My name is Elizabeth Jenkins and I am Andrew Driffield's Mother. It sometimes feels as if I have always been known as "that’s Andrew’s Mother".

Andrew was a beautiful but exhausting child. He went to sleep at a normal time … then woke about 1am and stayed that way until about 5am, then dozed till about 7am. As he got older he would climb out of his bed, and head straight for my side of the bed. He would lie there quietly in my arms, only needing the security and warmth. Until he was fifteen years old this remained a habit. My memory of these events is a blur as by the time he was five, exhaustion had replaced recall.

Andrew’s only word was "Mum" until he was about four. His language was so obscure that I had to translate even to his father. He was destructive. He destroyed toys, other children, and household furniture. To do any housework that would have taken my eyes of him for a second, I had to lock the doors and windows. I vividly remember the day guests arrived at the front door and Andrew left unnoticed by the back door. The panic started as we realised he was not amongst the visiting children until a phone call from the local supermarket let us know that a little blonde haired boy was riding the rocking horse in the entrance. When asked how they knew whom to ring, they said that he was being guarded by a small black dog called Benjie who was wearing his identification. Horses and dogs remain a big part of Andrew’s life to this day.

When Andrew was five we went to a Specialist Unit. He was tested and we were observed as a family unit. Andrew evidently passed but I failed. I was told I was overprotective, and I needed to allow Andrew to discover consequences for himself. That afternoon he wanted to ride his bike with the other boys - and he was hit by a car. From then on I decided I wanted a live five year old, not a dead one.

Andrew started on an early intervention program at Newcastle University where he attended a unit with one-on-one teaching for the morning and then returning to the public school for the afternoon classes. It was a disaster. It was the beginnings of ‘integration’.

They failed to see how children who are already different do not gain acceptance by being treated differently. In one year he learnt to write his name ‘Andrew’ with difficulty. They were still claiming that he was just a slow learner and would catch up. My observation was, had I had a monkey in the same circumstances, I would have had the same outcome. The public school wanted to expel him. He was disruptive, angry and aggressive - and he was only in first class.

A Steiner School had opened in the region and after five minutes of hearing their philosophies I sent Andrew. It was like rain and sunshine on a small plant. He thrived. He learnt to listen, he learnt to speak and the aggression gradually decreased. Andrew was now nine years old and still a handful. I eventually took him to a pediatrician, left him in the waiting room, and told the doctor I was there under false pretensions, that I’d come as a stressed adult, remembering I was still to blame for all his behaviors. Andrew was brought in, and off he went - over the desk, under the desk, etc. As luck would have it, the pediatrician had just attended a conference run by a leading Sydney professor who had described Andrew’s features and symptoms to a T. We were sent to the professor in Sydney, who ordered blood tests and announced that Andrew had what he called a fractured X chromosome. He said that when enough children registered similar symptoms it would be given a name. That was in 1983, prior to the genetic testing available today, and the recognition of FRAGILE X.

At this stage Simon, Andrew's older brother, started riding horses, and I was instructing at pony club, so I enrolled Andrew as well because he was always wandering off and worrying me. I threw him up on a horse just to know where he was.

He had a natural ability, and somehow the horses seem to know that they had to protect him. It was also the only animal that Andrew could hug and not cause a decapitation.

Andrew tried harder than anyone I know, and still does. Riding put Andrew on a par with his peers, so when he got upset about not being able to read and write like other kids, we were able to point out that if they tried to ride they would probably fall off - everybody had something they were good at and could do well, and his was riding.

Andrew became Pony Club rider of the year in 1986, runner-up in 1987.

Andrew who still couldn’t read or write, managed to learn dressage tests by walking on the lounge room floor from letter to letter and learning it by pattern, followed by replica in size to the real thing he walked, trotted and cantered around on his own two feet, THEN he graduated to four hooves for the real thing. He also learnt to find and remember his way around a cross country courses. For this we photographed Andrew and his horse jumping each jump at the practice day, put them into a small album, and it was his bedtime story for the two weeks prior to the competition. He also learnt to remember show jumping courses. He had the very best of coaches and everyone liked him, because he kept trying and never gave up.

In the late 80s my first marriage broke up and Andrew and I moved to Darwin and it was here that I met my new husband Stephen Jenkins.

One of Andrew’s goals was to attend 'normal' high school and eventually he did. Darwin High School had a wonderful Special Education Unit, headed by an incredible women, Lauren Tinapple. She remains a devoted Andrew fan to this day, and has always been there for me in the disastrous times. There were times when I felt we had pushed Andrew past his capabilities, as he didn’t seem to fit into an acceptable mold. His expectations exceeded his abilities, and my heart ached on many occasions. Even though he was teased and made fun off, he is glad he did it, and developed yet another strength of character. Through various government employment options Andrew tried many jobs, some of which were total failures. He was happiest when he went to the Katherine Rural College and did a six month Jackaroo course which they then extended into a ‘work experience’ for an additional six months as he needed extra time to learn. He eventually got a live-in job with a family in the middle of the territory for six months before the wet season set in.

Andrew is so driven, and one of his goals has always been to ride for Australia in the three day event just like his old pony club friend Matt Ryan does. It was hard to say to him or find a way of saying that it would be very hard for him to be selected, but that did not deter him.

Andrew was accepted as student at the NSW Equestrian Centre with Heath and Rozzie Ryan, who had been his instructors since he was seven. He lived, breathed and rode horses with the best for six months. He finally realised that this goal may be a little too hard to reach. In 1997 it was suggested that Andrew join Riding for the Disabled. As his abilities exceeded all the students, Andrew became an Assistant Coach at RDA and loved helping all the children to ride and benefit from the experience.

In the October of 1997 Andrew rode as a member of the Northern Territory State Team at the RDA National Championships. He was now riding and competing against others of similar disabilities. Andrew started to shine, placing 2nd in his first National competition, coming closer to his goals.

To allow Andrew to reach his full potential, and access regular coaching, we made the major move to South Australia. Since then he has improved each year, and in 1999 was selected on the RDA National Squad. He is now among the top riders in Australia and hopes to be selected to represent Australia at the next World Championships.

This is quite an achievement especially when his Grade, Grade 3E for intellectual disability, is not recognised at international competitions, so he rides against able minded, but disabled body riders in Grade 3, a grade above his, and riding against the likes of Julie Higgins who won double gold at the Sydney Paralympics.

By far the most significant change in Andrews's life has been our discovery of Sue Dengate’s book FED UP in 1998. Through use of the Fed Up diet and avoiding all intake of natural and artificial chemicals that Andrew reacts to, his mind is clearer, and he is able to control his actions and tempers. As he says, he hates it when he eats the wrong foods because it makes him feel bad and depressed. Before discovering the diet we had some hellish times, including major temper tantrums which in the main were triggered or caused by the wrong foods. Andrew is 6 feet tall and very strong and broke his Step-father's ribs one Xmas, while giving him a Xmas morning hug, so if he is in a food related temper tantrum, beware.

Andrew still aims to reach his goal of representing Australia and is hoping for selection onto the Australian Paralympic Team.

Andrew was recently assessed by a leading psychologist, and has a measured Full IQ of around 65 and an Overall Adaptive Functioning cognitive measurement below the 1st percentile, so it is amazing that Andrew is not doing what a specialist once told us was all that was possible, to expect nothing more than having him working in a sheltered workshop doing repetitive tasks. Although eligible for a full disability pension Andrew has foregone it to work 5 days a week on a recycling truck so he can afford to reach his goals and keep his mind and body active instead of sitting at home watching TV.

If there is one phrase that says it all about Andrew it is these words from Calvin Coolidge: Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. And without the fed up diet, he certainly would not be where he is today, in mind or ability.

My daughter went on the diet nearly a year ago. The change that has made the biggest difference to my quality of life is her ability to fall asleep. Since she changed from a cot to a bed, I have had to stay in her room till she went to sleep which could be an hour or more.

As she grew up, she would stay in her bed but quite often be awake when we went to bed 2 or 3 hours later. Being afraid of the dark, she would end up in our room sleeping on the floor or I would fall asleep next to her on her bed.

Once she was asleep, it didn't mean she would stay asleep and most nights for 10 years she would call out or get up 2 or 3 times a night.

Now at 11 years old she still hates going to bed but once there she falls asleep within a few minutes and stays asleep all night. She is also doing much better at school, and her teacher is amazed at the improvement in her hand writing. - by email

My apologies for not getting back to you sooner - I've been too busy baking and talking to all my friends about my success. My son (aged 4) has come along in leaps and bounds. He is no longer vague, irritable and aggressive. He is able to concentrate on activities and control his own behavior when he becomes upset (he is becoming better at this each day). I find him more articulate and involved in our family life which to me has been the greatest plus as I feel like I have him back.

My husband and I both feel our sense of wellbeing and energy levels have improved. Personally I haven't felt this good in years. Every day is a good day and I no longer have to put things off until I have energy enough to cope.

My stomach is no longer bloated and I too feel I can concentrate and motivate myself more. A couple of friends have been so impressed with my son's changes that they are also going failsafe. I have to agree with one comment made on your web page - your next book needs to be "How to Tell Friends they Need to go Failsafe". My tongue is getting sore from biting it as my tact is well known to be kept in my big toe.

Thank you again Sue I really appreciate your work over the years. Your research has made your arguments as sound as any article in a nursing/medical journal I have read. Unfortunately most of us have been programmed to believe it has to be objective and scientific to be believable. I am now a supporter and all the proof I need is when I see my son smile and I know it's all worth while. - by email

Last year the counsellor at my 7 year old son's school recommended he be tested for ADD mid this year if there was no improvement in his concentration. During her examination he barely sat still for a minute! I saw your website and decided the diet was worth a try as I knew that I would never have him on medication. It was difficult at first as his behaviour declined (fortunately I was expecting that from reading your books) and we made lots of mistakes but we persevered - and it
has been worth it! His thoughts seem to be clearer (he still is slow to get his words out but much improved), he has much more energy, more appetite, sleeps better, is happier and has better concentration. There is certainly no reason at this stage to have him tested for ADD.

Before the diet, he was never happy to do what the rest of the family were doing and it was very frustrating. Now he is completely different and we even completed a 5 hour walk in the Warrumbungle National Park during the last school holidays.

There are a lot of recipes that my three children love - pear crumble, potato wedges, dominion pudding, carob fudge cake, cottage pie to name a few. The three of them have improved appetites and attitudes to food - before they weren't happy to try new foods but are now quite happy to sample a new recipe. I find shopping and cooking easier as I skip most of the aisles and cook with fewer foods. The grocery bills are cheaper and the amount of GST paid is much less!

I'm so pleased that I decided to give the diet a go and have stuck with it. It's been the best thing for my son and for all the family.

One thing that struck me from one of your books was where you mentioned families travelling to Europe often experience an improvement in their child. Last year (pre diet) we spent 5 weeks in France and Italy travelling in a camping car and couldn't believe the difference in our son. His speech improved considerably, he was much happier and had a lot more energy. At the time we put it down to the fun we were having as a family exploring a new country but now realise it was probably the lack of preservatives in the food. Even pre diet we noticed some of the food you have mentioned - Fanta being a paler colour, ice-creams tasting like they used to and in Italy the pizzas and real home-made chips. The food was much tastier and we noticed that the Europeans eat foods that are in season.

Well, that is a very brief update on how changing foods and becoming aware of what we eat has helped my family. It has been a very positive change for us and well worth the hard work. Thank you for your advice, recipes and passing on your experiences. - by email

We are doing the elimination diet for my three children. I have been on the diet too and on the two occasions I had chocolate with my husband, I had a huge headache the next day. I have been a chocoholic all my life!! I also had a headache for the first week due to withdrawals, I presume. The best thing is I am not craving sweets and the weight is dropping off me!! I am losing about half a kilo a week (except during the salicylate challenge).

I have just finished reading your book Fed Up and I must say reading your stories about your family was an eye opener. When you talk about Rebecca, it sounded like my daughter. Everything you wrote I could relate to. I have tried almost everything - and even partially looking at her diet, but found it hard with nothing to guide me, until I purchased your book. The recipes are a great help.

Our daughter is currently not medicated for her ADHD - we have trialed her on several of the ADHD medications (Catapres, Dex and Ritalin) and the one that did help her caused excessive weight loss and we had to take her off the medication. I also found the Ritalin to have such a speedy effect on her in the afternoons, when she was coming off the medication, she was a million miles an hour and uncontrollable!!!

But she is so far behind at school with her reading and writing and something needs to be done ASAP so she doesn't fall too far behind. Thank you for your time and thank you for writing such a BRILLIANT book. - by email

I read the last two newsletters on your website and was amazed with the information. I am just starting to look at food additives/preservatives as our 6 year old son has difficult behaviours at times. We are vegetarian and eat a healthy diet but we have noticed these behaviours increasing since starting school...he is restless, has difficulty concentrating, can be anti-social and unable to share, aggressive (punching himself) and teary...however, this is not all the time...he can be calm, delightful and co-operative one day and then highly emotional the next. Specialists have no answers for us re the cause but after him having his first Redskin a few weeks ago and some Arnotts Family assorted cream biscuits (another first) he just went crazy and was angry and aggressive for the following 3 hours. - email

My son is 3 ½ and was diagnosed with Autism at 2½. He also presented with almost all of the criteria for the hyperactivity side of ADHD. The diagnosing doctor gave us very little information to go ahead with. By good fortune my husband picked up Sue Dengate's Failsafe Cookbook the weekend after our son was diagnosed, when I was still reeling and had no idea which direction to head in. We went looking for triggers for our sons hyperactive bouts, he was always active, preferring to permanently run rather than walk, and he had no attention span, but sometimes he would just go off, usually for about two days, where he would literally climb the furniture, sitting on top of the bookshelf, watching TV upside down, while lying on top of it, and he was causing his older sister, not to mention his parents, huge amounts of grief.

Early intervention has proved a godsend, but even so, we couldn't get him to sit still, or even sit down! and ADHD drug trialling was mentioned, if we couldn't improve his behaviour. This made me very nervous because previously any medication, bar panadol, for more than 3 days, sent him berserk. I now understand this to be the flavourings in all children's medication (I thought I was covering my bases buying colour-free!) Before I went to RPAH I had done quite a lot of work on his diet myself, and we had discovered a lot ourselves, but after I'd read Sue's book and been to RPAH I was able to make a real difference for our son. His biggest problem is salicylates and colourings - why didn't anyone know to tell me that bad nappy rash is always a sign of salicylate intolerance? That sign was present from when he was a baby. I always put it down to teething - how wrong I was! What a huge amount of grief we could have been saved if we'd known.

Our son is a typical limited Autistic eater. We were told that he was eating a good nutritious diet and we shouldn't interfere. After RPAH and Sue's book, we learned that almost everything our son was eating was bad for his intolerances. I'd tried Helgas Rye bread thinking I was avoiding bread preservative 282 - with no idea that vinegar was a problem! He drank lots of diluted apple juice - so I bought the one with no flavourings and thought he would pee out what he didn't need, which he did. I thought it was good that he drank between 2 and 3 litres a day - the chemist told me it wasn't a problem. RPAH told us he was consuming the equivalent of 10 - 12 apples a day and he is salicylate intolerant!!! Since we removed the fruit juice, he doesn't crave it any more and now drinks about 1 litre of water a day - and it was far easier than I could have imagined!

So even with lots of knowledge under my belt and advice from all the so called "experts" before I went to RPAH I still was far off base. Three days on the elimination diet and our son was a changed child. Preschool reports that he now walks instead of runs. As a result he has slowed down enough to take an interest in the activities around him. He has broken the diet a couple of times, so one week in we inadvertently challenged salicylates and colourings, both with obvious results.

The good news is that he is allowed to still eat wheat, pears, and drink diluted pear syrup from tinned pears, and he has adapted beautifully - something I never thought possible.

Our son is still Autistic - it's not a cure - but it has certainly made a difference to his hyperactivity and therefore he is now far more teachable, with a wider interest base, and the ability to pay attention to things better than before. Grandparents who were sceptics of the diet have noticed that he is calmer, and can only attribute it to the diet. He has even started looking at his grandad, for the first time in two years!

We are only in the second month of the elimination diet, with several mishaps already under our belts, but I really wanted to encourage anyone who is thinking about the diet, dealing with Autism or ADHD - give it a go - you'll learn a lot. It has lowered the stress on our family, particularly his five year old sister, considerably, and has made our son far easier to deal with. Also, when he is not affected by a food infringement, his eye contact improves, he is coming out with new words every week, and is approaching other teachers, apart from his regular carer, something he's never done before.

Interestingly, before we went to RPAH, Sue Dengate told us the main problem would be salicylates but I couldn't face it, I thought it was too hard. It really wasn't that hard, and the fast results were well worth it. Sorry about the long email, but I hope I can encourage others out there to give it a go. - from failsafe2 discussion group

My daughter is 3.5 years old. Last year when she was 2 years old she had two nights where she only slept for 2 hours, and was a flailing, intolerable child. I literally had to walk out of the house, I was very close to losing it. I realised that this reaction was likely caused by the 'party foods' she had eaten for the first time at a playgroup Christmas party. I took her to the doctor, and was then referred to a paediatrician, and then onto a child psychologist. The psychologist agreed that her diet needed to be taken into account, as she was a very busy little girl, who never stopped, and never slept much. But the sudden outburst of defiance had me worried. He gave us practical advice, and we went on our way. Six months ago, a friend gave me your book 'Fed Up'. During the first two weeks of the elimination diet, our little devil turned into an angel … - by email

About 3 months ago I wrote you a very short letter explaining my 5 year old's diagnosis (severe ADHD/severe Anxiety Disorder/ ODD) and asking for a brochure. Well, thanks for the brochure and the very nice note you sent back. You were so confident that RPA would "sort him out" that it really lifted my hopes incredibly and helped me stick to the ultra elimination diet he'd been put on.

You were so right - I (and his brother, my friends, family and school) saw changes I never thought I would see. Basically this diet has saved him just in time from starting at a special school for behaviour disorders. By mid second term - pre-diet, in Kindergarten - he had been suspended 7 times for violent behaviour. Since the diet, he hasn't even been sent to the Deputy. You were very perceptive in the letter you sent - yes, life had been absolute hell - there is no other way to describe it. After I received your letter I bought "Fed Up" and read it in 3 nights - that gave me even more hope. Thank you so much for all the work you do and the fantastic web site - I just can't get enough of it. If I ever come to Darwin I owe you a big thankyou hug! - by email, NSW

Since we started using only Brumby's bread my girls are quite livable. We have fruit and vegetables, but steer clear of juices, soft drinks, crisps and sweets. Most of our food is home cooked from scratch so that I know what is used, and one girl is dairy-free. We haven't gone back to 'long-life' bread because Brumby's is so much tastier anyway.

We are doing the failsafe diet with my son, aged six. The difference has been dramatic. His comprehension and reading skills have improved greatly since we started firstly additive and preservative free then started salicylate, amine and MSG free. We make our own bread. Finding that Brumby's are preservative free means that I don't need to take my breadmaker on holiday with us. Wow, a break all round!

Knowing what I am going through, and being able to read others' experiences has been life saving for me as a Mum. I very much appreciate what you have done with your web site. - reader Qld

We've been on the diet for a year. Something I've noticed in the last month - more and more people are checking the ingredients on the packets in the supermarket. Thanks again for all your persistence with the food industry. - by email

Q. Do you have any suggestions about which brands of bread are preservative-free and/or how I could obtain preservative-free bread in the northern suburbs of Sydney? Most of the brands of breads in the supermarket (Cole's and Woolworths) have preservatives in them. 

A. See Failsafe Shopping List, frequently updated as new reports of preservative-free bread come in.

Q. Thank you for creating the awareness about propionates. According to a FSANZ spokesperson, levels depend on climate, meaning that Darwin would have the highest ones in tropical bread products.

A. In theory, it would be logical for Darwin to have to the highest levels in the world of calcium propionate and that is probably why we noticed the effect of this preservative first here. However, in practice, you can get maximum doses anywhere in Australia. According to one southern food analyst who refuses to be named, the sign "preservative 282" on the label can mean the bread contains anywhere from none to over the maximum limit. Three years ago, when the Today Tonight show had Adelaide supermarket breads surveyed for a segment on bread preservative, more than half the breads contained the maximum level of calcium propionates. Yet another example of FSANZ being out of touch with what really happens.

I am now on the 2nd day of my 2 1/2 yr old not having commercial bread and I now have my angel back. Thank you, you have saved my sanity and my son's future - by email

A few weeks ago, I saw Today Tonight's program regarding preservative 282. Since taking that preservative out of my children's diet, I have seen remarkable changes especially to one of my boys diagnosed with ADHD.

We have already taken him off dexamphetamine.

I have written to Today Tonight to hopefully get a follow up program as the greatest problem is McDonalds having 282 in their buns and muffins, which are provided by Buttercup. Let hope we can get somewhere as thousands of children in Australia are obviously affected and it's mind boggling to think of the millions of kids affected all over the world.

By all means use my e-mail and name on your website. If it helps one child, it would be worth it. - Peter, by email

It's been 7 weeks now since we switched to Brumby's bread. Within days, my 10 year old ADHD son started improving and we halved his dose of dexamphetamine medication. After four weeks on preservative free bread, he was able to go without medication altogether.

You've no idea how much this child has changed. It's huge. I no longer get calls from school, he's bringing home merit awards, he entered himself in a maths competition, studied for it and won the first round . He does his homework without being asked. Half the time he goes to bed and is sound asleep before we say anything. Before, we used to get excited if he got to sleep by 11 pm. One day we were late for school and he said "that's OK, if we're late, we're late". Before, he
would scream at me and kick the door. The change is unbelievable.

My older son has changed too. He is a very calm and loving child but he used to be so forgetful - like he was in another world. He would get very frustrated at forgetting things and sometimes he would snap. Now he remembers everything the first time.

We've seen improvements in the whole family - all five of us - except for the last two weeks, when we on holidays and we couldn't get Brumby's bread. We bought a bread labelled "no preservatives" but we all got worse. Then someone told me about whey powder. When I checked the label, it had whey powder in it.

My husband and I have noticed we have so much more energy and are less moody on preservative-free bread. With 282, I'm so tired all the time, I can't hold a conversation without losing people, my handwriting is terrible, I write some of my letters backwards, and I've even reversed phone numbers (02 instead of 20). This is really important in my job.

Three of us (me and two of the kids) are asthmatics. On the Brumbys bread we've all been asthma free and medication free for 3 weeks. That's a long time for us.

I'm angry. They think because they put a number on the label, they can put anything they like in our food. But we don't know what it is or what it can do to us. I don't want my child medicated if there's another way. - Anne-Marie, Hunter Valley, NSW

I've already bought your books "Fed up" and the "Failsafe Cookbook" and sat up nearly all night reading them cover to cover. The story about Kerry especially rang bells. After I read this story to my husband he is willing to give the diet a go, anything that will improve the quality of life for our daughter. I also read the Kerry story to my Mum. She cried, and we spent most of today at the shops reading labels … We want to give the diet a go as I think all my children will benefit from it.

Tonight the kids have already helped to make your sherbet recipe and it was a real hit especially with my older daughter. I felt it was important to try something that I thought they would like and show them that this new way of living wasn't all that bad. - email

I would like to thank you for your remarkable book. My children (2 and 5) and I have been on the elimination diet (happy food as we call it) for three weeks now and we have never felt better. After many years of being told that I was the cause of my son's behaviour and many inconsiderate doctors telling me that he was ADHD, I saw your book and decided to give a try. After a major pantry clean out to friends and family, we weren't left with much. This was a shock as I thought I fed my children a good diet. I never realised that we were eating so many chemicals and additives. Then we started trying a few new recipes. I never knew food tasted this good.

My children's behavior has improved beyond what any words can say and I have found that I am a lot calmer myself. The only thing I have found, as was mentioned in your book, is that some friends can't understand how we can eat. I reply that I have gone back to basics and how my great grandmother would have cooked.. Thank you for your help and we will continue to live our new lives with our happy food.- email

We now have a play group operating once a fortnight (only small numbers to date but we will see how it goes) and a cooking class this coming weekend. We are having a whole day at my local school where we will demo a variety of appliances and recipes we use (ice cream machine, bread recipes, sausages, and many others). Our group continues to grow, we find a lot of people come to one meeting and may not come back for three or four months, others just like to get the newsletters and then there are the die-hards like myself who wouldn't miss it.

We have a huge amount of support from the medical fraternity. Our paediatrician is suggesting to parents of ADHD children to try the diet for a designated time (before going to medication) and to contact me for help and support. We then forward them to a dietician or allergy / intolerance doctor for monitoring and getting started. This is working well. It doesn't work for all families (they give up before they have it right) but it is great that they are becoming more aware. - group leader
in Tasmania

I'm a nutritionist and a mother. My little boy has had problems since birth, and I have suspected food allergy/intolerance. My son did not react to any foods on the skin prick test. A blood test showed a reaction to cows milk. Since removing dairy foods, he has been much better. But not all symptoms have gone completely. Maybe he is intolerant to something?

It has been a difficult task to find sympathetic and knowledgeable professionals to help. Even though I am trained as a dietitian, I feel out of my depth. - email [We can provide names of failsafe-friendly dietitians in many areas]

Thank you for all your help, I will let you know how I go with the diet. Cross fingers. No doubt there will be a lot of trouble in the beginning getting my daughter to try the food - she loves spaghetti and tomato sauce, things like that, so this will be interesting, but I am optimistic. I know there is a lovely little girl waiting to come out of the devil child I have at the moment. I know that's not a very nice thing to call her, but I sometimes wonder how she can think and act the way she does and be happy getting into trouble and arguing with us all the time. - email, Qld

I'm starting to get on top of this diet but it has taken ages because I've only just got around to eliminating the things I didn't think I could do without - like a cup of tea with breakfast. Sometimes you just can't believe something that feels so good, so right, can be so bad - but I seem to react (with migraines) to both salicylates and amines. I also react to milk - not incredibly sensitive, but more than about half a cup and I'm gone - and it took me quite a long time to admit that. - email, NSW

I was introduced to your books after my son was diagnosed with inattentive ADHD. I have four sons and feel like they are always complaining of some ailment. Three have all been bedwetters up until the ages of 6 to 8 years old. Two are often complaining about aches in their legs to the point of not being able to play sport which they love. One has headaches which leave him feeling lethargic and sleepy. These symptoms disrupt our lives and leave the kids irritable, but I haven't
wanted to take them to our doctor on every occasion, as I have worried that he will think I am imagining their problems.

My son with ADHD is well behaved and I have always felt he had the potential to do better at school than he was. I was disappointed to find out that the only solution to the problem that was offered to me was Ritalin. I am hoping that through a revision of his diet, we may be able to improve his results without medication.

At the moment I am reading "Fed Up" and it has just hit me how like some of the children, my children seem to be. As you mention in your book, I was one of those parents who stayed away from most of the obvious 'junk food' and would consider our family to eat relatively healthy food, however, my children do eat a lot of fruit and pasta sauce meals, which may be the cause of some of their symptoms.

Thank you again for your information and dedication in trying to spread the word. I am planning to try our family on the elimination diet and hopefully we will be able to pinpoint the problem foods for our children. I have renewed hope. - email

Thank you for a very informative website. We have two small children and have always been interested in healthy eating, trying to avoid junk food and chemical additives. I had no idea there was so much in so many foods! Have been through the cupboard ticking off all the safe and unsafe products and there were quite a few surprises! - email

I will start reading labels. I don't cook much so I tend to eat prepared foods, foods from the box, and lots of takeaways. Although I try to be healthy with what I choose (sandwiches without margarine, lots of salads etc), after reading your information I now know I haven't been healthy at all.

My husband is a chef . Although he has learnt a lot about food in the 13 years he has been cooking, he is surprised at the things in food that he didn't know about. This has been a real eye opener and learning curve for all of us. - email, Qld

I have just read Fed Up and I must say that it has turned my life upside down. It has been two weeks and I am a believer. My son is seven and scored 92 on your checklist. I have been to doctors, psychologists, etc. He is doing very badly at school, socially and with learning difficulties (diagnosed with dyslexia) and it has all come to a head in the last six months when he started having angry outbursts. These have settled in the last two weeks. This is the first light at the end of the tunnel I have seen since I realised my son was different from the norm at age three. Finally I can do something to help rather than just worry. - email, NT

I have a 5 year old granddaughter who is behaving very erratically. She has just started school and although we know she has a temper, this behaviour is beyond all explanation. We call her the "little girl with the curl". We have tried to pinpoint food but have failed. As she has just started school she is eating more bread than ever before as she takes a packed lunch. After watching the program, we thought maybe that is the problem. - email

My daughter, now 10, demonstrated all the behaviors outlined in the Today Tonight story as well as constant ear and throat infections plus skin rashes, itchy feet and hands, nightmares, could not sleep, agitated behavior, and running sores. I could not find a doctor who could help so at 3 years old we took her to a naturopath. He took her off all milk and grains except corn.

The result was so remarkable that we have religiously kept her off all grains for 7 years. She did return to diary products in moderate amounts without problems. She has learned not to eat wheat as when she breaks this diet she often becomes ill. Although she has never had bowel problems we have assumed she is coeliac. She has not been tested as we refuse to make her go through hell for 3 months before the doctors can test. After watching your research I was wondering if she is really only sensitive to the additive in bread and I assume some other products … - email

I know that my 14 year old ADHD son does better when on a preservative and colour free diet but he obtains all the "wrong foods" from his friends at school which we have not been able to remedy or control since he was in grade 1.- email

My son aged 10 is autistic. Our speech pathologist suggested that a big part of the ratty behaviour he often exhibits could be from additives in our everyday food and said what you are saying about our daily bread containing more additives. I have eliminated soft drinks from his daily intake and what a remarkable difference I can see already. - email, Melbourne

I have just picked up your year book 'Fed Up'. I can't believe I have ignored what was just so obviously the problem with my four year old boy. I have recently eliminated all the additives and noticed an amazing difference in my son's behavior and concentration. This diet is obviously a challenge but if the least outcome is more energy (lethargy and a short fuse have always been my problem) it will be worth it. I am a registered nurse but most importantly a desperate mum trying to make a difference to a clearly distressed four year old's life. - email

My jaw dropped to the ground after seeing your show on Today Tonight and thinking "that's my son!!" I thought I had tried everything to work out what was wrong with my son as a baby - he is 4 now. He wouldn't sleep. I was lucky to get 15 minutes sleep out of him day or night - doctors were saying it was colic, no remedies would help - nothing would work - he just constantly screamed and screamed and screamed. I thought I was going mad. It wasn't until I weaned him off breast
milk that he started to calm down a bit - but he is still difficult and hard to live with. My other two children are not like this at all.

I could never come to any conclusions and neither could anybody else. I noticed recently after I ate certain foods, I would feel tired and have to lie down and in two incidents recently I could not keep my eyes open and had to immediately lie down and sleep. I thought this was to do with fats (margarine etc).

But after seeing the show it is like the light has dawned. It has been one week now and we have been buying preservative free bread - and I am already noticing a slight difference in my son. I intend to eliminate other preservatives and get to the crux of it all. Thank you and I feel that I am at the beginning of the trek to a new and improved life.

I was extremely interested in the story of bread and ADHD on Today Tonight. I do not have an ADHD child however I used to have a child that could be quite erratic sometimes (like they all are at 5). He is dairy free and I have put him on preservative free bread over the last 2 weeks. Now I have a completely different child! No more tummy aches (used to occur every couple of nights) and very balanced behaviour. - email

My son was experiencing behavioural and learning problems. Through diet (eliminating 282, other additives and some salicylates) I have seen some wonderful changes in him, especially in his sleeping. For the first time in his five years of life, he is sleeping 12-14 hours a day. - email, WA

Congratulations on your fantastic work with the bread preservative research and media presentation. It certainly has a huge amount of people interested in our local towns. Many families in our district have tried avoiding 282 as a result and have had fantastic results, with much happier, easy-going kids. Our local school tuck shop is even considering switching to preservative free bread which I am sure will make a huge difference in the school as it is known to be a particularly bad school with very high teacher assault rate -both verbal and physical - and terrible bullying issues. I have also given their committee a copy of your tuck shop paper - they were very grateful for the info. - email, WA

Congratulations on the publication of your research on 282! I couldn't help but remark to my wife that Sue Dengate is probably a modern Rachel Carson. Her book, "The Silent Spring" about the consequences of using DDT, changed the way the world looks at environmental chemicals. Your books and untiring effort are starting to produce, throughout Australia and even the world, a general knowledge of food intolerance and its consequences. Truly a monumental effort. - Bernard Trudgett, Wollongong. [Thanks, Bernard, and thank you to everyone who has written to congratulate me on the study's publication  ]

"I will be trying the elimination diet with the whole family. It will be hard to start with, but after reading the shopping list on page 200 of the cookbook, it doesn't look as bad as it seemed at first. The first shop will take a while, but I'm sure it will be worth it." - email, Qld

I've read many of the stories on your website. It's amazing to me that manufacturers think it is necessary to add so many chemicals. People need to buy food all the time. If no one added colours or flavour enhancers and other chemicals, I'm sure the consumers would be happy to buy what was available, based on price and quality. I was very happy with the foods offered 30-40 years ago, before so many chemicals were added. Thanks for all you and your husband have done in these studies. I can only imagine what a battle it has been for you. - email

This week mum has started us on a failsafe diet with foods that have no colours or preservatives in them, I think it's good because I might get less migraines and not feel sick as often and maybe even do better in school. Hopefully this will help my sister who has learning disabilities and maybe she'll be able to read like me.

It's amazing how many colours and preservatives are in food, I checked all the labels when I went shopping with mum and I helped clean out the pantry too. Mum made some sherbert and it tasted like the real thing but without the horrible colours and preservatives in it. The new diet is good, it's fun to try out new things and they taste good as well.

Next week we are going to clean out the bathroom and laundry cupboards and buy more friendly shampoos and toothpaste and it's goodbye and into the garbage bin with all the bad things.

I wish our Prime Minister would realise what these things are doing to us. - Caroline, aged 9.

Antioxidants (310-312, 319-320) are the most frustrating additive by far. You can usually see colours and other additives are usually on the label in some sort of description. But antioxidants are not considered to be preservatives by regulators, and the manufactures are not always required to list them on the label, so antioxidants are a secret ingredient unless you go to extreme lengths to ask first the supplier of the food and then the manufacturer of the contents.

There are alternatives to the nasty antioxidants which are failsafe (300-309) and haven't been associated with cancer in rats, possible genetic changes, nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, collapse and children's behaviour, just to name a few.

Even failsafe foods like Betta Natural Cone Cups can't be trusted. I found this out after my son experienced an adverse reaction to these cones. When I telephoned the supplier, I was told that they had changed their oil and it now included BHA (320) and tBHQ (319).

What hope have we got for our children if such nasty additives are hidden in our foods? – Jenny, Warragul, Victoria

.I think it is a very cruel thing for parents as well as children to go through. Please send me as many brochures as you can. I would like to leave some with my doctor and also at my child health clinic for them to learn about it and be able to help other mothers identify food intolerance as a problem - email, Qld

One of the guys at work has three kids, including one who had major behavioural problems. He and his wife had been to see professionals, including psychologists, to try and find out what the bloody hell was wrong with their son. In the end, they actually thought they were bad parents. When I spoke about Sue's book, they bought it and started giving their kid preservative-free bread instead of supermarket bread. Guess what. The little boy's behaviour changed dramatically for the better. That was nearly a year ago and they no longer seek professional advice on how to bring up their kids. Amazing.

There is no doubt about it, Sue Dengate is definitely on to something. I just wish more people would listen. - email

You mentioned the additive 282 in bread causes behavioral problems in children. What about adults? I only started eating 8-10 slices of bread a day in June. It started out with 4 slices of toast for breakfast. Two of the slices were for my 2 year old, but when she didn't eat hers, I ended up eating all 4 pieces. I started eating 1 sandwich for lunch but was craving more so I have been eating 2 sandwiches now. Sometimes at dinner we have toasted sandwiches. I'm hoping it is the bread that has been making me feel so hateful and easily annoyed. I never used to be set off so easily. Now it seems that I can't even talk to my husband without getting upset and he is probably one of the nicest, easiest-going husbands around. I'm going to go off bread with 282 in it and see what happens. I'll let you know in 3 weeks if I'm feeling more normal.

Two weeks later: After the first couple of days I started feeling less uptight. By the end of the first week I was feeling great. Then we went on a trip over this last weekend. I'm not sure if it was some toast I had both mornings where we stayed but the last few days I have been feeling all uptight again. We also stopped at McDonalds for breakfast on the way home yesterday and I'm not sure if there is 282 in the muffins. Now that I'm back home I will not be buying bread with 282 ever again. - email

Q. I have a son with ADHD, behavioural problems and a learning disability and another with a learning disability. I would like more information about the brands of bread/bread mixes that are free from the calcium propionate (282). Are you going to run a trial in Victoria ? If yes, I am interested in participating. Any extra additional information that you can give me I would greatly appreciate it. - by email

A. Sorry, there are no future trials planned, although many parents have volunteered. You don't need to take part in a study to trial the elimination diet. The bread preservative is not the only food chemical which can cause problems. Ask the phone contact in your area (see website)s on the website or email me for the name of a failsafe-friendly dietitian who will supervise this diet for you.

Q. I decided to try removing the additive 282 from my families' diet to see if the behaviour of my children would improve. So far they appear to have only be behaving worse. Have you heard of this happening before?

A. There are at least three possibilities. First, it could be withdrawal symptoms. Food additives are addictive. When you eliminate them, you can expect withdrawals which usually only last two days sometime in the first two weeks. Second, it could be that some other food chemicals - including natural ones like salicylates in fruit juice - are affecting your children and you have unknowingly introduced more of those at the same time. Third, are you sure the bread you have switched to is preservative-free? There are numerous instances of mislabelling or misinformation. If buying unlabelled bread, insist on seeing the label on the premix. If they won't show you the premix label, don't buy it. Note that Bakers Delight bread boasts 282-free, but it does contain 223 (sodium metabisulphite) which affects some kids just as badly. If buying labelled bread in a supermarket, ask to see the premix label for an instore bakery (although this does not guarantee the baker has used the correct premix, and there have been problems with that too). If the bread comes from out of store, ask which bakery, phone that bakery and ask about 282. There are many instances of wrongly labelled out-of-store bread. Brumby's is very safe - they do not have 282 in any of their breads.

Q. I asked at our local bakery whether they had preservative and they swore they didn't, but my sons and I reacted to it.

A. Many hot bread shop attendants will say there is no preservative in their bread because they don't add any and it isn't always listed as preservative. It is often listed as mould inhibitor (282). You need to see the premix label with your own eyes.

I believe that 282 is the worst food additive. It is hidden in a healthy food (bread and crumpets) and most people don't know about the problems it causes in children. Doctors don't know about it, so therefore it doesn't cause a problem (yeah right!!). It turns good kids into screaming, tantrum throwing, horrible children with no idea why. That's why I hate 282 more than all other additives. I don't like the others much either!! - this is an entry in the Worst Additive competition, winners to be announced in the next newsletter, out soon

Q. You mentioned the additive 282 in bread causes behavioural problems in children. What about adults? I only started eating 8-10 slices of bread a day in June. It started out with 4 slices of toast for breakfast. Two of the slices were for my 2 year old, but when she didn't eat hers, I ended up eating all 4 pieces. I started eating 1 sandwich for lunch but was craving more so I have been eating 2 sandwiches now. Sometimes at dinner we have toasted sandwiches. I'm hoping it is the bread that has been making me feel so hateful and easily annoyed. I never used to be set off so easily. Now it seems that I can't even talk to my husband without getting upset and he is probably one of the nicest, easiest-going husbands around. I'm going to go off bread with 282 in it and see what happens. I'll let you know in 3 weeks if I'm feeling more normal. Please let me know if you have heard this happening to adults ?

A. One of the mothers in the bread study reported similar effects and there have been others. A number of people have reported the same kind of cravings - gradually eating more and more preserved bread. The bread preservative is not the only food chemical which can cause these symptoms but if it does affect you, you should feel better within days of avoiding it.

Q. Calcium propionate and related preservatives belong to the GRAS list of chemicals, "Generally Recognised as Safe". The public has been assured for decades that the safety of these chemicals is conclusively proven. If indeed propionates are found to be unsafe, what assurance do we have of the safety of other food-additive chemicals on the GRAS list? - email, Sydney.

A. Additives are never tested for their behavioural toxicity, that is, their effects on children's behaviour or learning. There are no assurances regarding behavioural safety of any additives. There are 50 "safe" additives that have been associated with behaviour problems, see list on the website.

Q. Thanks for interesting article on the effects of bread preservative. I went to my heart specialist a couple of weeks ago and told him I that when I eat bread, it makes the rhythm of my heart go absolutely crazy. It misses one beat in four and makes me feel quite unwell. He told me that was absolute nonsense, but he would get me to wear a 24 hour heart monitor. So I did that and when they analysed the data, sure enough, 35 minutes after I ate four slices of bread, the graph went wild. But he still doesn't believe that it was caused by bread. So I'm going to look for another heart specialist who will listen to me. It was a real comfort to realise that there is a doctor (Dr David Brewster) who does believe beyond the textbook. Have you had any experience in 282 adversely affecting heart rhythm? I would be really interested to know whether you have had any other reports of 282 having other health side effects. - by email

A. See Factsheet for report of fast heart beat (tachycardia) linked to 282.

Thank you Mrs Dengate, I think you have answered my questions. I took my 4 year old daughter to a naturopath a year ago because I was sick of doctors giving her antibiotics for the flu which she got at least twice a year. One of the major suggestions was that I take her off wheat, so I did for the past year and she hasn't had a flu at all. We also noticed that her behaviour was much better and a rash that she has had for most of her life, mostly around the bottom area, had disappeared.

During this wheat-free year she did occasionally have some wheat and sometimes she would misbehave and sometimes she wouldn't and we couldn't work it out. I am positive the calcium propionate (282) is the cause. Over the past 2 months she has been eating wheat again, full on, but the bread that we eat is preservative free, and she has been a perfectly behaved child. I am not game to test her on a loaf of bread which has this preservative in it, but no doubt in the future she will have some at some time and we will be monitoring her behaviour. Thank you!!! - by email.[Comment: calcium propionate has very recently been linked with immunosuppression, which might explain the frequent flu.]

I was very interested in the Today Tonight segment. I have some real difficulties when I eat some breads yet I can eat other breads without them upsetting my stomach. - by email

I just wanted to say thanks for doing your study on 282. I am the mother of a four year old girl who has seen many specialists and had heaps of tests in the last two years with no real answers. Since she was 12 months old she had persistent diarrhoea, stomach cramps, what we called "bottom burns" (very severe reddening and blistering of her bottom from front to back which meant she couldn't wear nappies or sit down) and mood swings (one minute she'd be on top of the world, the next she would be screaming and crying and have no idea why).

After seeing a "paediatrician" (I'm still not sure how he qualified) we put her on an elimination diet (it was our idea, he said to let her go and see if she grew out of it). We found her symptoms stopped when we removed all gluten containing products from her diet. A coeliac test came back negative so we reintroduced it to her diet and the symptoms started again. We eliminated wheat products and the symptoms stopped again. We did allergy tests and when they came back negative we were confused. I was sure that wheat was the problem, but apparently not. The gastro registrar that she sees was confused too. We decided to put her back on the full diet and then retest her for coeliac disease, but again it came back negative. She no longer has the diarrhoea and bottom burns, but the cramps and mood swings are still there.

Now we have a Plan B. I'm going to try eliminating 282 from her diet and see what happens. My daughter has been classified as gifted and does not have ADD, but her cramps and mood swings very much affect her and the people around her. Again, thanks for getting Today Tonight to show that story and I really hope it helps. I'm also going out today to get a copy of Fed Up. Just goes to show you: as a paediatric nurse I thought I had all the answers when it came to kids and I really had no idea at all. At least the paediatrician had less of a clue than I did!! He still tells me that because all the tests were normal there is nothing wrong with her. He said it's my parenting that's the problem, not my daughter's body, yet my two year old son is fine! - by email [Comment: it is possible to have an intolerance to wheat which will not show up on allergy tests - or it could be 282. Some of the children in the bread preservative study reported stomach aches, and see stomach cramps letter above and below]

Q. I am curious as to whether the 282 mould inhibitor you have been looking at in children, is likely to have any effect on adults? Am I more at risk because I have to take daily medication for an illness? - by email, SA.

A. Calcium propionate (282) can affect adults as well as children with a wide range of health, behaviour and learning effects. Both illness and medication can increase intolerance to food chemicals.

More Articles ...

  1. [202] 282: Which breads? (September 2002)
  2. [203b] 282: Serious concerns about the bread preservative 282 (September 2002)
  3. [203] 282: Preservative-free bread in Sydney (September 2002)
  4. [204b] 282: Preservative-free bread in WA (September 2002)
  5. [204] 282: "282 one of main triggers for migraine" (September 2002)
  6. [205] "What is available in supermarkets" (September 2002)
  7. [206] 282: A teenager talks about the bread preservative 282 (September 2002)
  8. [207] 282: " very moody, stressed out and anxious " (September 2002)
  9. [208] 282: Extreme eczema from the bread preservative (September 2002)
  10. [420] 635: "A maddening itch" (September 2002)
  11. [421] 635: "I'm 56 and another victim of 635" (September 2002)
  12. [422] 635: “just a few CC's” (September 2002)
  13. [423] 635: “life-threatening anaphylactic-type reaction” (September 2002)
  14. [424] 635: One-liners (September 2002)
  15. [425] 635: “face very swollen and lumpy” (September 2002)
  16. [426] 635: “chicken flavouring” (September 2002)
  17. [427] 635: "crabbiness, itchy eyes and black circles under her eyes” (September 2002)
  18. [428] 635: “corn chips” (September 2002)
  19. [429] 635: “itchy rash … kept me up all night” (September 2002)
  20. [430] 635: “hive/welt rash and …swelling in the throat and breathing difficulties” (September 2002)
  21. [153] Nicholas: Our Six Year Journey (June 2002)
  22. [154] Baker's yeast is failsafe (June 2002)
  23. [155] A Brush with Pizza Snack Biscuits (June 2002)
  24. [156] Unexplained fatigue, dizziness (June 2002)
  25. [157] The orange-picking monster (June 2002)