"I first started reading your book Fed Up a few months ago and was a bit unsure that we could make the changeover to only the foods that you suggest be eaten to start off with. So I put the book away. Then the other day I thought - this is it, we must make the change for our daughter.

I cleaned out my pantry and was shocked to find that I only had 3 things in my cupboard that we were allowed to eat. I went shopping that afternoon with the kids to buy the things that we could eat on the diet, (who incidently thought it was great looking for all of the good food that we were allowed to eat).

I was surprised to find out when I got to the checkout that the bill at the end was actually less then what I normally pay when going shopping, so I thought that that was just great.

At the present time it is going OK although I am finding it difficult to find bread with no preservatives in it and as the kids are big eaters it is tough at lunch times. I would love to be able to talk to other mothers that are on the diet to see how they are coping." [to talk to other mothers on the diet, join our email discussion group, send your request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.] - mother, Queensland

Please add me to your newsletter list … we are up to week 2 of the elimination diet. We slipped up by keeping the pink marshmallows in the house. My son aged 8 found them and ate every one and now I am in day 2 of the violent monster stage !!! Thank you so much, I look forward to getting my son back one day soon. Thanks for your help and for being there when no-one else is - unless they have a drug of some sort that is ! - reader, New Zealand

"You may be pleased to know that I presented your book "Fed Up" to my ADD support group and gave them a complete run down about the diet. … I had to laugh to myself when one mum stated categorically that her son (extremely hyperactive) "is not affected by foods". Yes, I once thought that about my son, only to find how very salicylate sensitive he is!!" - reader, email

"I have gone down the dietary path since 1990, knowing myself to have allergies, but have struck many a blind alley with doctors and paediatricians. I am a science teacher, and a scientist, and consider that I can tell what is obvious with my child - but so many won't listen. I was so pleased to finally read your book only recently …" - reader, email

"I am a new mum, my baby is nearly one year old. I am reading your book Fed Up and it is making a huge impact on my life. My daughter was a challenging child in the early part of her life and this created a lot of stress for me and my husband. I felt strongly that the food I was eating upset her through the breast milk. Could this have been why she was so difficult to get to sleep???? We have finished breast feeding and I plan to follow the FAILSAFE diet as much as I can … Thank you and keep doing what you're doing." - reader, email

"I was recently told about your book Fed Up by my dietician. I have food intolerances to salicylates and amines and I am now going to test for the bread preservative. I am in my 60s and have suffered with itchy hives for over 10 years. At last after reading your book I seem to be getting on top of it. My daughter has put two of her children on the elimination diet with excellent results. Thank you......" - reader, email

"My friend has followed your diet and had only one small reaction (and she admits to "cheating" some that day) in the last 11 months. Before that, she was speeding to the hospital in an ambulance about every 10 -14 days. Now she has not done that in nearly a whole year - THANKS to your book and food lists. She has also reduced the antihistamines that she takes by more than half ... Her own allergy doctor is very impressed with her current health and has sent for "Fed Up" also. It seems weird that she has had to find her own help and that doctors seem to have little knowledge of her allergy to natural aspirin. Thanks again for your help. She is my close friend and lives alone but now I don't fear for her safety because the life threatening reactions have disappeared. Her overall health and energy levels have greatly increased. Without your website, current correct information, and books, coping was so difficult". - reader's friend, USA

Right from the day she was born, my third child was a difficult baby. The sisters at the hospital commented on day one that she was acting like a day three baby - all unsettled because of the milk coming in and hormonal changes. At 6 weeks she was diagnosed as having reflux and was given suitable medicine, not enough, at 8 weeks she was prescribed a herbal medicine to have in between doses (peppermint base), at 9 weeks she was diagnosed with colic as well and we treated her with all three medications to no avail.

By 12 weeks somebody suggested she will be fine once she starts on some solids (she is obviously just one of those really hungry babies). She cried all the time, she would not go to sleep, she would not stay asleep, and she was only happy if she was being nursed, if you could call it happy. I feasted on my saviours, champagne, burritos, curries (well, Indian babies survive!), and treated myself to a strip of licorice just about every day. I knew she did not like me drinking champagne, but I joked about being in denial about it, thinking I deserved it.

Our new baby had a fine rash covering most of her body, we all thought that makes sense, her big sister has eczema. Her irritability was I thought lactose intolerance maybe, I am slightly lactose intolerant. She had 7 ear infections in 5 months and had grommets put in at 8 months, but I had ear problems, sinus problems, and grommets as a child as well. We went to a sleep clinic to try and get her to learn how to go to sleep, we thought that maybe she did not read the book about how third children are supposed to fit in to our routine and lives. FINALLY after many trips to the doctor and an allergic reaction to an antibiotic, my clever doctor suggested a salicylate- free diet for our baby (not me though because the sensitivity was not really the problem just another thing to try).

Things improved, sleep was achieved when she rolled over on to her stomach, and crying was reduced from 50 minutes of controlled crying to now 20 minutes of controlled crying, every night, every sleep, 4 to 6 times a day. Hell hath no fury like a mother of a child who does not sleep, if baby is woken up. She was still waking up at night like a clock-watcher, and was usually unable to be settled without a breastfeed and then not usually under an hour.

12 months old... still having problems. We have now discovered she is allergic to milk, eggs, bananas, peanuts, Keflex, BBQ spices, and is still on her salicylate free diet (well low salicylate anyway, because it's not really a salicylate intolerance it just makes us feel like we are doing something). She is still waking up at night, but getting better to settle. Some nights she actually sleeps through.

After 12 months ( plus the 5mths I suffered with indigestion during pregnancy) of sleep deprivation, the rot had finally set in and I have succumbed to many illnesses that I could not fight off, so, I gave up breastfeeding.

Well you could knock me down with a feather. The child sleeps. Goes to sleep. The rash disappears. Her first plasticine poo ... 14 months old ... where do we go now? It seems that her new food allergies are becoming more frequent and more aggressive since I stopped breastfeeding.

This brings me to you. I found your book!!! I sat down and started reading your book, not in order, and found her symptoms all over the place. I also found my 8 year old, who scored 3s on eczema, growing pains, restlessness, difficulty falling asleep, night wakings, anxious, vague, concentration, unmotivated, disorganised, easily distracted (she scored a 5 here), moody, irritable, and 2's on fidgety, "jumpy" behaviour. … What I have benefited most from so far is the relief that I am not crazy, nor the only person in this situation. Thank you for taking the time to write your book.

P.S. Can you tell me if McVities Hobnobs biscuits are okay? The ingredients are: Rolled oats, wholemeal flour, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil, vegetable oil, partially inverted sugar syrup, raising agents(sodium bicarbonate, ammonium bicarbonate), salt. [There are probably antioxidants (310-321) in the vegetable oil, so you would have to limit the quantity].  - reader, email

Although my child had never been diagnosed as ADD or ADHD, he was just a very active little boy who did not sleep much or very well. He wasn't interest in reading, writing or drawing and I was becoming very concerned about how he was going to cope with going to school next year.

After two weeks of eliminating all fruit (except pears) and preservatives from his and our diets he is a changed person. He writes his own name and started to write other letters and is very happy to sit and draw for at least an hour! (he couldn't sit still for at least 5 mins before the diet). His new favourite word is "preservatives".

I attended your talk in Canberra in June and was considerably impressed. I then purchased "FED UP" and am now proceeding to read through it … I have a 5 year old girl with numerous problems both behavioural and learning without, as yet, having been given a diagnosis by her paediatrician. However, my reading has defined ADHD with learning disabilities. Her paediatrician tends to agree, though is unwilling to diagnose at such a young age. Like you, I've pursued behaviour training, as well as speech therapy, occupational therapy, attended early intervention preschools, obtained 2nd opinions from paediatricians, had blood tests and seen a geneticist. All with little luck. Her extreme hyperactivity saw me retreat from almost all social activities as she was unwelcome and I was always on edge with her unpredictable and extreme behaviour. She is now in kindergarten in a special learning support unit. Her Ritalin medication is reasonably effective, but there are days when it doesn't work. I'd like to explore fully the effect of additives in food and as such, am now intensely interested in what you have to say both in your books and via the internet/email. When I have completed your book I will try the elimination diet. I thank you … you have given me a new area to explore.

I am a 20-year-old mother with a very restless, hard to manage 18-month-old son. He has been hard to manage from the start with colic, chronic wind, constipation, reflux and eczema. He would have us up usually every 2 hours just screaming the house down for no apparent reason and my doctor stressed NOT to put him on soy products as "in his opinion, they were of no help", so my son remained on an AR formula to help his reflux. As he gets older, he is very active, running every where, bouncing off walls and furniture, falling over all the time ... more trips to the doctor, nothing mentioned about diet.

It wasn't until my parents saw the article on A Current Affair that I even thought about diet other then lactose intolerance and they both encouraged us to try it. I was sceptical at first and then one night he had me in tears and, being pregnant with our second child, decided to give it a go anyway.

It has been 8 days now and there has been a noted change in his attitude. He is slowing down enough to smell the roses and his attention span has lengthened a little. although he is still waking up at night, I am a lot more rested from not chasing him around all day! What brands of bread are best for him? I have asked around at small bakeries and they either can't tell me if there are any preservatives or admit that they do ... I am getting a little frustrated at their ignorance. [Brumby's is FAILSAFE. Other than that, can you buy Vogel's? Read the label carefully. In some places they do not add 282].

Thank you once again for your help and for bothering to try to make a difference when no-one else really cares!!! Reader, email

"told my wife yesterday that you have given us more personal attention and assistance than any physician here in our home state, and all without compensation. There is either something wonderful about you, or something terrible about healthcare in the States, or both." - reader, USA

I saw you on A Current Affair recently and started reading your book and couldn't put it down until I had finished it.

What a difference it has made! We are in the process of eliminating all preservatives and additives from our diet. It has been a hard struggle but we are getting there. We knew we had a problem when my four-year-old was given chocolate and within five minutes he would be jumping up and down on the spot while he was talking to you. Also, he would be so wound up before bed time that he couldn't lie still - his arms, legs and body would be jumping all over the place. The diet has certainly helped.

I have been trying out all of your recipes with great success … Once again thank you for writing "Fed Up" . It has been truly inspirational and has certainly answered a lot of questions for me. "Fed Up" is my bible and I never go anywhere without it.

Even though I thought we had pretty much eliminated most additives and preservatives from our diet I was appalled to learn that we could do more. I've always made our meals from scratch, baked my own cakes and bikkies, and for the last year have made my own bread. Then to learn that the tomato-based meals such as spaghetti bolognaise, lasagne, lamb ragout and even the soups I made could be the cause of our 11-year-old son's incredible temper made me feel completely inadequate. Until recently, his ADHD has been fairly well controlled, but for the last year he has been almost unbearable at school, although his behaviour at home has remained fairly constant. In desperation, after searching the internet, I decided to try him on Efalex, and his behaviour at school really improved. We noticed that he reverted to this old behaviour when I ran out of the capsules and he hadn't had them for a week, so quickly decided to keep up that regimen. Then your book was recommended to me by a fellow parent who had been having great success with it for her daughter. What a revelation. Both my husband and I have family histories with asthma, skin rashes, allergies, rhinitis, sinusitus - you name it. My son embraced the program and being the person he is read the book even more thoroughly than I did and was a great help with the shopping and preparation. Tell me, do they sometimes have some kind of withdrawal? [yes] We started the diet on the holidays, so we had a good chance to get everything under way with little distraction, and as always he was off his Ritalin. He almost literally was
bouncing off the walls, woke every day as grumpy as a bear which was unusual for him, and was easily annoyed by everyone around him all the time … I also found that my sinuses were really blocked and I had an almost continual headache from day three to day 7. Just as my patience was stretched to the limit, and I'd come to the conclusion that we may have to scrap this or see what we were doing wrong with the diet, my son woke up the next morning his usual cheerful self and was much calmer and less excitable than he had been the previous week. My sinuses also cleared up. My daughter who is 13 has been having a ball making all the lollies as she has a sweet tooth and they have always been a restricted item in this house. Our biggest drawback came the day of our youngest's birthday. I had all FAILSAFE foods except for the cake … even though I allowed my son the smallest imaginable piece with very little icing on it the effects were catastrophic. He raged and ranted and the tantrum was like nothing I've ever seen with swearing and screaming - well you get the general idea, and this was 5-6 hours after eating the cake!!! I never imagined anything so bad. But the next day he was as sweet as he could be with no other ill effects, other than a father who wanted little to do with him. Luckily all the guests had well and truly gone! … Thanks again …Reader, by email

I am currently reading your book "Fed Up". I have a 3-year-old as well as an 8-month-old whom I'm breast-feeding. Both my children have suffered with severe colic and reflux as well as skin allergies. I have been convinced for a while now that it had something to do with their diet. I did not know where to start in finding out what may be the cause as every doctor that I have been to see just wanted to give me more medication. I have started both my children as well as myself on the elimination diet. It has been three days now and I am noticing a big change in my 3-year-old's behaviour where she is not depressed when she wakes in the morning. My 8-month-old has stopped vomiting. Last night I actually got to sleep six hours straight without having to see to the baby two or three times … I would like to seek help from a dietitian who agrees with the elimination diet … Thank you so much for your book. It makes so much sense to me.

I have a 2 year old son who has had many problems with behaviour (including being kicked out of the local creche at the age of one), until I read your book and did the elimination diet. Even my doctor is amazed at the difference. - reader, email

I have a five-year-old son with a General Developmental Delay and we have been on your diet for three weeks. This has greatly improved his behaviour. He also had skin rashes that we attributed to insect bites all this time, but now we've seen it's a reaction to food. His 8 year old sister who was struggling at school has also improved.  - Reader, email

My son is still clearing his throat but I have noticed that it is getting less and less the longer I have him on the FAILSAFE diet. He does not have too much dairy as I cut that out at a very early stage. From 3 months old he started having really bad ear infections and would sometimes take antibiotics twice a month for it. The doctors then suggested grommets and that's when I went to visit a naturopath who told me to take him off all dairy. Since then we have not had one ear infection. - discussion group

My son is 6 years old and was sort of handleable until he started school then the problems really started. He had no concentration, was violent, destructive, uncooperative and withdrawn at times. The only thing that was getting him through was that his teachers, both last year and this, are angels. How anyone could have that much patience is beyond me. ADD was questioned but a psychologist I saw said that was not the answer … In your book Fed Up you list a number of therapies you tried for your daughter. It was like reading about my life for the last 18 months. Everyone kept saying I was so good to keep trying but what was I supposed to do? Give up, let him be classed as another unteachable kid. I couldn't do that. He is one of the most intelligent people I have met and had too much potential. Anyway someone told me about the story on ACA and I bought your book. I read it in one night as it was the first thing I had read that made total sense and fitted my son to a T. We started the elimination diet four weeks ago. I took my son off dairy. My son didn't go too well for the first three weeks. His behavior deteriorated to the point were the school actually rang me one day at lunch and asked me to pick him up as there was no point in him being there … I must admit that I felt like there was no hope and thought that maybe he needed Ritalin. That day I picked up your book again and reread some pages. I decided to go one step further and take him off wheat. The change has been amazing. This week he actually had three "normal" days at school, finished worksheets etc. I believe he got worse because he was actually eating more wheat as I was baking biscuits, cakes and muffins. Now I use wheat and gluten free flour. We haven't done any challenges yet but will be starting next week. I believe your book and diet have helped my son and I more than you can know. Thank you.

3 months later: My son reacts to just about everything! Salicylates make him "high", amines make him "low", antioxidants build up in his system and make him "high".

But he had his 7th birthday last weekend. Some children from school attended and he was a "normal" kid with lots of friends over to play. Every parent has come to me and told me what a great time their child had. This would not have been possible 6 months ago. We did eat chocolate at the party but everything else was "FAILSAFE". He still has his moments but he can now concentrate at school, when with the occupational therapist, and while playing basketball. I was watching home video the other night and almost cried watching my stunningly magnificent son at one and two years old and thinking of all he has been through unnecessarily. If only we had known. Matt also suffered from 'glue ear' which is also being blamed for a lot of his gross and fine motor problems. He was three years behind when he started with the O.T. In three months he has caught up 12 months. His Eustachian tubes are now clear yet the E.N.T doctors just said he was "in the too hard basket". I believe that food intolerance is responsible for most of my son's problems and that if I had known he would not have wasted four years of his life. It makes me so angry the way we mothers are treated by health professionals. There was an article in the Sunday Herald Sun magazine just recently which was an interview with a mother who said the diet helped her son's asthma. On the same page there was an interview with the head dietitian at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne saying that the relationship between heath and behavior was debatable and that it really hadn't been proved. BULL!!!!! … It can be really hard (I am a single mother without a great deal of father support) but really rewarding at the same time. Laughing and crying at the same time makes life interesting. I wouldn't swap my son for the world.

We had also seen a paediatrician at Royal Children's hospital … I told him that I had begun doing the diet and that there was improvement - his comment was that I must be sure to give him a balanced diet and not eliminate too much. [The whole point of the elimination diet is to eliminate everything that is causing problems. If you don't eliminate enough, the diet will be ineffective. No wonder some specialists in Melbourne think the diet doesn't work! We have the names of some
dietitians and a paediatrician in Melbourne who will support an elimination diet.]

I was at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne today and was so pleased to see copies of Fed Up just inside the door of the child health information centre in a prominent spot and a book list of recommended reading listed Fed Up and Friendly Food. I wish it had been there when I was back and forth with my son as a baby getting no help at all from the so-called 'specialists'!

After a lot of trying to find someone down here in Melbourne to help me through the diet, my son and I went to the RPA Allergy clinic in Sydney who were really wonderful. We have been on the diet now for 7 weeks and already have had great results. Some foods have been forever banned from this house. The change is remarkable both in behaviour but also how my son himself feels. He now sits quietly, will read for himself, and has stopped the loud and endless chatter. Given the choice now he will not eat or drink anything that is not on the lists and asks if it will make him feel "all upset". Indeed as the amount of planning involved is quite detailed. The whole house now eats from the FAILSAFE lists and all of us feel heaps better.

My family of 6 lives in a particularly small wheatbelt town in Western Australia, and by using your book 'Fed Up' as my bible, I too have seen changes in attitudes and behaviour. So much so, I am now helping other local families with recipes and menu plans that I have found successful. For a township of 350 people, 'Fed Up' has been the most asked after book at our local newsagency! - reader, email

I am an American living in Australia who, by chance, saw a report about the "Elimination Diet" and its positive effect on children with aggressive behavior and ADD. At the end of the report they gave the name of your book "Fed Up", which I bought and have read from cover to cover.

How I wish I had been able to have this information when my children were growing up, specially my son, who was told by teachers constantly that he was lazy and what a shame that was because he was so smart. He was finally tested and diagnosed to have an ADD when he was 18 years old. This test was done only at our insistence and expense because school officials insisted there was nothing wrong with him. He was offered Ritalin, which he refused to take. Needless to say he failed when he decided to go to College. He is now married and his oldest son (now three years old) is already showing some of the behavior my son showed at that age. I could give many examples about family members with allergy, either environmental or food related. In other words, I am convinced that many of us would benefit from this diet. If you think it's difficult to get someone to listen about it in Australia, you have no idea how hard it is to get someone to listen about it in the U.S. - reader, email

I read your book - it's fabulous!! Lots of the symptoms you mentioned in the book sounded all too close to my 5 year old daughter. We have been worried about my daughter's behaviour for some time and her "angel one minute devil the next" behaviour leads us to get professional help for her late last year. Didn't really help much. Can't say the same about your book! Great ! Since a change in her diet as per the suggestions in your book she is absolutely a new child! Happy all the time! Her change in behaviour was almost immediate and we are never going back! Even at 5 years old she can remember how she used to get and how she couldn't stop herself being like that and she hated it. Can't thank you enough and I have been spreading the word around here so I hope you have been selling lots of your books! -reader, Canberra

I've been idling with the diet for a few weeks, just replacing a few things here and there, avoiding the obvious colours preservatives, bread etc .... until the big birthday party on Saturday. My goodness what a hangover the kids have - really notice the difference in my four year old's concentration span when she practices the violin - it is as though she can't hear me! She does not have ADHD, in fact she's been accepted into a program for the gifted. I'm truly disgusted - by the lack of clean food. I reckon the GST is a good thing. - reader, email

I am currently reading your amazing book, Fed Up. I must commend you on a job extremely well done. I honestly never realized that there could be such an emphasis on the food we eat contributing to a range variety of illnesses and behavioural problems. As a mother of two - a girl 6yo and a boy 3yo - I have noticed an extreme difference in the behaviour of my son just by changing the bread which we eat to not include preservative 282. I am sure by the end of your book and after implementing the Elimination Diet there will be many changes - all for the better.

Thanks again for making me more aware and for your great recipes - they are a treat for the whole family - reader, email

"Everyone in our family is doing much better on the diet. We have been able to get our son off Ritalin, and my little one potty trained at last. She is coming along in leaps and bounds. My husband actually can stay awake and has a personality again. And my blood pressure is the lowest it has been in nearly seven years. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou!!!

PS. I think we should send a copy of Fed Up to Oprah! Imagine if she got behind FAILSAFE????

- reader, USA

I bought your book, "Fed Up", yesterday. I read half last night, and am very anxious to start the elimination diet. My daughter is 9mths old. I have not enjoyed one bit of those months. Every night is miserable, and days are small catnaps. I was told she had reflux, but I believe that it is the result of something else. Everything I have read in your book has made sense. I intend to start the eating program asap ... I know there is a beautiful child inside ... - reader, email

I am the mother of a four-year-old boy who we always suspected of being a little too lively. Lately his behaviour has worsened with very loud and frequent tantrum type behaviours, and despite all the tactics employed such as ignoring these outbursts we were having little success. Last week our local G.P who suggested that we should try a diet ... our son's behaviour has noticeably improved even with the few changes we have been able to implement so far and we are thus eager to continue on this successful road. Our son has not been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder as most of the time he is just wonderful with no problems with attention or concentration etc. Yet these outbursts are very acute and sudden in onset and we are obviously concerned to go out too often as when this occurs as other people disapprove of our management as parents. On one occasion when our son threatened to run out onto a busy road in front of ongoing traffic I yelled out to him to get away from the road as I was not close enough to physically remove him. His tantrum continued and the next day we discovered some person had reported us to the child protection agency as being unfit. As you can imagine this has been the most upsetting part of trying to control his behaviour ... as often people ignore our explanations of his outbursts and refuse to believe a child can act this way. I believe we are excellent parents. My partner is a teacher and I am a nurse yet neither of us are feeling very successful in these roles at present in relation to our own child. Educationally he is doing wonderfully ... it's just this aspect of his behaviour we are concerned about. - reader, email

My son, Drew, was always a challenge. He was a difficult baby. I remember a paediatrician smiling at me one day and saying "oh he's advanced". I was quite pleased until I realized this meant "hyperactive"!

He never slept, had colic and frequent ear infections. He also had child hood allergies. At 6 months my milk dried up (probably stress related) so I decided to put him on a bottle and was advised to try Nan formula. He was never a good feeder and it took me hours to get him to take to the bottle. There was no help from the infant nurse unless I wanted to continue breast-feeding. I was basically told I was on my own. Finally, success, he drank from the bottle. I put him down for a snooze (wistful thinking really). About 10 minutes later he was up crying and covered head to toe with hives. He had reacted to the formula!! I could go on but I suspect you can fill in the blanks about his early childhood.

Anyway, trouble really started half way through pre-school. He was constantly in trouble and his teacher held concerns about his ability to cope with school. I decided at this point to go for the head in the sand approach, you know, ignore it and it will go away. Well, that didn't last long. I spent most of his kindergarten year watching my beautiful happy loving boy turn into a resentful angry defensive child. He ran away, hurt the other children, destroyed his work, threw things at the teacher and so forth. Like your daughter (yes I've read your books) he could also be one of the most beautiful charming little people, a real contradiction. The school believed in sending the child home and lecture the mother on her poor parenting whilst making no effort at all to try and help. Every time I tried to enlist their help they hid behind POLICY!! I did many parenting courses, had a hot line to the parent support line (once when I was really upset as he had taken to urinating on his 8-month-old sister they said "hmm sounds like a discipline problem" ) and also enlisted the help of a paediatrician. It got to the stage that I wouldn't put the bin out for fear that the school would call whilst I was out. In his first two years at school I lost count of how many times I had to front up to collect him. A friend of mine (I wouldn't have survived this time with out her ) kept telling me how much Drew reminded her of her son whom at that time had been diagnosed with ADHD. I kept saying "Yes, but he can concentrate when he wants to" and "But he's not always like this".

Year 1 started with promise. He seemed to settle down a bit and for the whole term I didn't get any calls to collect him, that is, until about 2 weeks into term 2 it all started again but this time with a vengeance!! It occurred to me that his worst terms were in autumn and spring. I had thought "Allergy" before but been discouraged by the paediatrician (I didn't understand about allergy and food sensitivity in fact I had never heard of food sensitivity). This time I insisted on allergy testing, Drew lit up like a Christmas tree - all grasses, dust mites, cats, peanuts, in fact just about everything except cockroaches he reacted to! My paediatrician was surprised at the result hence my introduction to the big wide world of food sensitivities. With the aid of a dietician and my paediatrician I embarked on the elimination diet. To sum it up, that term Drew was invited to the principal's lunch - the highest honour - and yes I sent him with his own food. The trials showed
that most of his problems were to do with salicylates (he used to eat a lot of salicylate rich foods) also some food colourings and preservatives his tolerance was reduced during spring and autumn due to the added problem of his environmental sensitivities.

Unfortunately for Drew diet alone wasn't enough. I found whilst I could guarantee bad behaviour if he ate the wrong things I couldn't guarantee good behaviour if he didn't. A week into term 4 and still on a controlled diet he got into trouble. I shan't air all my grievances about that school but after one I believe unfair suspension and yet more calls to collect him I withdrew him from the school. When I told the school that he would not be returning, the deputy head said, "Well, I think we will all feel a lot safer". However hurtful her comments (made I might add in front of my son) it did serve to make what was a difficult decision so much easier. I kept Drew out of school until the following year when he started at a new school.

I fell in love at first interview with his new wonderful head mistress. I had made them aware of his problems behavioural and academic (he was well behind). But I was not prepared for the caring and support that this school offered. Within the first week the counsellor - another gem - had run a WISC test discovering that whilst Drew has no learning difficulties per se he had difficulty with oral instructions (common I now realize among ADHD children).

She also lent me a book soon to become my saviour: "Different Kids". It was through reading this that finally the pieces started to fall into place. I read up on ADHD. It was really quite spooky the number of times I thought, hey, that's just what Drew does. I also attended yet another parenting course, this time however it was "Parenting your ADHD child". It was wonderful to talk to other mothers. The more I learnt the more I realised that Drew did have ADHD.

The new school was not a solution to all Drew's problems by any means. He still had his trouble. The first (and only) time he ran away, he came all the way home. I was speaking to the principal when he turned up she said "well bring him back"... I was stunned but not nearly as gobsmacked as I was when I brought him back and she gave him a pep talk to let him know that she had faith in him and she was going to help him. Within minutes the defiant look was gone and she had him eating out of her hand. I went home with my mouth still hanging open, I was so used to schools telling me to take him away it was bizarre to have one actually tell me to bring him back!

It has taken a long time and a lot of work including sending him to a behavioural center (yes he had food sensitivities and ADHD but he also had years of being the bad kid always in trouble. He used to cry to me that "I try to be a good boy but I don't know how. I'm just not a good boy".) For the first time in years I am starting to see my beautiful happy loving son again.

I recently joined the ADHD support group and I was delighted when I found out that you were going to be speaking. You are an amazing woman who has given so much to so many people. I am sure I am not the first and I know I won't be the last to say THANK YOU!! You helped me to see in language that I could understand (without a Ph.D. that is) what was happening to my son and how to help him. I would like to speak to others about food sensitivities if I can prevent even one child needlessly suffering as my son did. Once again, thank you for all that you do. - Deborah, Canberra

Our 8 year old son has been on the elimination diet for almost 18 months as a result of my wife reading your book and discussing "what the hell are we going to do with the little #@$%^$#" with our doctor. The turnaround was to say the least amazing (I expect more so from his teachers), although nothing surprising as far as you're concerned, I'm sure. Keep up the good work. - reader, email

Thank you for your book "Fed Up". My son is 9. He has been a handful basically all his life. It got to the stage a few months ago where I thought I would lose it altogether. We have two other children. The fighting between him and his brother who is only 4 was incredible. It was non-stop. My husband and I nearly split up over our son's behaviour, not knowing what to do for him. I read an article in our local paper and bought your book. We are now in the third week of the diet and already a big improvement. We knew from an early age that diet was a big part of our son's problems but doctors said no way, he is borderline ADD/ADHD. We just didn't get any answers. We have the booklets from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital but didn't have the support or knowledge on our own to do the diet successfully. Thank you for your book. It has been a big help and our counsellor now thinks we might need a dietician after all this time. Again thank you very much. - reader, NSW

I have just read your book "Fed Up" and it makes a lot of sense. My husband and I have an 8 year old boy and 6 year old daughter. After reading the book, we realise that our son has oppositional defiance. I spoke to his teacher yesterday. She could not understand that he would behave in any sort of aggressive way or be so defiant at home. She said that he only needs to be told once to do something, never has any problems in class or at school ... We took the family to a child psychiatry service because we were so concerned about our son's behaviour and not being able to discipline him, and also because he has many irrational fears. We had help to get him used to new situations and heights but on a number of occasions were told that his behaviour (when seen by the staff) was "normal sibling rivalry" and by adjusting our ways of dealing with situations we could help change the behaviour. It did help a little. Two weeks ago I decided that we would cut out additives. The Sunday night before I gave the children the remaining packets of Twisties ... of course our son was ballistic within a short period of time. (We never have cordial or fizzy drinks in the house and rarely consume icecream or desserts at home). We had a good week, with no incidents worth mentioning. I did not have to ask him to settle down while he was at swimming lessons! On Sunday I was planning to implement the diet the next day so let the children have a sausage with tomato sauce and bought bread (I have been making my own for a number of years now); also had a small piece of iced sponge cake and a small amount of trifle. Our son went ballistic again and was told to go to room and calm down. He was "escorted" to his room, uncooperative, yelling abuse, head butting, punching, screaming, banging walls – uncontrollable. Next morning he was up bright and early and happy as a bird. In fact in the last nearly two weeks he has been up before my husband leaves for work at 7.00 am whereas before I had to wake him at 7.30 am. He is now getting ready quickly and is very happy – he used to be such a grump that you couldn’t look sideways at him. And this is not quite two weeks! However, last night I cooked a casserole and did all the wrong things. I added tomato paste and soy sauce. The children also had orange juice. This morning our son had his breakfast OK but from then on dawdled and fidgeted and played and was only just ready, with my help, in time to leave for the bus. He was surly and sulky at the bus stop and would not join us but kept kicking a signpost. I would once have thought that this was coincidence but after reading your book cannot think that it is anything but food related. Thank you for showing us that there are ways to help our children. We will give it a proper trial. Thank you once again for showing us a light! - reader, NSW

My 8 year old son has been FAILSAFE for nearly two years and recently re-visited the educational psychologist he saw before he started the diet. She couldn't believe what a different boy he was ... he sat through the two hours of testing and tested very high. Spelling was the only one right on his chronological age. Reading was more than four years ahead and comprehension nearly five years ahead. Wow!!! She couldn't believe his concentration and general disposition, so different from the wriggly, difficult to test child two years ago. As she said in her summing up."This young man has made DRAMATIC changes since first being tested." I firmly believe it is the diet and as runner up the hard work he has put in during extra tuition. - reader, NZ

I am thrilled to at last found you on 'the net', the reason being my success thanks to your books. I had always suspected that foods and additives were a contributing factor in my son's behaviour and as I have always had a very additive free diet I was at a loss as to what could be reduced from our diet. Unfortunately we were huge fruit eaters. My children were always given a nice peach or whatever was in season, in preference to lollies etc. During the drought year of 1995 we noticed a remarkable improvement in his behaviour, the reason ( as we now know) was that all those lovely raspberries, boysenberries, peaches etc, just weren't available to us.

Anyway I could go on for pages about the struggle to be believed by doctors and all the other professionals we came in contact with, until my mother found "Different Kids". We knew we were onto something and when finally I'd relented and tried dexamphetamine (against my better judgement, just to give me a break), it was not a success and I was determined to try the diet in a really serious way. Term 3 was our trial period, by week 5 I was beginning to despair, not a lot was changing, enter Efalex, and there was a big improvement, week 8 into the combined trial and I was still not convinced until his teacher came out one afternoon and said "what have you done, he is a changed child!" Bingo!

We've stuck with the diet ever since. Of course we lapse occasionally and we all pay the consequences, but it is a good reminder of how bad things were. He is by no means an angel now, but I no longer hate him. He went from a child in a remedial reading class to one of the top 5 in his year over that term. My main struggle now is convincing other parents and medical 'types' that it is worth trying diet before drugs ... - reader, NSW

I am a mother of two diagnosed ADHD boys, ages 13 and 11. Both are on Ritalin and Catapres. They have been on medication for some time, which is a path both my husband and I didn't and still don't feel comfortable with. I bought your book today and read the introduction and part of chapter one, and my mouth just dropped at what I was reading. I read this back to my husband when he came home from work and his reaction was the same as mine. More to the point, it was the very first page when you were talking about Rebecca and her behaviour. My 13 yr old went into the terrible twos and has never come out! Both my husband and I are as the book is titled "FED UP". We have tried many other avenues but to date nothing has worked. I must admit I am only onto chapter two and I am fascinated by what you are saying ... Thank you for "FED UP".

I have just finished reading "Different Kids" and am halfway through "Fed Up" - what an eye opener! I am amazed and horrified at what we have been feeding our families over the last 30 years or so. Please keep up the good work of letting people know the truth. I have already passed "Different Kids" on to a friend at work whose young son is struggling at school and am planning to pass it on to anyone who will stand still long enough to listen to me!! ... Thank you once again for
a couple of great books and some life-saving information! - reader, Adelaide

Thank you SO much for your amazing eye opening book Fed Up. My husband and I were FED UP with the doctors recommending that we put our wonderful nine year son on Ritalin when a mum from school gave me your book to read. That was a little over a week ago and we are all on the FAILSAFE diet and for the FIRST time this year our son came home with a Mintie (which of course he told his teacher he would have to check with his Mum if he could eat!) and we have had TWO notes from his teacher to tell us how well he is doing at school. All this when since the beginning of the year he has hardly done a bit of school work. He has dreamt his way through the year! I asked him today if he felt the diet was working and he said that he was no different because he always knows the answers except that now they don't disappear into the back of his head!!!!!!! - reader, Qld

We currently have three boys aged from 5 downwards and have been doing the diet for 2 years now. It has given us sanity. We would both like to take this opportunity to thank you for the two books you have written as this has given us a chance to treat our three boys drug free and this means a great deal to us.

Keep up the fantastic work you are doing and I hope that one day the Federal government will pull their heads out of where ever they are and realise that this is a problem and do something about it so other people can receive the same sanity we have received from the knowledge that you have passed on. - FAILSAFE father

My eight year old son was recently diagnosed ADHD and ODD by three different doctors. All three doctors said we would be wasting our time altering his diet and that the only thing to do was to prescribe drugs.

We didn't want to put him on drugs but my wife and I were at our wits end, our son was becoming more and more of a handful, I must admit I was about to give up and take the doctors' advice.

We bought your book "Fed Up" and started the diet. My God, the improvement was almost instant. He changed from an aggressive and argumentative little creep to a loving and caring little boy almost immediately. My wife, myself, our other two children and most of all our son's teacher are amazed. We have stuck to the diet and there have been no hassles in the home or the classroom for several weeks. Although last weekend we took the kids out for the day and bought them each a bottle of Schweppes lemonade. Within half an hour our son was back to his aggressive old self ... learned a lesson there. He now realises that some things make him cranky and steers away from them, after all, he says he doesn't like being his angry self.

Sue, we don't know how to thank you. You have changed the lives of not only our family, but the other kids in our son's classroom, who I'm sure are as grateful as we are. - concerned father, ACT

On Day 2 of the elimination diet, which I forgot about in a moment of sheer flustering, I gave my daughter Laura (aged 4) a ham sandwich on normal bread. Before the ill-fated sandwich she had drawn a picture which we have named "preham sandwich". Then later that afternoon she drew another picture (after spending a horrible bad tempered afternoon together) which we named "postham sandwich". Quite a difference wouldn't you say! and I just thought it was my son who needed the help! - Lynda, NSW

   Post ham

  Pre ham

I would like to let you know that within one day of removing the following from my sons diet, all of which he ate on a daily basis in large quantities, he had started to change noticeably: chocolate flavouring, chicken roll, preserved bread (282), cheese slices, tomato sauce. For a long time people had asked me why my son didn't have constipation when he consumes copious amounts of milk and up to 24 slices of cheese at a time, as well as up to six Fruche in a sitting! I was amazed to find that his motions have changed considerably since removing the above items! He is still having large amounts of milk but I think I may have to exclude this too if his shiners don't disappear. - Reader, by email

I have a family, both maternally and paternally, of very happy, giving people who are easily angered, overreactive, bored, fidgety, highly strung or vague. I also have a history of either myself or a relative with asthma, sinusitis, rhinitis, excess mucous, eczema, hives, itchy crawly skin, headaches, migraines, lethargy, anxiety attacks, depression, colic, reflux, stomach aches, bloating, wind, dyslexia, food reactions, mouth ulcers, bedwetting and growing pains. What chance did I or my son have in missing out on food allergies and intolerances? It is a shame that we didn't know the links between all of these symptoms and food intolerances. There have been two suicides and one diagnosed schizophrenic who tried many times to take his own life. I read your book as soon as I could get my hands on it. If only my family had been aware of these things years ago there may have been a few lives saved as well as a lot of sanity! - Reader, NSW

We have only been on the elimination diet for just over 1 week and already my son is very cooperative, less aggressive, trying very hard, more coordinated, happy on waking all the time, listening and responding, throwing fewer tantrums and his speech has improved dramatically. All this with known mistakes! One of his Kindy Gym instructors (who only sees him for 1 hr/week) asked me last week 'what I had done to him'. He was cooperative, obedient and trying to do things he had refused to try previously. - Reader, by email

I have just started my daughter (4) on the FAILSAFE diet. I didn't really expect to see any change in her behaviour, I was a bit sceptical but I thought it was worth a try. She has been on it for three weeks now. She used to drink up to 15 litres of apple juice cordial a week. She does not have ADD, from my observation, but I think she may come into a category of ODD and a bit hyperactive. We have seen much improvement in both areas ... I have also noticed that I am less tired on the diet. I love my daughter but she has always been difficult to stand up to and her behaviour pushes me away. I have found that we are now getting on better and I feel closer to her as she is not yelling at me and opposing me all the time. I kept waiting for the day when she would grow out of her stages of behaviour, but I think I have finally found the answer. ... Thanks for a terrific book . I have bought it for a couple of my friends I was so impressed with the results - Nurse, by email

Your book has been very informative and helpful for me, my daughter and my grandson. It answers questions that I have been looking for over the past 10 years for allergies and health problems. - Reader, NSW

I have just finished reading "Fed Up" and "Different Kids". You are a very special lady. You and your family have been through so much and have come so far. And you're out there educating and giving support to other families.

We often go through life not letting people know how much a difference they have made in our lives. I wanted to let you know that you have made a difference in my life and many others' lives also. You have truly contributed to the community. I hope you feel the love and appreciation from all the people you have helped. – Beth, Sydney

I have read far and wide on the topic of food intolerances and I must say that your book 'Fed Up' is brilliant. I can't put it down. I feel the love of your family, the wonderful times you have together (especially in the outdoors, something I miss terribly over here), and the incredible drive you have, come through so well in your writing. It is also informative and meticulously researched and referenced. - Reader, Japan

Many thanks to the thousands of people who have written since A Current Affair. As I read your messages I wish that politicians, food regulators, food manufacturers, school tuckshop managers and health professionals could be here with me to see for themselves what foods are doing to our families. I'm sorry we don't have room for all your stories.

Our oldest son attends a Montessori preschool and his teacher had been concerned from day one over a few of his little habits. In November 1999 he was assessed because he has always been an over emotional child and his concentration was not developing like his teacher expected. He was also rolling his eyes when doing work at school and he was starting to fall behind. At no time did anyone (teacher or assessor) think ADD / ADDH was a problem. Needless to say our feet hit the ground running since that assessment.

First stop was diet. The lady who did the assessment recommended getting both our children off additives immediately and reducing dairy and wheat. We were lucky to get into Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Allergy Clinic a few weeks after the assessment. By then we had totally removed additives, dairy and wheat from the children's diet. I'm sure anyone that has gone through this will remember the shock of those early days. Did we really eat that unhealthy? What was left that we could eat?

Within three days after removing additives, wheat and dairy from the children's diet our children transformed into angels. Our son and daughter had always fought. After three days there was no fighting. They were settled and calm within themselves. They slept longer. They ate more. The teachers at school wanted to know who possessed our son. All of a sudden he was focused, able to concentrate and more sociable. Parent's of his friends noticed the change. His 5 year old friends noticed a change. Of course no one believed us it was due to a major diet change. After

all, bread is good for you! The children have done the elimination diet and we have been steadily challenging food chemicals. Judging by the reaction from our dietician our children are not fitting the usual reactions. The children have had no physical reactions. All reactions have been behaviour related. Wheat made both children aggressive, giddy and unfocused. Cow's milk (both with lactose and without lactose) made both children emotional basket cases however they had no reaction to tasty cheese. We think they reacted to cow's milk yogurt but we are going to retest. I know they reacted to ice cream also. Our dietician explained that an emotional reaction to cow's milk has been observed so we weren't imagining things. Currently the children are being tested on additives from unlabeled capsules. Our son’s first test was food colouring. Even without a label the additive was obvious when I broke open the capsule. Within minutes he reacted with hyperactive energy. I believe his teacher had one of the worst days in her teaching career that day! She told me never ever ever give him that again. He was unfocused, talking non-stop and could not concentrate. It took three days to get out of his system.

A few things have amazed me through our food testing experience. Once the chemicals are out of the diet the reactions when the chemical was re-introduced has been over the top. How could the children have ever eaten those chemicals before and we did not see the reactions? Once you start from a clean slate and looking at one chemical at a time the results are amazing. I'm also amazed how many foods contain unsafe chemicals. Has anyone ever tried to buy corn chips with
no anti-oxidants? Not many edible choices out there. Lucky we're not corn chip people! I am also astonished how long it takes for the children to regain their angelic natures after a food challenge. RPA gives approximately three days but we found it takes at least one week for the bad stuff to get out of the children's systems.

I am convinced that our children are not the only children with food intolerances. I think all children have food intolerances but parents are living in denial. I speak to friends and they all agree that their child should cut back on this or that food. No one has the commitment to do this unless they have reached crisis point. We knew our son was a high needs / high returns child from day one but we never thought that food intolerances were part of the equation. We now see that unless your child has a good clean diet then they have no chance to reach their potential.

Our son’s overall problem is neurological. His birth was very bad. It appears that structural damage prevented parts of his brain integrating hence the result is he has problems getting information out. He has seen a cranial chiropractor, a behavioural optometrist and a kinesiologist plus weekly visits to a neurodevelopment therapist. The bottom line is until his diet intolerances have been confirmed and his metabolism rebuilt by the kinesiologist the neurological side will not be totally fixed.

Our daughter has been dragged along on his journey. At one stage blood tests indicated she had coeliac disease. A visit to the specialist concluded she has a strong disposition towards coeliac disease but she is not a coeliac. I was amazed that a specialist dealing with gut problems was skeptical of results from the food challenges. That specialist was recommended because he was one of the open minded ones!

Meanwhile the children are permanently off gluten, dairy (except a little cheese) and additives. We have gone back to the old fashion make it at home cooking and baking. I don't even bother with the instant gluten-free additive-free box foods. Hey, I can make a pizza base that tastes just as good from scratch. We continue with his other therapies. He's making great progress. Still up and down because the diet is still being sorted out. Our daughter is two years younger. Luckily she is young and she has not been under the scrutiny academic wise that our son has. She has had food reactions but shows no neurological problems.  The thing that frightens me most is that we live in a world of children (and adults) who are zombies due to food chemicals. All those beautiful little minds being drugged by legal chemicals in our foods. Parents who have gone through food challenges and have children with food intolerances need to educate their friends. A parent just needs to change their diet for a short time to see the proof that their child is affected by foods. - Mother, Sydney

I have been meaning to write to you for years to thank you for your books. We were on the right track with our then four year old son, Jack (now coming up to 10) when I read "Different Kids". I already suspected ADHD and knew very well that he reacted to food as do I. Jack had his first food reaction at 20 weeks gestation! I ate some of those awful red sugar-coated peanut things and he just went berserk, looping the loop and throwing himself all over the place for about an hour or so. So we were prepared.

I breastfed him for nearly three years - breastfeeding was only time I got to lie down and rest. He was a "windy" but fairly normal baby early on and I did avoid any foods in my diet that seemed to cause problems. He never liked to be left alone and would panic if put down while awake. From three months constant movement and novelty was required to keep him happy. When he was happy he was radiant and when he was not he was grizzly and constantly squirming with this giving way to frantic screaming if the boredom lasted for more than a few minutes. Out shopping, strangers loved him as he responded with such joy to any attention and he was a very attractive baby. I had to carry him on my back in a sling, the stroller was too boring, too far away from me and not social enough. I accepted all this as I had been told I was a very, very difficult baby - colic - and my expectations were therefore "realistic".

At four months I began to introduce solids - rice cereal with breast milk to mix. The novelty seemed to appeal to Jack! Then I began to mix a small amount of orange juice in with the cereal to boost iron absorption. From there I introduced apple, ripe banana, pureed vegies (broccoli, pumpkin, etc.). He wasn't so keen on this but I heard about adding cheese to make the vegies more appealing, so I did this, often using parmesan cheese as well as milder cheeses. Jack loved bolognaise sauce mixed in too. Another favourite was avocado. He loved apricot and yogurt. He had a small amount of mashed prune to counteract a tendency to constipation. I was so pleased that he ate well and proud he had such a good appetite and such an ideal diet. When others asked how he slept (pretty awfully) I could at least say, "But he eats really well".

Meanwhile our little boy was getting more and more grumpy and demanding and more and more miserable when he wasn't amused. I looked frantically for the "ideal toy" the thing that would hold his attention. Each new item was met with delight and then discarded within thirty seconds and the grizzling began again.

Jack woke at least twice a night. He was into everything and seemed to always want more - more - more. He wasn't babbling - ba ba ba & da da da at 10 months. (In retrospect, the first sign of his problems with auditory processing that later resulted in speech delay and difficulty in learning to read.) He never sat and played. He never sat! He went straight from crawling to being dissatisfied because he couldn't yet walk.

From the 4 months we put his "difficult" and unhappy behaviour down to "teething". The first tooth didn't appear until eleven months.

When Jack was four months old I ate a small amount of dark chocolate in an ice-cream and about one hour later breastfed Jack. Within half an hour he was screaming inconsolably and instead of being tense as crying babies are he just lay back in my arms in an almost relaxed way as he screamed (low muscle tone no doubt). I identified the chocolate as the most likely culprit - I'm now sure I was right. After Jack went to sleep I sat up and expressed my other breast out into a

He was still a delightful, smiling, social child as long as he had the undivided attention of someone and a constant stream of novelty.

I've gone into this first year in detail because it really shows most clearly what was going on even if it was not obvious at the time.

My second child, a daughter called Ellen, was born when Jack was nearly 3 and a half. Jack was delighted and adored his little sister. The pregnancy was complicated by my blood pressure going high from 23 weeks. My mother came to look after us all as I was meant to be resting as well as taking anti-hypertensive medication. My mother just couldn't take Jack's behaviour.

I had been avoiding wheat in Jack's diet as I believed I had a problem with it. (My problem was actually with calcium propionate (282), of course, but cutting out all wheat did solve my problems of fatigue and fuzziness and so for years I thought I needed to avoid wheat). For convenience we changed to normal white bread from the supermarket. Jack loved it after the drier rye bread I had used formerly. I had not a clue about the preservative in the bread. Jack's behaviour went from bad to atrocious.

Jack's behaviour was at its all-time worst between the ages of 3 and 4. It was during this time he was eating the preserved bread. He put his hand through a windowpane during a tantrum. He woke with nightmares and screamed madly about and it was impossible to get through to him.

He went to bed late, reappearing often saying he was hungry and wanting (surprise, surprise) another slice of bread. He would wake at 4.30 in the morning wanting to be entertained. The only toy he persistently liked was his ride-on car. His behaviour and manner were almost autistic but for his insatiable sociability. His speech was very delayed and I don't think he really understood a lot of what was said to him. He was however very imaginative and inventive and liked to play pretend games, but always with someone. He had no liking for being read to but preferred to have me act out stories with both of us taking roles.

Needless to say I was exhausted and miserable. We lived half an hour out of town. My husband, Nick, was at that time managing farms. It was a very similar situation to yours, I think.

Jack was going to preschool in town a few days per week. Although they did not complain about Jack's behaviour (he has never been physically aggressive towards other people, even at his very worst and he's never said "I hate you" either - he is a very gentle character) When pressed they would say he was a bit weird, hiding in the playhouse and refusing to come out when the others were sitting on the mat listening to stories and taking off outside at inside time, etc, but he was only three so a lot of immaturity was allowed for.

My mother and my husband, Nick and I discussed Jack and his behaviour and decided that his things had got much worse around the time of the change in bread type. I took Jack of all wheat. The change was astonishing. He could have his socks put on without going berserk. You could talk to him and he would act on what was said. He didn't scream through everyday tasks such as bathing, dressing etc. When he went to preschool that week I dropped him off and didn't say anything about the changes. When I picked him up the teacher approached me and said "What have you done - he's a different child - he's playing with the others and listening to us."

Just before Jack went off wheat he had been assessed by a speech therapist at the preschool. She diagnosed, as best she could -we couldn't really keep Jack in the room much less anything like on-task - a severe expressive language delay and a moderate receptive language delay. Six weeks, later when off the wheat products, was reassessed by the same speech pathologist, using the part of the test that Jack had not done due to being non-cooperative. This time he seemed to have no significant receptive language delay and was only mildly delayed in his expressive language. She said she had never seen a child change so dramatically within such a short period of time.

Of course avoiding wheat meant avoiding a lot of foods, such as sausages. So Jack's diet also became generally blander and so did Jack. He was still difficult but at least he was "on the planet" now. He was only four but used to ask me "Why am I so happy, Mum?"

After a couple of months I screwed up my courage to do a challenge for wheat. I cooked some pikelets so I knew just what had gone into them. No reaction other than a very happy child - yummy pikelets!

I challenged with bread, planning to do two-week-on -- two-week-off challenges to see if any difference was apparent. That challenge lasted for two slices of bread fed to Jack at 4.30 on a Friday afternoon (timed so as to coincide with the weekend when Nick would be about)!! Within forty-five minutes, Jack was off his brain. Screaming, upset by everything - he finally went to bed and woke at 4.30 and was off again. This reaction lasted as a major thing for three days and Jack was unsettled for at least a week afterwards. Nick strapped Jack into his car seat and spent a lot of time driving around checking the property that weekend! We have never rechallenged this one as Jack himself has no desire to repeat that particular experience and neither have we.!!

The clinic sister I went to for Ellen was very supportive of my efforts to unravel the cause of Jack's problems with diet. When I had identified bread as being a huge problem she pointed out that bread did contain a preservative. She did not know anything particular about this preservative and its effects and she only mentioned it because preservatives were believed to be a cause of behaviour problems in children. Unfortunately I didn't take this too seriously at that time - I still believed that they wouldn't put anything this harmful in our "daily bread" and therefore the preservative couldn't be that harmful.

I spent the next year or so thinking our problem was yeast. I also noticed that a lot of Italian food caused major problems and made Jack pale and blobby looking as well as affecting his behaviour.

It was around this time I found and read "Different Kids" and it all began to make sense. What I had been doing as a mixture of the observation that the blander the diet the blander the children, my little clinical-trials-with-one-(or two, three or four) participant(s) and intuition could now be done with structure. I think you saved us another three to four years of misery, money wasting and mucking about.

These days my husband says he feels better and doesn't get headaches any more. I've found I react to many things and I compete with Jack for the most sensitive-in-the-family status. Ellen reacts to salicylates by becoming easily enraged and blaming everyone for everything. She is, by the way, the most un-ADD person I've every met - highly organised, very logical, and a real old head on young shoulders -very knowing and mature and reasonable. She is also extremely bright and academically gifted especially with maths.

Jack becomes hyper and idiotic and unable to learn when he has more than moderate salicylates in his diet. His salicylate reaction is a rapid-onset-rapid- resolution-type reaction. Amines used to make him irritable and as close to aggressive as he got but these days the reaction takes the form of a migraine. Jack still has academic problems related to his ADD and particularly to his auditory processing disorder. He is on Ritalin for school. I liken it to wearing glasses and tell him his sister wears glasses at school to help her eyes focus and he needs Ritalin to help his mind focus. He takes a very small dose (1 tab then 1/2 tab three hours later) and he finds it very effective. He does not take it at weekends usually although he would have a dose if we were going to do something that required good behaviour despite being bored or to help with a task requiring concentration and organisation such as making a model etc. He also asks for a dose if he his anxious to be on his best behaviour.

We also need to apply behaviour modification techniques on a daily basis - I did a Triple P course and this has been immensely helpful in managing Jack.

To put it simply, our approach to Jack's behaviour and other problems three-tiered one: First comes diet and general good health including adequate sleep and food - this is essential as if his diet, in particular, is off then nothing else is really effective.

Second comes the behaviour modification. I believe a lot of poor behaviour in children is caused by not being able to understand their environment. It seems to me that all effective behaviour modification systems provide not only rewards and punishments but more importantly they organise and simplify the social environment for all players. This consistency enables children who have trouble reading those around them to understand what is happening and they are therefore able to comply.

And thirdly, medication is the icing on the cake. It does cause Jack persistent appetite suppression and sleep problems. (The appetite suppression can be a good thing for parties though as he will only pick at plain chips and have a bit of lemonade if on medication!) Once again thank you so much for your books - and for the great website, and please sign us up for your newsletters, discussion group and kids discussion group! - Alison, Queensland

I have a story regarding flavour enhancer 635 from the eight-year old boy next door.

Last year he ate a pie bought from a bakery shop near his mother's workplace. Not only did he get the skin reaction he also suffered a life-threatening anaphylactic-type reaction with swelling of mouth, tongue and throat. The doctor (fortunately a doctor's surgery was just around the corner) who treated him said that he was probably a matter of minutes away from death. He remained on antihistamines for weeks and missed a lot of school. For days his lips protruded four inches or so! The family was unable to find out what was in the pie and so the cause of the reaction remained a mystery.

A little over a month ago this child was given two or three CC's by a friend at school. Within a short time his arms were itching and his chest was covered in red and white wheals. This reaction was not as severe as the pie incident (the dose was no doubt much lower). I think that reaction took a week to subside.

His mother has commented that this boy has had no problems of this kind until last year, although he does have a history of mild asthma. It wasn't until I was looking through your web site that I found the more-than-likely culprit. The family is very grateful. Once again THANK YOU! Surely 635 cannot go on being legal - if it was a drug it would be taken off the market or used, if deemed necessary, with extreme caution under hospital conditions, I'm sure! - Alison, Qld

[See our report of 635-associated skin rashes in Failsafe #10. Anaphylactic shock has previously been considered an IgE mediated allergic response. RPAH researchers now suggest that anaphylactoid reactions may be associated with various food chemicals including additives, see Clarke and others, The dietary management of food allergy and food intolerance in children and adults. Aust J Nutr Diet 1996; 53(3):89-94. Note also that, unlike the National Registration Authority's Adverse Experience Reporting Program for agricultural and veterinary chemicals, there is no mechanism for reporting adverse reactions to food additives. There should be! Our attempts to do this have all been met with reassurances that additives are safe, yet they are not tested for their effects on children.]

I bought your book recently at a dietician's recommendation after being diagnosed to have sensitivity to salicylates and amines. It is really easy to read and contains a wealth of information. The dietician was especially enthused about your recipes - she felt they were easy recipes and it was therefore easier for people to comply with the limitations on food types. I agree totally.  In my case, the initial symptoms included tiredness and lack of concentration, so it took a while for me to even begin to seriously consider looking at recipes - I started with a fairly standard and uninteresting diet that did not require any mental effort (rolled oats, golden syrup on toast, boiled egg sandwiches, stir fried vegetables). Now, after a couple of months, I am much more alert and awake, and interested in things.

In fact, the reaction checklist was a revelation - it revealed that things I regarded as normal were actually symptoms. And having filled out the checklist initially and again after a week on the diet, I was amazed at the difference ...

It seems from your book and website that children are the main sufferers from food intolerance. However, I know a couple of adults who have intolerance problems ... It occurs to me also that this might provide another avenue, possibly more fruitful, to continue the campaign against food additives, or at least having them tested more fully. When adults are ill, there are direct economic costs in terms of lost work time, reduced productivity, possible workers compensation claims or even superannuation costs due to early retirement due to ill health. Certainly in my case, my productivity has been down for some years due to inability to concentrate.

By contrast, children's behaviour can easily be dismissed with responses blaming parents, children or everything else but food additives. Pursuing the economic costs of irritable bowel syndrome alone may well reveal the true cost of having additives in foods. Further, once it becomes an economic issue, it is likely that further research will be done on the subject, revealing even more information. - David, Newcastle

You said you were interested to hear how our challenges went. Well, what can I say - they weren't fun times.

We challenged nitrates and amines and yes, my daughter does become irritable a day or two after eating foods containing these chemicals. Her mood only lasts around 24 - 48 hours and so this isn't too bad. I can tolerate this but as for the 282 bread challenge, I never want to see another slice of bread or crumpet or anything else that contains this preservative.

I felt cruel doing this challenge but as you say, we do need to know if she reacts to this preservative. I could see her mood slowly changing by the fifth day on the challenge and from then on it only got worse.

My food diary reads:

day 5 - cries easily

day 6 - cries easily, slightly cranky

day 7 - cries easily, sour faced (stopped challenge)

day 8 - angry, irritable, fighting with us and sibling

day 9 - foul mood

day 10 - terrible mood, irritable, cranky, easily angered

day 11 - mood still bad but improving

day 12 - bad mood, irritable, angry, stirring siblings

day 13 - irritability improving; still fires up but not as frequently

day 14 - mood much more pleasant

day 15 - pleasant child

The one good thing to come from this challenge was that it opened my husband's eyes up and he has now started reading labels and watches carefully what our children eat. - mother of two