My 6 year old has recently been diagnosed with ADHD. I've been on this group for a couple of years and watched and thought about doing this failsafe approach. Honestly it's looked so daunting. I take little bits here and there and try and keep packets out of the house as often as I can. However this new diagnosis makes me think I need to do this now! I've seen random posts of ADHD parents on here. Do you find it helps to keep your children off medication? This is my absolute aim, as well as improving my daughters behaviour!

Failsafers respond:

Simplistic version, but pretty much four options:
1. It's truly ADHD, and ADHD without any comorbid food intolerance. Elimination diet will make no difference.
2. It's an incomplete diagnosis that is missing other elements such as processing disorders, without food intolerance. Elimination diet will make no difference.
3. It's ADHD, with or without other conditions, but with comorbid food intolerance. Elimination diet won't be a fix, but may improve your child's experience, potentially removing much of the emotional instability.
4. It's food intolerance misdiagnosed as ADHD. Elimination diet will remove the symptoms, removing the diagnosis.
How will you know? Elimination diet. In 3-4 weeks you'll know if diet is involved. – Tracy

Initially I did the moderate approach for a month listed on the website - and it confirmed that my son had intolerances. I then found a dietician that was listed on website that could assist me. Its definitely worth doing   - Joanna

Joanna-  Same, and just found a dietician from the website. It's the small things, like having vanilla ice cream without 160b, white potato and no more tomato...changed behaviour dramatically. Never ceases to amaze me. Find a printout of the negligible low mod and high sals / amines etc and go from there. – Samantha

We had some success with master 8 with his ADHD. We now know foods to avoid and which foods to limit ie. Only one apple per day etc. We've done med trails for all the different type of drugs that were recommended to us and for our son we didn't feel the improvement of the meds was worth the mood changes etc. long term. Don't be afraid to try a therapeutic approach with a naturopath and a therapist. We've found both to be very helpful long term for our son. I wish you well. It’s a hard road ahead. (No offense meant to the parents out there that find medication to be helpful. I'm just giving my personal experience.  We had some success on the Ritalin LA but not enough to warrant staying on it. Our son has terrible anxiety and for him, the meds only made his symptoms worsen but you're absolutely right, every child is different and I have 2 friends that find the medication more than helpful for their children. Life changing even. The stigma that goes around the meds is so varied and as a mum I know how hard it is to make the decision to use the aid of medication and not have family and friends be supportive of your decision. I would never judge or mean to offend anyone  :) We would still try the meds again because I'm a believer in doing everything I can help my child, which means trying everything out there that may help him. - Aimee

Yes!! My 9yr dd was diagnosed with ADHD, ODD and also ASD. Since we have started this diet she is a different kid (for the better). She herself loves the diet because she feels normal again.  Even the paediatrician saw the difference and was happy for us to not use medication because of the changes her teachers and we had seen.  It's very daunting (sorry, probably not what you want to hear) but I would suggest reading the fed up book and seeing a dietician. I wouldn't go into this half armed as then you'd just be setting yourself up for failure and stress.  It's totally worth it though – Kylie

My Asperger’s, ADHD son responded well behaviourally to failsafe. Preservatives and colours made him very impulsive and physical. It cannot take his disability away but it stopped added behaviour. Update: BTW we started off strict in the beginning but now avoid the things that affect him. Started at around 5or 6 I think he is now 15 I have no idea how things would have gone if I hadn't have found the failsafe diet – Petrina

We did failsafe (and continue to do so) for my daughter's ADHD issues. We have tried with just FS alone but she's quite a severe case and so she is medicated as well. She's particularly sensitive to preservatives so any consumption at all, no matter how small, and her behaviour is off the charts crazy for three days straight and her medication has no effect on her at all! So we are very careful, as it isn't worth getting lazy or not checking labels carefully.

I realise your ultimate goal is to keep your son off medication but please bear in mind that living with ADHD is a lot harder than having to parent a child with it. I have ADHD and my daughter is as severe as mine. I've gotten a lot better at not being so impulsive and over the top as an adult but as a child I really struggled at school. I'm of above average intelligence but my grades never reflected it because try as hard as I did, it was impossible to concentrate fully or retain all I was being taught when I was at school. I'm 42 and medication wasn't even an option back when I was a child. It was a miserable existence and I can remember very clearly doing the most ridiculous, dangerous, stupid things and how terrible I felt when I naturally got into trouble constantly from my parents, teachers, neighbours, etc. My self-esteem was pretty low because I basically felt like a total screw up who couldn't do anything right, couldn't remember what I was told, couldn’t do what I was asked, etc. Now I'm the parent and I try to be more flexible and understanding with her although I will gladly admit there are some days where I have zero patience with her at all because it gets tiring having to watch her constantly, remind her, direct her, etc. Without medication, my daughter would not be able to function. She has an IQ of 140 but she would learn nothing at school. When she graduated preschool (before she was old enough to medicate), the teachers told me she hadn't even learned how to write her own name because no matter what strategies they had tried, she had never been able to sit still long enough to focus on learning to write. She also spent a lot of her playtime on the naughty mat. I felt so bad for her when I heard all of that. Aside from her education, I can pretty much guarantee she would have no friends, as she can be very rude, impulsive and hurtful when she's not medicated. She doesn't mean it and feels terrible later when nobody wants to talk to her or people exclude her because of her behaviour. That's not something I'm willing to let her suffer through. She cannot help that she has ADHD as much as any child can help any other medical condition they have. I'm certainly not going to withhold medication for my own arbitrary beliefs if there is a potential benefit that will improve her life, her education, her relationships etc.

I'm not trying to sound preachy about it because we all have differing views on whether to medicate or not and it's always an individual decision but I just wanted to put forward the idea that sometimes we need to think about how life feels for our children and whether they are happy within themselves when it comes to their behaviour. I know many ADHD kids hate the fact that their brain doesn't work the way they want it to and they way they think it is meant to. They don't like the feeling of not being entirely in control of their own behaviour even when they desperately want to behave and be good and just be "normal" etc.

Anyway, yes FS is daunting but you won't know what kind of success it could bring until you really give it a go. I have another child with ADD and I found that FS didn't really have an effect on him at all and he still needed medication (he's 19 now and no longer takes medication but he is definitely a much milder case than my daughter). There are some kids for whom FS is a real game changer and indeed some improve so dramatically in their behaviour that medication isn't considered necessary but I find from the countless stories here and in an ADHD group I'm a member of on FB, that most kids will fall on the bell curve somewhere, between having no improvement to a fantastic improvement and kids like my daughter who are in the middle, where removing some things from her diet has made a definite improvement but it hasn't resulted in the ability to stop her medication. And that's okay too. We're all just doing the best we can for our kids. If you choose to try FS, there's so much support and so many other parents you can ask for support. It was hard at first but it quickly got easier and there are much better options out there now than when we first did FS 12 years ago, that's for sure. Good luck if you decide to give it a go. – Lucinda

My son has inattentive ADHD no foods can fix that, but foods give him added crankiness, irritability, teary and hyper, all symptoms that don’t come with inattentive ADHD and I can only control those with the FS diet. – Karly

Omg yes!!! This diet is a lifesaver!! We were on the school speed dial list before term finished, anger issues, couldn't control emotions, discipline of all degrees made no difference. 3 weeks on the diet and I have a different kid!! The days when I mess up accidentally I can tell and so can the school. – Madonna

Yes x 3. ADHD and loads of other diagnosis! When my boys somehow get food or drink with preservatives, colours, flavours it is 6 days of worse behaviour, reduced concentration, even more hyper and aggression! The older 2 are still medicated but have now weened off Concerta! If I hadn’t been introduced to Sue Dengate’s book Fed Up 8 years ago I know our family life would have been so much worse and our home would of been wrecked. Also because of aggression would have our own bed reserved at the hospital! – Tru

We did failsafe but ended up heading towards GAPs and then resuming back to failsafe – Tegan

We were told at nearly 5 that we would get an ADHD and ODD diagnosis and to read up about Ritalin -I never did instead we went on the diet -changed after 2 days - when we went back the paediatrician was so amazed and said she could no longer give the diagnosis but as my daughter got older to check that she was still doing ok at school -well she is B +C's on her report card, reading levels well on track, behaviour good (while on the diet) – Roxanne

Yes! The behaviour of my 5 yo ds have changed so much since starting FS, it's been incredible to watch at times. Impulsiveness, self-control, tantrums have improved out of sight. He is a completely different child, though still not perfect. He may still end up on medication of some sort. but I suspect he has various nutritional deficiencies affecting his nervous system, so will be taking him to the behavioural neurotherapy clinic soon, mentioned above by a pp. – Marion

I have a child with ADD (inattention) we found diet change only did so much. She has had problems with salicylates and sulphites in particular. OT assessment and therapy gave us some great tools as well. We are currently testing out a low dose of medication and have noticed some changes with concentration and being more 'switched on'. Our goal has always been to increase her availability for learning (which we are finally having some gains with - hooray!) If your child is better off on some medications as well there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The best part is that they can be stopped if they are not working. I think if you always remind yourself that you are their parent and know what is best for them you can't go wrong. Best of luck! - Shay