"I went to a book party the other day and there were 8 children there. In the past, I would be nervous and on the edge of my seat as to how my 3 year old would behave. Well, I'm not kidding - he was the best behaved child there. When they all sat down for morning tea with Cheezels and so on he happily drank water and ate his Kettle chips and home-made biscuits. This is the child who our paediatrician said didn't have a behaviour problem. Well - he doesn't, NOW!" - reader, NT

"My husband and I follow the diet with our four children, aged 9 months to 7 years. We started the diet after we saw the difference it made in my sister's three children (two with ADHD). We and our paediatrician believe our two oldest children would, in the long run, be on medication like their cousins if we had not started the diet when we did almost two years ago ... it's both easy and hard, but so very worth it!" - reader, NSW

"My son has been on a low chemical "friendly foods" diet for 10 months. What a difference in his skin condition and behaviour - he now has his tantrums on the floor instead of the ceiling. However after recently reading your book Fed Up I realise there were still many foods I had been giving him that were not failsafe, especially bread. I now spend hours at the supermarket reading and still come home, with a half full trolley, frustrated at the lack of foods available." reader, email

"I have a ten year old daughter who is generally a pleasant, well behaved child. However as she has progressed through school she has become quite rude, disrespectful and at times very angry. We thought it was just the influences of TV and other children ... One weekend she went for a 2 night sleepover with a friend whose family had just discovered they were coeliacs (all food was home cooked). Instead of coming home exhausted and out of control she came home really
happy and delightful to be with ... one day in the not too distant future we will do the elimination diet ..."- reader, email

"I was chatting to my son's teacher (male) yesterday about how I am cooking all the time, but made the point that it is better than arguing with my son. He laughed and said he might pay me to keep cooking because he isn't arguing with my son either." - reader, WA

My sister is finding life much easier with her baby thanks to modifying her diet. She removed very high salicylates and amines and it seemed to have an immediate affect on his behaviour. They now have much more settled nights. She found that every time she ate even a small amount of tomato, wine, chocolate etc, that they had a difficult night and that it just wasn't worth it! Thank you for your information and support. It was also very helpful for me as a breastfeeding counsellor to be involved with a particular case and to see that diet can have an effect. I feel more able to suggest to mothers that this might be something to look into if their baby continues to be unsettled. - reader, Qld

Avoiding the bread preservatives (280s) seems to be helping me with new energy levels and lack of headaches. ... reader, NSW

I have felt compelled to write to you for some time now to let you know how successful Failsafe foods have been in our home. Our daughter, Courtney, now aged 7, was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 5. I was not convinced that the process of this diagnosis was exactly scientific so I decided to do some reading.

I read "Different Kids" and embarked on the elimination diet with the help of a dietician. We had tremendous results. Courtney's teachers were openly amazed at the change in her behaviour. With their support we started the challenges - no noticeable reaction to salicylates or amines, but a very strong reaction to the bread preservative (282) which gradually built up over a 5 day period. Once the challenge was stopped, it took 2 weeks for withdrawal. Courtney's behaviour was extremely aggressive and impulsive and withrawal resulted in lethargy and stomach aches. We have not been able to do any further challenges as Courtney was jeopardising the very fragile friendships she had begun to make. We will need to wait for the Christmas holidays before proceeding any further.

I have only recently read "Fed Up" and I was amazed to learn just how many children react to 282. Our dietician was surprised at our results. I am now a bit of a campaigner against food additives and recommend your books to anyone willing to listen! Our heartfelt thanks to you for helping us rediscover the lovely little girl we knew as a baby without the need for medication. - Heather - by email

I have noticed now that I can't have much tonic water or 7 UP - even a single glass. The symptom I get is very noticeable diuretic effect. I would go to the toilet (urinate) as much as 5 times per night (small quantities) instead of normally once, occasionally never. I also get restless legs (drives my partner insane!!) This happens when I keep all other diet the same. Now that I know that I can tolerate a small dose of amines I find very dilute lime and soda much better for me. - longterm failsafe father

Having studied your book Fed Up, and very little else, for the last week, we are gritting our teeth and getting ready to begin the diet on Monday. Myself, my eczema-ridden daughter (5) and 'behavioural-nightmare' son (nearly 3), and my parents (mainly for support but each come with their own chronic health complaints). I am greatly concerned by the demise of concentration levels, self-control, acceptable behaviour and motivation in primary students even during my own career (15 years) and strongly believe the menu offered by school tuckshops often works against the very educational aims of the schools they are supposedly supporting. I see students come into class for the afternoon session hyped-up, lacking energy, 'agro', argumentative, easily frustrated and unable to concentrate. Many students are like this all day! … Thank you for your tireless efforts and service to 21st century consumers everywhere!" - teacher, Qld

"After a few weeks on failsafe I seem to be making some progress … I had beaten chronic fatigue and MCS but rheumatoid arthritis is a tough nut to crack and I had almost given up hope of further improvement. It turns out that I tolerate moderate salicylates but amines are a real problem. Thanks to you …there's light at the end of the tunnel!"

8th October 2001.

Department of Education and Training

Northern NSW

Dear Sir,

I refer to … our son Jesse.

Jesse suffers from Multiple Chemical Intolerance (MCI). This can affect his skin, behaviour and general health. Jesse is most effected by cleaning products, food chemicals (colours, preservatives and flavour enhances), strong odours and certain plants. His reaction can be dramatic and instantaneous, or can build up over time.

Jesse is presently under the care of Paediatricans Dr M from Lismore and Dr Velencia Soutter from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. He is on the RPA elimination diet under the control of dietitians Anne Swain from the RPA and N from the Lismore Base Hospital. He has been on this for some time and the change in his health and behaviour has been quite dramatic. However, recently Jesse’s health and behaviour have deteriorated which has coincided with camphor laurel chips being placed at his school. I was made aware of the camphor chips after a spitting incident involving Jesse.

On Wednesday the 12th September X from the school telephoned my wife and said that ‘Jesse had spat on another child, was behaving disgustingly and swearing and that he was with him now and what would she like done with him’. X was aggressive and abrupt. The exact events as to what happened are unclear as there have been a number of different stories but apparently Jesse and another kindergarten child were in the toilets after the morning assembly. The other boy told his teacher that Jesse had spat on him. A teacher’s Aid was sent to retrieve Jesse from his classroom where he hid under a table. Jesse’s teacher was also in the class. Jesse called the Aid a ‘fat girl’ (she isn’t fat) and was then taken to X and later to the Principal.

I went out to the school at 11am and was approach on the veranda of the classroom by Y. She asked if I was looking for Jesse and said that he was in the office and that he had spat on one of her children and was swearing at teachers. She was obviously rude and abrupt. Parents and children were also present undertaking ‘groups’ and a young girl told us that Jesse was sitting at his desk, which he was. I attempted to speak to X but he was not in his office. Later I returned to the school to have lunch with Jesse as it was school open day.

We sat down in the assembly area where I noticed the strong camphor smell. I moved Jesse as he was becoming agitated and red faced. X then approached me in the playground area. I was uncomfortable speaking to X as there were many parents and children listening. I told X that Jesse’s behaviour in the morning was unacceptable but I thought the problem was caused by the strong camphor smell as the dumping of the chips coincided with Jesse’s behaviour and health deteriorating. His teacher had also made the link with the camphor when the trees were initially trimmed.

Prior to this incident the school had not been in contact regarding our son. We had made visits to the Principal on two occasions at which time we gave him letters from the Paediatrician and Dietitian (attached) and gave him a personal letter (attached) and information on MCI. This was done on the suggestion of the Infants Department. We did have regular contact with Jesse’s teacher throughout the year. She was fully aware of Jesse’s condition and was fully supportive. She had educated her class/parents about how food/chemicals can effect him. She even banned cleaning products from the class that she had noticed effected him. Jesse seemed to be progressing well. He was very popular having friends from kinder to year 4. He was the second child in kindergarten to be awarded the Principal’s Award (which requires 25 Merit Certificates). However, things changed dramatically in a very short period of time when the Principal became involved. The staff’s attitude changed from support to contempt and aggression. Those who showed sympathy were isolated. There seemed to be a constant vigil on our son and a concerted effort to discredit him. In the last month Jesse became obviously agitated and jittery at school, and became unwell. We were requested by our Paediatrician to remove Jesse from this environment immediately.

I decided to contact Jesse’s preschool. They informed me that the behaviour Jesse was displaying at Z School was not displayed at his preschool. I also contacted the Northern Rivers Department of Health regarding the camphor. I was put in contact with their Toxicology Unit in Sydney who informed me that camphor laurel has highly volatile oils and is probably not an appropriate substance to have chipped around a school as it is toxic. I also telephoned Far North Coast Weeds who also said the same thing. As did the Southern Cross University who are about to commence a study on the effects of camphor laurel on humans. I also contacted the Department of Agriculture who had a similar opinion.

The next day I telephoned the Principal regarding Jesse’s behaviour and the camphor laurel chips. I was met with instant hostility, impugnation and scoff. P stated that it would be impossible for Jesse to react to a natural occurring substance such as camphor laurel and that my family is using this as an excuse for disgusting and unacceptable behaviour.

P continually stated that he and the staff believe I am ‘obstructional’ in this matter and that complaints had been made. But when questioned as to how he would only comment that I am being ‘obstructional now’. He said that I have made ridiculous demands saying that he would not remove the camphor chips for one child. He also stated that I was critical of staff, in particular X and Y (I have only spoken to each once). P would not listen to the fact that I told David I supported his actions in handling the spitting incident. However, I was critical of the fact that the matter was discussed on the veranda of a classroom during ‘groups’ and in the playground in front of other parents and children on open day and very much in public. P's comment was that his school is a ‘very open school’. Jesse may only be 6 but I feel that he and myself have some rights to privacy.

Also, P refused to acknowledge that I attended the school the previous morning and spoke to Y and attempted to see X after he had telephoned my wife. He continually stated that I did not arrive at the school until 1pm. I told him that I was at the school at 11am and later at 1pm for school open day and it was during this visit that I noticed the strong smell of camphor. But P simply refused to acknowledge that I was present at the school at 11am which is bewildering seeing that I spoke to several people and was seen by many more. Another child even asked Jesse if he would spit on him.

Furthermore, P was not interested in what the preschool said about Jesse. He just stated that I was abusing X. When I said I wasn’t even speaking about X he said ‘you are now abusing Y. I kept saying ‘do you want to hear what the preschool said’. P said he was ‘not interested, you are abusing my teachers, I am terminating this conversation’ and hung up. The whole conversation bordered on the absurd and the ridiculous, a disgraceful imputation on a man charged with the responsibility of 520 children. Further, he seemed to enjoy a certain amount of satisfaction and gratitude from destroying the confidence and reputation of a 6 year old child.

P has now deliberately and maliciously misrepresented the contents of our conversation in an attempt to discredit our son and family. He has made the matter the topic of conversation throughout the school by both parents and teachers. He has made a young child the scapegoat of his obvious inability to understand what is normal and abnormal behaviour. P and some of his staff appear to have obvious personal issues that should not be aired in the school environment.

P has scorned and scoffed at medical advice and has shown a total disregard for the safety of a child with a disability. He has shown discrimination and prejudice towards a child and has shown a blatant disregard for confidentiality and privacy. He has been bordering on slanderous and has humiliated and embarrassed a child because of that child’s disability. He has shown an absolute lack of care for a child with a disability and has viewed this disability with disdain. I will refrain from commenting on the innuendo made about our parenting skills and only say that on a number of occasions we were told that it is okay to slap your child.

My family has been associated with the Z School for over 30 years. My wife and her siblings attended the school in 1960s and 1970s and our older children in the early 1990s. It is most disheartening that this association may end because of the prejudices and ignorance of the Principal. P's attitude and actions has not only drastically changed the life of our son but has changed the life of our whole family. My wife will have too cease work to home tutor Jesse under the Distance Education programme. Jesse’s Paediatrician believes that Jesse will be better off being home schooled in a more sympathetic and understanding environment as he is displaying anxiety and stress – a direct consequence of the taunts and attitude of P.

I would appreciate your comments regarding this matter and ask as to what avenues (by way of an official apology by P and legal action) are available in these circumstances. There appear to be very serious matters relating to child safety, care and welfare, privacy, confidentiality, discrimination and defamation issues that need to be addressed. P is of the belief that he is beyond reproach because of his position. Should you require any further information regarding this matter do not hesitate to contact me on

Yours Faithfully,

David & Kim.

"I just wanted to says "thanks" on behalf of my family. My wife discovered our daughter's salicylate intolerance after serendipitously finding and buying Fed Up 3 years ago. It's not easy to stick to the diet, as you will know, but it's definitely worth it for the difference. If only some of our friends and family had the willpower required.

A couple of weeks ago, she transcribed the favourite recipes out of the book, to have as a handy carry-anywhere reference, also to give to the family so they could cater for our daughter if need be. Then ... we found your latest book. She has hardly put it down in the last 24 hours, except to sleep and eat, and now, to study your website! Yours are probably the two most important books in our house.

A curiosity for us was our daughter's apparent intolerance to garlic oil capsules. She was taking them for a year or so, to supplement her limited diet, and in that time, suffered repeated attacks of tonsillitis, to the extent that the ENT surgeon had scheduled her for surgery. Then we stopped the garlic supplement, and the tonsillitis disappeared. That was 18 months ago and she's been fine since. Very odd.

Keep up the good work. Many people worry about the possible problems associated with GM foods but are happy to let their kids drink something that looks like anti-freeze; taking all the junk out of what we eat would be a better first step in the right direction. Tim Tams? You can keep 'em!"

- father, by email

Our dear Rosie was born August 2000. She is our second child, so we expected that she would be a tad easier than her brother. Alas, our Rosie had many new tricks in store. For the first 4 months or so she was 'OK', I just called her 'highly strung', and 'a hormonal girl'.

By 5 months she was really quite miserable, irritable, constantly grizzling and wanting to be held (except of course when we went out anywhere, where she played the cute, smiley happy babe).  Sometimes she seemed to be in pain, and we gave panadol with some relief for only a short time. We tried the reflux, colic, etc avenues, with no improvement. My husband was very understanding and supportive, as he lived with unhappiness, and my Mum saw the other side of her, but most of my friends didn't understand our problem, as she really was a 'street angel and home devil'.

Her sleep was poor by day, but strangely, she rested reasonably overnight, some nights only waking once or twice, and generally able to resettle quite well. I think she was so exhausted after her strung out days. For the bad nights she mostly slept in our bed, where we could all get some sleep.

I am an early childhood nurse, and had great support from my two wonderful colleagues, one saw her in a really sad state when visiting us at home. We had tried me off all dairy products at 5½ months, as Rosie was fully breastfed. That seemed to improve things a bit, but I still felt that babies should be happy, unless they had good reason not to be. Finding the reason was the trick. We also tried a naturopath, who felt she could help with a range of herbal remedies, which we started on.

Then I read your article called "Restless Babies", in the Nursing Mothers Magazine. I felt the article was about us!! It was the start of a big change in our lives. We saw our local dietitian who gave us the booklets from RPAH, and discussed it. As I was breastfeeding, and she was on some solids, Rosie and I started the elimination diet when she was 7 long months old.

My very supportive husband was quite sceptical, she was such a beautiful fat healthy looking babe, how could it be diet related?? Anyway after only 3 full days on the diet, he was very apologetic for his scepticism. Our little girl was significantly happier, and so were we.

Each day seemed to get better, she now seemed able to relax her body at times, and was able to play alone for very short periods. I found sticking to the diet quite easy, as the improvement in Rosie was well worth it. Eating was a great source of pleasure for Rosie, so the diet did not worry her at all. The added bonus for me was that those extra 'hard to shed' kgs fell off me. That gave me a needed confidence boost as well.

We had a bad experience early on. Rosie was pretty miserable with a cold, so we gave her some panadol drops and put some Vicks rub on a tissue under the sheet as we put her to bed. An hour later she woke and was 'high'. She tried to get back to sleep, but her body was so restless and I hate to think what her head felt like. I took her to our bed and held her to try to control her body for her. She finally fell off to sleep after about 4 hours.

Rosie is now 14 months old. I weaned her at 10 months, as I began to crave some tasty food. I was too scared to do any challenges, so we were on the very basics. Rosie continues the elimination diet, and still loves her food. We finally tried some challenges, wheat is OK in very small doses. Salicylates were a disaster, (pumpkin twice a day for 2 days and a granny smith apple core), she became irritable, clingy, whingy etc, then vomited, with no associated illness. We will try them again one day to be sure. We are trying amines at present, just banana to start with, OK so far.

I feel this experience has been wonderful for me professionally, and my colleagues too. I also recently heard that our dietitian who helped me with the diet (who has since moved) has tried the diet to get a feel for what she was prescribing, and has seen changes in her family she was not expecting. I have also had chats and given some of your info to our child psychologist who has quite an interest in ADHD. I will keep pushing the cause, I worry about all these behaviour problems, and see that some could be so easily sorted with food.

So thank you so much Sue, I hate to think where our family would be without your big input. I am converted. My husband is too, but he is a little nervous about how I will go when our children start school and I have some input into the tuckshop! Many, many thanks again from all our family. - Cath, by email

Around February of 2000 I was searching on the internet for some clues to my life long digestive problems, when I came across the food allergy section on the About.com website. The featured food allergy topic happened to be salicylates ... just out of curiosity, and for the heck of it, I clicked on the link, and started to read about it … I first off read the list of common symptoms. As I read it the list was all to familiar to me … I answered Yes to every symptom. Needless to say, I started to
follow a salicylate free diet. To say I felt better would have been the understatement of a new millenium...... ALL of my life I have suffered from Very frequent urination, constipation, stomach bloating, short temper, irritability, inability to concentrate, memory problems, severe acne, dry skin (especially on my hands and feet), those restless legs, and more ...<sigh>… The worst of it for me though was the constant urination, and constipation which led to a lot of gas ... Thank you so much for your work, and your book. Both have changed my life forever. I am finally free of a problem which has literally ruined my life. In case you're wondering, I'm 37 years old ... And yes, 36 years is WAY too long to suffer with this health problem. Sometimes I don't know how I made it this long with my sanity intact. - from the USA

Julie is a police prosecutor and a mother of nearly 4 children. When she saw what food did to her three year old son, she became an enthusiastic supporter of failsafe and a co-founder of the new Brisbane food intolerance support group.

Joseph  gets up from his afternoon tea and goes and whispers to his father Steve. He wants to know if it's okay to eat the marshmallows in his bowl. He's four and he probably can't pronounce food intolerance but he knows how had it makes him feel if he eats things he shouldn't. His mother Julie says if they hadn't found out what was wrong with Joseph when they did he would probably be in jail for murder now.

She says Joe was "broken" from the time he was born and it wasn't until he was diagnosed with food intolerance at three and a half that a solution seemed possible for the little boy. As well as being a mother of three and pregnant with number four, Julie is also a part-time Police Sergeant working as police prosecutor in Court 1 in Brisbane.

She's so concerned about the link between behaviour and food intolerance that she's undertaking independent study on the food effects on juvenile criminality as part of her Masters Degree in Justice/Law at QUT. Steve isn't sure that food turns kids into criminals but he does know what food can do to his son.

"He was like a bear with a sore head - that's how he was. He was aggressive to other kids and defiant to adults. Now he's responsive, his speech has improved, and his concentration span has improved.

"He can sit down and watch something on TV. He can sit down and do a puzzle or colour in."

Joseph's problem lies primarily with food colours and flavouring and reactions range from aggression to asthma. With careful shopping and label reading Joseph can enjoy and happy and normal life without too much imposition on the rest of the family.

There have been slip-ups on the way. The family dyed eggs for Easter not realising that Joseph's sensitivity would extend to touch. Joseph blames his mum for that asthma attack. The solution for Joseph came when a paediatrician suggested that Julie might like to read a book called "Fed Up" by Sue Dengate. She consulted a dietitian and put Joseph on an elimination diet. His life changed.

Julie is urging people who suspect food might affecting their children's behaviour to attend a presentation by Sue Dengate … - Julie's story (above) appeared on page 3 of the September edition of "Kids in Brisbane", resulting in a capacity crowd of nearly 200 for my presentation at Zillmere PCYC.

Ginny was my second child. Her older sister had been a model baby, always smiling, rarely cried but she developed chronic asthma at age 8 months and required frequent hospitalisation. She was 2 ½ when Ginny was born.

From day one Ginny was a very unsettled baby, didn't sleep much and cried a lot. At 2 months of age I had to physically keep her awake between 6pm and 10pm so that I could feed her, put her to bed and (hopefully) get 3 hours straight sleep. By 4 months of age she had developed chronic eczema on her face, scalp, neck and creases of arms and legs.

By 12 months of age she had major ulceration on her bottom and an allergy specialist suggest we try soy milk as it could be a cows milk problem. At that time I had to get the soy milk through the chemist on prescription and it didn't really make a huge amount of difference. We tried the soy milk for 6 months and then went back to cows milk. She was getting more and more restless and would sleep for 1 hour and then wake up screaming. When Ginny was 14 months old I had child number 3. Gareth was the most placid, easy going little boy you could ever imagine. Sardi (the oldest) was still having major asthma attacks and hospitalisation. Ginny was still waking every hour on the hour - this went on day after day, night after night, month after month. Gareth developed croup and would have really bad nights where I would be up with him for hours with the steam running in the bathroom.

By the time Ginny was 2 years old, when she wasn't screaming through the night she was getting into mischief through the day or throwing dreadful tantrums because she couldn't get her own way. Climbing in dangerous places, falling up, through, on or off anything there was in sight to climb on.

A sixth sense woke me early one morning and I went into the kitchen to find her sitting on top of the oven. It was one of those stoves which had the oven and hotplates side by side with the controls for the electric hotplates at the back. She had climbed on to the hotplates and then up on the oven and had reached over and turned on all the hotplates. When I got there she was sitting looking at them glowing red and just laughed at me and said "look at the pretty colours, mummy".

She still woke every hour throughout the night and the only thing I could do to get her back to sleep was to give her a bottle which was usually filled with cordial, as the doctors told me not to give her too much milk and if I used too much fruit juice I had the nappies to contend with!

During our frequent trips to the doctor Ginny was always an angel. When I asked if it could be something she was eating, they just laughed at me and the doctor told me that I was overanxious. I came close to having a breakdown. When I wanted to get another opinion I was sent to the hospital. They wanted to put me in hospital to calm down. When I said "no", they asked me would I like them to put her in hospital to give me a break.

They said that she was just a naughty girl and to just let her scream as "she would stop sooner or later" and that she only screamed because I went into see her. Not very easy to do when she screams for 3 hours in the middle of the night and dad has to go to work the next day and the other two are awake and crying.. The doctors then decided to try Ginny on Vallergan to "quieten her down" because they believed she was just boisterous and I just was not coping with motherhood.

At age 2 ½ I was at the end of my tether and one day I picked her up and held her against the wall and started to shake her and bang her against the wall. I had tears running down my face and thank god something inside me said to me to put her down or I was going to do some dreadful damage.

About 2 months after this I read an article in a magazine which was talking about Dr Ben Feingold's book "Why your child is Hyperactive". It talked about the relationship of food colours and preservatives and children's behaviour. The article gave a list of about 14 symptoms and said that if you could answer 'yes' to any 6 of them, there was a darn good chance that food colours were playing a major part in the child's behaviour. We answered "yes" to 12 of the 14. The book was unavailable in Australia at that time and I had one of the City bookstores order a copy for me.

I read the book and then went to discuss it with my doctor and was told it was a lot of "maybe" and that nothing was proven. I discussed it with my brother (also a doctor) who told me that kids were being unnecessarily labelled hyperactive and it was predominantly a discipline problem. I tried to discuss it with others who just didn't want to know.

We still had Sardi going in and out of hospital with asthma and Gareth up through the night with bouts of croup. Their father was working late into the evenings (I think so that he didn't have to come home to the chaos) and by this stage our marriage was starting to collapse.

My husband and I discussed the diet recommended in the book and decided that it couldn't do any harm as things couldn't be much worse. The only problem was that the book was written in the USA and the diet was designed for the American market, so many of the products were not available here. I took the book one day and started to go through the pantry cupboard. I checked every label on everything in the pantry and filled 2 garbage bags with food. I went to the supermarket and read the labels on everything I bought. What I wasn't sure about I telephoned the manufacturers and asked them what the products contained. We started from scratch. I made everything we ate from scratch, bread, cakes, biscuits, ice-cream, icy poles etc. etc. We all ate the same food.

After 1 week, Ginny had started sleeping for 2-3 hour stretches.

After 2 weeks, she had stopped throwing tantrums

After 3 weeks, she was sleeping right through the night

After 4 weeks I had, for the first time, a normal child in the house.

After 3 months, her eczema had just about totally cleared.

"Coincidentally" (or not) her older sister's asthma had, by this stage, lessened to the stage where she no longer required frequent trips to hospital and was manageable to home and her brothers bouts of croup had stopped.

What really annoyed me was that about 4-5 years later the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne had adapted the diet and were using it as breakthrough treatment for behavioural problems.

As Ginny was able to communicate better and someone (usually a well meaning grandma!) would give her something nice like a red icy pole (and then send her home to me!) she would tell me that she had a "big head". As she got older, she later explained that when she had something off limits, her head felt as though it was going to explode.

Ginny is now 27 and has a 9 month old daughter. She still checks labels and she does all her own baking and cooking and rarely uses pre-packaged goods (although I noticed that the ones she tends to use are the same products I used when I changed our diet all those years ago) I have every confidence that her little girl will not have to go through the hell her mother went through. Even now, as her poor partner found out the hard way, she still reacts badly to Cherry Ripes! He would bring them home and she would occasionally eat them. Until one day when she had too many. He's now banned them from the house.

My message to everyone out there : I wish I'd had the benefit of Sue's book 25 years ago. Diet really does work. Hang in there - it gets better and better.

- Rosemary (Silly Yaks Bakery Café, Melbourne)

I contacted a dietitian through our Base hospital and with their help we managed to get through the Elimination Diet. What an experience that was! My youngest son, Tim, who is three in April, had been given an uncertain diagnosis of "Irritable Bowel???" by the pediatrician. We were told to take him off lactose, sugar and soy and reduce the fruit intake. That has little effect on his symptoms. So, Brandon (5 yo), Tim and I embarked on the Elimination Diet. My husband did not want to be involved in the "witchcraft" as he called it!

I was on the phone to the dietitian after 36 hours because Brandon, who had behaviour problems, had got 10 times worse where behaviour was concerned and had come out in an eczema-type rash on his torso and upper arms. I felt he was reacting to the soy or the cashew paste (but probably the soy) as these were the only new additions to our diet. I was told to "persevere, that reactions usually got worse before they improved". After 5 days I had a great improvement in my mucous volume and felt better than I had in 5 years. After 4 weeks we had seen limited improvement in Brandon's behaviour and no improvement in Tim's symptoms so decided to eliminate wheat as well.

The results were quite amazing. After 2 weeks off wheat I realized my restless legs were no longer worrying me and Brandon's sneaky poos had ceased to be a problem. Tim's symptoms improvement but his bowel motions never really came back to normal. We did the wheat challenge first. Brandon was OK for 5 days but on the 6th day he obviously went over the threshold and took a full week to recover. He reacted with restless legs (which I have since discovered can happen after even a few cracker biscuits) and Tim also had a worsening of his diarrhea.

The dairy challenge was interesting - my mucous symptoms were worse but Brandon improved in behaviour almost overnight and after 3 days the eczema was gone! So I was right about the soy after all.

... Brandon reacted to salicylates as I suspected he would, I didn't. The amine challenge was a disaster! We should never both have done that at the same time. Brandon and I both reacted and our symptoms were the same and severe - aggressive behaviour with a lack of self-control, depression etc. It was like world war three in our house by the end of the week and both of us took at least a week to recover. I have read in a number of places that if we react to amines then
we probably react to other additives so we have not continued with separate challenges for these. We just avoid them.

Initially I was daunted by the difficulties I faced accessing the foods we need but eventually as I learn where in the supermarket, health food store etc to find things life has become much easier ... I remember a quote in "Fed Up" from a lady who said she spent more time in the kitchen but less time disciplining the children and I have found that to be absolutely true. It is now just the way we live. I find the most difficult thing now is other people's reactions to our diet. Some of our
friends though come to our place with 7UP and kettle chips to share. Thankfully my husband is now more supportive and even grudgingly admits that he is probably reacting to some foods himself. So, Sue we have come a long way in these last 6 months. I hope it makes you proud to know that your writing of "Fed Up" has contributed to such an improvement in our lives. - Qld

Around the middle of last year I realised that I was always tired, my workmates commented on my sneezing fits every afternoon, I was very irritable, easily reduced to tears, had rashes on my legs, an ear infection which would not clear up and generally felt unwell. But worst of all was my bloated stomach, which most times looked like I was 7 months pregnant, and the related bowel problems. Looking back I had been gradually getting worse for a couple of years.

I had been to my doctor a couple of times for other things and always mentioned the vague symptoms. I was told not to worry. As the bowel problems persisted I started to worry as my grandfather had died of colon cancer. A Rotary test was negative but I still worried. I went to my doctor again and although she agreed that the bloated stomach was unusual she could find nothing wrong. However, she realised that I was really starting to worry about cancer, so she suggested I have some tests, just to set my mind at rest. I had an abdominal scan and full blood tests. Nothing wrong. But my worry was increasing, so she sent me for a colonoscopy, warning me that it would be unpleasant.

That was my turning point. The specialist could not understand my mixed reactions when he told me there was nothing wrong. However, I had had the colonoscopy on a Monday so had arranged to also have Tuesday off work as I imagined I would still feel pretty awful a day later. I woke up on Tuesday feeling fantastic. I packed so much into that one day it was amazing. I also did not eat, as I so much enjoyed feeling "empty". I wondered whether my symptoms were being caused by something I was eating.

Coincidentally, I had recently read an article in Australian Good Taste, about food intolerance, and your book was recommended. I bought your book and realised that all my symptoms fitted the pattern. I even had belatedly-diagnosed giardia for several weeks a couple of years before. I went back to the doctor, and suggested I go on an elimination diet. She was very lukewarm about the idea but I was determined so I followed your instructions and went on the strict diet for several weeks. I tried the

challenges and narrowed my causes down to dairy and salicylates (both of which I had normally in large quantities). I then got caught up in a round of end of year work functions and lunches, so I was not able to be so strict with myself. I went backwards quickly.

Now I avoid all processed foods, eat failsafe at home, and make informed choices when out. I love wine but have cut down to a couple of glasses per week, have decaf coffee, soy milk etc. The result has been a new zest for life - new role at work, back to studying part time and lots of activities. I'm back to size 12 clothes (have bought lots of new ones). I turn 50 next week and feel like 40.

I'm a bit evangelical when I tell people why I've lost so much weight, so I don't mind you sharing my story if it is of interest to others. Thanks again for providing the tools for me to get my life back. - NSW

"I have a 3½ year old son who was so over the top that I was told of your book. We have been doing diet for the last 3-4 months and he is now a changed boy." - by email

"We saw A Current Affair 12 months ago, and thought, 'Hey that's our boys!' (The eldest in particular.) We bought your book, the best money we ever spent. We have been on the diet now for 12 months and things have improved dramatically." - by email

"I took my 2 boys into Toyworld today which is normally a disaster but they were very well behaved, walking up each aisle with me and looking at the toys rather than touching and grabbing everything in sight!!" [on diet for 10 days] - NT

"Our daughter is now on the failsafe diet after the success we saw with her cousin after he started on failsafe foods, we now have a very happy, mostly well behaved and smart little girl." - by email

"On advice from our paediatrician (believe it or not) we took our 3.5 yo son off salicylates from the beginning. I typed in this unknown word and got your website and cried and contacted you and you recommended a dietitian … we have the most unbelievable son now as long as we stick close to his 'food plan', we don't call it a diet. …I just can't express our gratitude enough - life is completely different within our household and for our son himself." - Qld

"I just want to say thank you! I have my son back, a son who will listen, a son who will respond, a son who will sit quietly for longer and longer periods of time and a son that is happy enough in himself to want cuddles from us and to tell us he loves us!" - by email

"My son is 11 years old, diagnosed with ADHD, and has been on Ritalin for about 6-7 years … we have had him on a Failsafe diet for almost two months now. By the end of the first month he showed remarkable improvement, being able to finish homework more quickly and having a more thoughtful disposition. We were also able to cut his Ritalin dose by half, giving him the medication mainly for school, but not at home." - USA

"Since purchasing your book "Fed Up" and reading through it last week I immediately cut back my 5 yo daughter's intake of fruit to approx. one quarter of what she would normally have. By the weekend we already saw huge changes in our girl. Her behaviour was more evened out (not so many HUGE highs and lows) and just more sensible, obliging, less aggressive and defiant - just a much more pleasant girl altogether." - NZ

"My 3 1/2 year old has been on the elimination diet since March and it has completely changed his life (and ours, thank God)". - NZ

I have a 4 year old granddaughter who has a number of food intolerances and a 6 year old granddaughter who is just starting to show the cumulative effects of 122 [artificial red colour] with rash around mouth, also some asthma symptoms that she has never had before. I would like to receive your newsletter not only to assist me when I have them in my care, but also because I think we could all do without the "garbage" that is added to much of our processed food. - by email

I am sensitive to salicylates as the result of overuse of Ibuprofen (chemically very similar to aspirin). I developed asthma-like respiratory symptoms when eating certain foods but couldn't figure out which foods were responsible. Then I developed paresthesia in my left thigh when I took a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug which was prescribed for back pain. Ironically, all of the muscle pains etc. disappeared once I removed everything from my diet that I was sensitive to. - USA [Commonly called 'pins and needles' paraesthesia is a sensation of numbness, prickling and tingling that is normally felt in a limb or extremity.] - USA

For the past 15 years I have been unable to eat wheat, preservatives or MSG - or suffer the consequences if I do. A life spent suffering headaches, depression, lethargy and other sundry aches and pains is no alternative to avoiding the wrong foods and being able to live life to the full! - by email

I have suffered for years from episodes of fast heart beat. It can be very strong and disturbing, and I have ended up in hospital but it goes away after a few hours and they could never find anything wrong. For a while I was getting it every afternoon. Eventually I worked out it happened on the days I ate bread. A friend suggested it might be the preservative in bread. When I eat Brumbys' bread I have no problems, but when I ate some preserved bread without thinking at my mother's place, I had another episode. - NT

I react to MSG, flavour enhancer 635, metabisulphite preservatives, and yellow colour in cordial. I also have food intolerance to salicylates. From MSG, 635 flavour enhancer and metabisulphite preservatives I get very irregular pulse and atrial fibrillation. The atrial fibrillation settles down after 12-20 hrs depending on how much offending additive I have eaten (in a restaurant it is difficult to tell) - and my pulse settles down faster if I drink lots of water every hour to flush the toxins out of
my system. I've learned to read the labels and carry a reminder in my purse of the numbers to which I react when shopping. I have learned which brands or types of foods are a problem and steer clear of those. - Mary, retired nurse, Brisbane

My cousin has been having horrendous seizures for the past 2 years since she gave birth to her son. I have been trying to convince her to go on the elimination diet, as she's already noticed some foods trigger the attacks. She feels like she is going to die when she has one. She finally read the section in your book about Kerry and has found out that one of her biggest seizures which was triggered by popcorn at the pictures, was probably due to tartrazine (102) - the cinema just changed the company they buy the popcorn from. - WA

My husband has lost weight (he needed to ) and the aching joints he had-post Ross River Fever seem to be improving!! - NT

The biggest thing in my life is that my PMT has gone. I am amazed. I have had this problem for so many years. It was ruling my life and threatening my marriage to the point where earlier this year I started taking Lovan (another name for Prozac) to help me with it. I know you said that PMT disappears on the diet but I must admit mine was so bad I really didn't believe you. Anyway, my PMT has completely gone. I am convinced about this diet now! - NT

I have a 10mth old baby boy who he screamed for the first 3 and half months of his life all day and half of the night until my doc got me onto a dietitian and we tried the elimination diet. Every time I do food tests he reacts by screaming in agony within 24 hours and often gets a nasty red rash on his face and not so severe rash on his back and stomach. Before we tried the diet, we were hospitalised twice because I just couldn't cope. He reacts to most additives but the bread preservative is the worst and he also reacts very badly to amines. - Dani, WA

Restless Legs Syndrome was absolutely driving me crazy. If I forced my legs to be still, they would then jerk with even greater intensity. While I was watching TV, my legs were constantly swinging, because of this urge to move them. They were not itchy - it was just like there was something under the skin driving me crazy. Apparently most sufferers go on to become alcoholics (ref: The Bulletin 2000) which I can understand. American websites about RLS basically fall back onto all sorts of medication, which I do not want to take. Within two weeks of trying the elimination diet, I was able to sit still at night, AND get into bed without fear of tossing and turning all night because of this urge to move my legs. I now know the foods I should not touch - salicylates and additives ... when I eat any of these forbidden foods there is a definite reaction. - NSW

My husband has suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome for 11 years. We have been following the food lists suggested in your 'Fed Up' book for about a month and I have noticed a huge difference already. He sleeps better and is generally having more good days than bad. When he cheated (not on purpose) by having "junk" food, he suffered for it the next few days, not sleeping properly, and with the usual general aching and unwellness. The week after re-commencing failsafe foods, he is again feeling good and positive that eating failsafe is just the beginning of a great new life. - WA

I've read your book "Fed Up" and it certainly helped to plug the holes that my son's dietician leaves every time we talk. - by email

My daughter Rebecca developed the environmental illness Multiple Chemical Sensitivity when she was close to 2 years of age as a result of poisoning from the common sunscreen chemical butyl methoxy dibenzoylmethane, to which she was allergic. The chemical was present in a 50 ml roll-on I bought. The concentration of BMDM in the product was 3/4 of 1%, and I applied it to the lower half of her face and the back of her hands. She passed out. Her teeth turned orange-brown, her skin turned yellow-brown all over. Her urine was the colour of dark tea. Her skin and breath stank like a sewer. She appeared to be brain damaged. Some of the brown hair on the back of her head grew in pure white.

Rebecca's mental and physical function are now profoundly affected by environmental chemicals, in foods, in the air she breathes, and anything that comes in contact with her skin. She cannot have sunscreen with BMDM used by anyone around her, and we have had to have this chemical banned from her kindergarten this year, and her school for next year. The regulatory authority was notified at the time of the injury, as was the sunscreen company. The product that did the damage was Ego Sunsense Face Milk, labelled "hypo-allergenic". The chemical responsible is sometimes called Parsol 1789. In the USA I believe it is known as avobenzone.

I have also developed MCS as a result of handling the product that hurt my child. I am not as sensitive as my daughter but I continue to get worse. Environmental exposures to BMDM (other people's sunscreen) seem to be responsible for this worsening.  We are trying to get BMDM not only banned but classified as a prohibited substance. Please let other people know that this sunscreen chemical is toxic and incompatible with human ecology.

•     Dianne, BSc (Pharmacology, Biochemistry)

I'm letting you know how I got on with the bread preservative. I did get a reaction but not as bad as the amine test. Enough though to avoid eating it unless there is no other option. By the way, my reaction is always itchy hives. - reader, email

I'm a week and a bit further down the track on the failsafe foods and I am noticing changes already. He's really quite a cute kid underneath it all. Going out has been the biggest hurdle as school is extremely supportive. - reader, NT.

Oh Frabjous Day (the quote comes from Lewis Carroll's poem the Jabberwocky)

Some of you have experienced the joy of a child transformed,

an emergent angel,

an unsolicited "I love you" rather than "I hate you",

and a house in peace and harmony.

I too can (now) count myself amongst these fortunates.

To those who have not yet witnessed this miracle,

take heart, your turn will come.

School is in session again, and our kids

are doing things they couldn't possibly have done last semester.

Mary is bringing home perfect math and spelling tests,

with a commensurate improvement in self-esteem.

As I watch her do homework, I can almost see her IQ improve each week.

She no longer engages in covert antisocial behavior,

such as stealing small objects from classmates, which she did all last year.

"I don't feel like I have to yack with my friends all day long." she volunteered.

Meantime, John is spending most of his day in his mainstream classroom.

Last year he spent 40 minutes in class, story time, and then became too hyper,

and had to return to his special ed room.

That, plus a few extras such as gym and music,

was the extent of his mainstreaming.

He could NEVER perform an academic task in the midst of 23 other students,

or participate in a group activity.

In fact he could rarely do anything at all,

and we often had to bring him home before lunch,

because he was too unmanageable even for the special ed teachers.

But this year is different.

He always spends the afternoon in his general ed class,

and sometimes the morning as well.

He is socially appropriate, and is on-track academically.

The improvements at home are comparable;

I don't have time to go into them all.

As the subject suggests, we are elated.

And what's the secret? Eliminating amines --

easier said than done, as many of you know.


There are so many discussions of frustrating setbacks, which is right and

appropriate for this group --

but I thought you'd also like to hear about some real progress.

Sometimes we (parents) don't even see it, day to day,

until we step back and remember where we were three months ago,

or even one month ago.

- Karl from the discussion group, see Karl and Alison's hints for super amine responders on the


Thank you so much for the wonderful, supportive and informative book "Fed Up". I had previously tested one of my children under the guidance of an allergy specialist, but I was having problems with another of my children and was lacking motivation. Your book inspired me to begin the elimination diet with my daughter, before I was at the stage of being unable to cope with her any longer. What a difference in her life, my life and the life of the whole family. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou! We now have a daughter who is behaving as her real self - reader, email.

Just thought I would drop you a short note to let you know that everything is going extremely well. My daughter is now at her best EVER, although we still have the occasional hiccup, it is nothing compared to some weeks ago. We challenged Dairy last week for 2 days (only milk) and her nose just gave her too much grief at night so she decided herself to give it the flick for 12 months. She said after not having it for 8 weeks that it tasted YUK anyway. She stated last night that she feels good eating failsafe foods and I must admit that the dark rings under her eyes have completely gone, her eyes themselves are crystal clear and she has no inclination to eat otherwise. We have our second visit with the pediatrician next month. Gee haven't I got lots to tell him. - reader, Queensland

I have a near 7 year old with an intolerance to salicylates. Your book "Fed Up" helped us realise what his problems might be caused by, and since he has been on a low salicylate diet, his behaviour, school work etc have improved dramatically! - reader, email

Parenting courses and books all had wonderful ideas and strategies, but they didn't work for us. However since my son has been on the diet over the past twelve months I have AT LAST been able to enjoy him. The difference that the diet has made to him has been extraordinary. Unfortunately it took much longer than we expected, as we had to eliminate a lot more than the basic elimination diet and his diet is extremely restricted, but it is worth the effort to have a delightful happy boy most of the time. We still have the occasional really bad day, but after six and a half years of trying to parent a terror and feeling that there must have been something wrong with me and my parenting abilities, I finally feel like a more or less normal mum! I can now take him shopping or to visit my friends and be reasonably confident that he will be well behaved and well mannered. Last week I took him to an adult social meeting with me as I needed to meet some new people (we have just moved) and he hadn't started school here yet. He sat fairly quietly, amusing himself with his Lego and allowed me to concentrate and then socialise, without dying of embarrassment over his behaviour, or having to leave early because things became intolerable. The only time he interrupted was to ask where the bathroom was. The other people there would never have guessed what he used to be like..- discussion group member

"I have got into a routine at the moment that I thought I would never get into. Your tastebuds do change and when you go back to something you had in the past you will most likely find that it's not as tantalising as you used to think." - discussion group member, WA

"Three weeks ago I totally spat it with my son as he would only drink milk out of a bottle. So I got tough and threw them away. He won't drink milk now unless he has a bottle - which he doesn't get. After a few miserable days (even though he still asks for a bottle of milk) he has given up milk altogether. He has become a totally different child - a lot more placid, tantrums are very few and far between (from 4 a day to maybe one a week), easily to reason with, a lot more tolerant of waiting for things, less oppositional and a lot more happy (Mum is too). I am not the only one who has noticed as my husband, Mum, Mother-in-law, friends etc have all commented too." - reader, Victoria

"After seeing your book on the TV we bought it. Our 8 year old daughter had been diagnosed with dyslexia and my wife believed that her diet had a lot to do with her behaviour. Your book helped us help our daughter and I am glad I have an opportunity to say thank you." - reader, email

"I haven't been game to write and tell all about how we are going in case it breaks the spell, but I have had my daughter on a FAILSAFE diet now for 6 weeks, and we have been on a high ever since. We never thought we would ever enjoy our family again, but here we are loving every day with her and everything she does. She has slept through since the 2nd week of the diet. She has gradually lost all signs of her rash, she is happy just pottering around without needing to be constantly nursed or consoled, and she is also beginning to 'trust' food again and eat what is offered to her.

I never thought that this diet would ever get easier, or that I would ever just be able to reach into the cupboard and pull out something to eat, but it is getting more and more second nature … I have not yet walked down the challenge road, I am a little scared to give up my darling baby who is for the first time in her life receiving the love and the now obviously more comfortable life she deserves. My family and friends have been extremely supportive, and help me watch her like a hawk at any family or social gathering where there is food present. She is also allergic to a few foods and so this is doubly important, especially for peanuts where she may need an adrenaline injection if she consumes anything with peanut in it, this could be as innocent as any chocolate bar or as obvious as a peanut paste sandwich." - discussion group,

I was at my wits end and about to put my almost 6 year old developmentally delayed son on Ritalin. Fortunately I could not get an appointment until the end of October, so whilst looking up ADHD on the 'net, came across your book, bought it and read it the same day! We started the diet 2 days ago, he said "yes" for the first time in his life today (everything is usually "no"). I haven't seen any tantrums, he has lost his obsession with running water from my kitchen taps (he would spend all day at the sink before, if I let him) and he actually sits down and watches TV and plays with his brothers and sister now. More speech is coming out, his toilet training is going well as he is not urinating so frequently and for the first time in years I can say he's a delightful little boy … As for my other children, I'm half way through the first week of the school holidays, and my household is actually very calm. I'm just so impressed, I can't help telling everyone about the diet. My four year old son, who has had frequent ear infections, grommets, and a severe language delay, actually came up to me this morning and said that his "ear was working now". And we were just on the verge of having to put him through more traumatic surgery plus spend another $1300 to replace his grommets. My other sons were constantly at each other's throats previously, but now act like best buddies! …- reader, email

More Articles ...

  1. [087] At the checkout, the bill was less than normal (October 2000)
  2. [088] Violent monster stage (October 2000)
  3. [089] I had to laugh - "not affected by foods"! (October 2000)
  4. [090] So many won't listen (October 2000)
  5. [091] New mum with challenging child (October 2000)
  6. [092] Itchy hives (October 2000)
  7. [093] Life threatening anaphylactoid reaction to salicylates (October 2000)
  8. [065] "A difficult baby" - reflux, colic, crying, rash, sleeping problems (September 2000)
  9. [066] "I was wondering about coping with school next year" (September 2000)
  10. [067]"There are days when Ritalin is ineffective" (September 2000)
  11. [068] "I am a 20 year old mother …" (September 2000)
  12. [069] "more personal attention and assistance than any physician" - from the USA (September 2000)
  13. [070] Tantrum was like nothing I've ever seen with swearing and screaming (September 2000)
  14. [071] Last night I actually got to sleep six hours (September 2000)
  15. [072] Doctor amazed (September 2000)
  16. [073] General Developmental Delay (September 2000)
  17. [074] Frequent ear infections (September 2000)
  18. [075] "sort of handleable until he started school" - 6 yr old boy (September 2000)
  19. [076] If you don't eliminate enough, the diet will be ineffective (September 2000)
  20. [077] no help at all from the so-called 'specialists'! (September 2000)
  21. [078] stopped the loud and endless chatter (September 2000)
  22. [079] "Changes in attitudes and behaviour" (September 2000)
  23. [055] "If you think it's difficult in Australia .." (July 2000)
  24. [056] "Never going back" (July 2000)
  25. [057] "I'm truly disgusted by the lack of clean food" (July 2000)