range of veggies, even if it's only by a few varieties!! Good luck - it's an amazing journey and I've seen tremendous benefits for myself as well, although it never crossed my mind before this that I could be food intolerant - I was just doing it strictly with my boys to support them! You just never know how many beneficial spin-off's it'll have - Senta

I don't know about the health complications all I know is that my 5 year old cannot tolerate 160b annatto at all: bed wetting, aggression, risky behaviour like running out in front of cars and just all round horrible naught behaviour of course a huge amount of food had this reaction but I have found 160b one of the worst for him (microwave popcorn oh good Lordy it's revolting the reaction) - Deborah

It’s the worst additive for my daughter, she has ADHD and this one makes her have massive, and I mean massive meltdowns! - Donna

My son would bang his head repeatedly on anything hard or prickly eg, the doormat, tiles, concrete etc. he would do this for hours. I suppose he had a headache, but at age 2 he couldn't tell me - Claire

My son also banged his head he was one - Mel

Jittery movements, anxiety, foggy head, eczema - Lynda

My eldest would get weepy and have terrible stomach cramps, would writhe around in agony screaming in pain. I didn't realise for ages that 160b in his vanilla yoghurt was the culprit. As soon as I stopped giving it to him he became a different boy - Kate

My 11 month old would bounce her head repeatedly off the tiles, she was aggressive punching walls etc smacking kids twice her size at daycare. At only 11 months old I was so scared that she had some really bad issue but cut the 160b and she is an angel - Jennifer

See story collection on 160b annatto effects

I just want to say how amazing going failsafe has been. The change in my eldest daughter is beyond anything we ever expected. To see all of our 4 children playing together with enthusiasm and smiles on their faces. Is enough to know this is right for us. Thank you everyone who posts. It’s great to read and also learn new things everyday – Kalista from facebook group

A year ago we realised the same thing! Kids playing nicely?? We had never seen it in the youngest three... now it is common for us, and our family and friends are still commenting.... isn’t it wonderful! So glad for you too! – Ries from facebook group

Congrats! We feel the same way. Sometimes I feel like pinching myself – Megsie from facebook group.

After years of thinking I had a mental illness, being told I had bipolar, filling my body with hideous drugs that made my hair fall out, gave me acne and basically turned me into a zombie and got me to a point where I was totally ready to end my life, I have been totally drug free, symptom free and depression free and manic free since we started FS! I didn’t start FS for me, I was doing it for my boys! 8 months have passed and I haven't bothered to do the challenges myself, I’ve been too busy trying to sort all their issues out. Well this week, I have been testing my boys on the different types of amines. For the last 3 days we have all been eating avocados! OMG THEY ARE SO YUMMY!

I am sitting at my desk today, I feel so horrible. I’m crying at everything, it feels like the world is caving in on me, I feel like nothing is right, I’m anxious, frustrated, angry, sad, ....... Oh that’s right, according to Drs I have BIPOLAR! quick take some drugs!

NOTE TO SELF! STOP EATING AVOCADOS! and remember this horrible feeling will pass as soon as this food is out of my system! – facebook group member.

I will forever be grateful for all the hard work that has been put into devising this program.

One of my 4 kids was just hard hard work, behaviourally I found it so hard to parent this child he had this "haze" that just made it a daily struggle that affected all of us the older kids would be so embarrassed with some of the things my Billy would do and he was dangerous running in front of cars and would chase the school bus everyday, I ended up not taking him anywhere as the looks and comments from people were soul destroying.

We have been FS for 4 weeks and I saw a quick change in this child and he is amazing!!!!! we have spent the school holidays out doing things, restaurants, movies, parks and shopping, I managed to take him food shopping which I would normally avoid like the plague and he was perfect he just held the trolley and walked the isles chatting!!!! He is the most caring, helpful and funny little guy I know and the bed wetting, terrors and restless legs have gone too I just can't believe what a totally different child I have.

I have tears in my eyes thinking about all the times I would just sit and cry because I didn't know what to do and had resolved myself to the fact that I was just a crappy parent, I now feel so very blessed to have to answers so thank you so very much xxxxxx - Deborah by email

I hope no one has a hideous experience like this! My husband was texting me all day from work about how unhappy our marriage was, that he wants to leave and that we've had a good run and should end it now. After not telling the kids that night he was going to leave (as messaged to me that day) and a big sob alone that evening he woke the next day to say he didn't feel like that at all, thought his messages were 'weird' when he re-read them and didn't know why he said all of that. I pointed out to him that his intake of steak, shop yiros and $25 worth of beef jerky sheets in the 48hrs before Monday probably had something to do with it! He thinks so too (amines and / or nasty numbers) He usually watches what he eats but I think he was unprepared for this one! – facebook member 1.

I know I respond very badly to amines in a similar way to your husband. I get very angry and have also talked about ending our marriage during a reaction. It's like I'm possessed, now I know and understand I'm able to bite my tongue and punch a pillow or two but the fights we've had prior to realising the effects were horrid. Thankfully we've made it through – facebook member 2.

I am ashamed to say this is me on chocolate= amines. I am happy to admit this only so you know you are not alone, that my beautiful gorgeous husband suffers as you do. His way is to hear the words that are usually underneath all the rubbish. Most of what comes out those days is what is true for me, but under the surface and never mentioned except those days, so he listens and deals with those things, which is honouring.. .but I am a chick, so that may not be the case for your husband. The guilt and the pain I feel when after a few days when it is all gone is unbearable so I try to stay away if we have eaten chocolate etc. I am learning to understand the difference between real issues and these amine feelings which seem so real! – facebook member 3.

Thanks all for sharing these effects. I recently had a similar experience, having had a very high salicylate meal and wine, thought I'd got away with it, but three days later hit the withdrawal symptoms and had the bloodiest row which really quite frightened me. These are dangerous chemicals! – facebook member 4 (male)

I have been trying to identify this cursed rash for years and your website I believe has finally helped. I prepared fresh chicken soup yesterday using raw chicken and fresh vegetables, however I added three packets of Campbell’s soup to enhance the flavour. Within 30 mins I had the type of reaction shown in the photo attached. Surprise, surprise when I looked at what the packet contained it had 635 and 621 additives. I looked them up on your website and sure enough the symptoms matched. Interestingly the web site mentions that the body’s reaction is not like a real allergy and that bears out from the blood test I had which showed during my reaction the IGE antibody concentration in my blood was within its normal range. This had the doctors scratching their heads.

I have worked away for many years and get reactions generally away from home. This was because I was eating at restaurants and had no control over what went into my food. You can use these photos of me as an example of the chronic reactions you can get to these additives. This was a great web site after having gone to many doctors who were clueless. Some of these reactions can be quite dangerous and worrying when you don’t know what causes it. Now I think at long last I am on it – David from WA.

riborash03     riborash04

See ribo-rash factsheet

See collection of many similar stories

I just wanted to let you know I tried an Olive Leaf Extract (Tree of Health brand) that contains potassium sorbate (preservative E 202) .  I experienced migraines and mood disturbance.  I am sensitive to glutamates, but wasn't aware of any sensitivity to sorbates.  I have tried other brands of Olive Leaf Extract which I have not had a problem with.  I do not have a known salicylate sensitivity. - by email

I was sent with my eldest son to the sleep clinic at Tresillian in Sydney (from Canberra 16 years ago) where they fed him bread, tomatoes and vegemite of the first time in his life. Of course, he got worse!!!

He went down to 4 x 15 minute cat naps in 24 hours and they told me he was just stubborn/difficult and to stay the course. After 8 months of persisting with 'controlled crying', I gave up (thank god!) It was only when I found RPAH that he got any peace. 4 month old babies aren't stubborn or difficult - they react entirely to environmental and dietary input.

The child health clinics need to provide this avenue of info – Sheryl by email.

I came across your web site when I was trying to find out if potassium sorbate could cause sleep disturbances. My sister aged 61 was awake for about three hours and kept repeating the words "I'm terrified" and I believe it was from the potassium sorbate that was in the sweet cider we were using to make her fruit smoothies. She had no headaches for several days, then had one on Saturday. I asked the Aide if she did anything different and she mentioned the cider. I checked the label and saw the preservative. Then that same night my sister was awake with the night terrors. I had also noticed a slight rash on her face and found that the preservative can cause rashes also. I poured all that cider away and bought some that has no preservatives and she slept good for me the last two nights. - Leanda, US, by email

See also [797] 202: Behaviour and night terror induced by potassium sorbate (202) in Panamax (June 2009)

I've had nosebleeds from milk since I was a kid; I was raised on powdered and skim milk because of my intolerance. In college I got to experiment (not of my choosing - they didn't have skim milk at the cafeteria); a couple of glasses of full fat milk one a day were tolerable, but any more than that and the nose bleeds started; I could go maybe a week on 2% milk. I don't have any of the normal symptoms of lactose intolerance, and cheese has always been a favorite food and no problem at all. I've never found a good explanation for it, but I can say 100% that fatty milk is the single variable that causes my nose bleeds - Les, USA.

My husband is very intelligent, sensitive and kind. But for years he has had excessive sexual drive. And when I say excessive I mean excessive. Such as mental pictures of naked women haunting him for hours. I won't get into all the disgusting details (because they ARE disgusting), but our marriage was really in danger, although in every other aspect we get along beautifully. Throughout the years he invested large amounts of money / time / energy in trying to get this under control through psychological treatments etc. However, the change (if any) was disappointingly minor (10% possibly). He was seriously thinking of leaving the love of his life (me) just to find someone who would be willing to have sex twice a day with him... Out of desperation, I suggested he try the same diet our three kids were doing. What could we lose? Maybe the cause would be discovered to be physical rather than mental. On day 6 of Failsafe he had the most severe "attack" ever. We were both sure "the diet was not working" (although we knew very well what may happen on day 5 or so) and I was getting truly hopeless. This was the most severe "attack" he's had for 15 years, and he was more determined on leaving me than ever (about 3 or 4 times as determined as through any other attack - just imagine what I felt...). Luckily, and I don't know where I got the strength, we managed to decide to persevere with the diet for 3 weeks before he makes a final decision. After 24 hours of being in this unbearable condition, he suddenly said "I have a feeling everything will be ok". He kept saying that same sentence every day for 3 days, without really explaining much. Then on day 10 or so he told me his obsession had totally subsided. 90% gone. He became a normal 35 year old man. Now we're on day 25 or so (I'll have to check) and life is beautiful!!! - by email

See also story [1204] on a similar theme

Can you explain to me why we don’t get sick when on failsafe? Something to do with improving your immune system? I practically gloat when everyone around me moans about their colds and flus they have all the time as I don’t get them anymore!! What a relief to not have infections from colds every year now! - Rosemaree (failsafe 8 years), by email

Comment from Sue: see our answer to this very interesting question -

A. It is common for failsafers to report that they no longer suffer frequent colds, flu and recurrent infections once they are established on failsafe eating (e.g. see stories [874] and [848]) - and yes, there is scientific evidence. Studies have shown that certain artificial colours and preservatives act as immunosuppressants, that is, they can actually suppress the immune system, making us more likely to suffer from recurrent infections. This has been shown in the laboratory by Greek researchers with artificial colours tartrazine (102) and amaranth (123) using small doses normally considered to be nontoxic, and by Brazilian researchers with propionic acid which is part of the group that includes bread preservative 282. As well, a US study with beagle dogs showed they were more susceptible to fatal viruses when fed indigotine (132). Failsafers who are salicylate-sensitive know that although we are constantly told to eat fruit to build up our immunity, for us, it works the opposite way. We are better off eating failsafe vegetables such as cabbage as described in the Myths of Fruit.

Scientific references

Koutsogeorgopoulou L and others Immunological aspects of the common food colorants, amaranth and tartrazine.Vet Hum Toxicol. 1998;40(1):1-4.

Wajner M and others Inhibition of mitogen-activated proliferation of human peripheral lymphocytes in vitro by propionic acid.Clin Sci (Lond). 1999;96(1):99-103.

Hansen WH and others Chronic toxicity of two food colors, brilliant blue FCF and indigotine, Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 1966;8(1):29-36.

From /frequently-asked-questions/diet-questions#sensitive2

I have three kids - a 9.5 month daughter and nearly 7 year old twins (a son and daughter). My youngest is allergic or intolerant to a LOT of things. She is suspected of having Eosinophilic Oesophagitis, which precludes her (and myself as I breastfeed her) from wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, nuts and seafood - plus on top of those allergens, her food intolerance list is a mile long. The only way I have managed to work out what has been troublesome to her is via Fed Up/the support network you have, and working with my dietitian. Our daughter has gone from a screaming, projectile vomiting baby who was borderline failing to thrive, to a generally happy, growing, cheeky little baby who is already starting to talk and nearly walking.

While learning what being FAILSAFE was about, I suspected that maybe we could help our son's impulsive/unsettled/inattentive behaviour, maybe even his bedwetting by looking further into diet. Well, we are only approximately 6 weeks into being fully failsafe and early in the challenges stage, after having removed additives and reduced a lot of them during Term 2, yet his teacher already has noticed the change in him when he is at baseline compared to the challenges. It has improved his confidence and so much more.

In the last 6 months can very confidently say that Fed Up/your network has directly changed my family's life, and many others around me as a result of my experience - Kristan by email.

I have coeliac disease, a thyroid problem, IBS, fructose malabsorption, lactose intolerance and definitely can only tolerate small amounts of amines, salicylates and glutamates. I was born with many food problems and we are discovering more within our family as we trace back. All my children are affected one way or another. I am 46 and have been through quite a lot, experienced numerous (13) miscarriages prior to learning about my food intolerances. In fact Doctors still outrule this link however myself I feel as I was undiagnosed with the food intolerances then, it was a definite link! - Kim, by email

(Comment from Sue: It is well known - in medical journals - that coeliac disease can be associated with infertility and reproductive health including delayed puberty, early menopause, absence of menstrual periods during normal reproductive years, infertility, recurrent miscarriages and intrauterine growth restriction. See scientific reference below and more on our Women's Health Factsheet

Soni S, Badawy SZ.Celiac disease and its effect on human reproduction: a review. J Reprod Med. 2010;55(1-2):3-8.

Abstract: Celiac disease is an intestinal inflammatory disease that is triggered by gluten in the diet. Patients present with a wide array of symptoms due to malabsorption that include diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating and weight loss. In women, this disease may have implications on menstrual and reproductive health. The symptom complex includes delayed menarche, early menopause, secondary amenorrhea, infertility, recurrent miscarriages and intrauterine growth restriction. These women benefit from early diagnosis and treatment. Therefore, celiac disease should be considered and screening tests performed on women presenting with menstrual and reproductive problems and treated accordingly. The objective of this article is to review the current literature on celiac disease and its association with the above-mentioned disorders.

Thank you for your web page, it has been a glowing light in a dark room – Judith

Totally unprompted our 4 year old said this about "testing the foods on his red list" (salicylate challenge) "they make me feel angry!" - think we will stop the challenge there then :) We had not explained to our son we were doing the elimination diet for his behaviour, he thought it was so he didn't get tummy ache as he knows cheese and chocolate give him a headache and make him sick, so I was astounded when he came out with that! – Kate

My 3 year old son suffered badly from 'toddler diarrhoea' and after paying a fortune on a medical run-around, I fortunately found this diet which has transformed our lives. I am truly grateful – Selena

My second son had IBS all his life, we started FS in Feb and amines were found to be the problem! 4 days on FS and his IBS disappeared; 24 hours on amine challenge and he was screaming in pain! - Tanja

The incredibly positive feedback I am getting from parents is what keeps me handing out your brochures – speech pathologist

It is so good to finally have answers to things that have been plaguing me for years and to be able to help my 2 year old daughter so she doesn't have to suffer any longer – Ruth

Please thank Sue for the life-changing work she does, for sharing your family’s struggle to inspire other families and for the support and education the website provides. It has certainly opened my eyes and helped me to point other parents in the right direction. I can’t believe that western medicos are still not being educated or considering the impact of food on our health - Natalie (

The website that you and your wife have created is a wonderful resource for people like me who are struggling to make sense of which foods they can eat and those they cannot. It has been a long arduous journey but l sense that the end is in sight. It is a wonderful feeling - almost of freedom – Cathy by email.

Thank you for your amine and salicylate information sheets. I am working with a dietician who is fantastic however I feel better being armed with as much information as possible. I find all of your information so very helpful to support the RPAH diet for myself and my two children aged 4 & 14 months. - Jennah, by email

Took our own failsafe treats to a wedding that had a lolly bar... My son was by far the best behaved child there ;) - Emma

I was diagnosed with IBS about 2 years ago and told to follow the FODMAP diet to reduce symptoms. The last few months my symptoms flared right up again and so I dragged myself back to the doctors and a dietician and I have now been told I have to cut out salicylates and amines (at least initially) as that is likely to be my problem. After one week on the elimination diet I have noticed a huge improvement, apart from the fact I am missing all my usual fare like spinach, coconut, berries, tomato and the list goes on! I am so grateful though for the relief, I actually feel normal again. Thanks! – Lisa

(see also FAQs /frequently-asked-questions/diet-questions#fodmap and /frequently-asked-questions/diet-questions#fodmap2)

I have been going along quite well on a fairly strict version of failsafe eating and was feeling pretty confident in my body - which made for a nice change. Last year I even felt confident enough to plan a 6 month trip around Australia with my husband - just considering that as a possibility was a big step for me! So I was thrilled to be able to make it happen. I learnt a lot about living out of a van and cooking and shopping on the road. As our trip was for quite a long time there were a few things that we did in preparation which I felt really helped us with our food planning:

  • We bought a Webber Q BBQ - I knew I would need something which works as an oven so that I could cook roasts for lunch meat, and also for doing baking. After doing some research we felt the Webber Q was the best option for us.
  • We had a rough itinerary so I used that to look up the Coles, Woolworths & IGA websites to get addresses for their stores in each of these towns. This helped me plan on how much I would need to stock up on certain things. I have to avoid gluten so access to GF pasta, rice flour etc was a bit more of an issue for me than it would be for people who can tolerate gluten.
  • We learnt to allow one day every couple of weeks for doing a big cook up of roast meat (for lunch meat) and cakes etc for freezing. This also gave us time to do a shop and do laundry too. We really needed this day just to catch up on things.
  • We did a couple of practice trips before we left - this helped us fine tune things in terms of utensils and groceries that we needed.

One thing which was almost impossible to find in many towns was a source of really "fresh" meat as most butchers only seemed to stock cryovacced meat.

We had a fantastic 6 months - it went so quickly. I hope these hints can help other failsafers to achieve their dream holiday. - Jodie, by email

Husband is gobsmacked! 3 days into failsafe and 10 yr old with oppositional defiance is an angel! Best behaved of all 6 boys!!!!! Too hard to do elimination with 50% custody so have done the maximum changes I can. He's converted to fs bread sambos with nuttelex and golden syrup. All boys are happy with dinners and lunch boxes. We may never know what his intolerances are but even hubby agrees we can live with feeding the boys this way. (We eat later) soo happy WOOHOO!!! Going to start keeping a food and behaviour diary to give to ex wife (most likely to ignore but you never know!!!) – grateful husband, by email

A lovely lady directed me here. I am desperate really. To the point of waiting for a paeds appointment in Sept so they can put my lovely 7.5yr old son on Ritalin. I'm not anti-ritalin but I want to know that I have tried EVERYTHING first before we get to that point. His behaviour is really bad at school and he just isn't coping with life. I am really hoping that a change in diet can go some way to help him control his behaviour – Sarah

Please, please try this diet first before meds. My 7yo teacher thought I had put him on meds within 2 weeks of diet. Not easy, but worth it for no meds - Jenni

I don't do failsafe but cut out additives ie preservatives, colours and flavours, as a way of managing my daughter asthma. When I did it I noticed a great change in my son’s behaviour, he's in kindergarten this year and doing really well, with the occasional down days (usually my fault for slipping with food). So good luck, I noticed results far quicker for my daughter’s asthma, but it did work for sons behaviour, tied in with me trying to be more calm and consistent with managing behaviour. He doesn't have ADD or anything, was just really loud and impulsive, I couldn't manage his behaviour all the time which was frustrating and he's even noticed he feels better. Good luck, well worth a try - Kate

I agree Jenni. Nothing to lose trying, 2 weeks is what it took to rid my daughter of a 6 month long cough, I think it took so long to see results with son because preschool 2 days a week were feeding him anything. Once he left results were far better. My daughter’s preschool are fantastic at modifying my daughters diet to suit her needs, no probs there - Kate

At our house, the diet means the difference between absolute madness, and a lovely, calm, inspiring life! Well worth trying, and although it's hard initially and although the process overall may take a little while, you are likely to see results quickly. Amongst many other benefits, my own fibromyalgia pains disappeared inside a week (wheat and dairy in my case)... I was furious that nobody had mentioned it to me before :0) – Susanne

This is definitely worth a try Sarah Definitely!! - Sonia

Sarah I think it's awesome your trying this first. As a psych student and previous carer I question meds. The impact it has is devastating. I finally have a child carer at school who agrees in the difference in my son’s behaviour on diet. I wouldn't consider my son anywhere need ADHD etc but the difference b/w diet and off diet is VERY different that this carer (as teachers are oblivious) now says “what have you added this week?” - Julie

Good luck Sarah, my son has ADHD and was prescribed 2x 10mg Ritalin daily. His teacher last year wanted us to increase the dose. We pulled in our failsafe reins, and although we're not as strict as we could be, he is now on 1x 10mg Ritalin daily and it's JUST enough to help him through school – another Sarah

It's worth a try. My 4 year old was a right little monster, almost ODD. I have taken out colours, preservatives and flavours haven't done the whole fs diet but this has worked wonders. He can concentrate now flow directions his per prep teachers have seen a massive improvement. We can also tell when he had had something that he shouldn't. Give it a go it is worth a try - Tracey

Thank you so so much for your encouragement xx - Sarah

Do It!!! I had a terrible prep year did the elimination and turns out she is intolerant to colours and sals. It was literally Jekyll and Hyde with her now we have calm and peace and sometimes she starts to slip and we pull the reins up on the sals , absolutely amazing the difference in food can make - def worth doing! My only regret is that I lost 6 yrs living with her like that and that the behavior specialist never mentioned food I had to think of that myself – Michelle

So true. We loosely follow this diet too. Behaviour was crazytown then we went on the very strict elimination diet and i did notice a big change. As my son has gotten older we have gone down the ritalin path but I’m convinced that diet is related. Do ALL U CAN. I don’t believe 1 thing works- it’s a combination of love, support, diet, routines, boundaries and sometimes medication. oh and a good paed! - Narrissa

I find it strange that no health professionals ever mention diet as a way of managing issues. You'll need the encouragement Sarah, it's a daunting thing to start, but 12 months down the track you'll wonder what all the fuss is about. My main issue ATM is the canteen at school. For some reason having mum put a fun thing in your lunch box is not as fun as getting it yourself at the canteen. But you'll find what works for you and learn some new negotiating skills along the way - Kate

I know!!! I got my DD was explosive and suggested books to read which we're nothing more than ways to tip toe around her - not one mention from anyone about food until I had the light bulb moment and googled "food child behavior " and my whole life changed… Oh and the canteen why oh why do they make lemonade slushies blue it's so unnecessary it's infuriating - Michelle

Thankfully my son’s canteens don't do slushies, I'd never hear the end of it! The canteen guidelines in NSW (red amber and green) are a joke, the kids only buy the amber foods, which in large amounts is ridiculous and almost everything in my sons canteen is classified as green or amber but are loaded with additives - Kate

I'm from the UK but live in Oz. I find the guidelines here for kids food MINDBLOWING! - Sarah

We have red amber green too but only red on Fridays she can't have anything without backlash. I found a microwave travel bowl that I heat last night’s tea in and send it with an extra hot heat pack to keep it warm I thought we were far more educated than what's available on the canteen list grrrr - Michelle

We tried fail safe with my 6yr old wasn’t working after a week of gluten free wow new child - Bec

Good luck, it’s challenging at first but so amazing when you see the results a few weeks later. We've been doing it for nearly 3 years, it becomes a way of life - Nora

Oh lovely, it's saved us, and it sounds like you are where we were. Welcome. You won't regret it xx – Susan

My 5.5 year old still wets the bed (and has anger issues and self control problems etc) so we are setting up to start the diet. But could I expect the possibility of him stopping wetting the bed in the process. Is that normal thing to expect? - Bree (Later: diet was not enough, as Bree said “we have a bed wetting alarm but he is too immature to use it, he undoes it and pulls his pants down”)

Within a week, my little one stopped bedwetting and stopped having night terrors. For years, both would only happen as part of a reaction. It can happen - Tracy

I don't know when he stopped because I wasn't expecting it, but I just figured he would grow out of it when he was ready, wasn't expecting diet to affect it. I should also add that when we challenge him or re-introduce sals the bed wetting at night starts again - Selina

My daughter was just short of 4 when we started failsafe and stopped wetting the bed within 2 days. Only time she wets it now is when she has amines or preservatives in high doses - Danielle

So for bed wetting it is all or nothing. I am just doing low sals at the moment so is it unlikely I will see a change until I go all out? - Bree

If sals is the only thing your child reacts to it may work....but if there is other reactions then maybe not....or it may not be the food at all. Good luck! - Danielle

My son started bed wetting when we went failsafe because he was sleeping too well. It only lasted a few weeks. Something to think about?? - Eilis

I am still learning about failsafe and there is a lot to learn. Could someone explain how the food affects the children to wet the bed. Is it because they constantly wake during the night due to being restless? Thanks in advance - Melody

For us Melody it just seemed to go hand in hand with poor sleep, restless, unsettled behaviours day and night. But not sure why really. My daughter stopped wetting the bed and slept through the night for the first time ever when we started failsafe, so we just assumed it was diet related!? And when she eats the wrong things the restlessness, night wakings and bed wetting comes back. I wonder if it has anything to do with muscle tension or control or something? Have never thought about it. Great question! - Danielle

Our son stopped at aged 8 in the first two weeks of full elimination, and it was a clear sign for sals, and preservatives for us when challenging, he also had bowel control issues with these as well (the sneaky poo's) our son slept through deeply before failsafe, but now seems an easier waker, as he can tell us about what goes on after bed, but has remained dry on failsafe, so no that theory might not work either - Ries

Two of mine stopped wetting when we started FS. This weekend was a non failsafe weekend as they were at their Dads. Woke up this morning, one wet bed! - Tanja

See more at

I'd be really interested to hear people's experience with withdrawals in relation to behaviour, eg timing of it, how long it latest etc. also, if a high chem food is eaten in error, does it take weeks to get back to baseline again? Thanks – Rebecca

My son’s withdrawals initially were day 5-7 then again at the end of week 2. Depending on the slipup it reactions can last a week, especially if there's a few slipups together - Vanessa

I find it's bad for about four days, then day 4 or 5 is a revelation, amazingly good (I think I had one of those yesterday). Then a bit up and down til day 10, Day 10 can be a bit rough, and another revelation from then on, and even better after 3 weeks. Mind you I've read some things - like milk, for dairy responders, can take months to leave the system completely - Lynette

My son took 2 weeks and then he was so much happier and healthier. However I rang the dietitian at the end of week 1 telling her that his behaviour was terrible, but then we made it past the withdrawals and it was worth it - Kerri-Ann

I found that with the salicylates challenge my eldest daughter took reacted within about 2 days and then it took a week to get back on track, but when we did the amine challenge it took at least a week for her behaviour to change and at least 3 weeks to get her back on track with the FS diet – Bronnie

see more at

A dietitian put me on a simplified version of the RPAH diet 9 months ago. I'm fine on a very restricted diet, but am finding that fumes (strong flowers and incense) are immediately producing the same symptoms. As a nun, there are times when I can't avoid them. Do you have any experience with nose filters, which I see advertised on the internet (I was looking at the First Defense Nasal Screens). I wondered if they would do the trick, and enable me to be exposed to some fumes without being hit by the ghastly symptoms. It would be great if they work, as I’m currently having to sit outside our part of our Chapel for Mass when the priest uses incense, and I’d much rather be inside. (Even so, I can still smell the fumes in the room almost 24 hours later, and it is affecting my health for the rest of the week ­ brain fog, fatigue and sometimes a migraine too.)

Two months later ... Good news! The nasal screens have worked really well for me. I’ve been able to try them 5 days in the past week. It took some getting used to putting them on correctly so my breathing wasn’t impeded, but I’ve improved with practice. I have been able to remain at least an hour in a room with incense, strong solvent glue, and even clean the brass with Brasso, all with no ill effects. During that week I had one day when I was exposed to Pledge furniture polish for about 5-10 minutes and didn’t have the nasal screens on. The result? Within minutes I was confused, unable to think clearly, rather irrational, and then wasn’t up to doing much for the next day or so.

I’m really delighted with the result. It means I should be able to safely make a trip to an important meeting in Australia, which I was a bit apprehensive about, as the thought of being in a planeload of perfumed bodies didn’t exactly please me. If anyone else has a really bad scent sensitivity that is preventing them from doing important things, I would recommend they give the nasal screens a try. The manufacturer said you can actually wear a pair for up to 24 hours ­ I haven’t needed to try that, as I can usually control my exposure, but I did have them on for nearly 13 hours one day.

I eventually obtained mine through the US Company, as the Australian Distributor didn’t reply to any of my emails. They only took 5 days to get to me in NZ, so that was fine. - by email, NZ

2018 UPDATE (5 years later): … somebody told me about a training programme called The Lightning Process which uses neuroplasticity to resolve some health issues including food intolerances and sensitivities.  As I was down to only 12 food items I thought I had nothing to lose. Since completing the 3 day programme I have been able to eat everything again, and have had no problems with smells either. "

See more information on Sue's blog on brain retraining and also Ian Cleary's website

I recently took my 97 year old aunt out for dinner at her local bowling club. About half an hour after eating, she suffered an attack of a severely itchy rash that comes and goes and was diagnosed a year ago as shingles. I checked with the club and sure enough there was 635 in the gravy she had eaten (in a catering flavour base called beef booster). I also found out that she regularly eats canned soups with 635. It seems to me that the 'shingles' could be ribo rash, but trying to explain that to her is difficult. When she was born in 1916, canned soups and gravy were safe to eat and doctors were gods whose wisdom was not questioned. – Sue, NSW

See also factsheet on adults and food intolerance

I'm 22 years old and have always had issues with anxiety, and since I was in my early teens I've suffered from bowel problems. I saw a doctor about it a few years ago who diagnosed me with IBS and said there wasn't much I could do. I was put on the fodmap diet and saw some improvement, but my anxiety seemed to get worse. Then my Mum told me about you because she had some kids at school trialling the diet to treat their ADHD.

I bought your book and I felt like you were writing about me and my family! All of us have symptoms of food intolerance: my sister who is hypoglycaemic and prone to mood swings and my brother who is withdrawn, quiet and unmotivated. I could relate to so many of the symptoms: reflux as a baby, constant ear infections as a child, anxiety and OCD habits (handwashing, wringing my hands etc) and in my teenage years I felt distracted, foggy brained, unmotivated and developed depression in my last year of high school.

Since I've started the elimination diet there has been a slow improvement, and it wasn't until I considered everything together that I realised how much better I feel. I could go on forever with the improvements! I don't feel drunk or dizzy anymore, I don't take 5 wrong turns when driving to the shops (used to happen all the time), I can concentrate at uni and feel more awake, I am calm and so much happier, don't snap at my boyfriend over silly things AND my stomach cramps and bloating are gone: I have normal bowel movements for the first time in years!!!! My boyfriend has been really supportive and did the diet with me, not expecting much. I saw changes in him from the first week- he is happier, calmer and more enthusiastic about life. He even said to me when we reintroduced sals that he felt like his patience got much shorter and he had trouble sleeping.

I've only done two food challenges so far: I tested dairy first, since I had thought for years that I was lactose intolerant, and passed. I've just completed the sals challenge and it seems to be a culprit. I went for a week feeling fine, though I did have a little bit of dermatitis on my hands and a day where i felt sad and a bit hopeless. I kept on because I wanted to be more certain, and it didn't take long! From around day 8 I felt tired, distracted and 'drunk while driving' again, I slept over 10 hours each night but woke feeling exhausted, snapped at my boyfriend over nothing and had trouble controlling my body temperature, like I had a cold. It has taken me around 3 days to start feeling better, but I am already feeling more lucid. I'm just so excited to finally know where to start to feel better :) Finding out about the RPAH elimination diet and the Food Intolerance Network has made me realise that feeling like a drunken sailor every day is not "just the way I am" and that it is possible to have a fog-free brain and a calm, happy life! :)

Thanks so much Sue, for everything that you're doing to help people feel well, and helping kids to avoid a life of medication and labels! - Isobel, by email

We were previously struggling with our eldest daughter, she was five at the time and we were concerned about her difficulties sleeping and her behaviour. As a baby she was quite unsettled, something we didn't realise until our second daughter was born and actually settled and slept well, showing us it was possible!  Due to family history of depression I was also worried about my daughters' future and began reading to find out if food could be an answer.  We originally went almost sugar free for one year and saw some improvement (most likely due to cutting out most fruit and making most food from scratch) but knew there was more going on.

We discovered Failsafe 14 months ago while we were spending almost a year travelling Australia, I cried reading the story of your little girl, she sounded just like ours in many ways.  Following Failsafe our little girl started going to sleep at night, her extended meltdowns disappeared, she played nicely and didn't overreact to little problems, she came out of a fog and listened to us, she slept at night without nightmares, she didn't cry when her sock was twisted inside her shoe!
Doing FS while travelling in our camper was great- no invites to birthday parties, no school, we just ate our own food and could watch our little girls as we challenged- dairy in Broome, Sals in the Kimberley, Amines at Uluru. Our eldest daughter and myself failed the same things (sals, amines, glutamates) and our youngest daughter and dad passed them all.

Our daughter has now started school and is thriving, pre-FS I didn't think she would cope with school. So many little and big improvements have occurred for our daughter and for myself that we are only reminded of them now when we make a mistake with our food.  We also returned home from our trip pregnant, conceived naturally (we had previously needed fertility treatment) and have a new baby boy.

We credit Failsafe with changing the whole dynamic of our family, our kids are still ratbags at times but they respond to discipline now and we are not despairing of how to raise them, we are enjoying them so much - Bonnie by email

Our family had a brief encounter with the elimination diet in the mid nineties and then another longer one some time after 2000. Never supervised. We considered ourselves to be living a healthy lifestyle, eating lots of fruit and vegies, enjoying an alcoholic drink at times but not excessively and we all exercised regularly. Food additives ended up on the forbidden list. Energy levels were really on the low side for our age but that only made us try harder to live the way we thought health should be achieved. Of course there were some other problems too but they weren't very big or we just never got to the bottom of them and had given up really. Yes, we had eliminated salicylates from the diet at some stage but it looks like we missed the changes in ourselves. Perhaps a supervising dietician would have been able to keep us on track.

More than ten years after the first attempt at the diet, in order to cope with the stresses of my job, I decided that I would eat only fruit at lunch times, lots of healthy oranges and other fruit. A fair bit of fruit really because I was exercising about 2 hours every day as well. In the evening I cooked heaps of tasty vegies (taste means often high in salicylates) ...

A week later, I happened to meet a young lady and we had a chat. Later on in the week I met her again, just before she headed off to live 600km in one direction. At the end of the week I was off to live similar distance in the opposite direction. Again we had a chat.

A few days after the last encounter with the young lady I kept thinking about her. On the first day this seemed a bit amusing, like being in love but it was getting stronger and stronger and soon a reality check happened. What the hell am I doing?

1. I am a married man with children, I don't need this.
2. I hardly know anything about her, we had two brief chats and at the time I wasn't really terribly interested. Nothing happened between us.
3. She never showed an interest in me, this is just fantasy.

It got worse and worse. My thoughts came back to her all the time. Every 5 minutes of every day for the next 15 days. I saw her face, went back to the relatively few sentences we exchanged, went over them time and time again. Going around in circles. It happened during the day, when going to bed and it was also the first thing I thought of when waking up in the morning. Everything reminded me of her. Strong feelings were boiling up in me, automatic and unstoppable. Emotionally I was on edge. It was hard to concentrate at work, it was hard to listen in meetings. It was getting between my family and me.

There seemed to be no end to it. I had lost control but I could not explain why, which of course made it worse because I could not do anything about it. I was eating healthy food, exercising heaps, cut out the last alcohol because life was troubling me already as it was. No coffee, no tea, no additives, no smokes. I felt that I was close to going crazy or was I crazy already? I used to pride myself on thinking logically and having a very practical outlook on life. What had happened to me?

The move at the end of the week to another town brought a change in diet with it. Still a fair bit of fruit, but less. My brain got marginally better but would still be bad for another 12 days. By that time Sue's DVD "Fed Up with Children's Behaviour: how food and additives affect behaviour" had come in and I watched it several times. Then the penny dropped, perhaps it was salicylates? Perhaps we had missed salicylates the first two times playing with the elimination diet. I cut fruit out of my diet immediately since I was desperate to get back to normal. It took another 2 plus weeks before I started to consider myself normal again. Other things improved too: singing voice better and more consistent than ever, sticky poos less of a problem, sleep improved, bloating reduced, feeling of incomplete evacuation reduced.

This was the closest encounter I've ever had with a run-away brain. Needless to say, it was not a constructive part of our marriage, however, we have survived. This story embarrasses me extremely but perhaps others can benefit from it ... - by email

I am reporting a reaction to a can of Campbell's "Chicken & Corn" condensed soup. The flavour was very pleasant, but an hour or so after consuming it, I developed a very unpleasant headache and eventually felt ill enough to go straight to bed without my usual shower. I was O.K. by next day and didn't develop a rash. My wife, who also enjoyed the soup, was untroubled.

The can was marked in bold type as having no MSG, but I found "Flavour Enhancer (E635) in the list of ingredients. I phoned their Customer Service line and they were quite sympathetic but pointed out that they did list the flavour enhancer amongst the ingredients. As indeed they did, and spelled-out too, not disguised as a yeast extract or something similar. I expressed my opinion that it was somewhat deceptive, though, to label the can as not containing MSG when it did contain a close relative.

A survey of their other soup varieties seemed to show that anything with chicken in it was liable to also include E635, but the vegetable soups such as Cream of Pumpkin, Celery, Asparagus etc were free of it. - Dennis aged 87, by email

Both of my children both suffered from eczema. My son was diagnosed as infantile eczema at 10weeks old. I had discovered that before failsafe that what affected his eczema was lactose, legumes, nuts and coconuts. I had his skin perfect before going failsafe for his ODD and Hyperactivity. Seems that allergies can play a huge part in eczema so I have found. Now, that he is not on failsafe anymore, I have noticed he gets really severe eczema in the creases of his elbow and behind knees. I have put it down to 635 as he works at McDonalds and eats more junk food.

My daughter had milder type of eczema so wasn't too much of a concern. However, when she started eating more junk foods, she started with a small itchy red rash on her leg, then it spread to both legs, moving upwards towards her face. I had a suspicion it was 635 that did this. It was still getting worse even though she had stopped eating anything with 635. She took oral steroids, but as soon it wore off, it came back again. I took her to my appointment with my allergist and he had a look at her legs and said 'reactive eczema' and to eat 'what your Mum eats' to get it down. I had already done elimination diet many years ago with my daughter and found that glutamates and high levels of salicylates affected her. So I simply just cut out the salicylates and glutamates and within 2 weeks the rash had gone. She then slowly introduced the salicylates again and tries to avoid glutamates as much as she can. She can now pick it if she eats something that has 635 as she gets extremely itchy legs which bleeds - Teresa, Victoria.

I would like to say a very big thank you for helping change not only my son's life dramatically but in turn the whole family.

Last year I put my eight year old boy onto your elimination diet. Before the diet my son was in trouble at school every day, he was argumentative, angry, hyperactive and overall his behaviour was negative and every day was a huge struggle. After discovering that he reacts severely to preservatives, colours, salicylates and amines, his overall well being has completely changed.

Not only is the household a much more calmer place now, also so is his class room. He would of been considered to be one of the naughtiest children in the class but now he is achieving amazing results at school. He competed in the National Maths Competition and got a distinction (finished in the top 11 % in all of Australia), he also achieved very highly in the Naplan and has amazed his music teacher by performing songs that are way above his year level.

Not only is he a much happier boy, so are his siblings and both my husband and I. Not only has this diet given him a much better chance for a successful future he is living testimony that this diet is truly life changing.  - Paula

We are on day 13 of our elimination (not GF or DF) and we have definitely noticed wonderful behavioural differences in our 3 boys - my MIL came to babysit last night and ate our FS dinner of rissoles (filled with hidden veg!), chips, steamed beans & pear sauce. She loved it (she saw the hiding of the vege in the rissoles as well so I think she was pleased with that as well). Then when we got home, she said she couldn't believe the difference in the boys and didn't know quite how to describe it but said they were quieter, happy to just talk/play without fighting, eager to listen when having a conversation - all in all, that she fully supports us now and wants to know how she can help! She said she's always seen the sweet side of the boys nature but now it's their nature almost all the time! Thank you Bree for telling us about FS! – Eleanor from facebook group

Some of these reports came from readers after a Medical Journal of Australia article questioning the value to low salicylate diets. Details of the article can be seen at

• We've noticed a HUGE difference in our son's temper tantrums and violent tendencies! - Julie, NSW

• We have been really pleased by the change in behaviour of our 8 year old son who is diagnosed with Aspergers (and ADHD). His oppositional tendencies in particular have markedly reduced - Marg, by email

• We are day 6 into the elimination diet, and having amazing results. My son (8yrs) was diagnosed with Aspergers a few weeks ago and within days a lot of his symptoms are reducing. The meltdowns are nothing to what they were. Plus, the skin rashes are almost gone too, yet we are still working on the night time bed wetting – Nicole from facebook group

• We've been on a low Salicylate diet for only a couple of weeks now and the change in my son is absolutely remarkable. For the first time this year he is having his first full day at school today. His attention-span and distractedness is still an issue, but to a lesser degree - Jo from facebook group

• The proof is in the pudding so they say and [my son] is the pudding! - Amy

• Low sals diet is "harmful"?? Who on earth did they pick for their sample? It certainly wasn't any of us! Nor any other of the thousands of very healthy, happy failsafers out there - Naomi

• No one asked me here in NZ. I've been nearly 60 yrs trying to find out what was wrong with me. Even the immunologist couldn't help. Now I have energy to burn! - Di

• Hmm bubble and squeak with rice popped chicken and pear crumble, for pudding . Philli and pear mountain wraps and boiled egg for lunch. Shocking diet. I would much rather eat processed ready meal with chips, coke and lcm bars for lunch. Ah throw a slush puppy in as well. Insert sarcasm. Yes this diet is limited but it is short term. Surely all of us are a diverse sample group with no bias other than wanting the best for our loved ones. You can keep your 5 veg 2 fruit wheat and processed marg. I will stick to my butter, pears, and cabbage – Carrie

• Just skimmed their article now, it's HIGH time there was some decent clinical studies put forward, particularly in the light of these criticisms (can lead to eating disorders?!) and the emphasis on NSW being "where these diets happen" ie a stab at the RPAH. I wish the RPAH would do their own retrospective study. Why don't they??? It's been years since they published anything at all on their work and what they do is positively life changing, not "harmful" in the slightest. I must say this study has made me extremely angry - Naomi

• They can come and study my violently sal intolerant kids. At 6 months, one of my sons cried for 8 hours after eating a small serve of mashed pumpkin. Even tiny amounts of mod sal foods like carrots and sweet potato brought on massive rashes and stomach aches. Wish sceptical people could see this stuff - Veronica

• Google "PubMed urticaria salicylates" and there is actually quite a bit there - some is food intolerance and exclusion diet but not specifically food salicylates, some is specifically aspirin, but urticaria from food salicylates is there too eg - Tracy

• There are a few things that jump off the page to me, the definition of "harmful" is one and also the insinuation that elimination diets are linked to eating disorders. Do these "doctors" have any idea about the causative issues relating to eating disorders? Because from what I recall from the Mental Health side to my (nursing) degree, the evidence base clearly stated that they are very much linked to a myriad of non-food related issues – Naomi

• Diet success stories include recovery from eating disorders after going failsafe. I can see how an elimination diet done incorrectly or handled badly could trigger eating disorders in those at risk - Tracy

• When faced with the alternative of taking mind altering drugs long term, I'll live with the small chance of minor nutrient deficiencies from a limited diet thanks. The failsafe diet as far as I know is actually quite a balanced diet if done properly - Lydia

• This is the best thing I have done for my son . He is a new man. All I can say is that he eats 100% better and a well balanced diet than most kids I know – Tanya

See more stories and science on the salicylates factsheet

A full story collection of effects of salicylates (83 pages, October 2015)

Two stories that readily come to mind about food and speech are:

First, a new client, 4 year old boy. When I was assessing his language comprehension, which involved him looking at 4 pictures on a page, and pointing to the picture I was speaking about, this young boy merely pointed to all 4 pictures on each page, counting "1, 2, 3, 4". I honestly thought he had huge cognitive issues.

His mother rang me the following day, asking for help, reporting that he had wandered off the previous night, and been picked up by the police on the highway. At our next appt., this amazing mother had made huge changes to this boy's diet!!! And when I asked her why she was being so proactive, she reported that she was a science teacher...and it all made sense!!!

Well, within 6 months, this young boy's standardized assessment subtest scores went from 1 and 2 to 11-13...(normal limits for standardized scores being 7-13. And I am not that good a Speechie!!!)

Second, another new 4 year old client's mother handed me the Paediatrician's report, which mentioned that he had severe eczema. He was also very active!! I immediately handed her your network brochure and latest Food Additives to Avoid card.

Again...this incredibly proactive mother set about making huge changes to her son's diet. Several weeks later, as he sat and attended well during our Speech Path session, his mother reported that, as I could see, he was now sitting and listening, and was also doing as he was asked at home.

She then went on to tell me that last winter, her son had been seeing a dermatologist in Melbourne, who had instructed her to not only put a particular cream onto the rashes on his arms and legs, but to then wrap his arms and legs in wet bandages.

She reported that when she refused to use wet bandages because it was winter, she was told she was non-compliant. This young boy's mother smiled with such delight, as she told me that since making your suggested changes to his diet, his eczema had completely gone.

I have to hold back tears when I hear such wonderful success stories...especially after explaining to the parents that I have no training in this area, but am just passing on your information to empower them to make a difference – Jane, Victoria


I have severe racing heart after consumption of MSG or free glutamic acid. Last year I put in a complaint to Qld Health who then went to Vic Health re Coles chicken flavoured chips, with no success. The chip packet boldly stated NO ADDED MSG.

I knew MSG was in the chips (due to my heart racing over 200 bpm) but no doubt it was contained within the other 6.. numbers (ingredients: hydrolysed vegetable protein (corn), flavour enhancers 627, 631). Qld health had the chips lab tested and as I already knew due to my racing heart, found MSG in the chips but it can't be proven the MSG in the chips was ADDED separately

I am now so sensitive to glutamic acid that two months ago I had to go to emergency on 2 occasions had to be injected with adenosine to get my heart back from 238 bpm to a more normal 70 bpm. I am also on verapamil 180 sr prescribed by my cardiologist to try stop this happening. However even on the medication it has still happened twice but the racing heart doesn't last as long ... only 35 mins of 200bpm. Pff! (As opposed to 1.5hrs over 200bmp, prior to being on the verapamil). I have since started going to Emergency when this happens - when the glutamic acid is hidden - do I really want to test my heart out that much before suffering cardiac arrest!

Note this happens when MSG is HIDDEN within foods. It is such a minefield; as you never can tell where it's hidden and they don't make it be labelled. This was never a problem for me ingesting MSG till approx 6 years ago. As you said, maybe the 635 has made this worse. - by email, Qld

(Comment from Sue Dengate: in this case, the food manufacturers are being deliberately ingenuous. Of course they know they are adding MSG in the form of hydrolysed vegetable protein rather than flavour enhancer 621. The other 600-number flavour enhancers - 627, 631, 635 - are MSG-boosters designed to boost the effects of any MSG up to 10 or 15 times, so you are much more likely to be affected by those than 621. Anyone who wants to avoid MSG should avoid any flavour enhancers e.g. 620-635. This pretty much means sticking to plain healthy food and cooking for yourself, which of course is now recommended for weight loss, cancer prevention and a whole host of other health problems.)

This week our son turns 21 and starts his 4th year of a BE(Hons) Bachelor of Engineering Degree.

We have come so far from when he was 8years old and I was reading the Fed Up Book and thinking this is us....
The teachers had mentioned ADHD and Learning my heart I knew he was not any of these, in fact I believed him to be very smart.

A month after starting the diet without mentioning it to the school. They asked what had changed and we never looked back. He was now able to show the true little lad he was...bright, happy and friendly. Thanks Sue and Howard- you have always been there for us. We are so proud of our son and so pleased we found Failsafe. Yes at times it was a challenge, but wow look where we are now. It was worth everything it took to achieve what we and our son have.

We are very proud. We as a family know for sure that our son would have had quite a different life without FAILSAFE. His oppositional behaviour alone would have changed that. Let alone the learning issues - Linda

In a little over two weeks, my daughter is turning 21. And I have to say a big huge THANK YOU to Sue and Howard - without your first book "Different Kids" I doubt my daughter would have made it this far. Your friendship, information, help and most of all, support, have been invaluable in keeping my beautiful daughter alive. Thank you both so very, very much – Sharon

I have to tell you your books and DVD have been a Godsend! We've noticed a HUGE difference in our son's temper tantrums and violent tendencies! We have told everyone we know about you and your research. Thank you! - Julie, NSW

We have been really pleased by the change in behaviour of our 8 year old son who is diagnosed with Aspergers (and ADHD). His oppositional tendencies in particular have markedly reduced. My thinking is this is related to taking most salicylates out of his diet; however, I think I now need the help of a dietician to guide us through a more specific diet to ensure we are not excluding foods that are actually fine - Marg by email

Just wanted to say a huge THANKYOU to Sue & Howard! Have a daughter who has been failsafe for 5 years now. Though it is still really difficult @ times, she is massively improved since we discovered you by googling 'explosive diarrhoea.' Love your work, & our happier little girl!! Veronica from facebook group

Thank you for your continued referrals. It never ceases to amaze me how many people have heard of FAILSAFE and the elimination diet and are prepared to give it a go. I keep seeing fantastic results with it – from breastfeeding mothers finally getting a better night's sleep (due to more settled babies), to pre-schoolers behaving now as pre-schoolers should (rather than throwing un necessary tantrums), to adults finally feeling well and understanding what causes their symptoms after years of unanswered questions. And of course everything in between! – Dietitian by email

We are day 6 into the elimination diet, and having amazing results. My son (8yrs) was diagnosed with Aspergers a few weeks ago and within days a lot of his symptons are reducing. The meltdowns are nothing to what they were. Plus, the skin rashes are almost gone too, yet we are still working on the night time bed wetting – Nicole from facebook group

I wrote to you quite some time ago regarding rosacea. My skin is still not 100% right, although avoiding salicylates, amines, preservatives and additives certainly reduces the symptoms of flushing, itching, and red pimples. - Lyn, NSW

See Rosacea and acne factsheet

My nephew was put on the diet for encopresis and I know that it helped him - salicylates and amines to a lesser extent ended up being the culprits, but I know that with him it took AGES (I mean several months) on the baseline /strict diet before they saw improvement. I encourage you that sticking with the strict diet for longer may be what his body needs to heal and recover - Peggy

The failsafe diet definitely improved my son's bowels. Salicylates, dairy and gluten seemed to be the main culprits for him. Ultimately, though, it was strong probiotics and home-made yoghurt that seemed to fix the problem. He was dairy intolerant but we started with tiny amounts and now he's eating 2 bowls of yoghurt a day - Veronica

My eldest son has always had epic meltdowns and tantrums, just thought was his personality. Last year he was getting way out of control and then soiling every day, it took me a while to realise this as I just thought he wasn't wiping properly. Doctors visits, movicol in large doses all to no avail. A friend put me on to the fed up site and its been great. He is currently gluten, corn, soy free, only allowed A2 milk and keeping ALL colours flavours glutamates and nasties from his diet. Have been to gastroenterologist and done a seven day movicol clean out followed by a differing daily dose of osmolax and toilet time 2 times a day. I have been giving him a probiotic " Polybac 8". The change in him is amazing. It has taken a year of research and lots of mistakes, not checking ingredients properly especially if packaging has changed has been a challenge and adds to time in the shops but rather there than a meltdown for days on end. Swimming for 5 hours in inside chlorinated pool was not a great move for him as next day was teary and emotional so now we know to limit inside pools - Denise

My daughter has been suffering wetting for about 18mths now. I had been everywhere and back with doctors, scans. con. clinic. They were pretty much no help as it continued. Than my sister introduced me to FS and ED and said it could help. After my own research, I saw a dietician and now we are on day 5.I made small changes to her diet a couple of months ago & saw improvements. We managed to get 7 days in a row dry. Than, with Xmas/New Yr went backwards. Now, today it is her 9th day dry. I am convince that this really works - Nicole

We have had encopresis with our son, whose behaviour was the reason for failsafe but had no idea encopresis was related until it stopped, just thought it was behavioural or through stress. He is 8 and it was causing terrible problems at school, also leaking urine too with complete denial even if we took all his clothes of and showed him the evidence! At our wits end with that and behavioural probs, amongst others. Two weeks into the elim diet and it all stopped so I thought it would probably be just a development change... until he ate some things by mistake off the diet (additive related) and it all started up again. He has been milk protein insensitive since birth and yet can tolerate milk in cooked foods or so we thought. When on the diet if I cooked with milk, he got encopresis, and finally I worked it out. Stopped EVERY bit of dairy except small amounts of butter and he has no problem but if I bake or cook with any milk at all it comes right back. So for us it was going lactose-free as well as milk protein free...the urine leaking has also gone.

Then there was his sister who had been toilet trained a year or more for wee, but not poo and seemed to be going in the same direction. She is NOT lactose or dairy intolerant and has A2 milk on the elim diet. She "trained' or gained her bowel control in week two of the diet as well, with no probs since, except with a few slip ups as well on the diet, same time as her brother.

Interestingly, the youngest has just toilet trained as well, he was almost 3 when we went on the diet so the time was right but he showed absolutely NO understanding of when he was going until the diet, and began to tell us straight away. I just did nothing about it as it was winter and too hard with a new diet, new job and child care etc, so I waited until holidays. He has had no 'accidents' unlike 5 of his siblings. I am putting it down to preservatives as well as dairy for some of them.

We have a family history of bedwetters until about 10-12 years of age, and also every one of them a dairy problem except the 5th one - Ries

I am so excited! Improvements with my 6 year olds behaviour already today! She ate two serves of protein (almost never happens!), was actually hungry at dinner time, has listened to instructions and fell asleep beautifully! First additive/preservative free day! YAY! – Hayley from facebook group

I just stumbled on your web site. Wow! It's really great to see what you've achieved since those early days. It looks like more and more people, even the 'professionals', are coming on board. I guess hard evidence finally overcomes pride and stubbornness. As one of your early believers, it's great to see you get the success you deserve - Jack, NT

The diet is very effective. I am forever grateful to you both because my four kids were a mess on natural organic food and now they are very sweet and all we have to do is be careful what we eat. They get crazy when we mess up but thankfully I know how to get back to baseline and enjoy the peace again – Naomi, USA

We have proof here at my house that Mentos are made by the devil himself. 4 days of withdrawal and counting. Be wary of this demon drug! – Jo from Facebook group

My son has eye motor tics, since he has been failsafe his tics have vanished - Rachel, UK

The diet has been wonderful for my son. All the things that Sue wrote about with your daughter were what we were experiencing. My son is a bright healthy 7 year old who is doing very well at school. We have been failsafe for 12 months now. It's not easy but it is totally worth it. – Maryanne from facebook group

My daughter has recently been diagnosed intolerant to amines, we have been low amine for about 2 months. We have had great results, days we have cheated she has been lethargic, thrown up, looked pale etc. The difference on the days we have not cheated are amazing, my happy 12 year old is back. The results have been so startling that today we will become a FS family. She is intolerant to amines as she has been diagnosed with cyclic vomiting syndrome, you can add that in if you wish as not many people know about CVS and finding out that low amine diet helps took us 6 months of various doctors and A&E trips. – Sarah on Facebook group

My son has been diagnosed as ADHD however on the elimination diet he proved to be sensitive on the amines challenge, and bad - threatened to kill me, uncontrollable crying yelling, yet when we avoid the amines the ADHD symptoms all but disappear! I have a wonderful dietician, she has done wonders for us as a family far more than any of the paediatrician we have seen, it's amazing what a change of diet can do. – Katrina on Facebook group

More Articles ...

  1. [1185] 'Miracle cure' for food intolerance (February 2013)
  2. [1184] Diet "instead of living in a war-torn home" (February 2013)
  3. [1183] Headed for a life of labels (February 2013)
  4. [1182] Not a perfect school canteen "but much better" (February 2013)
  5. [1181] "The food ... in the tuckshop is just awful" (February 2013)
  6. [1180] 621: Lack of sleep and vivid nightmares (February 2013)
  7. [1179] Failsafe high school graduation success: one of the highest OPs in her school (February 2013)
  8. [1178] 621: MSG and foggy brain, heart arrhythmia, arthritis (February 2013)
  9. [1177] Asthma under control due to low salicylate diet (February 2013)
  10. [1176] Salicylates, benzoates, additives linked to asthma, ADD, headaches (February 2013)
  11. [1175] 621: MSG, appetite, cravings and obesity (February 2013)
  12. [1174] Withdrawal symptoms occur in the first 2 weeks of the diet – 12 reports from failsafers (February 2013)
  13. [1173] Mast cell activation disorder (January 2013)
  14. [1172] 621,635: Red blotchy welts all gone (January 2013)
  15. [1171] Nosebleeds thread from Facebook group (January 2013)
  16. [1170] Nosebleeds due to amines? (January 2013)
  17. [1169] Nosebleeds due to junky snacks (January 2013)
  18. [1168] Nosebleeds due to dairy foods (January 2013)
  19. [439] "Migraines due to amines including fish oil" (August 2006)
  20. [1167] Crushing depression after food (January 2013)
  21. [1166] 282: Defiant, hyperactive, impossible to reason with, plain silly, very loud, noisy, annoying to others, demanding, pushy and tantrums (December 2012)
  22. [1165] 282: "I felt like a slug" (from 2004)
  23. [1164] 282: Diagnosis of chronic fatigue really due to bread preservative (from 2002)
  24. [1163] 282: Grumpy and Rude, lacking concentration (from 2006)
  25. [1162] 282: And oppositional defiance (from FAILsaf19 June 2000)