I am writing to thank you for all the help your book 'Fed up with Asthma' has given my family. My daughter is two and a half years old, and was diagnosed with asthma when she was 10 months old. She was hospitalized with croup and later we were told she has asthma. She was put on a steroid puffer and I was told she would need this for most of her childhood.

I knew that food additives were not safe and I tried not to buy anything with 'numbers' on the back of the packs, which proved to be difficult. Still this didn't seem to help, I also put her on goats milk and took her off all other dairy products.

I took her to an asthma pediatrician, three months ago. He gave her an allergy skin prick test which came back totally negative. She was allergic to nothing! The doctor assumed that food was not a cause of her asthma. I was told that the cold winter nights were triggering her asthma, to go home and put her back on her steroid puffer.

This winter she seemed to get worse. As the cold nights set in, her coughing increased to the point that I was up every 20 minutes comforting her. I was desperately trying to keep her off the steroid puffer and I was about to give in, when I saw your book.

My daughter has now been on the failsafe diet for three weeks with amazing results. By the end of the first day she coughed only once, same the second day and the next two days nothing.

I've only made one mistake, when I gave her crackers which probably contained BHA (320) as a preservative in oil. At the time I thought they were failsafe so my daughter had quite a lot as a snack. That night she was back to coughing every two minutes and using her ventolin puffer. After 24 hours she was okay again and back on the failsafe diet.

I realise that we still need to discover other sensitivities but for now she can breath easy with no barking cough and we can both have a good nights sleep. If it hadn't been for your dedication to this cause I don't where we would be today. Thank you. - Joanne,  Perth Western Australia

I have worked out that my son's bad behaviour is all due to added MSG. He is OK on cheese and other natural MSG products - but give him a KFC chicken nugget packet and their chicken salt chips with the so called "secret herbs and spices" and you can see the reaction within 30 to 60 minutes. I'm not surprised as I get very similar reactions with MSG although my reaction is different to my son's behavioural reactions. I have Irritable Bowel and my reaction to MSG is to have a bad IBS attack. Sometimes I get an almost "high on drugs" feeling where my skin starts to crawl. - reader, email

I have 3 sons aged 7½, 5 and 2. The two older boys are very 'active' and display the type of behaviour that is evident in the emails from the other parents found on your website. Needless to say, I'm always on the go and have had a lot of trouble with my 5 year old who has just started school this year. Since I have found out about your website, I have changed the bread the boys eat and am trying to cut out all unsafe additives in their diet. Their behaviour has improved as a result of it. Thank You!! - reader, NSW

A couple of days after initially eating a meal my partner and I made using a recipe mix containing flavour enhancer 635, I broke out in a rash over my neck and upper torso. This quickly spread to the rest of my body the following day. The itch is unbearable, especially around my neck area, arms and breasts. The doctor didn't seem to believe that it could have been this enhancer, even after I showed her an article published in the Melbourne Sunday Herald Sun on 9 March 2003 entitled "Allergy hell in food additive".

It looks to me that there are many people who are intolerant to this additive and I believe it should be banned. This is the first time I have ever had a rash of this magnitude develop and I am not impressed. - reader, by email

I have never suffered any kind of food allergy in my life (43 years) and then about ten weeks ago I found myself suffering from an extremely intense and constant itch of my hands and arms. After two days of this I found I had come out in hives, starting on my upper chest, abdomen and back. It then spread to my arms and my legs and from then on each day might be different combinations of location of the hives, but always somewhere. They were worse at night causing intense itch and lack of sleep, I can't begin to tell you how unbearable the itch was and how it affected my everyday living and my ability to work. On several occasions my lips have been swollen and I find on occasion that although my upper lip doesn't look particularly swollen, it feels 'thick' and like I have been to the dentist. Once my eyelids puffed up too. Through studying the foods that I had eaten I became almost 100% certain that it was 635 causing my problem. For almost two weeks I avoided all foods containing this additive and was finally able to come off the antihistamines I had been forced to live on. I then ate a seasoned lamb steak bought from my local butcher and the next night the hives were back. Guess what? On contacting the butcher concerned, he was able to tell me that the seasoning used on those steaks contained 635.

I wish this product had never been put on the market. I'm sure it is what, to put it frankly, has caused me absolute hell almost continuously for over two months.

- Debbie, by email

My mother has "mature onset" asthma. We know she is super sensitive to sulphur in medications etc. but she remains in denial about changing her diet. - by email

Great News!! I have just finished week two of the elimination part of the diet and have found that I have gone from using my Ventolin at least once a day to not at all. I am still taking my preventative medicine tho and I still carry my Ventolin with me wherever I go. I have dined out a couple of times with friends but I have researched and am equipped for any situation! I love natural oysters so that is what I eat when I dine out with friends!! (with G&Ts). I am really looking forward to finding out which foods affect my asthma. - reader NT (so far, the salicylate and amine challenges have not affected her asthma, we'll keep you posted)

My second daughter (aged 7½), has always been the most 'difficult' one of my three children. Over the years we have had to put up with regular tantrums, defiance, rudeness and out of proportion reactions when things didn't go her own way. She also often complained of tummy aches and had little energy.

In early 2002 I read Sue Dengate's book 'Fed Up'. What I read described my daughter exactly. I discovered there is a name for her behaviour - oppositional defiance - and that it can be caused by intolerance to artificial or natural food chemicals. Our family decided to do an elimination diet using 'The Failsafe Cookbook' for guidance. We discovered that our daughter reacts severely to certain food colours and preservatives found in some breads and other food products. She also has an intolerance to natural food chemicals called salicylates.

The change in our diet has been enough to make a huge difference in our daughter's behaviour. She is now a happy, co-operative member of our family. She has a lot more energy and no longer overreacts when things don't go her way.

Asthma has also been a problem in our family. "Fed Up with Asthma" has given me the best information regarding asthma triggers and medications that I have ever read. Amazingly, in the six months since that we have been eating failsafe foods, no one in our family has suffered an asthma attack. - Alice, NT

I am the mother of an eleven year old asthmatic whose asthma is very well-controlled by avoiding certain food products. I have been caught unawares twice this month with flours containing sulphur dioxide. Both times the sulphur dioxide was not listed on the packet as it was under the necessary dosage to be listed, but within 12 hours of ingesting the product, my very well controlled asthmatic daughter started to wheeze and needed medication. Both times I rang the company who assured me the product did not contain sulphites, but when I pushed the company for more information it was revealed that in the processing, sulphites are added at the flour processing stage. Both times the products were labelled as 100% pure products.

This ingredient SHOULD BE LISTED, no matter how much is contained in the product. My daughter is obviously very sensitive. Traces of peanuts, eggs and dairy are now listed on food packages due to anaphylactic reactions of some children, why not for sulphur dioxide when it can also cause life threatening reactions? - Susan, NSW

I bought a basted turkey roll which we'd never never had before, and cooked it in the foil according to the manufacturers instructions. Near the end of the cooking time, I checked it and got some of the baste on my fingers. I gave my finger a lick after I put the turkey back in the oven. Within 10 - 15 minutes I had two hives on my right foot. I thought something must have bitten me. It wasn't until I started to eat the meal (I didn't even get all the way through it) that I realised they weren't bites. Within 15 minutes I had hives all over my body, my temperature was raised and I was very itchy.

I took Claratyne. The hives didn't get worse but they didn't go away. I saw the doctor the next day. He prescribed cortisone cream. I slathered my body with it every day but it took over a week for the hives to go away. At the time, I looked at the ingredients list on the turkey packaging but there were so many numbers and long words that I thought the culprit could have been anything. - by email

For the past 2 years and 4 months I have suffered unbelievably with the most horrific itchy rash and skin problems. I rated my rash as being chronic. It has been the most excruciating thing that I have ever experienced in my 65 years of life. I have been to so many doctors that I have lost count of them. Sadly no one has been able to help me, not even one of Adelaide's leading dermatologists.

Through the Current Affair program I have been able to work out that it is the additive 635 that has been my problem all this time. The pictures you have on your web site are exactly what I was like, plus on the days that I had really bad reactions - which was nearly every day - my whole face was puffy with fluid, burning
hot and extremely itchy, with prickling sensations and constant flaking skin, just like dandruff. I also suffered very swollen lips and badly swollen eyes with sacks of fluid under my eyes for a couple of days each time this occurred. My whole body was so inflamed that my skin was a constant clammy state 24 hours a day.

My hands have been extremely sore with splits all over them and like a fungus growth under all my finger nails, all of my fingers have had big gaping splits on them, some days it has been almost impossible to work because they have been so painful, my skin just seemed to split apart at any time.

At times it has been unbearable. It has cost me thousands of dollars in medical bills, lotions, tablets and bandages over the past two years plus.

I had no idea at all that it could be something that I have eaten all my life. As I do not eat a lot of red meat, chicken is my main meat source. Sometimes I would have it for two meals a day. Not for one moment did I ever think that it could be the chicken that I was eating that was causing such a serious rash.

I always purchased my cooked chickens from the same shop, so I asked them what they put on their chickens before they are cooked. They handed me a can of the product and there it was: 635. For the past nine days I have not eaten any chicken at all and the rash has disappeared completely. Although I am still having some itchy sensations during the day, I am happy to say that I have had two full nights sleep for the first time in over two years.

How can customers know that this dreadful product is being used on rotisseried chickens when there are no signs displayed in the shops stating that it has been used or no warning on the foil bags that they are put in when purchased?

I just hope that this can be brought out in the open for everyone to be aware of. I am certainly spreading the word to all that I meet, especially everyone who has seen me go through the past 28 months of agony. They are stunned. Everyone asks, 'how can the government possibly allow things like this to be used???'- Yvette, Adelaide.

I'm 50 years old. Although an eczema sufferer most of my early life, in the past 12 months I have on different occasions developed a rash worse than anything I have ever experienced with eczema.

I have been to dermatologists and allergists and found that I was severely allergic to the dust mite. In the past couple of months I changed all my bedding etc and have been free of rash.

On Saturday night I cooked apricot chicken. The welts on my body started to appear again on Sunday night. I finished the chicken for dinner on Monday evening not associating it with the rash. Last night I woke tearing my body to pieces. There were huge welts all over my torso, arms and upper legs. I was in a terrible state. It was two in the morning and I was sitting in my lounge room sobbing and distressed. I thought I had found the problem with the dust mite. This was however was something far worse.

I went into the kitchen and checked what I had eaten. I had read the article previously on food enhancer 635. I checked the Continental French onion soup packet that I had used in the casserole. There was no mention of 635. I was totally distressed and at my wit's end. I went back to the soup packet and checked again and saw 'flavour enhancer (ribonucleotides)'. I had kept the article on 635. I rushed to my purse and took out the article. There was the chemical name for
635 - the same as on the soup packet.

At least I now feel a little relieved to know what has been causing these periodic chronic outbursts of welts. I can try and avoid these foods.

The allergist I went to only a couple of months ago knew nothing of 635 until I told him of the article in The Herald Sun. He had tested me for everything else but not for 635. I am astounded that they are unaware of this problem. I have been going to doctors for the past 18 months, whenever I flared up. No-one could give me an answer.

This is nothing short of criminal that the Food and Health departments will not ban this additive. To tear yourself to pieces, with huge welts on your body is the most demoralising thing I have ever experienced. Obviously this had caused problems for me previously and had gone undetected. Not only do I now have to wait for the welts to die down, I have scratched up my skin so badly it will take weeks for that to heal. Surely big business should not come first over the health and well being of Australians. - Sue, Vic

I am a Canadian resident visiting Melbourne and writing to you because I believe I must have this reaction to flavour 635. A week ago I got a nasty itch on the side of my breast and by the next morning I awoke with it having spread and by the next day it had covered my chest, back and now my neck, ears, face and it is slowly making its way to my arms and legs. At first I thought it was the new laundry detergent, so I change it and rewashed everything I brought to Australia with me. It seemed to be slowing down until this morning when I awoke with far more on my face as the older ones got bigger and drier.

My boyfriend saw the bit on TV about 635 and realised it was in the instant noodles we ate just last night. This means I've got it all over again for another two weeks. I cannot believe this. I have never had anything like it except chicken pox! Now I'm sad because I am leaving in two weeks and not going to see my boyfriend for many months and I have to end my stay looking like a leper and feeling like I fell in a bag of fleas.

It makes me just as angry as the other people I've heard on this site because something like this should be immediately taken off the market. It hurts people, how can that allowed???? Good luck to all others out there with the itchy and scratchy syndrome ... - Claire, Canada

My daughter is nearly two. Ten days ago, she woke with a rash all over her torso. By that evening it had spread all over her body, including face, hands and feet, and she had developed a fever. At the local hospital, the doctor advised us she had a virus and it was not contagious. He suggested we give her Panadol four hourly to reduce her temperature and give Claratyne for the itch. During the next five days we gave her Claratyne but it did nothing to stop the itch. Her temperature remained up and we eventually gave up on the Panadol. We noticed that the rash seemed to improve during the day but flare up again in the evenings in certain trouble spots such as her back and around her nappy.

On day 5, after her evening bath, she went berserk when we tried to dress her. She was scratching madly and screaming non-stop – it took two of us to hold her down and get a nappy on her. After an hour of distress, she fell asleep but had a terrible night. She moaned in her sleep, and woke at 2.30am and screamed for half an hour, trying to pull her clothes and nappy off.

The next morning I took her to our GP. He was perplexed. He was trying to find some sign of infection to explain why her temperature was still up. He advised we switch to using Phenergan to try to control the itch. I gave her three doses of Phenergan that day, and yet the itching continued. That evening we had a repeat of the screaming and scratching frenzy. We ended up calling an ambulance. By the time the paramedics arrived, Freya had stopped screaming and was quiet.
One paramedic raised the issue of this possibly being an allergic reaction but was wondering if it was something to do with clothes detergent. The hospital staff had nothing more to offer.

The following morning we took Freya to see an allergy specialist. He advised us the rash was urticaria, and his belief was that she did initially have a virus and her body had an allergic reaction in response. He advised it could take up to two weeks for the rash to clear up completely. He said the only other explanation would be a food allergy, and that if there was no improvement over the weekend we should make changes to her diet.

On the weekend I saw the Herald-Sun article. When I mentioned it to the allergy specialist, but he discounted flavour enhancer 635 as a possible cause for Freya’s reaction!!! He said food additives do not produce a long lasting reaction like this … Well, I am not taking any chances. Now aware that 635 can cause the exact symptoms I have seen my daughter suffer during the past few days, I have reflected on her diet. The day before Freya’s rash first appeared, she ate something she had never eaten before: flavoured chips.- Tara, Melbourne

My 21 year old daughter came down with an allergic reaction on Christmas Day. She went to the doctor the next morning with this awful raised red rash all over her. He said 'it's only a reaction' and sent us home with over-the-counter antihistamine. As we were leaving she passed out but the doctor said it was only a faint. That night we had to take her to emergency at the hospital where they didn't know what it was either. She ended up staying in for 3 days and was on cortisone injections. She went to an allergy specialist who said it was a virus and did nothing. The hospital ruled out virus as they did all the tests. Thank you for your work. My daughter did eat turkey for Christmas dinner but I would never have dreamed it would be something in the turkey. It was so stressful not knowing what the cause was.

I would like to see something done as one day someone will die. I certainly wouldn't want my daughter to go through that again. - Charmaine, Qld

I began to suffer strange, itchy swellings about seven years ago and spent a lot of time and money going back and forth to my doctor to try to ascertain the cause and a treatment. As you guessed, he couldn't find a cause. I gave up asking and had to suffer in silence. I have consulted doctors only when the swelling occurred in my tongue and throat to such a degree that I was very afraid for my safety. These swellings have probably occurred on a two-monthly basis for several years, with some incidences being more extreme than others.

Since the article appeared in the Melbourne Sunday Herald Sun about 635, I have tried to be very careful about what I eat, and check, where I am able, that any foods I consume do not contain 635. I have noticed a reduction in occurrences, although one morning I woke up looking like Eddie Murphy in the Nutty Professor.

It was interesting to read that rotisseried chicken can be a culprit, as this is one thing I have eaten recently, before suffering an occurrence which I could not explain otherwise.

Thanks for getting the information out there. You may just save some precious lives. - Cathy, Vic

I am a 33 year old mother of two. I woke up one Sunday morning with an angry red blotchy rash all over my body and my legs were burning. I asked my husband to call an ambulance as I nearly fainted and felt like vomiting at the same time. A doctor put me on Prednisolone tablets for a week. I also took antihistamines and smothered myself in Calamine lotion but nothing seemed to ease the rash which turned to severe hives all over my body. I couldn't sleep and would be awake in the night clawing at my skin for some relief. I ended up bathing in Pinetarsol Solution which eased the itching. I was told that looking for the cause of the reaction was like "looking for a needle in a haystack" and I could not think of anything I had done differently. So to see your story on A Current Affair was fantastic. I am sure my reaction was from eating Continental Oriental Fried Rice packet mix on Friday night and also Saturday night for tea. I had a slight rash on my stomach on Saturday afternoon but it wasn't until Sunday morning that the severe reaction occurred. I checked my cupboards and 635 was also in Continental Macaroni Cheese as well. Thank you, and let's hope it can be removed from foods before someone has a fatal reaction.

I am 42 and live in Sydney with my husband and 2 children. My story centres around my son, Alex who is now 6 years old. Alex is a little toughy, one of those kids who is highspeed, enthusiastic, in your face, adventuresome etc (and that's with a positive spin on his life).

He was born 2 weeks early, but a big boofy boy at 4kg. For the first 6 months he was a wonderfully placid calm child. Feed well, slept well, grew well, didn't seem to cry - dream baby. (Apart from having chicken pox, bronchiolitis and 2 fits in this period he was healthy and strong - though perhaps these illness should have given me a clue).

At six months he suddenly became incredibly restless - people would comment on him being active and a real 'tiger' - Looking back 3 things changed at this time - he started solids, started formula and he started daycare. I also remember noticing his face change. He had had a beautiful round baby face with bright blue eyes, and when he started on solids he got dark circles and creases under the eyes, and his eyes turned green - I remember crying at the loss of my beautiful baby boy.

His first year in day care was diabolical. In a class of 15 babies, with 4 carers they could not cope with Alex. He walked at 9 months and spent his time running around the other babies (that were still immobile) snatching toys, jumping on the babies, shrieking, and escaping - he seemed incredibly bright and had the mobility of a child at least 6 months older. Every evening I was met with the litany of what he had done that day to terrorise the class. The carers always looked frazzled and worn out. Their only solution was to give continuous time out as a unishment - he spent hours every day in a cot that he eventually broke - at the time I lived through it thinking it must get better - in hindsight I see their approach as completely inappropriate - he was too young to be punished - it didn't help to modify his behavior, rather it set it in stone.

He continued through daycare being rough and ready, and some days violent - he found their order and routine hard to take. When he wanted to run in the garden, he had to listen to the story, when he wanted to keep painting, he was told painting time was finished - the structure and lack of freedom drove him mad. And this was a university based childcare with great facilities and high staff to student numbers!!

Our life at home was crazy as well. It was like living with Jekyll and Hyde. Sometimes he would be a delight, other days he would be totally uncontrollable - usually incredibly defiant - he could stick to his point hour in hour out - it was impossible to win an argument - normal parenting didn't seem to work. He also had a habit of making loud repetitive noises.

Going out was a nightmare - he would run away, run into traffic, swear at strangers, try to strangle other children, and on a really bad day would threaten to kill people. There were many times when I felt that I had a potential psychopath or serial killer on my hands. Another characteristic was that he couldn't be told anything - he always wanted to learn first hand.

Harm minimisation seemed to be the best policy - I taught him to cook, use knives safely, chop wood with an axe, use power tools etc at a very young age - on the basis that he was going to find and use these items anyway, no matter what I did to try and stop him. Although he had a few accidents (mainly burns from cooking) this strategy has meant that he is still alive.

At 3 we discovered he had asthma, and glue ear - he had his first set of grommets inserted and could finally hear. At that stage I thought the hearing was the answer to all his behavioral problems, and I am sure he must have felt better being able to hear (Since then we have had another 3 sets of grommets inserted). He also changed to a community based, child centred pre-school/school which was far better for him. They worked with what he wanted to do and let him learn and explore at his own pace. The other children were attracted to him in an odd way - they were always excited to see what daring deed or brilliant idea he had - he never lacked for incredible ideas or enthusiasm. Despite this, successful social interaction and aggression was still an issue, and friendships were dicey due to his unpredictability.

Another habit he had was ticcing - eye tics, snorting, touching other children, kicking - At 4 he was diagnosed with Tourettes by a paediatrican. (I followed up later with a neurologist who specialised in Tourettes who said that he was just a naughty boy who needed counselling).

I was also seeing the local health centre psychologist -but this seemed to be no more than a chance for me to talk - never really got to address Alex's needs.

Interestingly I found his behavior was always better in winter, and was diabolical by term 4 (I now think this is fruit related!).

By the end of pre-school several parents had started a petition to get him removed from the school - luckily I had the support of the teachers and many other parents and this was stopped dead in its tracks.

I noticed that there were several different levels to his behavior - what I think of as 'full on' and then 'psycho'. I noticed that he became psycho after certain drinks - being sceptical about colour related behavior I started to read the labels whenever he went truly demented and psychotic - of course you can guess what I found - 102 At the time I had no idea that other people knew it was bad - I just thought I had the only child in the world who reacted to yellow colour - particularly as the popular wisdom of the day all said that red colour was the problem. So for the last 2 years I have avoided 102 - this helped a bit - but not totally.

The local health centre's counsellor visited the school and reported that his behavior was Oppositional Defiant - first time I had ever heard of it. The solution was to maximise his 'good interactions' - so once again no real help, and leaving it up to me to be a better parent.

Alex started school at the same child-centred preschool/school last year - he had a reasonably good year but was chronically sick - temperatures, stomach aches, head aches. However as he is so hyperactive, he often didn't realise he was sick, and I had to fight to get doctors to look at him. For example, I took him to hospital with severe asthma/croup - however as he was running around casualty making chicken noises he was not seen to as a priority case - when they finally looked at him, his oxygen levels were dangerously low and he was gasping for breath.

Another time we sat in a waiting room, left till last as he was jumping on chairs (and apparently well) - when he was finally seen the doctor couldn't believe he was racing around - his temperature was 41 and he had acute tonsillitis and a ear infection. He also had a severe salmonella infection last year and was losing considerable quantities of blood, but because of his high energy levels I was told it was just gastro and I was exaggerating his symptoms - it was finally diagnosed as salmonella and he had 2 weeks off recovering - I now know that when Alex is sick I have to force doctors to look for the worst. While I know he is ill, to anyone else he seems too full of beans to be sick - time and time again the doctors have been surprised when some odd illness turns up (ie scarlet fever, pneumonia, bronchiolitis, to name just a few)

At the end of last year I took Alex to yet another pediatrician - this time about his health - after a year of infections and unexplained temperatures I was thinking that there was something seriously wrong - he took his medical history and noted his pallor, and dark circles under his eyes - and pronounced food intolerance!!!

In December I started him on the diet given to me by this doctor - we removed milk, honey, colours and preservatives - and were told he could eat fruit, vegies and only cold pressed oil.

So - no result - if anything he became worse. While I thank this doctor for pointing me in the direction of food intolerance, his diet did nothing to help. A family friend recommended your cookbook to my mum. Since then I have spent the holidays reading Fed Up, and the cookbook and going failsafe.

We have cut out diary, amines, salicylates, and all the artificial additives, colours, preservatives etc. My mum has been a fantastic support. She is making all the 'extras' ie: jams, mayonaise, biscuits etc. Without her I couldn't have achieved so much. She also rings up food companies and asks them to clarify what their ingredients are, and what type of oil they are using! We haven't taken out gluten yet - not sure whether it is necessary.

And Alex? It has taken a while, but by the end of the holiday he was so much better. He was able to play consistently with children without it erupting into a major argument. Parents and friends have noticed the difference. I have also noticed that he is now able to be disciplined. He can hear what I am saying and understands when his behavior is wrong and I can now win an argument.

Last week was the first week back at school - first day was fantastic and I received lots of comment about how he changed. Then he started cheating and eating roll ups, muesli bars, chocolate cake and sweets from his friends - by the weekend he was making repetitive noises, chatting constantly, being selfish, crying and was unable to control himself. He visited a friend on the weekend, who had seen him a week before in his good phase, and she couldn't believe the difference - she is now a convert to the idea of food intolerance. In her words it is like he is on a drug trip, and we all just have to wait for him to come 'down'.

So we are back trying to get him adhering to his diet again - he says he wants to - I just have to wait and see. I want to get him back to the point where we can try some controlled challenges!

And the rest of the family? None of us are totally failsafe yet, and are all cheating when we are out, but I believe we all have symptoms that warrant the diet. My 9 yr old daughter is incredibly artistic, but unable to read, and has temper tantrums, I suffer migraines, mood swings, arthritis and occasional depression. Interestingly, my daughter did some market research for a new hyper flavoured snack food a few weeks ago. She came home in an uncontrollable rage to the point that she was throwing herself around the house kicking furniture etc. I have never seen her like that before - and just think, those snacks are about to do that to all our kids - it's criminal. - reader, Sydney

My 8 yr old has been failsafe for two years but still had learning problems at school because of chemicals - paint fumes, carpets, cleaners etc. We started homeschooling in 3rd term last year but it took us a while to get used to it. I'm feeling much better about it this year. I have read enough now not to feel so stressed about my ability and to have faith that the children will learn given the right opportunities.

I have noticed a big improvement in my son in the last 6 months. His confidence and self esteem are much better and he is a much more relaxed person than when attending school. He has also made some developmental leaps so reading is starting to emerge and I'm hoping this year he will realise he is quite good at Maths.

I realise now that I spent a lot of time trying to teach him things he was not ready to learn. He seems ready this year to tackle the things that were being taught at school. We are now using unit studies which are a big hit and keep us busy doing lots of hands on learning. The only text book we use is for Maths.

- reader NT (See also factsheet Fumes & Perfumes)

My son aged 4 has been fully failsafe, dairy free and gluten free for six months. Last week we had a nutrition check with our dietitian. She entered all the foods he eats into a nutrition analyser on her computer. I was very pleased to find out that he is getting all the nutrition he needs from his food, and has no need to take extra vitamin/mineral supplements. - reader, WA

I discovered your book at the end of November 2002 and when I read the first page about Rebecca as a baby I thought 'OMG, change the name to Rhys and this is MY son'.

I read the book from front to back in 2 days and then we started the elimination diet with our 9 year old son.

He was a very angry child and was getting into trouble at school due to his behaviour and I was at my wit's end.

School has been back for 5 days now and Rhys's teacher from last year said to me yesterday 'Rhys is a different child, the change in him is absolutely amazing and I am seriously thinking about doing this elimination diet myself.'

I was on top of the world!!! I was happy for the rest of the day. When I picked Rhys up from school yesterday afternoon, the assistant principal said to Rhys 'I have been hearing very good reports about your wonderful behaviour, young man. I am very proud of you and very pleased with what I have been hearing.'

Rhys was stoked and so was I. We had seen the improvements at home but it meant so much to me and made me feel so good to know that the teachers at school see it too.

One teacher commented this morning 'If only we could get all parents to TRY this elimination diet then I think we would have a lot less troublesome kids'

THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH SUE. I will forever be grateful to you and your books. And if you feel your ears burning occasionally it is probably because I am singing your praises to people. You really have helped us through a very difficult time when I didn't think I would cope. - reader, NSW

Having read your book and spent several months working through the challenges, we find our 2 year old (Zoe) is sleeping better and as an unexpected bonus is concentrating and managing her emotions better. - Bruce and Trina, WA

We have just had a month long 'hiccup' following a very fruity, fragrant bubblebath, given to our daughter for Christmas. - reader, WA

We have been following your Failsafe diet for 8 days now mainly for the benefit of son aged 7. He has difficulty managing his behaviour (and so, therefore, do we!). He has temper tantrums and can be extremely defiant. He is a lovely boy while things are going his way but if not, he turns into a monster. The Christmas holidays had been steadily getting worse and his poor behaviour reached a peak about 12 days ago. We spotted an article about preservative 282 in Wellbeing magazine and then went on to look at your website. We bought Fed-up and read it from front to back. We decided to begin the elimination diet and have had enormous success. His initial score on the test in the fed up book was 91 and a week later it was down to 26! We couldn't believe how polite and calm he was and he has been able to control himself really well. His teacher noticed a huge difference. However, last night we had one of the old tantrums return (the 'This place is horrible, I want to live somewhere else' sort of tantrum) and he again became very unreasonable and irrational and wouldn't listen to anything we had to say. This has happened again twice today. He really was 'freaking' out.

Could it be bubble bath? About an hour before the old behaviour returned, he had a bubble bath, ingredients : Water, Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulphate, cocamide DEA, Coco Dimethyl Amine Oxide, Sodium Chloride, Propylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Fragrance, Preservative, colours Red 22, Blue 1. Could this possibly affect him this way?

We have had such success and for one week we felt as though we were in family heaven and now it's gone straight back to how it was. We are truly terrified that we won't get this wonderful behaviour back again. He is so difficult to cope with and of course we always think 'Where did we go wrong?' This diet has worked miracles and I would be relieved to hear that the bubble bath is the likely culprit. - reader, Qld [Your son's reaction was most likely to the artificial colours in the bubble bath - Blue 1 is brilliant blue 133 S.]

I'd like to tell you what your diet has done for my son. He used to be on Ritalin. I talked with our doctor about you and how I was going to do the diet (our whole family is doing it). We felt the claims may have been a bit exaggerated but have some benefit possibly. So I thought 'I have tried everything else with Sam, I may as well give this a go. I have nothing to lose'.

WELL, within 2 days !!!!!!! my feral son DID in fact become an angel!!! just like - no, better - than on full medication with NO side effects and it has lasted. It has been two weeks now. I don't know yet what he is intolerant to until we start the challenges.

It's not as though we had an unhealthy diet. We used to check the labels for artificial food colours, preservatives and other additives because we already found out that made him ten times worse.

I'm excited about it. I never dreamed it would work SO well! We did put him on the medication for Sunday morning at church but that was the only bad time on the diet. He cried the whole morning till it wore off, so we won't be giving it to him anymore. He is so much better. I can't wait till his next appointment with our doctor - he wants to know the results. I will sing your praises. I have stuck to the diet like the Bible. None of us have compromised in anything, although I desperately crave pizza, Diet Coke and tomatoes and hope I'll get over that soon. - Lisa Footnote: So far, Sam has reacted to both salicylate and amine challenges.

I saw you on Today Tonight and realised that my daughter's mood swings could be triggered by bread preservative. As soon as she was off it, her moods stabilised. Ordinarily she is a very good student. Others have described her as an angel. It is when she eats considerable amounts of white bread she becomes snappy, and argues at the drop of a hat about some very trivial matters. - reader, Qld

My failsafe daughter has just been to stay for a week. When she said she would bring her own food and do the shopping and cooking, my husband said 'so what on earth will we be eating?' Well, by the end of the week he had not eaten anything unfamiliar. And in fact enjoyed more sweet things than I ever allow in the house. I'm off to buy your cookbook today. - by email

I have 2 sons one of whom, was diagnosed with borderline ADD in December 2002. After reading your book "Fed Up" we changed a whole lot of things in terms of eating and as a result this family has had a real turnaround. My son is getting into his school work with pleasure and already had a few astonishing results in terms of concentration, memory and especially handwriting which was a huge problem- by email

At the beginning of last year I was really desperate as my 8 year old was suspended twice in two weeks. I have to admit the school had good reasons for it. After a desperate search on the internet I found your site and that was the start of a whole new beginning. I just want to quote his teacher's comments in his school report that he received last term:

' What a different boy! ... He is now a happy and most cooperative class member who is beginning to make friends with others in the class. It has been a wonderful experience for me to see such an improvement'

There is nothing left to say than one more THANK YOU!!!! - by email

Thank you for your insightful and inspiring books! We have 3 children (2, 4, 6 yrs) and I have always been interested in their nutrition, and this is what made me pick up your book in the bookshop. Boy, I was blown away! I had no idea that additives could have the effects you described (I had always known about the obvious ones, like red or green cordials...) and I was very inspired to see what affect the elimination diet would have on our kids.

Well, the effect was instant! We haven't had any problems with ADHD or anything like that, but still, our kids just calmed right down! A few days after being on the diet, I had to take them all to the doctor (you know what that's like, waiting for an hour, three kids...) and they all just sat on the seats - didn't move! So I thought that was a fluke. The next day we all went food shopping ... they all just walked along nicely, the 2 yr old sitting quite patiently in the trolley. No bribes required, no
food and drinks and toys (or lollipops) etc needed. Wonderful! Everything seems to be like that now - we recently had a 14hr plane flight where I looked after the kids alone, and they literally just sat on the seats or slept! They were amazing and I was so proud of them.

This whole diet has brought out the wonderful child in our first born (who I've been aiming this at..), all her sibling rivalry and anger has literally disappeared! She comes home from school happy to see me (not the enemy) and talks eagerly about her day and spontaneously hugs and kisses etc (had been quite reserved and standoffish).

Your book has changed our whole family dynamics, and I can honestly say that I really love and enjoy our children so much now, when you take away the constant battles, discipline dramas, rivalry, moodiness, and tiptoeing around the eldest to try and keep the peace.

We have been on this diet for over 3 months and have started the challenges, and gee, when the anger and moodiness comes back, it changes everything to where we used to be! It's just not worth it!!! A peaceful and happy home, with happy children (and parents) is wonderful.

I just wanted to pass this on, that the diet makes a huge difference on just your average kiddies, with no diagnosed problems. Thank you! - by email

Thank you for spreading the word about poisons in our food. I'm a single mum from North Queensland. I have eaten calamari all my life with no problems whatsoever. But about two years ago I woke up one night to find myself very itchy with a body rash that covered me from the tips of my toes to the top of my scalp. The intensity of the rash and itchiness was so great that even a shower wouldn't ease the pain. I couldn't believe the reaction as I have never experienced anything even a quarter of this intensity before.

I was alone in the house with two children under the age of 4 and as I collapsed on the bed dizzy and short of breath, I blacked out. I remember waking perhaps twice and gasping for breath but I was so weak that I couldn't orientate myself to get to a phone to call an ambulance. I blacked out again and when I woke up several hours later the itching was still there but my breathing was a little better. I managed to drag myself to the shower and stayed in there for about an hour and a
half. The hot water ran out and I just stayed in the shower with the cold water running because to get out would mean I would start itching again. The rash took about 4 days to go away.

I have since tested this food on two separate occasions with a single calamari ring and had a similar reaction but with a milder effect probably due to the lesser amount eaten. I now avoid this food altogether although I really love it. It angers me to think that there could be additives in our food that cause such life threatening reactions and not only endangered my life but the life of my two very young children who would have been left in the house alone if I hadn't been able to wake up. It is just disgraceful!

- by email [What's in prepackaged, frozen calamari rings? This sounds like another reaction to flavour enhancer 635.]

Q. I have a 6 yo son who is very challenging (to say the least!). He is constantly moody and defiant. He has rages that are increasing in their intensity. He interrupts all the time, doesn't listen, can't recall requests soon after they have been issued and it's to the point that I can't stand being around this child. The word NO doesn't even seem to register with him. He has mild asthma and eczema and has had an operation for his nose which seems to be constantly blocked. He has steroid cream for the eczema, Ventolin for the asthma, spray for his nose and still no relief. He has even had skinprick tests done which came back allergic to house mould, dust mites and house dust. The doctor told me your research was " a load of hogwash" when I asked her about food intolerances ... I read your book "Fed Up" and instantly identified with practically everything. So, this is why I'm writing to you. Where do I go from here? Could you tell me who I can contact ...The doctors I go to don't seem to understand what I want to do. The trouble is, I think I need someone to say "Step 1 do this, step 2 don't do that" etc... Please help me.

A. There are dietitians who will supervise the elimination diet from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (we call it the failsafe diet) in most cities. Ask your local failsafe phone contact (see website), or ask me. Don't forget to say where you live.

My son (now nearly 4) was born early. He had lung problems which have led to recurring respiratory problems. We tried every kind of baby formula and ended up on soy formula. At nine months he had grommets in and adenoids out because of chronic glue ear. At eighteen months he had his tonsils out, at the time he was on three different types of antibiotics to keep him well enough to have the operation. His asthma is non allergic. This year he has done very well. Up until last week he had a clear run with only one lot of antibiotics up to date, and no asthma. I think that my problems started three weeks ago when I took my son off soy milk, because I heard that the oestrogens might have an effect on my boy.

To actually get him to drink cows milk I had to buy skimmed and put malted milk powder in it. It has taken three weeks for my son to turn into a monster and he has just had a dreadful week with his asthma - the first bout this year. Everybody else keeps telling me now he is a 'normal' boy. Two of my friends tell me that my son's behaviour is equal to that of their children and that is what they put up with all the time, and worse. I know they do. But I don't want to, and I have seen my son as a before and after. I want my old son back. Can you please tell me if there is any evidence that soy milk is so very damning, and detrimental to the health? Or perhaps point me in the right direction to find out more. Or suggest another alternative.

[For a scientific look at the effects of soymilk, see the link on my website to the Harvard Women's Health Centre. You will have to make up your own mind. Ricemilk is an alternative to cows milk and soymilk. It is best to buy calcium fortified if you can find it, or take a calcium supplement - you can ask your dietitian about nutrition.]

'I have Samter's Triad syndrome, also known as Aspirin Induced Asthma (AIA). About 10 per cent of people with Samter’s syndrome also get urticaria (hives) and/or angioedema (swelling of the lips, tongue, neck etc). Angioedema can be so severe as to cause death by suffocation, so it is considered a medical emergency.

'Samter’s syndrome may be acquired at any time of life although it mainly affects women who are in their 40s and starting menopause. When I was 15, I was given hormones for some female problems and within a week was deathly ill with constant coughing, wheeze, whole body swelling and hives. As my lungs were always filled with liquid they called it 'wet asthma'. It took years to figure out what was wrong with me but when they did, they concluded that the hormones threw
me into this by changing my body chemistry.

'I found out that I was allergic to aspirin from an anaphylactic reaction when I was 16. I did not require hospitalization but I was very ill for over a week. My mouth, face and eyes and lips all swelled inside out and I had asthma and hives. For the next 3 years, it was a constant life and death situation, being transported to the hospital too many times to count, unconscious and in respiratory failure. No one, not even the doctors knew what causing the problems as the asthma was so very different from common asthma. During that time, I was put on prednisone on an every other day schedule and had to quit school as the illness was completely out of control.

'When I was 18, I went into anaphylactic shock when I was given the wrong pain medicine (Darvon - containing aspirin) by accident. I took one pill and within 15 minutes was unconscious. I was in intensive care for a week, then in the respiratory wing for another week. During that time, I was given a gingerale soda and went into another anaphylactic reaction. That is when they figured out I was sensitive to salicylates in foods and yellow #5 dye and was diagnosed with what they called Triad Asthma back then.

'Since that time I have tried just about every low salicylate diet that the doctors or I could find. I know now they were not complete nor correct. I was ingesting many foods like broccoli, cauliflower and onions on a daily basis, under the impression that they were safe. I had what they called mini-anaphylactic reactions nearly every day and was put on prednisone, asthma medication and an antihistamine on a daily schedule to control reactions. Salicylates kept building up in my system until the daily prednisone wasn't stopping the reactions and I would end up in the hospital again.

'Looking back to when I first was diagnosed with this and after the anaphylactic shock, I was eating a little rice, very few vegetables, no fruits and mostly meat and drinking only water. I was too scared to eat much. That was the first time I was able to come off prednisone for any length of time at all. Then the dietitian said I was anemic and wanted me to vary my diet. So I started eating more fruit and vegetables. It wasn't very long till I was back on all the medications. I didn't connect that the foods I had added back in were the problem because they were listed as low salicylate on the list that I was given.

'For the last 29 years, it has been up and down, just trying to figure it all out, taking medications and trying to stay alive. I would rack my brains trying to figure out where I was going wrong but couldn't get a handle on it. And was having to take more and more prednisone and antihistamines.

'When I found the Australian salicylate lists I was so excited. I could finally understand what was happening. I was inadvertently eating salicylates every day.' - from the USA

I recently purchased some Gluten Free Plain flour from my supermarket and used it to make some bread. The ingredients are listed as soy flour, maize flour, tapioca starch. My daughter started wheezing ten hours later and when I checked the packet under the nutrient list is a very small note saying that sulphites have been added in the maize and tapioca starch processing. Thought you may like to warn other parents as it comes across as a natural product with no artificial ingredients! - by email, Sydney

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

More Articles ...

  1. [166] "support from the medical fraternity" in Tasmania (September 2002)
  2. [167] "Even though I am trained as a dietitian, I feel out of my depth" (September 2002)
  3. [168] "My devil child" (September 2002)
  4. [169] "I didn't think I could do without" (September 2002)
  5. [170] "These symptoms disrupt our lives" (September 2002)
  6. [171] "Trying to avoid junk food and chemical additives" (September 2002)
  7. [172] "I try to be healthy" (September 2002)
  8. [173] "A real eye opener" (September 2002)
  9. [174] Fed Up "turned my life upside down" (September 2002)
  10. [175] Behaviour beyond all explanation (September 2002)
  11. [176] "I could not find a doctor who could help" (September 2002)
  12. [177] Wrong foods at school (September 2002)
  13. [178] Ratty behaviour (September 2002)
  14. [179] "I can't believe I have ignored what was just so obviously the problem with my four year old boy" (September 2002)
  15. [180] 282: "Already noticing a difference" (September 2002)
  16. [181] 282: "Now I have a completely different child" (September 2002)
  17. [182] 282: "wonderful changes" (September 2002)
  18. [183] 282: "Many families in our district" (September 2002)
  19. [184] 282: "A modern Rachel Carson" (September 2002)
  20. [185] "Not as bad as it seemed" (September 2002)
  21. [186] "I was happy with foods 30-40 years ago …" (September 2002)
  22. [188] Our failsafe home (September 2002)
  23. [189] "Antioxidants are the most frustrating additive" (September 2002)
  24. [190] "A very cruel thing" (September 2002)
  25. [191] "They actually thought they were bad parents" (September 2002)