Part one (after four days on failsafe foods)

"Our 4 year old son Simon is an extremely active child that we have suspected of food intolerances for a long time. I had a miserable childhood, labelled as a "Trying Child" at five years old and spent most of my school life outside the teachers office. When I was 11 my parents put me on a preservative-free diet which did wonders, but was very difficult as 20 years ago no food was labelled.

Simon is extremely volatile at home and little things set him off, for example a rollerblade through the plaster in the wall because he could not get the knee pad done up properly. He is a perfect angel when things are going his way, but explodes when he is challenged or things do not turn out how he wants. We have always been proud of his "mature palate" and his weekly diet would include foods like pesto, tuna, anchovies, olives, salami and parmesan cheese. He generally melts down in the afternoon at 3 pm. As he has never eaten sweet foods we thought he was not reacting to foods in an obvious way. He also eats heaps of bread, all with preservative 282 we discovered.

For four days we have been in heaven. Simon has done things that were just never part of his personality (washed his hair, flushed the toilet, picked up toys) and already he is much more communicative, following me around the house just chatting. He has been challenged by things not going his way a few times and had a couple of tantrums, but they are less severe and over very quickly.

The best thing is that I have been eating the foods he eats and I feel so much calmer and able to deal with him ... My husband and I consider we are reasonably intelligent and rational people but we have been at a complete loss about our son's behaviour.

Part two (six months later): Simon is at school now and has settled really well. We went to see a behavioural paediatrician before school started and he stressed that these behavioural issues cannot usually be solely dealt with by diet ... but he was very impressed with our details about Simon's change in behaviour and his diet, supported by testimonials from the day care centre.

We have had our first parent teacher interview at the school and we went along all defensive and ready to hear tales of mass destruction in the class room and were overjoyed to hear the teacher describe Simon as the "Model Student", courteous, hard working, able to concentrate. We were so overwhelmed that we did not even find out if he is intelligent or at the bottom of the class, because, quite frankly we do not care!!!! As long as he can sit still ... he still is very excitable in the playground, but not aggressive.

The next week he was awarded a "Special Effort Award" for "Excellent Cooperation in the Classroom", and had to go to the front of Assembly to receive it, and all this from a boy who six months ago we did not think was going to cope.

We are still identifying things that really affect him and we do not touch olives, cheese, tuna, meat pies and soy sauce now. We have had a couple of incidents with sausages and sausage rolls which have resulted in snitchy behaviour and bed wetting ...

We have been really pleased with the response from the school. They do not have a tuck shop and we have written to Simon's teacher about food sharing. There have been two birthday celebrations and on both occasions the parents have contacted me about what party food Simon can have, so the whole class has gotten sponge cake and lemonade icy poles.

The child care centre has recommended your book Fed Up to a number of families that they feel might need to address their children's behaviour through diet. They also have a low to moderate food chemical diet for babies room based on the Friendly Food book from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Unit. They do not eliminate everything but are aware of not giving multiple serves of "high" salicylate fruits to the children and the menu is very low in amines. Again we have been very impressed with their help.

Thank you for your help, we have another appointment with the paediatrician next week to follow up Simon's progress at school. He was going to contact the school and work through some management strategies for Simon if the wheels had fallen off when he started school. Now it seems as though his unmanageable behaviour was a bad dream and that it was a completely different child to the reasonable, mostly rational and adorable 5 year old that we now have.

Part three

Although Simon was not a "basket case" before Failsafe foods, everyone we know has commented on his behaviour improvement, even though some did not think it was an issue previously and it was not an issue for us every single day. His change in general demeanour has made a HUGE difference to our lives, just the ability to communicate daily without the general crankiness has made us a much happier family. I think that many people do not realise what a difference it makes just not to have to battle over every issue and every point with someone who often realises they are being very unreasonable but cannot manage their responses, and that children do not need to be on the verge of being put on medication to greatly benefit from diet changes.

Part 4 (June 1999)

(This family was one of the first to buy Fed Up and started an elimination diet soon after when their son was in preschool. Here is the follow up after nearly a year on failsafe foods with Simon now in school.)

We have just had Simon's first school report and teacher interview. We were over the moon when we saw his report, he is doing really well in prep, has no difficulty concentrating (no more than other 5 year old boys), and is on track with reading and writing. AND - he scored in the highest category for "polite and considerate" and "cooperative in class"! We are so pleased at how well he has settled into school and how responsible he is with his food. We have maintained a failsafe diet for nearly 12 months now and we have never been happier. My husband and I have given up wine and beer (now we stick to gin) and this has added to the benefit. We cannot thank you enough for your book and your help. - anonymous