I know that you and your group are petitioning for food labels to be specific with regards to all ingredients. I would also like to see this extended to all medications.

My 10 year old son is autistic. Diet (additive, salicylate, amine and dairy free) is an enormous help, but it is not the only solution to all our problems and he is also on medication. We recently swapped over to Lovan, an anti-depressant, and were having terrible behavior. Once I did a full MIMS search on it (only accessible to health professionals), I found that it contained either peppermint and aniseed oil (tablets) or two artificial colours (capsules). I suspect the behavior was due to the cocktail of unlisted ingredients, rather than the drug being a failure. Our paediatrician was quite impressed with the fact that I figured it out; he often prescribes the dispersible tablets, and had not even thought of what the ingredients might be.

We have changed over to Fluohexal (one of the generics) capsules, which we take out of the capsule case and mix with syrup, so that way we have no problems with the colours in the capsule case. We are also trialling Ritalin, which as I found out today, contains lactose! Why do they still use lactose as a filler!!!!! Surely there are alternatives!

I can understand that capsule cases etc have to be coloured, as this helps with identification of drugs when not in their original containers. I just want clear labeling on boxes, including if there is gluten or lactose in the formulation. by email, Qld

I have an 8-year-old daughter, who I put on the failsafe eating when she was 6 due to extreme irritability, moodiness, anxiety, nightmares, night waking etc. It worked amazingly within 2 weeks. We had our little girl back, she was so much calmer, compliant, more focused and so much nicer to be around. Even her teacher at the time said "I have never seen a result like that without drugs". She seems to react to many things, however, salicylates, amines and glutamates are the main culprits. – Jane, by email

My son Jack, now aged 4, was a great baby, he slept 18 hours a day and was joy to be around except that he would not use his bowels for days and days. We took him to doctor after specialist after scan and no-one knew why. In the end the only way we could get him to use his bowels was to medicate him every day.

Also at about 6 months (at the time of introduction of solids) Jack started head-butting the cot. Honestly I am not exaggerating when I tell you that he had golf ball sized lumps on his forehead – again more scans, tests and drs. No-one knew why. The professionals told me to take him out of a cot and put him into a bed so he couldn’t forward head-butt. Great Idea – he then proceeded to get out of bed and backward head-butt the wall. I have holes in the gyprock in the wall where he would head-butt his way through the gyprock. One night it was that hard the hinges in the door popped out. My neighbours could hear it and if I was on the phone people could hear it. It would mainly happen during the night or when he woke up from a day sleep. People told me he was hot, cold, tired, not stimulated enough, over stimulated, lonely blah blah blah.

I decided none of the professionals were helping so I decided one by one to withdraw foods from his diet. I started with dairy – I removed 95% of the dairy form his diet – I allowed him 1 cup of milk and 1 yoghurt a day and this showed a massive improvement, he would use his bowels without medication - it still required a lot of effort on his part but hey it was better than medication and the headbutting decreased. I took yoghurt off him and amazingly enough my happy little man returned. At the time I did not realise the importance of this find (that there was annatto in his favourite yoghurt).

One year later I gave him his favourite vanilla yoghurt with 160B in it and OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!! He was up on all 4s rocking all night headbutting the pillow moaning and the next morning he woke up with a headache. We let it go a week and then we tried it with icecream and he was the same only this time he was reverse headbutting the wall like he used to do when he was a baby. – Nicolle, NSW

From about 12 months of age, my son developed intermittent spots, rashes and blotches on his face and around his mouth. On 3 occasions he swelled up in the face, neck and hands (twice at daycare, once at home). We took him to an allergist who told us it was intolerances, gave us a list of additives to avoid, and told us he would outgrow it. The only additive that I could definitely identify at the time was 160b. Each time he ate it he would get develop a rash or tiny spots around his mouth and the blotches would return. Interestingly, at the same time, he also would bang his head in frustration on the floor. It was usually as part of a tantrum, he would drop to the floor and bang his head. He had a permanent bruise in the middle of his forehead for several months (see photo – it’s really a bruise upon bruise upon bruise, from banging his head on the floor!) I cannot say for sure if the headbanging stopped at exactly the same time as we eliminated 160b, because I never associated them together, but am now thinking it was related.

As it turned out, the allergist was wrong and he did not outgrow his intolerances, they just manifested in a different way and he became a very difficult child around 2.5 years of age... At 3 years of age we went additive free for 6 weeks, and while this did help, it was not enough, so we have now been failsafe since Oct 2007. He is very sensitive to sals, sensitive to amines and cannot tolerate some additives. – by email, Vic


My son is 2 and spent approx 18 mths headbanging. I can’t say for sure, but it could possibly have been approx the time we removed 160b from his diet that he stopped. I removed 160b along with the other additives you recommend avoiding to help manage my son’s behaviour. It has seemed to work very well. Adjusting his diet has made being a parent so much more enjoyable and I would like to thank you for this.

We removed the 160b (and all the other additives) approx 5 -6 months ago. We had a major relapse at Easter. This confirmed my suspicions and made my husband realise that the food additives did affect our child.

On looking back, our son stopped headbanging around this time, but I can’t say whether it was as a result of the changed diet or not. I didn't realise until seeing your talk a few weeks ago, the headbanging could be related to 160b. The foods my son ate that contained 160b were cheese slices, margarine and yoghurt. I’m sure there would have been others, but these are the ones he ate every (or almost every) day. – Heather, by email

My two year old daughter was banging her head about ten times per day. I was giving her ‘no artificial colours, flavours, preservatives’ yoghurt but I didn’t know to avoid annatto. When I changed to a different brand (no annatto), she only had one episode of head banging in the next two days. – by email, NT

I am a fan of your work and have been looking at the Head Banging information, I am going to make sure we avoid 160b because I think that causes my 3 year old son to do head banging. My son has been eating custard, yoghurt (I have switched to the Jalna brand this week), and ice cream (home ice-cream treasure troves, lots of colours in it, so stopped them). He would generally have custard or yoghurt in the morning and either ice-cream, custard or yoghurt around 5pm.

I have taken 160b out of his diet, which I will do for a few weeks and then re-introduce it to see what happens. His head banging can be to put him to sleep and during the night and very early in the morning, approx 5am. He banged his head in his cot, which was probably around the time he started eating solids, custard and baby yoghurt.

Since avoiding annatto and artificial colours his head banging incidents have lessened. He has had one head banging incident this week around 5am in the morning on Thursday morning so he may have had something at child care that caused it. They do have Yoplait yoghurt on alternate days, so they would have had it on Wednesday morning. – Caryn, by email

We adopted our son from Russia two years ago (he is now three). He is sensory seeking and delayed in speech. We have only recently uncovered a link between his food and behavior, particularly with Annatto. It makes him hyper, sleepless, defiant, irritable, and a body banger against furniture (not limited to head banging), starting within 1-2 hours and lasting up to 24 hours.

Our son had been seeing an occupational therapist 2x's per month for sensory seeking behaviors. The OT recommended looking into a link between nutrition and behavior. We met with an allergist first. Her tests proved negative for protein allergies. She suggested that we start saving food labels any time we suspected reactions and compare them for common ingredients. The first food we noticed was Pepperidge Farm Cheddar Goldfish Crackers. Our son was very stimulated and not able to nap. I saw Annatto listed and wondered what it was. I did an internet search and found your website and others. The next time I saw a reaction, Annatto was in the peach yogurt I had fed him. On this particular day at naptime, he sat backwards in his rocking chair and banged it continually into the wall.

We started the Feingold program here in the U.S. and, as you probably know, it does not address Annatto so we eliminated Annatto as well. Our son's issues decreased within the first week. He was less hyper, more compliant, and able to sleep better, except for one noticeable withdrawal episode - his first on-the-floor kicking temper tantrum. My favorite result to cite is when I asked him to put books away. He answered "Okay, Mama" and did it right away. This is the sweet little boy who was there all along. I hate the idea that the foods I thought were good for him were causing him to misbehave and causing me frustration. We are happy to be Annatto-free now.

We are finding it hard to identify products with Annatto since it is not always stated by name or number in the ingredients list. We are learning to stay away from products with "natural flavors & colors" even if Feingold approved. There are many products that we have since cut out of his diet after discovering the Annatto link.

Changing our son's food and skin care products was easier than I ever imagined. He hardly notices, except for the times I have to say no to certain foods that do not have good things in them for him. It does take extra effort but it is well worth it. Still, I look forward to the day when the food-behavior link is widely accepted, forcing companies to eliminate these harmful additives from our supermarket shelves. by email, USA

I have 2 boys, aged 3 and 1 who both react badly to annatto. About half an hour after our 3 year old has had something with annatto in he is uncontrollable, agitated, full of energy, really full on. Hyperactive is how someone has described it.

I had read about annatto by chance and at first didn’t think much of it but I mentioned it to my husband who said he reacted to red and yellow colours as a child so I stopped buying anything with 160b in it. I can’t say I noticed anything for a while but one day we had dinner at a friend’s place and our 3 yo was offered some ice cream. I didn’t think to check it. Within half an hour our son was a nightmare. Kicking, screaming, purposefully doing things to annoy/upset us, refusing to sleep and thrashing out etc. My husband and I were shocked - what had happened to our child? Suddenly the penny dropped and I called to ask if the ice cream had 160b in it - it did! Since then we’ve also seen reactions to cheese, custard and yoghurt (at daycare until I asked not to give annatto to him). – Silvia, NSW

At various times over recent months I have suffered with restless legs and a disturbed night’s sleep. Today I decided to investigate the ingredients of the fish fingers we had for dinner last night, and found that they contained 160b. I believe that this colour is most likely the cause of my restless legs and sleep disturbance. I will therefore be avoiding it at all costs in the future.

… One month later …Since I’ve stopped eating the fish fingers I’ve had no more restless legs. I’m convinced that it is the 160b causing them. I’ve since eaten the fish fingers without the batter and had no ill effects.

I’ve noticed that 160b is in so many foods. Bulla’s mini icecreams too. What a pity. They claim to be free of artificial flavours and colours, but still contain the natural colour 160b.I was hoping to give them to my kids until I read the ingredients list.

Many times in past years I have suffered with restless legs at night and hadn’t known what caused them. Perhaps it was 160b then as well. I wasn’t taking any notice of what was in my food then. Thank-you for such informative and helpful reading. – Sue C, NSW

Our journey through the numbers maze has recently brought us face to face with 160b. We have discovered through accidental trial and error that our 5 year old daughter who can be the most bright, fun, playful and intelligent little girl can be reduced to a little monster by this “natural” additive. It is so horrible to watch. When I know that she has had something with 160b, we wait for the ticking time bomb. It is usually anywhere from a few hours later it starts and can last for a day or more ... she turns into a screaming, angry, yelling, defiant and hysterical little girl. It breaks my heart. She knows why she gets like that, but there is no reasoning with her when she is in that place. We just wait for her to fall asleep ... only to wake up in the morning like a bear with a sore head.

We first became aware of 160b about a year and a half ago. Custard was the culprit. My mum was staying with us at the time and she was amazed as well when we found out that the custard was the link to her behaviour. She would have the custard at night as dessert and hey presto in the morning the grumpy bum would awake. Cranky, whingey, defiant and tantrums. It would take around about 24 hours for her to come back to us! Ice cream is another one. Every Sunday we would all go down and get icecreams ... same thing (of course this is all in hindsight). Monday morning our alter ego/grumpy daughter would wake up and it would take until about Wednesday to get back to some sort of normalcy only to repeat the cycle again the following Sunday. Now we buy the Peters vanilla icecream and natural icecream cones without colour and have our Sunday icecreams at home. – Sarah B, NSW

It seems every time after Soft Serve Ice cream my 8 yo daughter has sneaky poos. Even when we tried it yesterday without the cone. She gets them about an hour after the ice cream. - Alison, Qld (annatto has since been removed from the McDonalds Soft Serves)

My 6 and a half year old daughter has been diagnosed with PDD-NOS. Since about 6 months of age, we have given her those kids yoghurts that you buy in 6 packs with the kids themes like Nemo and Bob the builder. We thought that because she wouldn’t drink milk we needed to give her a dairy substitute, and that they would suffice.

While being a generally placid child since birth, she displayed difficulty concentrating on tasks, a great attraction to the colour yellow, meltdowns at times such as leaving a friend’s house or upon being denied a request, sneaky poos, bedwetting, and poor fine motor skills. She was assessed as having a severe speech delay when 3 and a half. Her drawing was at best scribbling in a general area, and she had great problems following dotted outlines of alphabet letters. She displayed very poor short term memory, and repetitive behaviours. She was also wanting food all the time, although she is not overweight. She only drinks water, has never eaten confectionery, has ice cream on the odd occasion, but otherwise generally eats rice bubbles, weetbix, watermelon, grapes, apples, pears, occasionally custard, and plain biscuits. Dinner is usually either rice, pasta or mashed potato with steamed veggies and fish, chicken or beef with no added sauces.

Recently we were made aware of your book and in particular, the adverse effects of the 160b colouring additive. Upon reading up about it in the book, we also looked at the fed up website where we noticed the link to PDD-NOS. After reading some of the testimonials and realising that many of the other parent’s experiences were sounding familiar, we decided to eliminate 160b from her diet.

We initially stopped the kids’ yoghurts, which she had been having up to 5 a day, on 22 February 2009. Within about 4 or 5 days her drawing had improved remarkably, she could follow dotted lines correctly, her concentration to tasks jumped, not one meltdown occurred, her sneaky poos stopped, bedwetting reduced, and her speech started to improve noticeably. After noticing these improvements, we then looked at the rest of her diet and switched to Brumbys bread, eliminated anything else that we thought had 160b such as custard, switched to A2 or Jersey mik, and stopped using fabric conditioner. We have noticed over the last month that she seems to have matured noticeably, is more compliant, and is more focussed on cognitive tasks. Her teachers and tutors have all noticed a dramatic improvement in her learning ability. She no longer seeks food constantly, has lost her attraction to the colour yellow, has mostly stopped her repetitive behaviour, and her short term memory is markedly better. In fairness, we also started a reward scheme to help stop the sneaky poos at about the same time. However, she is a bit unique in that except for the 160b element, she was virtually following a failsafe style diet already. So we have been quite surprised that it seems that removing 160b has had a dramatic effect for her. -Sharon, Qld

I've just found your Fed Up website and want to say how amazing I think it is. I was put on the Friendly Food diet from the Royal Prince Alfred and it has helped ... thanks for all your hard work. I feel like I've discovered a gold mine. It’s like finding friends who actually understand what you're talking about - Aviva, NSW

Failsafe gave me the freedom to live and enjoy what weren't hard kids to enjoy, just challenging at times. My best moment would be when our 4 yo trouble child sat with a recently broken arm, very tired waiting for panadol and dinner, quietly no whingeing and playing a game of junior scrabble with his brother.- Karen, Qld

Thanks a million for all your work - our family would not function without you! – Lisa, by email

Our dietitian only recommended Friendly Food as a cook book and although it is a lovely cook book for adults, it is next to useless for young families. Her comment on the Failsafe Cookbook was that she didn't really know it (ie knew of it, but hadn't looked at it). I wonder how many families go through her doors and come out feeling hopeless regarding ideas for practical cooking - by email

My 2 yo daughter and I are still on the diet (12 months now) and are doing really well. As time goes on I am increasingly coming to terms with accepting that this diet works wonders for me and it is simply what I have to stick to - by email, Vic

We began our Failsafe journey 3 years ago. My now 9 year old was 18 months when the doctors first made the suggestion that he should be medicated. I flat out refused to medicate a little baby, and advised the doctors that food was triggering his extreme behaviour. On almost every occasion I was either laughed at or made to feel a fool and told that 'food doesn't alter behaviour' - this was despite the fact that he already been diagnosed with anaphylaxis to eggs and a severe dairy allergy and suffered chronic reflux as a baby, and I myself had suffered food intolerance for many years - this went on for nearly 6 years ...

As I wasn't particularly well versed in the ways of the internet and had no idea where to turn, I took things on myself, taking a common sense approach to removing things from my son’s diet - if he went 'crazy', the food was removed and replaced with something else that didn't make him 'crazy'... We discovered that wheat was a major player in triggering offensive, violent and extremely hyperactive behaviour and insomnia ... so that was removed, and my son has been wheat free for nearly 9 years now. Whilst the wheat free diet took the edge off his severe behaviors, he was still an unpleasant, uncontrollable child and we tried many disciplinary techniques, play techniques, putting him in sports, we had his eyes and hearing checked and still had no answers.

His severe reflux started again at 6 years old, and once again doctors wanted to treat the symptoms and not determine the cause ... I went along with what the doctors wanted, but the reflux medication appeared to exacerbate the behavioural symptoms. We dealt with the behaviours as they reared their ugly heads, but in addition to the reflux, my son then continued to get more and more physiological symptoms, such as rashes, vomiting, and severe hayfever - I knew this certainly wasn't normal - and he was beginning to have random and bizarre allergic reactions and I had absolutely no idea what he was reacting to. The culmination of these allergic reactions ended up with an anaphylactic reaction, to what has since been determined as an allergy to red meat.

Unfortunately it took an anaphylactic reaction to have to doctors send me in the right direction. We saw a paed who prescribed adrenalin and promptly sent us on to an immunologist ... who explained to us that allergies and food intolerance often go hand in hand. Following all the usual tests and discussing at length my son’s behavioural issues we were sent to an accredited dietitian for help and to be placed on an elimination diet.

We found the most amazing dietitian, who was very supportive and was very eager to help. Once I knew what the problem might be, I began my research as well ... and that is where I discovered the fed up website. On the elimination diet and the subequent food challenges, we have since discovered that my son is completely intolerant to wheat, completely intolerant to amines, completely intolerant to glutamates, colours and preservatives and we have discovered that certain brands of shampoos, toothpaste and hair products trigger negative behaviour, he also has a milder intolerance to salicylates, but we are very strict with what he does have. Luckily, he has grown out of his dairy and egg allergies, which makes the preparation of food that little bit easier.

My son went from a child who slept no more than 3-4 hours a night, couldn't sit still, was compulsive, aggressive, insolent, destructive, hyperactive, would make constant noises, had severe reflux, had eczema, has issues at school with book work and reading, etc, to a child who is pleasant, well mannered, focused and actually sleeps. And it was with the advent of the new diet/lifestyle that we also discovered that my son has quite a talent for sport.

Before the diet, my son didn't have the attention span to stay between the white lines on a running track or didn't think he had to wait for the starter’s gun in a running or swimming race. Within the first 6 months of the lifestyle change he went on to represent his school in swimming and athletics, in the next year he went onto represent at regional level and last year competed at state level in swimming, cross country and athletics, for both the school and at club level. And this year, as a 9 year old, my son has already broken records on the athletics track and is on is way to breaking more records in the pool ... he has his sights firmly on the Olympic games in 2020, he just isn't sure which sport he wants to compete in!!

I find that his discipline in his chosen sport helps to keep him disciplined in his diet, and I am very honest and blunt in explaining to him what is in the foods that he wants to eat and why he can’t eat other stuff. We are about to begin meeting with our dietitian again to ensure that he is receiving adequate nutrition to sustain the endurance that he requires for his sports and to ensure that he is receiving adequate protein for proper muscle development.

People are often perplexed as to how a child who 'misses out' on so much food can be quite so athletic ... I explain to them that the food he doesn't eat actually enables his sporting and academic ability, but sadly, most people can't understand that concept. They can't understand why my son simply drinks water and eats an apple and some rice cakes or a chicken sandwich after a race when every other kid at a swim meet is eating a chocolate bar or drinking a powerade or the newest fad - pouring honey all over a banana to 'restore their energy'.

We still have bad days, and find peer pressure a constant issue, but as a family we are positive towards all facets of my son's limited diet and I am constantly inventing new and interesting things to eat! - Belinda, NSW


Discovered son's talent for sport due to diet

Three years ago I wrote how we discovered my son's talent for sport after he went on the diet. (Before the diet, he didn't have the attention span to stay between the white lines on a running track or didn't think he had to wait for the starters gun in a running or swimming race).

I thought I should add to the story that he has continued in his sporting endeavours and has represented NSW twice at a national level in swimming and is on the verge of qualifying again for the national championships. He has received 4 medals whiLst competing in breaststroke at the national championships which many may know is the most difficult stroke to execute. He has also broken a number of state records and continues to annihilate his local, district and regional breaststroke records with every year that passes - not bad for a kid that lives on potatoes. Hehe. - Belinda, NSW

I have been meaning to write for ages to thank you for the Fed Up work and for the wonderful contacts. I am seeing your recommended dietitian. Previous to changing to a low chemical diet our baby has suffered from really bad eczema since 3 months of age, has been to hospital twice and wet wrapping once. Now he has a small patch under his chin only when I eat a suspect food (shallots, golden syrup etc) and that is all! I am a complete convert and find the Fed Up and RPA books wonderful. It is so hard not to run up to strangers with eczema kids to tell them to at least trial modifying diet to low chemical.

The dietitian is wonderful and very encouraging. I am still able to breast feed our baby, and we are alternating challenging him through my diet and adding a new food for him. He now eats rice and choko, and I am challenging soy first. The limitations are tough, especially around this time of year, but so worth it for happy healthy children! Thank you, thank you, thank you.... - Natalie, Sydney.

(At the start) We have an appointment with your recommended dietitian in 2 weeks, which can't come quick enough. Our 9-year-old son has had (with hindsight) intermittent tics for the last couple of years. Last weekend he was so agitated and had particularly bad tics which seemed to follow him having an ice cone with some terrible colouring/flavouring over it which someone bought him with the best intentions! Traditionally, we have always had plenty of fruit and veg and I think has contributed also. A trip to the GP resulted in being told they were habits which we should ignore and if they hadn't gone in 2 months to go back.

So, we started failsafe last weekend and are now on day 7 having had him off school with a cough, cold and generally irritable. Things improved loads today until a friend of his gave him a starburst earlier this evening at the village movies and within an hour at the most he was incredibly twitchy...is it possible for him to have such an immediate reaction to something?..then improve within a couple of hours?

We have gone through thoughts of Tourette's syndrome, some of the symptoms he seems to have - sniffing, twitching, vocal tics, though the GP said this was unlikely ... he was definitely agitated tonight though we don't know if it was due to the noise / busyness of the place or could have been the starburst. His favourite foods are orange juice, olives, mushrooms, salami all of which have been eliminated, and we are thinking salicylates maybe the culprit ...

(12 days later) Just a quick update on things, it's been an interesting week! Our son's tics had been improving, but he had a terrible cough and kept spiking temps so he is now on antibiotics for a chest infection, and is improving cough/temp wise but his tics seem to have really worsened again. Looking at the ingredients on his meds, it's reassuring to think we are on the right track. We have managed to stick to the elimination diet and he has been really good at chomping his sprouts etc ... not enthusiastically ... but eating them!

(After 5 weeks) Thought it time I put an email together to update you on our son's progress !... wow!!!! sums it up nicely! We have been to see the dietitian twice now and are fine tuning our failsafe eating. I would say he is 80% improved, hardly any physical tics, occasional vocals and bed wetting is still a problem but we are hoping with the fine tuning we may be able to help that. He is more focused on homework, even doing extra to catch up!! It has been a revelation and continues to be so, my husband has lost weight (it needed to go!)and his BP has dropped to normal limits so everyone is better all round.

(After 6 months) Another update! Things all went a bit off track a few months ago and I think the pressure of everything all got a bit too much, especially for our son. However, with the relapse in diet the tics returned and so we have gone failsafe again but without the pressure and fuss this time. Meals out and parties are relaxed and he can have whatever is on offer! Most of the time we are failsafe at home without anyone really realising it ... it has become a way of life! Plus the tics have disappeared which is reassuring to know that we are doing the right thing. Another trigger we are almost 100% sure of is scented candles, we had one of these in the lounge around the time of the return of the tics!

I cannot thank you enough for all the info you and Sue have put together, your books and Friendly Food have to be the most well thumbed books in our house! – Amanda, by email.

When my son was in 4yo kinder, 9 years ago (he is now 13) we thought he was a typical “naughty” 4yo boy - hyperactive, restless, all the common symptoms of additive overload. I did my homework and came across “Fed Up”. It was like you wrote the book about him. We followed the detox diet and within a week he was a different kid. To this day we still eat following your guidelines. I wish other parents and schools would see the light. – Kirstin, Vic

My son recently reacted very badly with intense itching and a pimply pustule-like rash to the food additive flavour enhancer 635 - which I did not even know we'd been exposed to until after the event - by eating a store-bought seasoned BBQ chicken. I phoned the store, and they said they use the 635 in the seasoning and in a powder they sprinkle over the skin for flavouring. - Deb, Brisbane

I have suffered from bad migraines nearly all of my life. My mother said I was only about 4 when they started (or when I could tell them my head hurt).

I used to have about 4-5 per month, usually lasting 1-3 days. They always start with my vision going first. If it goes in the right eye, the pain will be on the left and vice versa, after that comes I get extreme pain and vomiting. I cannot stand to be touched or be around any noise or light, even dull light, the vision usually rights itself in about 3 hours, I have to lie still in a quiet and dark room with a washer on my head. I've been on various medications over the years and had my GP sent me for an MRI last year when my vision in my left eye didn't restore itself for 5 days.

When we put the kids on failsafe eating, I followed it in front of the kids but not at work etc. I decided to go failsafe and challenge myself when I realised there was something to the foods we are eating these days, after what I'd seen with the kiddies. I didn't get any symptoms when challenging with amines, salicylates etc, but found it's only when I eat things like flavoured chips, noodles, those bouillon stock cubes, ham and processed meats and foods like that. HVP is certainly one of the things that set my migraines off.

I have eaten several things while I was challenging and I'd always end up without fail with a migraine, so it is most definitely the food or what is in the foods.

Just before Christmas I ate some noodles from our local noodle bar that opened up, I phoned them and asked if they use MSG, they said no, I should have asked if they used any flavour enhancers and/or MSG, I ended up off work for 2 days and had to get a colleague to take the kids to before school care and my husband to pick them up. When I phoned them back and asked if they use flavour enhancers, they after some prodding, said yes they did, "but it was legal". I assured them I knew it was legal, but they should disclose that to their customers.

I'm sure these people don't realise that people who suffer from migraines suffer from disturbed vision, extreme headaches, vomiting or nausea, light sensitivity, noise sensitivity and it impacts on all who are around them, you can't move, you can't do anything with the kids, you can't work, you can't drive, you can't cook, you effectively are incapacitated by the migraine until it subsides.

I've decided to eat exactly what the kids eat, I've explained to my colleagues at work and they are totally fine with it, I just take my lunch when we go out now, and if the restaurant or pub bucks up, like a certain one did just last week, about me taking my own food, the other 18 of them stand up as if to leave and say "fine, we'll take our business elsewhere, she has dietary issues". It's great support. They backed down last week, it was great!!! - Kylie, NSW

My 8 yo granddaughter was getting headaches three times a week or more. Sometimes they were so bad she had to take time off school and lie down. After we watched your DVD we looked at what she was eating and realised the headaches came after she ate pies, party pies, flavoured noodles - anything with flavour enhancers. So we stopped eating them. Now we know - if she doesn't eat flavour enhancers, she doesn't get headaches. - Terry, NSW

I’m wondering about the link between food intolerance and middle ear hearing loss in children. Our children have been on the diet for about 6 weeks (Friendly Food with modifications under allergist's advice), and there have been many positive improvements in their health. We were already largely artificial additives free.

My five year old had tested with mild hearing loss (middle ear) in both ears prior to starting the diet. We went to the ENT for the first time after 4 weeks on the diet, he cleaned her ears and re-tested her, and she showed up as having perfect hearing. There had been no other health issue at her previous two tests (eg. no cold or infection).

The ENT said all the improvement was due to the removal of wax. The audiometrist had previously said the wax was not a problem.

I'm willing to admit the cleaning of her ears had something to do with it, but the improvement in her behaviour and speech prior to this happening tells me there could be a diet effect as well. Whatever, we are thrilled that our little girl can hear properly now, although she did say that sounds are "too loud" now.

We are now fully convinced that the diet is the best way for us to eat, and our children love the changes to their health. But it does tend to become a major part of life!! Thanks for your great work and the site. – Melody, by email

Three years ago I stood in the bookshop with 'Fed Up' in my hand debating whether to part with $20. Your book has repaid itself a thousandfold. I send my heartfelt thanks.

My youngest son's problems are a long saga, suffice to say that eliminating additives and low amines as suggested by your book provided the answer for some time. Then at nearly nine, out of the blue, he had some sort of breakdown. The teacher suggested Asperger's but he soon became worse - quite autistic, wild and extremely violent. He was off school for three months. The doctors I approached turned their backs on me. I couldn't believe it. I can only think they thought that as he already had a disability (Central Auditory Processing Disorder) it was part and parcel of the condition and didn't realise how extreme his behaviour was. I insisted that he be screened for a variety of degenerative diseases, but they came back negative.

Finally realising that no one else "gave a stuff", I turned back to your book. If it was diet before, then maybe, it's diet again, I thought. I tried eliminating salicylates, he got worse; I tried wheat, no change; I tried dairy no change. Eventually I tried eliminating both dairy and wheat and he improved.

He spent two years on a wheat free, dairy free, no additive, careful about amine diet and he could manage if he had a small dose of Ritalin 5mg breakfast, 5mg at lunch as well. Our lives were back on track, he was progressing at school, having a go at different sports, and excelling in his favourite sport. But it was all because of the ritalin - and diet.

Without the medication it was still like living with a drunk - he could be fun sometimes, but more often silly and tiresome, and aggressive too often. I always felt that the child that he had been was still there deep down, intact and undamaged, although why I believed it, I don't know. In November when he turned 11, I contemplated the thought that maybe he did have irreversible minor brain damage, but I couldn't accept the notion.

Then, by chance ("Mum, I don't want Rye bread this morning, I want Rice cereal") we realised it was the GLUTEN. I never suspected it, because I'd known a baby who nearly died of coeliac disease and the symptoms were quite different from my son's. I followed up your footnote in Fed Up and read Professor Duggan's article in the Aust. Med.Journal. My son was diagnosed withCoeliac disease a month ago and I am absolutely delighted by his response to the gluten free diet.

As you can see I am much indebted to you. It was only fine reading of your book that has helped me tease out my son's difficulties. I shudder to think where he'd be now (at a special school, I'm sure) if it hadn't been for your persistence in acquiring all this knowledge and for passing it on - Anne, Qld

I had previously been to the doctors on a few occasions regarding a problem I had with excessive sweating. I would hop out of the shower and dry only to be literally dripping with sweat. It didn't matter what I did I couldn't find any relief from the sweating. The doctor advised me to use a very strong anti-perspirant, but I have enough problems with supermarket products!

When I went onto black coffees I noticed a gradual decline in the amount of excessive sweating. I went back to white coffees and lo and behold: excessive sweating again!! I have noticed that since switching to rice milk, my cravings for cheese, etc, have reduced. –Nicole, SA

I have removed the additive 160b from my 2 year olds diet and had the most amazing result. A friend attended one of your talks, came to work the next day and told me about the additive 160b because of my daughter’s head banging - mainly on all fours and banging the forehead on the ground, sometimes against a wall, but not often, mainly the floor. I then proceeded to check the foods I gave her and eliminated anything with this additive in it. Within 1 week the head banging stopped. She would get in the position when have a tantrum, but there was no head banging. After four months with not having this in her diet, by accident, she had 3 teaspoons of custard (at Grandma’s) and was head banging within 1/2hr. I think this is proof enough for me that this additive is the cause. – by email, NSW (described by the friend in story #583)

When I first started eliminating additives I noticed the change in behaviour of my two year old daughter and her five year old brother after eating 160b. They would both be very 'sooky' for want of a better word. The slightest thing would have them cry and get all emotional. I noticed it would happen within an hour or two of eating something and could last for a full 24 hours, very frustrating. Before that I had no idea what 160b was and thought that yoghurt, processed cheese slice and plain vanilla icecream were healthy food. My daughter is now six and we just avoid stuff like that, we always get the same old things that we know are safe - Emma, by email

I have had great results with my daughter now 4 with a generally additive free, low chemical diet with improvements in behaviour, going to sleep etc (used to have many major tantrums, defiance, took 2 hours to go to sleep). 160b is a big culprit. It makes my daughter extremely defiant, teary and she throws mega tantrums. (It’s so hard to educate my mum - as 160b is in so many "healthy foods" yoghurt, icecreams, etc). Our friends’ son is a headbanger when he eats annatto. – Tamsin, Vic

I first noticed the annatto connection with my son specifically with processed cheese singles, so I try to keep him away from those and generally don't have a problem, or if so, it is only small. Recently, we were away for almost a week, and when we came back, he started taking these "gummy vites" children's vitamins ("all natural" and sure enough colored with all natural annatto) he hadn't had for some time, and it was like a switch went off and the symptoms were back full force.- Anna, USA

I’m pretty certain my 9yo son reacts to 160B -after a week spent at my mother’s where I’d stupidly, and innocently bought Cheerios when I was in a hurry. I didn’t notice the word annatto, looking just for numbers. He had it every day for breakfast and was TOTALLY hyperactive every night – it took me a week to work out the link! – Karen, by email

I have told everyone who listens about the website and book. It has been like a Godsend for me, because it has helped me not only understand the effects of food on my child but also on my husband. He has always been seen as a picky eater but he was actually eating what didn't make him feel ill or affect his moods. I wish more people took the food we eat more seriously, instead of people seeing it as being precious - Suzanne by email.

I used to think that corn chips were good and safe to eat, in the days before I read and understood labels. I could not understand why I was so sick. I found a Doritos Cheese Supreme Corn Chips ingredients list on the internet with three flavour enhancers (621, 627, 631) and two artificial colours (129, 110). – Monica by email.

I tried my kids with MacDonalds nuggets and fries and no soft drink to see if it was any better. Well we won’t be doing that again for a long time. I am convinced people who think their kids are OK don't wait long enough for the reaction. – Anne, Qld (Update: 1/10/15 - Fries does not contain BHA 320 anymore, see ingredients list at https://mcdonalds.com.au/maccas-food/nutrition)

We have been failsafe for 18 months and remain grateful for your work, every single day. - Rachael, Vic

Can I just say a big thank you for helping my little girl to be the best version of herself? You have changed our lives. – Rachel, Qld

First, may I tell you my husband is a retired Allergist and Immunologist and he observed my IBS experiences then elimination of them. For more than 40 years I had diarrhea and severe intestinal pain. The symptoms changed as the years passed. It went from occasional to frequent and from mild to severe. This leads me to believe it is dose and frequency related. The four years prior to my discovery that annatto was the problem for me, it was daily and severe. I would get an excruciating stomach ache with bloating after 20 minutes of ingestion of an annatto product. After another 20 minutes I had an emergency run to the WC and a long bout with painful diarrhea followed by many more trips to the WC. Then, I was enervated and just wanted to do nothing and sometimes for days after. I wasn’t lactose intolerant nor did I have Celiac Sprue (which the doctors considered). In 2005, after a colonoscopy, my GI diagnosed me with IBS. The symptoms continued until 2006, when I was able to pinpoint what caused my IBS symptoms.

On a 37 day trip to Europe, I had no symptoms and was “normal”. I thought about what I was eating in the States and not in Europe. Coffee Mate came to mind. I was asymptomatic the entire trip except for one cup of coffee with a non-dairy product on the plane. Aha! Back in the States, I stayed off Coffee Mate and was fine. 30 days later I tried it and the IBS returned. A few weeks later I ate a scoop of vanilla ice cream; IBS again. What they had in common was annatto, so I researched annatto. There are hundreds of papers on annatto but not one linking annatto to IBS. My husband ordered pure annatto and experimented on me. I got the full-blown IBS when we shared a glass of water with annatto. He didn’t. Annatto predictably results in IBS symptoms of intestinal pain and diarrhea in me. It doesn’t make sense I could be the only one who gets IBS symptoms from Annatto! - Marlene 2009 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I had ulcerative colitis with associated liver problems and spontaneous bruising, I was a mess. The doctors were talking about a possible liver transplant in ten years. My job meant I travelled and ate out frequently. I kept telling the doctors I thought it was something to do with food but I couldn't pinpoint what it was. Then I quit my job, stopped eating out, ate very simple food and got better. My last liver function test was quite good. I asked my doctors, "Don't you want to hear about this because it could help someone else?" They weren't interested.

When I did the Liver Cleansing Diet, I spent three weeks in bed, feeling dreadful. Then I did the RPAH Elimination diet and found I was sensitive to salicylates and amines (that are especially high in the Liver Cleansing Diet).  I found that dairy foods, gluten and food additives could cause problems too. Sulphite preservatives in dried fruit were the worst. - by email, Melbourne (from page 52, Fed Up)

Seven years ago at the age of 55 I had a very nasty gastro-intestinal virus which led to CFS and IBS. Because of the severity of the IBS, I had many tests - some nasty, with scary implications. Finally, a very helpful dietitian (who works closely with the RPAH allergy unit) put me onto the elimination diet nearly 2 years ago. We have found that I have numerous intolerances: lactose, gluten, salicylates, amines, soy, MSG, sorbitol, sulphites, benzoates, annatto - to name a few.... – by email

Our family has been (mostly) failsafe since our older son was diagnosed with autism and multiple food intolerance in 2003.

Last year for some months I was allowing a chocolate coated icecream on a stick containing annatto 160b, once a week I bought a box to share with the kids after shopping.

I had thought it would be ok as our very food sensitive older son didn't react noticeably to the 160b challenge.

Our now 5 year old younger son's behaviour rapidly went downhill until he was a truly horrible little boy, who physically attacked his siblings, flew off the handle at the slightest little thing, roaring and shaking with anger, things were broken in our house including a glass door and a bucket over his brother's head which drew blood! The behaviour followed a pattern each week of a couple of truly horrible days slowly getting less awful over the course of a week. So I had already figured out it was a food eaten once a week, around shopping day, but still hadn't thought of the icecream. Of course as soon as I woke up to it, the icecream was out the door, and our lovely boy and calm home returned. I've since tested annatto 160b a few times both deliberately and accidently and the horrible week long rage returned. Annatto 160b would have to be one of our family's most hated baddies! - Karen, Qld

We were told by pediatricians and individuals in the child development field that my son was autistic when he was 2 1/2 years old. He was extremely sensitive to certain fabrics and clothing against his skin. He could not speak so that we could understand him (he had his own language) and would display fits of anger when we could not understand him. He would close himself into his own little world at times and not want to socialize with our family or other children. He could not jump, he could not run or do simple movements that most children his age had already mastered.

We enrolled him in a special program for children who were developmentally delayed - he was in speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy 4 days a week.

He progressed well in the program but continued to have additional setbacks. He developed asthma and eczema and the fits continued. He started kindergarten with an IEP (Individual Education Plan) that continued to include the different therapy sessions and also added intervention for him with regard to the regular classroom activities.

I would find cheese wrappers behind our recliner, his favorite food was ANYTHING with cheese. We continued to work with different therapists and the school system up until he was in second grade.

By the grace of God, I was in my chiropractor's office waiting to be seen and I picked up a book in his waiting room that was about ADD, ADHD, ODD and Autism in children. I randomly opened it to a chapter that described my son in every sentence. Until I read that chapter I had never even paid attention to Annatto or Yellow food colorings. It was worth a shot.

It took me almost 6 weeks to clear my son from any artificial yellow food coloring. It was like living with a child drug addict. He craved anything yellow and would cry uncontrollably, throw temper tantrums, and sleep and sleep. A short while after we cleared his diet (I even packed his school lunches) his teacher asked me in for a conference. His reading score had gone from a kindergarten level to a second grade level in almost 9 weeks!!!!!

My son is now 12 years old and will be going into the seventh grade. He no longer has an IEP or any therapeutic intervention. He is an Honor Roll student, plays football and is active in the Boy Scouts. He no longer needs any medication for asthma and his eczema is gone. He knows that he has an addiction/allergy to annatto and yellow food coloring so he also is very aware to read every label and "just say no" when offered something that he can not have.

The yellow food colorings cause him to be hyperactive and then he crashes. The Annatto however, seems to be the additive that causes him to have the addictive symptoms. I read once that the annatto seed was once made into a paste and used as war paint in a particular tribe. Well, after watching my son once he has had the annatto I can see why warriors would be successful in battle under its influence.

In addition to affecting him through his food colors also affect him through medications and hygiene products. We noticed that once when he used shampoo with artificial yellow the skin on his neck broke out every time he showered. Also, chapstick or other products that go on skin make him itch.

This school year my son begged me to let him eat some things that our school cafeteria provides. I reluctantly agreed, after all he is going to have to make his own decisions about what he puts in his body as he gets older and is out without me more. It isn't that he was eating things that contained yellow or annatto but he was eating foods that are processed. He has had the stomach flu twice and has had headaches more frequently, plus his muscles have begun to cramp more and more. Last week we made the decision for me to resume packing his lunch and I think that we both already notice a difference.

There is no doubt in my mind that the rise in autism, ADHD, ADD, etc. is a direct consequence of our trend toward processed "quick" food. I feel so blessed to have read that chapter and found my son. Thank you for making a difference. – Rhonda, USA

I was a single mother living alone away from family support, breastfeeding and juggling a wonderful son who at 12 months was barely sleeping 4 hours a day. Most days he looked as if he had drunk a can of "red bull" - eyes rolling, twitching and distant - and sleep only ever seemed to come lightly for short periods once he was beyond exhausted.

He had a rash all over his body that just kept spreading and it made me cry watching him tear at it all day and all night without any relief.

At 12 months I put him into a local day care centre for 2 days a week for some sort of break (sleeping sometimes in the car just around the corner too tired to make it home to sleep after dropping him off). He was a real handful there as he would not settle and ever sleep and would upset all the other babies with his screaming.

I was beside myself by the time I swallowed what pride a new sleepless mum had left and sought every kind of assistance I could - my baby health nurse, my local doctor, and then another doctor all said it was normal (as they all shrugged their shoulders) and the eczema was a lifetime hereditary thing ...

I was even assessed at a local government "sleep clinic" on the gold coast - an awful experience with him not sleeping at all for them and them saying 20 hours without sleep "may be normal for him " - (bugger me !!)

After my lowest darkest point whereby at about 14 months he barely slept in 40 mins increments I was sent to the state children's sleep school in Brisbane. The basic program philosophy is about controlled crying - but that wasn’t his problem …

It was a 5 day hellish event I would wish on no one. He screamed and cried for the first 3 days solid and set new limits in sleep deprivation - made easier the 3rd day only because he totally lost his voice and his screams couldn’t be heard !!! By day 4 he slept (passed out) from sheer exhaustion - so that was apparently a success and I was sent home day 5!!

After only a day or two at home it was obvious there was no improvement.

The next few weeks as I contemplated our future without support, sleep or potential for work as things stood really took its toll, until I was blessed to come across a pharmacist in our local pharmacy. She sat me down and really talked me through the failsafe approach - and really took the time to make it sink in. I was an unwilling participant as when you are so exhausted anything new seems to be insurmountable.

It took 4 days!!! only 4 days !! from having someone waking 8 times a night to 2 times a night!!! from sleeping 4 hours a day to 8 hours - and 10 hours by the end of the week. Once I switched to A2 milk the loop was complete and he started sleeping the night through by the end of week 2. The change was nothing short of miraculous.

For my son to go from the least favourite boy in his kindy to the favourite almost within a week!! It was like someone had handed me a new son.

He became an affectionate loving inquisitive boy that every mum would be so proud of - no tantrums, no fits of rage, renewed energy and able on concentrate on things so much better he simply bloomed, like watching a wilted flower come back to life after rain.

His rash completely healed - completely!! He is now 2.5 years and it has never returned!!

When I tell people about all the positive changes we have had on the diet, they seem to think the diet I fed him before failsafe was really poor. They assume it was full of red cordial, McDonalds, coloured commercial lollies etc but I was aware of colours and MSG and he NEVER had those. At the time I was following the diet recommended by the child care centre. It was the sulphur dioxide in dried fruits, the hidden nitrates in meats, and natural colour 160b I wasn’t aware of, that were our biggest problems, also I was breast feeding at the time and was having more "junk food" and stimulants from comfort eating to keep me functioning so he was getting it that way. I realise my mistake in overdoing a "healthy diet" mostly consisting of a mega high salicylates, high amines and glutamates!! and although I was careful about colours and some preservatives, my son’s biggest and most immediate reactions came from fish/ meats/ and preserved fruits.

Having followed all the information you have put out there in the Failsafe Cookbook my son has thrived!! He has come from behind to be the tallest and fittest in his class. The effect this failsafe lifestyle has had on Patrick has been evident to all who knew him "before diet" as we call it.

I often have people ask me about your work, especially from his childcare centre as they have followed his progress and it’s so rewarding to see the individual but still dramatic change it has on other babies, toddlers and children.

I get angry when I think of the torment and the lost first 12 months of his life - and that a children’s hospital in a week could not assist or pick up what a pharmacist did in seconds - but promise in my own prayers of thanks for you and the pharmacist that I will do my best to help those similar suffering mums that cross my own path. Thank you. - Patrick's proud mum, Qld

Calvin was an easy baby, slept well, settled after feeds beautifully and was just lovely. Once we started solids, things started changing for the worse. By 12 months he was waking 3-6 times a night screaming and was impossible to soothe. Only sheer exhaustion put him back to sleep. I looked into all sorts of options for sleep training, but none of them sat well with me as I was sure it was a pain issue, not a sleep issue, so I resisted urging from friends and family to control cry and looked into the possibility of food intolerance.

At that same time, Sue was advertising a webinar on sleep and food intolerance. I registered and joined in on the night. I listened and took notes, but still wasn't convinced this was us, I just hated the idea of a restricted diet for Calvin.

By 14 months things were desperate and my husband and I were chronically sleep deprived. We booked into a failsafe dietician and started the elimination diet. Calvin improved a little, and then had textbook withdrawal after a week and a half. In week 3 he slept through the night for the first time in 15 months and then slept through for another 3 nights after that. We have had some up and down nights since then, but nothing like the screaming fits he used to have. 7 weeks on, he
has slept through 10 full nights and only woken once or twice for a pat most of the other nights. Now we are slowly introducing challenges, but our need for sleep catch up and Calvin's age has meant that we have opted for the slow route rather than overload challenges. This means we still have a long way to go, but have felt very encouraged by the Fed Up website, book and cookbook - Thanks Sue for all your hard work!! - Pippa, by email

SUCCESS!!! Our 12 year old daughter with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis is pain free!!

We have finished all challenges on the elimination diet and have discovered glutamates - MSG and all 600 numbers to be extremely bad for our daughter with arthritis. Within 8 to 12 hours of having MSG our daughter went from no pain to all the symptoms of arthritis, swollen joints, very sore, trouble walking, and lots of pain. We continued the challenge for 48 hours and by then she had problems with all her joints, soreness, swelling and was absolutely miserable! Within 12 hours of stopping MSG her symptoms settled and she was back to "normal" – no pain! We now totally avoid MSG, all 600 numbers and unspecified 'flavour' listed on any product!

It has been 7 months now since we began the elimination diet and took our daughter off all arthritis medication. She is fantastic! We had a check up with the rheumatologist recently and she was amazed. We don't need to see her for another 6 months and she has classed our daughter as "in remission"!!!! No pain, No symptoms and No medication!

I hope this is of assistance to other sufferers of arthritis! It has made a huge difference to our daughter's life. Thank you for your wonderful information, without this we would be further down the track of a life of pain, misery and medications with nasty side effects for our daughter. To look at our daughter now, you would never know that she suffers from a chronic, debilitating condition, she is full of energy and her love for life is back again!

We completed all food challenges in this order: milk, wheat, bread, salicylates, amines, MSG, propionates, sorbates, antioxidants, colours, benzoates, nitrites and sulphites (all food not capsules). The only challenge our daughter reacted to was MSG, 600 numbers and naturally occurring glutamates. She had no reaction to any other challenge. Once we had completed all the challenges we challenged tomatoes, broccoli and those foods high in natural glutamates separately. She came out in an itchy rash if she ate too many tomatoes or broccoli (at least 6 to 8 serves a day) but the amazing thing for us was that she didn't have joint pains. We are tending to think that manufactured MSG must contain VERY HIGH levels of glutamic salt compared to those foods that have it naturally occurring such as tomatoes and broccoli. We have now restricted how much she has of these things. She is very good at knowing what she can and can't have. She reads labels everywhere, even when she stays over at friends or goes to birthday parties, she will read labels and decide if she can have it or not. We always send her with plain chips and 'safe' snacks for a party. Her friends have been very supportive and know that she can have plain hot chips at a party instead of pizza or party pies.

We saw the dietitian you recommended. She was very helpful, knowledgeable and thorough in what quantities etc to challenge. She was very interested in the results. She suspected MSG from early on because we had commented on how over the Christmas holidays (before elimination diet), our daughter had eaten CC's and was so sore the next day she could hardly walk. We kept a daily food diary and I also kept a dated scrap book with labels of products we had eaten so I could check back as a reference if needed.

For the MSG challenges we used "Coles Farmland" packet chicken noodle soup, about 500 mls to a litre a day (contains 621, 627 and 631) and soy sauce about 4+ tablespoons a day. (Need to check labels for soy sauce because not all list MSG or 600 numbers).

We are amazed at how many foods with unspecified 'flavour' (but no MSG or 600 numbers listed) affect her. We have found this with tomato soups, tomato pastes etc where they list 'flavour' and our daughter has been sore after having this. We have completed our own challenge with some of these products and her reaction varies. We avoid any savoury type products that have 'flavour' listed with no specific ingredient numbers on labels. The unknown is not worth the soreness for our daughter.

Foods previously eaten which we avoid completely now include: All packet soups, cup of soups, packet stocks, stock cubes, any chips or corn chips that have a flavour, BBQ shapes and all shape/savoury biscuits with flavour, tomato and BBQ sauce, some mayonnaise and dressings, packet pasta mixes (ie continental pasta packs), sausage rolls, pies, breads with savoury toppings, pizza, concentrated tomato paste, tomato soup - most have unspecified 'flavour' - and lots of other savoury foods. We never used to eat a lot of these foods, but even having things once to twice a week was enough to have our daughter in continuous pain.

She now is totally pain free, medication free and living a very active, sporting life. She plays netball weekly, has participated in the school athletics and cross country team this year and is currently in weekly training with the school volley ball team to go to Nationals in December. All of these activities were completely impossible 12 months ago! The difference is amazing! We are so thankful that your website and information has led us to finding an alternative to medication, and a way to manage our daughter's condition and allow her to live a very active life. I hope that there will be others out there that will try the elimination diet and find an alternative to medications and a life of chronic pain. - Sandra, Vic

About 3 weeks ago we decided to do a "mini" salicylate challenge with our 5 year old twin boys as it had been 8 months on the diet, and we thought we'd just give it a go, just to see (salicylates are our biggest difficulty when it comes to things they really WANT to eat). So they had things like a bowl of berries with icecream, a few Pink Lady apples, some pineapple etc over the week. By the end of the week one had tonsillitis (had not had it since we began the diet) with a vengeance. He hit a high temp of 40.1 degrees, and his tonsils were bigger, and more pus-filled than ever before! Three days later, his brother came down with it ... same, worse than ever before (he hit a new record high temp in this house of 40.3 degrees).

Anyway, thought you'd be interested. I'm convinced that the salicylates caused a shock to their immunity ... and hello, back to tonsillitis. Thankfully our GP is now convinced that the diet has made a huge difference also ... and was very glad to help us find alternatives for medication that did not have preservatives in them.

The one thing I will say is that we feel particularly vindicated regarding this diet. We know we are now doing the right thing, and certainly have some 'proof' now for all of those who don't understand or believe why we are doing this with our children. - Jenny M, by email

My six year old son was diagnosed with asthma/allergy at 2 years old. Several medications were diagnosed for him. Not wanting to go down this path I consulted a naturopath, who managed his condition with vitamins and restricted diet. But this year upon starting school my normally bright, happy child became depressed, aggressive and hyperactive. A pattern of school canteen usage emerged at which point I requested a list of ingredients for some of the things he was buying. To my horror, the slushy he was ordering contained two artificial colours and two preservatives (benzoate preservative 211 and potassium sorbate 202). The lady who runs the canteen said that this product is known as an AMBER school product. Apparently you are allowed to sell it in canteens as long as you do not have too many other AMBER products on the menu. – Leesa, by email

I have been failsafe for over 4 years now and my life has changed dramatically because of it. Before I tried the diet I was constantly unwell with chronic sinus and hayfever, period problems, varied stomach problems and lethargy. The worst thing was the asthma - it was getting so bad I couldn’t read a book to my children or talk on the phone for very long. Every day was a struggle to get through.

I have found out that I am intolerant to gluten, salicylates, amines, preservative etc. Since starting the diet, I haven’t had asthma medication for over 4 years - it is wonderful to be able to breathe.

Other things the diet helped me with are: changing a constant huge amount of phlegm to a small amount; getting rid of my permanent blocked nose; no more constant colds and infections (sinus and chest); changed daily headaches to rare ones; improved PMT and periods a large amount; got rid of my constant indigestion and reflux; removed the permanent frown from my face and changed it to a smile!!

I now have lots of energy and do Boxercise classes which I would never have been able to manage before. Going up a hill on my daily walk is no longer a problem. It is great to have so much energy.

I want to thank you so much for your book, it has changed my life. I just wish doctors would tell you about trying different diets to help asthma - I could have done with knowing years ago! – Rosemaree, SA (first provided in 2005 then updated as above)

I have been suffering from extremely labile blood pressure since 1995. The worst problem associated with this has been raised BP within an hour or two of going to sleep. I wake feeling unwell, head hurting, cold extremities, always need to urinate, and at times, shivering uncontrollably. I used to suffer from palpitations with it - but in recent times this is rare. I've been investigated for everything possible over the years. I am inclined to eat organic food and always watch the labels on any packaged food.

About 5 weeks ago I decided to join Jenny Craig as I felt I needed to lose up to 10 kilos and have been struggling to get this weight off. In the first week I was appalled to see how many 'numbers' were listed in the food. I could not eat things like their packaged snacks - with colours, flavours etc in them. At this point I consulted with them and asked for the food to be adjusted to suit not eating some of the colours that I know are not good, any sweeteners and Nitrates/Nitrites. This gave me a very limited list - and I could not avoid some Sulphites and Flavour Enhancers. I began to notice 635 coming up in many of the foods - and even most of the dinners.

By about 3 weeks into the food I woke feeling really bad with the old symptoms - including a feeling of pressure in my chest (which had been vaguely there the night before) and blood pressure that measured 217/114. As it did not reduce after a short while of sitting up (my usual method of allowing my bp to lower) I went to the local hospital. They did an ECG and gave me 1/2 Anginine and O2 which eased the symptoms. When the doctor found that my mother had Angina he suggested a Thallium Stress Test. This has been completed and the results are normal.

I have often since 95 suffered from a slight 'pain' in the chest - once definitely after eating a very tasty bowl of Chinese soup. I lived in Singapore for almost 12 years - from 91, but it was not until 95 when I was home for a short while and working on a camp site - eating mass produced food that these symptoms started to occur regularly...hence the visits to many doctors and specialists - always with a negative result for whatever they tested for. Food additives simply did not occur to me.

A few days after my recent visit to hospital, I thought - how dumb can I be?! ... it's the food! I stopped the JC food and within 36 hours began to feel well again. When did they begin to put 635 in food? It keeps being called a 'newer' flavour enhancer and I wonder if it appeared roughly in the mid nineties. I believe it may be a combination of 627 and 631. Some of the JC food has these two listed together and some has 635 listed. Many of the foods also contain the hidden MSGs such as HVP.

I now have a letter from my doctor to say that there is evidence that I am highly sensitive to vaso-active food additives ... and will be given a refund by JC. This has been an 'interesting' exercise that may finally give me the answer to my very labile BP and all the odd symptoms that seem to go with it.– Roslyn by email. (Yes, 635 was approved in the mid-nineties and is a combination of 627 and 631- S)

I had been suffering increasing episodes of tachycardia, arrhythmia and ectopic heart beats - two to three episodes a day. Despite escalating testing with various cardiac specialists over the past 6 months, nothing was determined apart from the fact I had high blood pressure and was placed on a low dose of appropriate medication for that. No known cause for my cardiac anomalies.

Last Tuesday (tis Wednesday of following week now) I ate a delicious bowl of my home made potato and leek soup for lunch. I experienced my usual (but scary and increasingly strong) palpitations and (frustrated, a little frightened and upset), I broadly Googled "heart palpitations" on Australian sites. Up came your website that mentioned 'soup' in the first Google lines that came up. Thinking "that's funny, I just ate soup, I'll have a look at that one before I find what I'm really after", I looked at it. Well, that's what saved me. What I found there were countless, comforting, case studies of people just like me, suffering consequences to MSG (635 in particular), just like me, who didn't know what was causing it. Just. Like. Me.

For me, it was a revelation, an epiphany. I was euphoric. My God, what have I been poisoning my family with, for so many years? Weekly, particularly in winter, I lovingly make risotto, casserole, beef in red wine, soup, etc, etc. Thinking I'm making healthy foods for my husband and my children, I've made all these dishes with more than a liberal dash of commercial stock (cube and/or liquid), all of which (no exceptions, I find) are loaded with MSG.

I stepped, willingly, into the world of chemical additives, flavour enhancers, neurotoxins, excitotoxins and ribonucleotides.

To cut a long story short, I have strenuously avoided any flavour enhancers (particularly 635) and all MSG in its myriad disguises since that bowl of soup on Tuesday. I did not expect things to settle immediately, but I've gone from having 2-3 cardiac episodes a day and thinking I was going to die like my father, at 46, to NOT ONE EPISODE IN MORE THAN A WEEK.

Gotta be something to this and I'm sincerely and eternally grateful for the information you have on your website and the comfort and advice it gave me. I think you saved my sanity and my life. – Shannon, WA

My 7 year old daughter has reactions to flavour enhancers which cause a rash across her body. Her first reaction that I could pinpoint was to Chinese food that she ate around 5-6 months ago. She has been getting small rashes for the last couple of years, but I have never been able to pinpoint what was causing them. We had Chinese one night and a couple of hours later she had a severe rash all over her body. My first reaction was something in her bed, so I put her in my bed and the next day the rash was gone. That day we had left over Chinese for tea and the rash appeared again. So I looked on the internet about what may cause it and everything pointed towards MSG. Once I cleaned out my cupboards of flavour enhancer foods, the rashes stopped. She has had a few reactions since such as hamburgers from Woolworths which said flavours on the packet, but no codes.

Your site helped me to pinpoint what was happening to her, and her doctor thought your site was very useful.

Two months later:

For about 4-5 years my daughter has suffered a lot of constipation, normally to the extreme where it would be days that she would go without a bowel motion, and when she finally did she would take ages and be in a lot of pain. Since taking flavour enhancers out of her diet, the bowel motions are normal. - by email, SA

I have two boys aged 4 and 5. We are two and a half weeks into the diet and I had been starting to get very excited about improvements in the boys behaviour. Until yesterday. The boys share a room and during the night my younger one woke up snuffly so I rubbed some Vicks Baby Balsam (contains Petrolatum, Eucalyptus Globulus, Parfum, Rosmarinus Officinalis, Cocos Nucifera, Paraffinum Liquidum, Aloe Barbadensis, Lavandula Augustifolia) on his chest.

Wow! When they woke in the morning it was just like the bad old days. They pulled their room apart looking for a toy, they were demanding and silly and unreachable (wouldn't listen!). Could this have been caused by the Vicks? Even though the older boy didn't have it on his skin, just spent a couple of hours in a closed bedroom with his brother.

A couple of months ago we were regularly using a vapouriser, with fluid containing menthol, camphor, methyl salicylate, pine oil and eucalyptus oil. Could this have caused some of the behaviour that lead me to try the diet in the first place? – Jane, by email (Yes! – those products are like a salicylate challenge due to inhaled salicylates, also absorbed through the skin. They are considered to be ineffective, dangerous and responsible for children hospitalized each year, see warnings from Poisons Information Centres: http://www.health.qld.gov.au/poisonsinformationcentre/seasons_dangers/sd_winter.asp)

You have saved my son's life quite amazingly. He is a completely different child. He has gone from terrible to angel.

I saw your DVD and was amazed at the story about a toddler who used to scream for long periods of time. My son is 3 now and had been screaming extremely since he was able to start eating. He would scream and hit and become very aggressive and defiant. I tried absolutely everything and I have had quite a bit of professional training in managing behaviour and still struggled with him.

I am sure that if I did not see your DVD he would have ended up on some kind of horrible medication and under some private psychiatrist. I could just see him being exactly like the juvenile offenders in the DVD or worse but he is now a normal child and a perfect angel.

I am so surprised at how much difference it has made, this diet really works if you just do it properly. It is really hard at first to know what to put on sandwiches etc ... but it gets a lot easier as we go along. I never really understood diet affecting behaviour before and thought it was only really applicable to those who just persisted to feed their children fast food all the time. - Charmaine, Perth WA.

My 6 year old son has had the same reaction to McDonald's Soft Serve Cone as posted on your website. It started about 20 minutes after eating and lasted about an hour. It was not the thing to have before a swimming lesson. He was behaving as the mother noted on your website (Story [850] – “our normally quiet son bounces, jumps, shouts, makes silly loud noises, blows raspberries, uses nonsense words, and generally just can't sit still”) and appeared to be on a planet of his own! – Trina, NSW

My sister is a devoted fan. Her daughter was in serious trouble with her health and behavioural problems before she came across your work. She has met you at talks and has your books and has her entire family on a low chemical diet.

Her daughter needless to say has gone from being diagnosed as extreme ADHD with mild autism to being a perfectly well adjusted, normal, healthy, incredibly well behaved child, who is doing extremely well in school now.

Depresses me when I mention food as a cause of ADHD to other mothers who won't listen, or say "maybe for your child, but it won't help mine!" People prefer to be ignorant! – Stuart, NSW

I'm 80 years old and I have been suffering from a very bad rash on my face. Altogether I saw five different doctors and all of them said to use a cortisone ointment but my face got even worse. Everyone who looked at me would say 'what on earth is wrong?'

When I was young (oh so many years ago), I worked for a private detective and he always taught me to check everything. I bought a book and began to write down everything I ate, what makeup I'd been using and even the vitamins I took. My doctor had advised me to stop using makeup and buy 'natural' makeup. I did, at a cost, but then I stopped using that too. I then decided to don the reading glasses and get out the magnifying glass to read everything on the labels of my supplements. To my horror, I saw on the Glucosamine with Condroitin, if you have a shellfish allergy, do not take them. I had previously been taking the old Glucosamine.

In the past I have eaten prawns without any problems but last year I had a nasty reaction to the IV Contrast Dye when I had to have a CT scan of my pelvic area. I felt quite sick and both my legs from the knees down, went bright red and were very hot. It took ages for the redness to disappear and then the skin peeled off. I stopped taking the supplements and over about four weeks the redness improved then the skin peeled off and my skin is now back to normal. At 80 years, I am totally amazed to think I've maybe developed an allergy to crustaceans. That won't worry me at all but I will most certainly now read everything on the labels I eat. - by email

My son is now almost 4. He has always eaten happily from a wide range of food groups. We generally try to avoid feeding him (much) processed food, but since we travel a lot, it is inevitable that we also eat on the run. He was just under 12 months when he had his first reaction - to eating cream cheese. The effect was instantaneous and obvious: raised, red rashes on mouth, face, fingers, belly - anywhere that the food made contact. Other common allergens (like dairy, wheat, soy, nuts) clearly were no problem, so it only took another couple of incidents for us to figure out preservative 202 was the culprit. Since then we have mostly been able to avoid it, but it does crop up when we're not expecting it: like in some yoghurts (in NZ), margarines and so-called some 100% orange juices (the 100% claim is on the front of the bottle, but preservative 202 is listed in the ingredients). Again, the reaction is obvious - and although it causes some discomfort, the reaction doesn't seem to pose any obvious health risk.

As an aside, after spending some time this evening trying to research 202 allergies on the internet, I am surprised how very little information is available on it. Your website was one of the few to contain any information. Thanks for the tips about sorbates being also present in pharmaceutical products, since I had no idea about this. – Kate, by email (It is illegal to say 100% juice if there is a listed preservative! The ACCC has prosecuted several companies over that, see https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/accc-receives-undertakings-from-orange-juice-producer. If you'd like me to act on it, let me know the name of the company. It is only through consumer complaints that change will occur.- S)

Our doctor thinks our son may have ADHD and wants us to try an elimination diet. Reading through your website it sounds just what we need. We have swapped the bread to Bakers Delight, swapped the margarine to Nuttelex. Stopped the juice (which only had every 2 days). Stopped chocolate and any other snack like that. Stopped the Vegemite and peanut butter. Plus more changes. Today we went out and I was very surprised at both my boys' behaviour. They were lovely. I know it's still early days but it's nice to see an improvement already. I am really looking forward to the changes for the better. My husband and I are also doing it too. Lead by
example. - Shelley, NSW

Just writing to tell you about my son's reaction to an antibiotic called Ibilex (keflex) suspension, for a recent chest infection.

On the elimination diet we have discovered a new child. Finally able to sit still in class and concentrate, no shouting out or disruptive behaviour and dry at night!

While he was on the antibiotic, the teacher informed me that our son’s behaviour had deteriorated. He was oppositional, loud, unable to sit still and disruptive. At home the bedwetting started again and his behaviour had also deteriorated but I had not made the connection, I put it down to him being unwell.

As I was giving him his dose one morning I was staring at the pink mixture and it finally dawned. I rang the GP immediately and sure enough it contained Allura Red. It took about a week to get him dry again and his behaviour to settle. – Helen, by email (Allura red is artifical colour 129; also contains bubblegum flavour. A compounding pharmacist can provide medication without nasties, see our Medication factsheet - S)

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