I've kept my 12 year old's asthma at bay for most of his life with dust mite control, no additives etc. Since the Christmas holidays started he's had a virus and then constant asthma. I visited a doctor two weeks ago and he put my son on a wheat free, dairy free, additive free diet (all of which I've done before) as well as salicylate free diet for which he gave me a list of good and bad foods. He also recommended steaming eucalyptus twice a day for mucus control as well as some supplements.

After 10 days there had been no improvement so I sat down and reread your book as well as Friendly Food from RPAH. I found his list had been quite misleading - no talk about cold pressed oils, different rices, raw and roasted cashews, hazelnuts, tamari, additives in margarines etc.

Probably the worst thing has been the twice daily sucking in of eucalyptus oil!! There must be a lot of doctors out there like this who send people off with half-baked lists and advice and consequently end up with very spurious results. Most of the population treat doctors as gods and never question them but, as I have proven on many occasions, they are not infallible and people need to be a lot more aware and questioning. It is has been hard yakka trying to get my son to give up so many different foods and all for nought as now we will need to find somebody who really knows what they are doing and start again.

Had I not had your book, we could have come to the conclusion that the problem is not salicylates, whereas there is a possibility that it is. - by email.

About 18 months ago you helped us put our son Ryan (now nearly 5 years old) on the elimination diet, after we had been to RPA for Ryan's hyperactivity, ADHD and autism. Three months later you helped us find a problem with wholegrain wheat and antioxidants that had pulled us undone. Salicylates turned out to be our main problem although antioxidants are a close second, with amines and other additives a problem too.

Our son is now in his second year at special school, where he has made great leaps and bounds. When Ryan started school he was already on the diet. Months later when we'd allowed bananas to become more frequent than one half every second day, his teachers actually came to me and asked was Ryan eating something he shouldn't be. It took us three weeks to figure it out, and cut back on the bananas. Through this incident, they really came to see what we were talking about.
Interestingly the school has strongly supported us, always keeping us up to date with what's coming up for 'tasting' in cooking classes, and seeking alternatives for Ryan. I'm very grateful for this! - reader, NSW.

My autistic son has been on the diet strictly now for nearly 2 years. He looks terrific and is very healthy with only a very mild sniffle since going failsafe.

He starts pre-primary school this year. It is the school where he went to kindy last year so they are very aware of his requirements such as: no hairspray, aerosol deodorants, perfume etc and are using enjo gloves in the classroom to avoid any chemical being used during the day. Big relief.

We have a five-month wait for the formal disability services assessment to obtain aids for school. I don't know whether to take him off the diet for the period of the assessment. On the diet, although excellent, autistic signs are still evident, for example: no eye contact, no imaginary play, everything is black or white, no flexibility etc. If we take him off the diet we get a severe reduction in speech, tantrums, aggression, argumentative, rashes, red ears, hypersensitivity to noise, dislike of being touched and the list continues.

I am an avid failsafer and can't now imagine life without failsafe (my son has failed all challenges on a number of occasions and is also intolerant to airborne salicylates). Could I have input from other failsafe mothers on what they think would be best during the assessment? - reader, WA.

Even though my asthmatic daughter Kate improved out of sight on the failsafe diet, she never got the fabulous results that other failsafers report, and I always wondered why.

Up until November last year, Kate's peak flow was around 280-300 and although she never needed Ventolin, we couldn't get her off inhaled steroids. Suddenly in November her peak flow shot up to 380-395 consistently and we were about to take her off her Pulmicort. Then after two months she slumped back to a peak flow of 250 and needing Ventolin. Nothing had changed in her diet.

A light bulb moment occurred when I realised that I had been buying our meat from Coles or Woolworths for years but last November I started buying local butcher's meat. I hadn't realised the connection that the butcher's meat was what brought Kate's peak flow up to the 380 range and when I returned to buying Coles meat even though fresh, it slumped down to 250. Why?

It turns out that what I thought was fresh meat from my local supermarket hasn't been fresh at all. Meat is sent to the Bathurst Woolworths and Coles stores not as carcasses, but in vacuum packs. When the vacuum pack is opened, the meat is repacked in trays and sold as fresh meat to the consumer with a use by date 3-5 days from the opening of the cryovac pack. This lasts the supermarket up to 8 weeks so the meat can be up to 60 days old in the vacuum pack before it is opened and sold as fresh meat. By comparison, my local butcher reassures me that his meat is killed on Thursday/Friday and he gets it Monday. I purchase on that Monday for the week and freeze.

I found on the internet that vacuum packaging of meat is not an effective means of retarding the production of amines, and we know that Kate is a sensitive amine responder.

Kate has now been off Coles meat for five days. Her peak flow has risen from 250 to 330 already and she no longer requires Ventolin - so this was obviously the cause of her asthma. This was the hardest food item ever to figure out. I am usually pretty good at finding it but this one had me baffled until I realised the meat connection. It was only because there was a pattern to the asthma. Kate woke up every Monday morning needing Ventolin and the only thing different about Sunday was the roast lamb for dinner!

Coles Customer relations say that this is a fairly new procedure, but some stores have been doing it longer than others. Some Woolworths stores vacuum pack only beef not lamb, but Coles supermarkets vacuum pack both lamb and beef. This may change from supermarket to supermarket. I know that this is my problem and will be a problem for a lot of amine responders. Chicken is not affected, as it is usually 48 hour from slaughter to sale. After my sleepless nights and desperation to track down this offending amine, I hope now to get the word out to other amine responders which I know you will do on your website. - Susan Bragg, NSW.

* If it wasn't for your books, one of us would be dead by now - reader, Qld.

* Going failsafe is the best thing that our family ever did! - reader NT.

* Congratulations on your new book! Another wonderful read (full of tears for me!) - reader NSW. * For the first time since my son was diagnosed with ADHD I was able to relate to someone about what it is like to live with this condition on a daily basis.- email.

* When I was diagnosed with a salicylate intolerance I found your book incredibly helpful and it stopped the usual 3 or 4 hours of runny nose every day! - reader UK.

* Your book with its striking cover jumped off the shelf at me - I couldn't put it down and we have been on the failsafe diet ever since. -email.

* The more I see the effect of this diet, the more I find it incredible to believe that the medical profession and food authorities/manufacturers can deny that additives have any effect. - reader Qld.

Our nearly two year old twin girls are awaiting a psychology assessment to determine whether they have autism. They both have a few symptoms especially lack of language - only use the words Mum, Dad, Nan, Bub, no and hello. Their understanding is slow although we feel this is improving. Although both show a few signs they also have signs that keep us hopeful that the girls do not have autism. They have fairly good eye contact and are very affectionate little girls. After researching for hours on the internet, I started the girls on a gluten free and dairy free diet last week. By the end of the day, one of the twins (who would normally use maybe one word a month) had not stopped using her basic words and was making new sounds. Within days they had both improved very noticeably. At first I thought it couldn't work that fast but whilst reading your books I have a different view and realise it might be lack of the bread preservative. - Reader, Tas

After months of struggling with my 4½ y.o. son's behaviour, I stumbled upon the www.fedup.com.au website. I have refused to believe suggestions (from carers etc) that he has ADD. My son is very bright and intelligent, and I simply did not want him medicated unnecessarily. Now that I have found this website and the information on oppositional defiance (which describes my son to a T!) I have a place to start. I have started to cut foods high in additives from his diet and have already noticed a change in his behaviour after only a couple of weeks. The really good thing is that after I explained to him that his bad behaviour could be caused by these things in food, he has been quite happy to not eat them, and even asks me first to check if there is anything bad in his food. I am so grateful for the website. - Reader, NSW

My 2yr old has had chronic diarrhoea for 5 months. Before that, his stools have always fluctuated. Along with the diarrhoea, he gets a spotty rash on his face, throws things, hits, kicks, screams and is generally unmanageable. When he eats certain things like commercial bread and wheat products, the next day he poos water. I had him back and forth to doctors who treated me like I was an idiot. Finally we were sent to a pediatrician who ordered blood tests and stool analyses. When the results came back, he told me there was nothing wrong with him, he just had toddler diarrhoea and told me to put him on half an immodium tablet a day to fix his diarrhoea. Because I was getting no joy from doctors and my son was getting sicker daily, I took him off wheat, dairy and most sugars. He slowly started to improve, but it wasn't good enough. I now have him on a full elimination diet, no wheat, gluten or lactose, salicylates, amines and glutamates. He started improving straightaway (only one water poo in the first five days which was a miracle).

We're still waiting to see a gastrointestinal pediatrician, but other doctors have told me he wouldn't have an intolerance to things. I know he does because the change is dramatic, and even his behaviour has improved. He seems to react to salicylates, it's amazing to read these things when you've noticed something but didn't understand it. My five-year-old son has improved too and when he breaks the diet he says he feels "like his brain wants to puke". I hope more health professionals will become aware of the damage additives and other food chemicals can cause. - Vicky, Victoria

Last weekend I assaulted my wife and did horrific damage to her face. I have deep regret, humiliation, shame and remorse for my actions. I had been drinking most of the afternoon, then consumed two strawberry sundae tubs of icecream. I did not check the brand so I cannot be certain that the food colours contributed to the way I acted. Although the alcohol is obviously a large contributor, in the past I have never reacted violently after drinking alcohol. However, from the ages 18-25 I experienced panic and violent moods, then I started to look at my diet. Cordials with artificial colours especially red had been a part of my diet and I noticed a link. Since then I have avoided food colours where ever possible, however I simply overlooked the strawberry sundae as I love desserts and was having a good time. I think I have stumbled on to the cause for my actions, but I am not sure. - Graeme, by email

Just updating you on my progress - before starting the elimination diet for my asthma, I was on 500mg of Seretide accuhaler morning and night, I dropped to 250 and was fine so I tried to go off it completely. After a day and a half I was wheezy and tight in my chest so I tried the 100mg dose and have maintained that - which means that I have dropped my asthma medication by 80% on the elimination diet. So far I have passed both the milk and salicylate challenges.

By the way, this has been a great professional development activity that I think will really benefit my future clients. - Dietitian, SA

I just want to thank you for doing what you do. When a friend of mine heard you speak in Launceston and brought me back info, I felt that, at last, someone was speaking my language.

Where none of the health professionals had been of much help, I instantly found answers to my boys' asthma and eczema. I got the cookbook and your asthma book a few weeks ago and am so pleased to have found solid, real, useful guidelines to help our family. We haven't done the full elimination diet yet but with the knowledge I gained from your books I was able to retrace which foods did what. The cause of my 3 year old's asthma became obvious (sulphites) when he would eat something out of the ordinary such as 2 apricot fruit bars (which he had not eaten in ages), come home, run around outside and have an asthma attack, which he has not had in ages. My 9-month-old son obviously reacts to salicylates. He's had eczema from birth and when I introduced solids, pumpkin, carrots and prunes gave him asthma soon after he ate them.

I only wish every hospital, health care clinic and GP had your books! - Elisa Dickinson, Tasmania

I read the story on your website about the soccer player who was eating lots of muesli bars and developed exercise asthma. The same thing happened to my daughter. We thought she had outgrown her asthma but it came back when she started eating muesli bars recommended by her swimming coach. Her asthma got so bad she had to give up swimming with the squad. - Reader, by email

Just reporting in on our 3-year-old - we seem to have got through an attack of asthma without prednisolone. What a break-through! We had another good night's sleep - so rare during asthma bouts in the past, and there is a definite improvement on yesterday. Normally his escalating asthma never turns around without corticosteroids. I guess it is early days yet but I am really getting faith in the possibility of sulphite preservatives aggravating the sensitive airways and adding to the other irritations (virus, allergens, irritating particles) to create asthma. It is great to think that we can have some control over one of the components and lessen the health aggravation. - member of the failsafe3 email group

I am an adult with asthma. I went off milk and sulphite preservatives about 6 months ago, I have not had asthma since (unless I am 'naughty' and have some sulphite). - Elizabeth, ACT

Since we discovered salicylates, my daughter doesn't need preventative medication anymore although I have made a few slip ups with her diet. Every time she has a reaction I look at what she has eaten and it is always salicylates. For example, she had a reaction to rissoles in the early stages of the diet before I had your books to help me. My dietitian said, 'Did you put pepper in the rissoles?" I hadn't realised pepper was high in salicylates and used it automatically. Last year I bought some "Kids Bananas" from Coles because my daughter never ate more than half of the usual big Cavendish bananas. Two days later her eczema had flared up and then she got asthma. By this time she had eaten three of these bananas. They must have been sugar bananas which are high in salicylates but I didn't know that at the time. During that attack she had to go back on her preventer medication as well as Ventolin but she hasn't needed it since. - failsafer, Qld

I was lucky enough to see you speak in Launceston in September. My husband and I have been at a loss regarding our three-year-old son's frequent nosebleeds, lack of sleep, temper outbursts and all of the other problems associated with a 'normal' toddler's wellbeing. When reading in depth Fed Up With Asthma we now realise this was probably caused by Singulair Tablets. When our new doctor took him off these he sleeps!!!! and a lot of the other symptoms have subsided. We have an appointment with a failsafe dietitian next month and have been failsafing the pantry over the last 6 weeks. The temper tantrums have been halved with the severity at least a quarter of what they used to be. Thank you for being the one person to listen to a mother in need. - Toni, Tas

I have always been prone to skin irritations since I was a little girl. During my mid teens in the 60s I contracted quite bad dermatitis on the backs of my hands. This manifested itself on the palms of my hands too, at times, and no-one seemed to be able to discover the cause of the irritation, the resulting blisters and weeping skin. Skin specialists recommended various creams and potions including tar ointments, pure lanolin, various other forms of similar creams and ultimately full strength cortisone ointment which seemed to be the only thing that reduced the itch and the inflammation. I continued to use the cortisone ointment on my hands from that time until only a few years back when I decided to speak to a dermatologist here in Canberra. During the period of those years my hands fluctuated in the severity of irritation, sometimes really bad, and at other times less severe.

The dermatologist did a skin patch test in which I had to leave various substances on my skin for a week without touching or removing the patches. During that week I returned to the dermatologist on the Wednesday and the Friday to check the reactions. On the Wednesday there were two substances that had caused a slight pink spot on my skin. However, by the Friday these two had increased in redness and another one had begun to cause inflammation of the skin.

The three offending chemicals turned out to be:

Formaldehyde - used in large amounts in many plastic industries, building materials, eg paints, glues, varnishes, some pesticides. It is also found in small amounts in cosmetics, eg creams, shampoos, make-up, nailpolish, new fabrics and clothes, high quality paper, house-hold cleaners, disinfectants and in smoke from cigarettes or fires.

Quaternium-15 found in creams, lotions, shampoos, and other cosmetics and skin care products.

Colophony - found in adhesives, sealants, shoe wax, lacquers, gums, varnishes, pine oil cleaners, cosmetics, wart remedies, skiwax, dental floss, modelling clay, paints, resins, athletic rubs, and many industrial products. High quality gloss paper may be coated with colophony.

Well! We came to the conclusion that my chronic dermatitis of the hands (at this stage, and certainly consistently since my late teens) was caused by contact with resin steering wheels. The irritation was particularly obvious during the hot summer months.

During the week following my diagnosis I wore cotton gloves when driving. I have had no recurrence of the problem since then (approximately 7 years now). My car has a pure sheepskin steering wheel cover - my husband can't stand the feel of it, yet I can't stand to drive the car without it. I must admit I was amazed to discover the cause after all those years! - by email, Canberra

Six months ago I changed my son's school as I got sick of bashing my head against a brick wall. Since then, my son has caught up to his own age group and is no longer considered to have any major learning problems. He just has to realise now he is very capable and intelligent, not dumb as he was told at his old school. This new school ensures he is kept away from anything that could trigger him off and that he has his own lunch that is not touched by anyone else. They even send him to another classroom if the teacher needs to use flyspray. The difference has been incredible. - reader, Qld

I read your book because it was recommended by my son's counsellor. Although Mitchell is a bright boy, often selected for gifted programs at school, his behaviour was atrocious (severe temper, disruptive, tearful, moody, silly noises etc).

Since starting failsafe two months ago, he has had a huge turnaround. He is very proud of his new self and is just starting to believe in his own potential - potential we, as his parents, always knew he had.

Last week, Mitchell played his first basketball game as his new self. Usually he would vague off in the middle of the game and would never listen to instructions from his coach. He always wanted to play, but had little attention span. Mitchell was amazed at his ability with his new self (as was Dad). At the end of his training session he came off the court and said 'Wow, Dad, that was FUN!'

Thank you for 'Fed Up' I wish I'd found it sooner! - Michelle by email

Thank you for your four very informative books. They are wonderful and a great support along with the failsafe email groups and newsletters.

We went failsafe for our son when he was born five years ago and both children have been sort of failsafe since then. However, increasing errors and too many salicylates over the last two years (due to lack of support when we moved) resulted in increasing periods of out-of-control, aggressive and defiant behaviour in our son. For the last three months I joined the boys on thediet and we have been strictly failsafe, after finding your website and other books (I only had Fed Up previously). Life has been wonderful - except for catering socially.

I have gained lots already from 'my failsafe bible' (your cookbook). Thank you for your thousands of great useable ideas, we drink a mug of soup a day like suggested in one of your books to keep up our vitamin intake and have all been healthier as well as 'better behaved' people since being strictly failsafe.

If you would like a European contact, or more specifically Sweden ... I am happy to help out. It's great having regular contact and updates, and the email groups to pose questions and ideas to. - Faye (our failsafe contact in Sweden)

 

I cannot thank you enough for your support and have been very vocal with child care centres and friends about the amazing results you can get with failsafe when you do it PROPERLY. - Michelle, Victoria

My six-year-old daughter has been on the ketogenic diet for three and half years now for uncontrolled epilepsy. In that time I weaned her off of three anti-convulsants and six months after the last wean she became seizure-free. She has now been seizure-free for 2 years and 3 months. Also in that time as well as being on the keto diet, she has been failsafe and dairy free. I re-introduced dairy into her diet about three months ago and she is tolerating it really well. She is now off the keto diet but remains failsafe. I'm certain without the ketogenic diet in conjunction with the failsafe diet my daughter would still be having seizures. - by email, NSW

I have recently discovered an intolerance to food preservatives and MSG which result in bad insomnia. Since I realized what was causing my problem I have mostly had really good nights' sleep but occasionally I get caught out and eat something with preservative or MSG without realising. It was probably easier for me to identify the connection between preservatives and insomnia than for most people as we live on a farm and butcher our own meat, hence sausages and mince with little else added, and additionally my husband has a cholesterol problem so I am very careful with our diet. - Karen O'Connor, Victoria.

My recent attack of ribo rash lead me to your web site. A casserole in which Dad nearly poisoned me with two beef Massel stock cubes and turned me psycho and swollen led me to Safeway. I was furious that the old package from which Dad's cubes came did not list 631 and 627 as they do on the new packaging. - reader, Melbourne

I wanted to let you know about our wonderful experience recently. Imagine my surprise (horror) when my husband organised a trip for our family of five to England and France for eight weeks. Horror, yes, because how do you stay failsafe?

My very first step was to call Qantas and request special meals for our son. I was originally told I could request dairy-free and gluten-free but when I mentioned salicylates, preservatives, colours etc the poor lady got very quiet and asked me to spell salicylates. She told me she would 'pass the request on but couldn't guarantee they could meet it'. They rang me back a day or two later saying they had spoken to their dietician and he would be able to cater for us. Imagine my amazement when almost perfect meals were delivered on all Qantas flights. I say almost because they did include a banana and I know amines would have been a problem but my son got heaps of food that was good for him! We were overjoyed. We couldn't say the same for the British Airways leg of our trip and we certainly struggled to stay failsafe in Singapore and Disneyland in Paris. The rest of our trip we self-catered and survived. The only nasty incident he managed in the whole trip (apart from a few hissy fits) was when he ran down a slipway and slipped (funnily enough) into the freezing cold harbour at Padstow. This was a truly amazing trip. I have written to Qantas to thank them for everything. It was certainly worth one little phone call. - Rhonda (our Lismore contact)

I would like to share a recent discovery which happened because of your checklist. Three years ago I started the RPAH elimination diet, with chronic urticaria, asthma and depression, weighing in at nearly 100kgs and only 26 years old. I had to change to live. Immediately I stopped smoking and drinking and discovered after 2 days of elimination I was suffering dairy intolerance and now stay right away from all dairy products. Within 12 months I had lost 30kgs and never felt better in my life. After six months of dairy-free life, I got married - I recommend love also as a wonderful healer. I took up yoga and greatly increased my exercise. There were a few niggling things, particularly the blocked and running nose, always having my sleeve or back pocket loaded with tissues, ready for the inevitable moment. I had always suffered this morning and evening ritual of a running nose so 'just lived with it'.

Having relaxed my eating and decreased my exercise, I regained a dress size or two over the last 12 months and recently decided enough was enough. I was becoming uncomfortable and depressed again and couldn't fit into my gorgeous new clothes. I could see I was starting to walk down that old path which led to unhappiness. I now hold the knowledge and power to change. There is no need to get sucked into old habits from the past. It was time to return to chemical free
life which I recalled with so much joy ... After a week of full elimination, the runny nose persisted. I read and re-read through your checklist of common mistakes and decided to try plain toothpaste which I never did three years ago as my dietician at the time said, 'oh you don't have to give up toothpaste if you don't want to - everything else though' and I never really considered it caused me such suffering.

Well well well. A truly amazing change has occurred for me. No more nose blowing at breakfast time or when I'm settling into bed at night. The tap has officially been turned off! My teeth actually feel cleaner than when using regular toothpaste and with a chemical free diet I never have a problem with bad breath which needs to be covered up with peppermint. - reader, Sydney

My partner is a teacher and always talks to his kids about the undesirable nature of what is generally in lunchboxes. He has had some interesting instances of saying to a child, 'If you eat that now you will be crazy this afternoon'. His predictions have come true and other children in the classroom have actually pointed it out. - by email, Qld

My mother was advised to have all her teeth out because her fillings might be causing her migraines. She doesn't get migraines any more, but I'm not convinced that fillings were the cause. She is eating a lot less salicylates because she avoids tomatoes (the skins get stuck in her false teeth), strawberries (seeds likewise) and apples (too difficult to bite). - by email

What you say in your book 'Fed Up with Asthma' about food intolerances making the airways sensitive to triggers like viruses is what happened to my daughter. She is intolerant to salicylates, although it took a long time for me to find out. When she was two years old, I had noticed that her eczema seemed to flare up a day or two after eating spaghetti. I mentioned this to a dietitian I was seeing for other health problems. She said that it could be salicylates, so I stopped giving my daughter spaghetti and tomatoes, but she still had eczema. Then when she turned three, she started getting asthma. The doctor always said that the asthma was triggered by a virus but there were times where she would get asthma without having a virus first.

At the Child Care/Kindy Christmas Party, the only thing they had to drink was cordial. My daughter had never had any fruit juice or cordial to drink up to this time, only water or milk, but we gave her half a cup of cordial to drink because she was thirsty and we hadn't brought any drinks with us. That night she had asthma. About a month later her father gave her a Winnie the Pooh Raspberry fruit drink and she also had asthma that night. When I told the doctor about this, she said did I think it was the colour? but didn't do anything, just told me about treatment.

My daughter was now getting asthma every month and needing stronger medication so I went back to the dietitian who prescribed vitamin supplements and took her off dairy foods. My daughter continued to get asthma and her eczema got worse, and this is how I found out about salicylates. The dietitian had told me to mix the powdered supplements in fruit juice and one of the child care centre workers mentioned that oranges can be a problem. It finally 'clicked'. I had been mixing the vitamins in orange juice. I got the dietitian to send me a list of all the foods that were salicylates so I could avoid them. After a few weeks my daughter's skin started clearing up and she has never had asthma again, even when she had a bad flu this winter. Dairy products give her the odd ear infection, less than once a year, but they don't affect her asthma.- reader, Brisbane

A friend of a friend with two young children visited a dietitian who put them on what I can only describe as a Clayton's failsafe diet ... not quite fully failsafe. For example, the dietitian told her that it was perfectly ok for her children to eat McDonalds/Red Rooster chips...

She was introduced to my wife and got into a conversation about real failsafe diets. After 4 days on the real diet, she rang my wife crying with happiness. Her son had settled down to what she considered a 'normal child' to be. His aggression was gone, his tendencies to distraction had disappeared and his sleep had increased by two hours a night. In his first speech therapy session since starting on the real diet, he suddenly managed to recognise 40 words (from picture cards) as well as all primary and secondary colours, where his previous best attempt at word recognition was 8 words. The speech therapist was so amazed that she has already started researching failsafe dieting. The dietitian who put her on the Clayton's diet has now started looking seriously at the failsafe diet instead. It's been two weeks now and our friend is seeing the pediatrician who put her son on Ritalin this week to see about getting him off it completely. She's 100% sure that he doesn't need it at all any more. And remember the sister? She was a chronic asthmatic, but she hasn't needed a puffer since a few days after starting the diet. - from an email discussion group, with permission

After reading your book Fed Up, at last I can put a name to my 10 year old ADHD son's bad behaviour: oppositional defiance. I know that he reacts to preservatives and have tried to avoid obvious food colours but this is not enough to make a difference so I am going to try the failsafe diet.- by email

It seems that everywhere I go I hear of people who have attended one of your talks on food intolerance. It really helps people to understand what I am contending with. Just thought that you would appreciate knowing how your work is making life a little easier in my world! Thank you! - failsafer, by email

We've been trying the diet for four months without a lot of clarity probably because we were not strict enough. With your book and information we hope to get further. - reader, South Australia

Right from the minute she was born my daughter Laura was a nightmare. She screamed and screamed and screamed some more. I went around the twist. I had two children under two and it was hard to be up all night with this child and then carry her around all day. The minute I sat her down she would start screaming. I spoke to clinic sisters, doctors, friends and all gave me various degrees of advice. I kept saying that Laura is reacting to my breastmilk but was laughed at and told that that wasn't possible. I now know that I was right and the bread that I was consuming was giving this poor child a huge bellyache.

Life for the first 13 months was, and I won't lie, pure hell. People started treating me like I had PND but it was just this difficult behaviour in the baby. It had not eased with introducing solids and I by now had changed a million pooey nappies. Still everybody told me this was OK

At 13 months, I weaned Laura and she became a little better at sleeping but we still got a poo every nappy and her temperament was a little better. I continued with trying to cope and did the best I could all the while feeling that something was wrong. By 16 months I was getting worried about the nappies as they were causing her terrible pain in nappy rash. As we had moved towns I consulted a new group of clinic sisters and doctors. I had one clinic sister take notice and suggested that I get an appointment with a stomach and bowel doctor. I went to the local GP and was laughed at that this was so extreme and that it was fast transient time of food. This same doctor was consulted again at 18 months and he said that it was toddler diarrhoea. OK. When Laura's new sister was christened when Laura was 20 months we finally discovered what we think is wrong. We went to my husband's family farm and stayed for two and a half weeks. In that time all meals were cooked. No toast, no bread, no sandwiches, no diarrhoea, no nappy rash, sleeping through the night. I went from a child who had 10 runny burning nappies a day to 1 flushable nappy in a matter of days. Laura was cured.

I have since seen the GP who suggested I stay away from bread but gave me no help in finding out why bread was a problem. I went to the clinic sister and asked but to no avail. Then my sister heard about RPA's allergy unit and I was on the phone to them. Wow!!! Within minutes I had my answers. They explained the link between 282 and stomach upsets and runny nappies. They sent me the suggested shopping list and then made me an appointment. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and now Laura is going great guns. My little girl is happy and sleeping through the night and has yet to react on her diet (day 25). I am lucky because I only did 10 days on no wheat no diary and no soy and have already challenged milk and wheat flour. So far so good.

This is Laura's story and I am so lucky but it is infuriating that nobody listened to me. Doctors were quick to dismiss this problem but our food was affecting her and I was giving it to her thinking I was doing well by feeding her healthy bread. Thank goodness for people like you. My son's preschool teacher recently went to Canberra for your talk and made me aware of your books and website. Thank you thank you thank you. We are now having an afternoon tea information session on food at the preschool and will include all we know about food and the nasties that can be in it. Now we can educate other parents and try and help our community. - Rose, ACT

I have successfully used bi-carb to curb reactions in my 2-year-old. I just add about 1/2 cup of bi-carb to the bath water. I have also given her 1/4 teaspoon of it in water, and that worked really well. - Renee, failsafebaby group

We started the failsafe diet in May 2002 after advice from a friend and it has had many interesting 'side effects', all of them good. We have had the usual wonderful behavioural changes in all members of the family and I don't know if any one else has reported this but if I stay 100% failsafe my acne rosacea goes (the scars don't but makeup covers them). I have taken many drugs for over the last 15 years for this condition and now I find that all forms of dairy give me pimples and cysts while flavour enhancers start up the vein ridden, red and sore rosacea. I am 34 now and don't want to look hideous in public any longer.- Viv, ACT

I have an aspirin intolerance and it took me ages to work out that my chronic mouth ulcers were being caused by beta hydroxy acid in my face cream because it is easily absorbed through the skin.- by email

Our son was bouncing off the walls for days after two doses of Dettol within 3 days (one from preschool, one from Nanny). Of course when I told nanny and the teacher, they both did well to humour me and to contain their disbelief. My sister - a pharmacist - sent me the chemical breakdown and the pharmacists' notes, it read like this:

Ingredients: Active: CHLOROXYLENOL (chlorinated antiseptic) Inactive: ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL (antiseptic) ETHANOL (handwash contains tartrazine). Contra-indications: not recommended to bath infants up to nine months because of the inability of the infant to detoxify chloroxylenol and benzalkonium chloride. Precautions: Can cause skin irritations.

In the individual breakdown of each of the ingredients, there were also references to medical journal cases of poisoning (i.e 'severe Dettol poisoning'); this warning about Isopropyl alcohol 'the lethal dose by mouth is reported to be 250ml, however toxic symptoms may be produced by as little as 20ml'; this one ' Inhalation of isopropyl alcohol vapour has been known to induce coma' and this is my favourite 'Application of Isopropyl alcohol to the skin may cause dryness and irritation; suitable precautions should be taken to prevent absorption through the skin'.

My sister also gave me a word of advice in dealing with those doubting Thomases who think that absorption through the skin is a load of rubbish. Nicotine and hormone replacement patches work! - Kelli from the discussion group

During the holidays we had been watching American settler re-enactments on TV and my eldest daughter said 'we could do that easily'. So we decided to do our own pioneer re-enactment in the week before school went back.

As we live on a family farm, we still had a lot of pioneer stuff about so perhaps we were able to go about it in greater detail than most.

A day's program was: get up at 6.30 am, collect wood and start a fire outside to cook on. Cart water from the rainwater tap to a basin in the bathroom for washing hands and self (with Velvet soap only). Another bucket of water for tea and cooking was carried into the house. While the kids fed the chooks and geese, I cooked scones in a camp oven and boiled the billy. Once the scones were cooked, I dropped eggs in the camp oven to cook in the remaining heat. We used homemade butter and golden syrup on the scones and salt on eggs, because pioneers didn't use flavourings such as pepper, herbs or tomato sauce. After breakfast we washed up with Velvet soap (rinsing well), first dishes, then face and hands. Teeth were brushed with an index finger dipped in seasalt.

During the day we hand-sewed bread flour bags with cotton from the tops of rolled oat sacks into place mats and embroidered them. We spent one whole day washing clothes and sheets with Velvet soap and Lux flakes in a copper heated by a fire outside, hand wrung and hung on a rope line between trees.

We also baked biscuits in the camp oven from a family recipe given to my Grandmother. She would be 110 now if she was still alive.

Mrs. Cattle Biscuits: 8oz SR flour, 1 egg, 4oz sugar, 3oz butter. Mix all ingredients and shape into small balls, put onto tray and bake in a moderate oven for 10 to 15 minutes. For variations, mix in coconut or put an almond or a drop of jam on top or add cocoa to the mixture. This mix was also pressed in trays and covered with golden syrup and crumble mix on top and cut into slices before cool.

For lunch and tea we ate fresh chops or chicken (dressed that day) with Laucke bread baked in the camp oven and vegetables which were growing in the garden at that time (silver beet, parsley, carrots, potatoes, shallots) or poached eggs on toast. I cooked the chicken in golden syrup and water then after the cooked chicken had been removed from the pot, we cooked golden syrup dumplings in the water. They had a fantastic flavour.

We removed all plastics from the kids' rooms (such as Barbie and bits), leaving them with only a chair, desk, beds, four books, paints (not acrylic dry blocks), pencils and a skipping rope. Their clothes were two sets of simple dresses and jumpers made from cotton or wool, leading to a complaint that they were 'dumb things to wear carting water on cold mornings, Mum, give me jeans.'

We ate at night by candlelight and played old board games. We played my daughter's Suzuki violin CD over and over as the pioneers only had one record. We gave the kids a torch for going to bed as they had not lived with candles and we felt it was not safe.

The result was amazing. The kids became more agreeable and instructions didn't have to be repeated until shouted to get a response, which had happened frustratingly too often before our Pioneer Week.

My youngest became less grumpy and the eldest less fragile and teary. Both stopped being picky eaters and ate with relish. The eldest's singing which was usually flat became tuneful because her hearing improved. They anticipated and showed more thought about what they were doing instead of being 'Tigger with Rabbit worries'. Life became gentler at home. The background frustration and noise decreased a lot and they took on new things faster. This change persisted for a while after school started then reverted as we reverted to our original diet.

I was diagnosed with salicylate/amine/additive intolerance 20 years ago, so I have never had a diet full of additives or the rest. But as the kids were getting older, I was bowing down to peer and social pressures, arguing in my head that their bodies were bigger so could handle additives better. I was wrong. We are now doing the elimination diet after two weeks of a take-away, additive binge, to make sure of all our symptoms. The kids are loving it and it is easier than the pioneer week because we use modern conveniences such as electricity and running water. A modified Pioneer Week would be a fun introduction to the elimination diet which sounds ominous and is not the current retro trend. - Rosy Hill, South Australia

A bad case of Glandular Fever triggered my CFS, which resulted in two miserable years of bouncing from one medical practitioner to another trying western medicine and other alternatives such as acupuncture. The responses were often unsympathetic and showed a complete lack of understanding about the condition.

It was through a recommendation from the CFS society in Melbourne that I saw a failsafe allergist.

It took nearly three months on a very strict elimination diet before I felt my old self again and the glands in my neck no longer felt like golf balls. It wasn't long after the three months that I was back working in the outdoors. With hindsight the recovery was remarkable after spending so long with little to no energy.

The nature of my work made it very difficult for me to effectively reintroduce all foods so I am still unsure of all the chemicals that affect me. However, MSG is a shocker!! as are most preservatives. When I start feeling the CFS symptoms coming back I put myself back on failsafe.

Despite a careful diet I still need more sleep than most people (9 - 10 hours a night) to function effectively. I rarely drink alcohol, this makes the CFS symptoms worse and I seem to be very sensitive to strong smells such as deodorant and perfume. I definitely feel better when living outdoors.

Without a doubt, going failsafe saved me from years of depression and frustration. I never take my good health for granted after being so deprived of the lifestyle I love. - Amanda, Melbourne

Further to Karen finding out recently that white Panadol tablets contain a preservative, I have done some investigating and was horrified to find that the brand at the hospital that I work at, Febridol paracetamol, has sulphite preservative in it. This could be a problem for asthmatics admitted to the hospital! Many other brands I looked at also contained sorbates and benzoates as preservatives. Herron tablets are colour free, gluten free and preservative free (see Failsafe Shopping List and Medications factsheet) - from the failsafe group

Our latest mistake was when our son was given a "special treat" of a glass of orange juice by his well meaning grandparents. Aaaaaargh. I have noticed since then his speech has gotten worse, but improves once we give him some bicarb soda (mixed with golden syrup) as an antidote. We noticed his speech worsened when we did the salicylate challenge. The speech problems come into play when he is hyper, which is days 1-2 post salicylate and slowly improves from there. - by email

I am in the failsafebasic and failsafe2 email support groups. Joining was certainly the best thing I ever did because I know I am not the only one struggling with my daughter. She has improved immensely since we started the diet. When I looked over her old diet (Dr Feingold's), I realise that it is really only halfway there, which explains why sometimes she reacted and sometimes she didn't. - failsafe mother from Sydney

I am a chronic migraine sufferer. MSG is one of the big ones for me (triggers migraines and rash) and almost every major food company feels a need to use this in their products - Maggi is the main offender with others, eg Trident, not lagging too far behind. Why are these in our food if they are harmful? - John, by email

We started our salicylate challenge on a Sunday. By Monday afternoon, my son was climbing the furniture more than normal and told me he felt silly. He was very giggly. On Tuesday afternoon he was again climbing the furniture and not responding to me when I talked to him. He was very happy and giggly again and it was actually kind of nice. His writing has improved so much lately, I was astounded when we sat down to do his homework and he started writing badly again. About 75% of his letters were backwards and he couldn't work out how to spell easy words. This is what really shocked me and what will make me avoid salicylates. When he got dressed he even put his clothes on backwards! - failsafer, by email

Last year I wrote an article in the school newsletter called 'Please don't feed my child!' It paid off, as parents are still approaching me to talk about it. I feel that my son and I are now being so well supported within the school community, it is amazing. I really wasn't sure what reaction I would get from the article, but it has certainly brought the issue to the fore and has got a lot of people thinking. - by email, NSW

My son was diagnosed with borderline ADHD and we have him on a colour and preservative free diet. It has made such a difference. It is nice to have other people comment on his behaviour in a positive way now. Before he couldn't sit still in church for the first part of the service before going out for Sunday School but now he happily sits still. - Jennie, NSW

We want people to know that we feel sorry for anyone who tries to do the failsafe diet without the Failsafe Cookbook. - group of mothers from the Brisbane Kettle Club at a recent failsafe talk

My son is going well, although it was a bit rocky for a while until the vanilla ran out. He had been helping himself to lashings of vanilla essence in his cereal, drinks etc. Once the vanilla ran out he was back to being wonderful - such a little thing and such a big impact - a very big difference between the two allowable drops, and his great sloshes!! - by email, NSW

When I was around 4 years old I had quite severe behavioural problems, so my mum went from doctor to doctor looking for a possible solution. Eventually one doctor suggested the Feingold diet. I started the elimination diet in 1986, and my parents found an immediate improvement. One day my grandparents gave me red cordial which pretty much confirmed the effects of food additives. My parents and I found that I reacted to salicylates, and lots of artificial colours and flavours.

I went from a kid who everyone said would grow up to be a juvenile delinquent, to a better behaved kid who is now 21, studying for an Information Technology Bachelors degree. I also finished a 12-month employment contract not long ago and started a new job.

I'm surprised that it's only recently that people have been talking about the link between food and behaviour. - Danny, student

We discovered failsafe over a year ago when my son Liam was four. Ironically, because of the failsafe internet support group he was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome a while later. He used to hate loud sounds and either shut down, cringing in a corner with his hands over his ears, or more often, he rose above it with the most aggressive behaviour and loudest noise he could muster. One time I had the blender on for one minute and he screamed and threw a chair across the room, quietening down as soon as I turned it off. This has dramatically reduced now. It was not instantaneous with the introduction of diet but somewhere in the course of last year it improved. I have found that this is the improvement which most intrigues other parents of autistic kids. Liam still doesn't like loud noises such as fire alarms but he is content to hold his hands over his ears.

For Liam, the diet has been like unfogging his brain and allowing him to catch up where he is delayed, mainly socially and in his emotions. But the most interesting thing was watching his drawing develop. When he first started Kindy, he drew like a two year, all scribbles. After he started the diet, his drawing just took off and in a matter of months we watched him improve to above his age level. Literally every week there were new dimensions. It was so exciting and a very visible reminder of how the diet now allowed him to develop.

Liam is gluten, dairy and egg free as well as failsafe and he has soy only once every four days. I could not say he is perfect, but he is light years ahead of where we were. - Caroline (finb and Failsafe discussion group)

I am a mother of three kids - 8, 6 and 3 years of age. This year has been so stressful at school for the older two boys; they have been in constant trouble for misbehaviour in the classroom and schoolyard. Until last week, teachers and I just didn't know what to try next.

Last weekend I was desperate. I pulled your books (and Friendly Foods) off the shelf, started cutting out additives and bought Woolies unpreserved bread.

The difference has been remarkable - at home and at school. Teachers and the deputy principal are most impressed at the difference a change in diet has made in less than one week. I intend going the whole way to 'failsafe' foods, then challenging suspect offenders one by one. Thanks for your help and wonderful work, life as a mother is worth living again! - Barb, Qld (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

I am 58 years old and came across your website by accident. I was dumbfounded when I saw the pictures of the effects of food additives 635. This was what I had for nearly 3 years!

I could not believe it. My symptoms too started in the early hours of the morning with dreadful itching. By the time I got up my thighs were black and bruised from scratching. Over time this went and welts came all over my body. I looked like I had been beaten. I also had rashes that were itchy and painful. The only part that was not affected was my face and head.

So many doctors and tests, so many creams and tablets - and nothing would stop it. I had tests that showed I was allergic to things I had never had, like horsehair and oysters. To top it off I started to get fungal infections in my fingernails. I had bouts of crying and wanted to die.

Eventually I was told it could be emotional or change of life. Then in June 2002 I started have rigors (uncontrollable shaking). I ended up in hospital, where I had every test under the sun including biopsies. My body was swelling up and I had blood tests every couple of hours. My temperature would not come down. I was seen by the elite of dermatologists and a professor of infectious diseases who told me that 'sometimes the body will not reveal its secrets'. They called what I had 'hypersensitive vasculitis' or a toxic shock from an unknown source. They said that I was at death`s door. Then my temperature went down and I was discharged.

It never occurred to me that it could be the food I was eating, as I hadn't changed anything. I would have meat pies or sausage rolls at least once a week and sometimes pizza. Eventually I cut out processed foods and now make my own sausages rolls. I still do not know which one started off this torment but I have thrown out everything in my pantry with 635/621 and my symptoms have gone away.

At the very least, these food additives should be listed in bold lettering or a different colour. - Maree, by email

Thank you for bringing this horrible food additive 635 to the attention of the media. Until the program on ACA, I had no idea that other people were suffering like me.

My problems started in July 2002, when I ate roast chicken that caused a dramatic rash to appear all over my body. I was sure the roast chicken was the cause as I had noticed on two previous occasions severe thirst and disorientation after consuming roast chicken bought from a Woolworths supermarket. On the third occasion I had the same symptoms plus the rash. The rash was so severe that I needed oral cortisone. Woolworths informed me that 635 was the sole flavour enhancer in the chicken. I saw an allergist about a month later who dismissed my view, saying that it was more likely to be a non-specific reaction that would eventually die down and disappear.

I didn't subscribe to that diagnosis and decided to stay away from roast chicken for my health's sake. I began to notice that it was affected by other commercially produced foods, including a salad dressing that contained 631. The rash usually starts on my upper thighs around my backside and travels down my legs. It also appears on my back and shoulders. At its worst when it first appeared it was also on my face and torso. The welts were large, covering a wide area, very hot and maddeningly itchy.

The most disturbing aspect of this situation is that 635 is being used in takeaway foods and restaurants. The consumer has no way of knowing that 635 is present in the food. I am beginning to avoid all commercially prepared food. Can you believe it? Imagine if I became anaphylactic to this substance. I recently attended a wedding reception and cautiously ate the three-course meal provided, avoiding the gravy on the meat, only to find the rash reappearing by the time I got home. Another disturbing symptom that has only accompanied the rash twice (the second time was early last Sunday morning after the reception) is a very strong feeling of ‘knotting’ in my oesophagus. It is similar to the feeling of eating a lot of food too quickly and having to wait for it to travel down. It comes in waves, like contractions, and I wonder whether it is the peristalsis of my oesophagus firing unnecessarily. It has woken me from sleep on both occasions and I find that it responds to taking an antihistamine.

I now religiously read the ingredients provided on packaged foods and have stopped eating Asian and Indian takeaway and takeaway pizza - Anna, NSW, 35 years of age.