I came across your web site when I was trying to find out if potassium sorbate could cause sleep disturbances. My sister aged 61 was awake for about three hours and kept repeating the words "I'm terrified" and I believe it was from the potassium sorbate that was in the sweet cider we were using to make her fruit smoothies. She had no headaches for several days, then had one on Saturday. I asked the Aide if she did anything different and she mentioned the cider. I checked the label and saw the preservative. Then that same night my sister was awake with the night terrors. I had also noticed a slight rash on her face and found that the preservative can cause rashes also. I poured all that cider away and bought some that has no preservatives and she slept good for me the last two nights. - Leanda, US, by email

See also [797] 202: Behaviour and night terror induced by potassium sorbate (202) in Panamax (June 2009)


I've had nosebleeds from milk since I was a kid; I was raised on powdered and skim milk because of my intolerance. In college I got to experiment (not of my choosing - they didn't have skim milk at the cafeteria); a couple of glasses of full fat milk one a day were tolerable, but any more than that and the nose bleeds started; I could go maybe a week on 2% milk. I don't have any of the normal symptoms of lactose intolerance, and cheese has always been a favorite food and no problem at all. I've never found a good explanation for it, but I can say 100% that fatty milk is the single variable that causes my nose bleeds - Les, USA.



My husband is very intelligent, sensitive and kind. But for years he has had excessive sexual drive. And when I say excessive I mean excessive. Such as mental pictures of naked women haunting him for hours. I won't get into all the disgusting details (because they ARE disgusting), but our marriage was really in danger, although in every other aspect we get along beautifully. Throughout the years he invested large amounts of money / time / energy in trying to get this under control through psychological treatments etc. However, the change (if any) was disappointingly minor (10% possibly). He was seriously thinking of leaving the love of his life (me) just to find someone who would be willing to have sex twice a day with him... Out of desperation, I suggested he try the same diet our three kids were doing. What could we lose? Maybe the cause would be discovered to be physical rather than mental. On day 6 of Failsafe he had the most severe "attack" ever. We were both sure "the diet was not working" (although we knew very well what may happen on day 5 or so) and I was getting truly hopeless. This was the most severe "attack" he's had for 15 years, and he was more determined on leaving me than ever (about 3 or 4 times as determined as through any other attack - just imagine what I felt...). Luckily, and I don't know where I got the strength, we managed to decide to persevere with the diet for 3 weeks before he makes a final decision. After 24 hours of being in this unbearable condition, he suddenly said "I have a feeling everything will be ok". He kept saying that same sentence every day for 3 days, without really explaining much. Then on day 10 or so he told me his obsession had totally subsided. 90% gone. He became a normal 35 year old man. Now we're on day 25 or so (I'll have to check) and life is beautiful!!! - by email

See also story [1204] on a similar theme

Can you explain to me why we don’t get sick when on failsafe? Something to do with improving your immune system? I practically gloat when everyone around me moans about their colds and flus they have all the time as I don’t get them anymore!! What a relief to not have infections from colds every year now! - Rosemaree (failsafe 8 years), by email

Comment from Sue: see our answer to this very interesting question -

A. It is common for failsafers to report that they no longer suffer frequent colds, flu and recurrent infections once they are established on failsafe eating (e.g. see stories [874] and [848]) - and yes, there is scientific evidence. Studies have shown that certain artificial colours and preservatives act as immunosuppressants, that is, they can actually suppress the immune system, making us more likely to suffer from recurrent infections. This has been shown in the laboratory by Greek researchers with artificial colours tartrazine (102) and amaranth (123) using small doses normally considered to be nontoxic, and by Brazilian researchers with propionic acid which is part of the group that includes bread preservative 282. As well, a US study with beagle dogs showed they were more susceptible to fatal viruses when fed indigotine (132). Failsafers who are salicylate-sensitive know that although we are constantly told to eat fruit to build up our immunity, for us, it works the opposite way. We are better off eating failsafe vegetables such as cabbage as described in the Myths of Fruit.

Scientific references

Koutsogeorgopoulou L and others Immunological aspects of the common food colorants, amaranth and tartrazine.Vet Hum Toxicol. 1998;40(1):1-4.

Wajner M and others Inhibition of mitogen-activated proliferation of human peripheral lymphocytes in vitro by propionic acid.Clin Sci (Lond). 1999;96(1):99-103.

Hansen WH and others Chronic toxicity of two food colors, brilliant blue FCF and indigotine, Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 1966;8(1):29-36.

From http://fedup.com.au/information/frequently-asked-questions/diet-questions#sensitive2

I have three kids - a 9.5 month daughter and nearly 7 year old twins (a son and daughter). My youngest is allergic or intolerant to a LOT of things. She is suspected of having Eosinophilic Oesophagitis, which precludes her (and myself as I breastfeed her) from wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, nuts and seafood - plus on top of those allergens, her food intolerance list is a mile long. The only way I have managed to work out what has been troublesome to her is via Fed Up/the support network you have, and working with my dietitian. Our daughter has gone from a screaming, projectile vomiting baby who was borderline failing to thrive, to a generally happy, growing, cheeky little baby who is already starting to talk and nearly walking.

While learning what being FAILSAFE was about, I suspected that maybe we could help our son's impulsive/unsettled/inattentive behaviour, maybe even his bedwetting by looking further into diet. Well, we are only approximately 6 weeks into being fully failsafe and early in the challenges stage, after having removed additives and reduced a lot of them during Term 2, yet his teacher already has noticed the change in him when he is at baseline compared to the challenges. It has improved his confidence and so much more.

In the last 6 months can very confidently say that Fed Up/your network has directly changed my family's life, and many others around me as a result of my experience - Kristan by email.


I have coeliac disease, a thyroid problem, IBS, fructose malabsorption, lactose intolerance and definitely can only tolerate small amounts of amines, salicylates and glutamates. I was born with many food problems and we are discovering more within our family as we trace back. All my children are affected one way or another. I am 46 and have been through quite a lot, experienced numerous (13) miscarriages prior to learning about my food intolerances. In fact Doctors still outrule this link however myself I feel as I was undiagnosed with the food intolerances then, it was a definite link! - Kim, by email

(Comment from Sue: It is well known - in medical journals - that coeliac disease can be associated with infertility and reproductive health including delayed puberty, early menopause, absence of menstrual periods during normal reproductive years, infertility, recurrent miscarriages and intrauterine growth restriction. See scientific reference below and more on our Women's Health Factsheet

Soni S, Badawy SZ.Celiac disease and its effect on human reproduction: a review. J Reprod Med. 2010;55(1-2):3-8.

Abstract: Celiac disease is an intestinal inflammatory disease that is triggered by gluten in the diet. Patients present with a wide array of symptoms due to malabsorption that include diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating and weight loss. In women, this disease may have implications on menstrual and reproductive health. The symptom complex includes delayed menarche, early menopause, secondary amenorrhea, infertility, recurrent miscarriages and intrauterine growth restriction. These women benefit from early diagnosis and treatment. Therefore, celiac disease should be considered and screening tests performed on women presenting with menstrual and reproductive problems and treated accordingly. The objective of this article is to review the current literature on celiac disease and its association with the above-mentioned disorders. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20337200)

Thank you for your web page, it has been a glowing light in a dark room – Judith

Totally unprompted our 4 year old said this about "testing the foods on his red list" (salicylate challenge) "they make me feel angry!" - think we will stop the challenge there then :) We had not explained to our son we were doing the elimination diet for his behaviour, he thought it was so he didn't get tummy ache as he knows cheese and chocolate give him a headache and make him sick, so I was astounded when he came out with that! – Kate

My 3 year old son suffered badly from 'toddler diarrhoea' and after paying a fortune on a medical run-around, I fortunately found this diet which has transformed our lives. I am truly grateful – Selena

My second son had IBS all his life, we started FS in Feb and amines were found to be the problem! 4 days on FS and his IBS disappeared; 24 hours on amine challenge and he was screaming in pain! - Tanja

The incredibly positive feedback I am getting from parents is what keeps me handing out your brochures – speech pathologist

It is so good to finally have answers to things that have been plaguing me for years and to be able to help my 2 year old daughter so she doesn't have to suffer any longer – Ruth

Please thank Sue for the life-changing work she does, for sharing your family’s struggle to inspire other families and for the support and education the website provides. It has certainly opened my eyes and helped me to point other parents in the right direction. I can’t believe that western medicos are still not being educated or considering the impact of food on our health - Natalie (www.sleepandsettle.com.au)

The website that you and your wife have created is a wonderful resource for people like me who are struggling to make sense of which foods they can eat and those they cannot. It has been a long arduous journey but l sense that the end is in sight. It is a wonderful feeling - almost of freedom – Cathy by email.

Thank you for your amine and salicylate information sheets. I am working with a dietician who is fantastic however I feel better being armed with as much information as possible. I find all of your information so very helpful to support the RPAH diet for myself and my two children aged 4 & 14 months. - Jennah, by email

Took our own failsafe treats to a wedding that had a lolly bar... My son was by far the best behaved child there ;) - Emma

I was diagnosed with IBS about 2 years ago and told to follow the FODMAP diet to reduce symptoms. The last few months my symptoms flared right up again and so I dragged myself back to the doctors and a dietician and I have now been told I have to cut out salicylates and amines (at least initially) as that is likely to be my problem. After one week on the elimination diet I have noticed a huge improvement, apart from the fact I am missing all my usual fare like spinach, coconut, berries, tomato and the list goes on! I am so grateful though for the relief, I actually feel normal again. Thanks! – Lisa

(see also FAQs http://fedup.com.au/information/frequently-asked-questions/diet-questions#fodmap and http://fedup.com.au/information/frequently-asked-questions/diet-questions#fodmap2)

I have been going along quite well on a fairly strict version of failsafe eating and was feeling pretty confident in my body - which made for a nice change. Last year I even felt confident enough to plan a 6 month trip around Australia with my husband - just considering that as a possibility was a big step for me! So I was thrilled to be able to make it happen. I learnt a lot about living out of a van and cooking and shopping on the road. As our trip was for quite a long time there were a few things that we did in preparation which I felt really helped us with our food planning:

  • We bought a Webber Q BBQ - I knew I would need something which works as an oven so that I could cook roasts for lunch meat, and also for doing baking. After doing some research we felt the Webber Q was the best option for us.
  • We had a rough itinerary so I used that to look up the Coles, Woolworths & IGA websites to get addresses for their stores in each of these towns. This helped me plan on how much I would need to stock up on certain things. I have to avoid gluten so access to GF pasta, rice flour etc was a bit more of an issue for me than it would be for people who can tolerate gluten.
  • We learnt to allow one day every couple of weeks for doing a big cook up of roast meat (for lunch meat) and cakes etc for freezing. This also gave us time to do a shop and do laundry too. We really needed this day just to catch up on things.
  • We did a couple of practice trips before we left - this helped us fine tune things in terms of utensils and groceries that we needed.

One thing which was almost impossible to find in many towns was a source of really "fresh" meat as most butchers only seemed to stock cryovacced meat.

We had a fantastic 6 months - it went so quickly. I hope these hints can help other failsafers to achieve their dream holiday. - Jodie, by email

Husband is gobsmacked! 3 days into failsafe and 10 yr old with oppositional defiance is an angel! Best behaved of all 6 boys!!!!! Too hard to do elimination with 50% custody so have done the maximum changes I can. He's converted to fs bread sambos with nuttelex and golden syrup. All boys are happy with dinners and lunch boxes. We may never know what his intolerances are but even hubby agrees we can live with feeding the boys this way. (We eat later) soo happy WOOHOO!!! Going to start keeping a food and behaviour diary to give to ex wife (most likely to ignore but you never know!!!) – grateful husband, by email

A lovely lady directed me here. I am desperate really. To the point of waiting for a paeds appointment in Sept so they can put my lovely 7.5yr old son on Ritalin. I'm not anti-ritalin but I want to know that I have tried EVERYTHING first before we get to that point. His behaviour is really bad at school and he just isn't coping with life. I am really hoping that a change in diet can go some way to help him control his behaviour – Sarah

Please, please try this diet first before meds. My 7yo teacher thought I had put him on meds within 2 weeks of diet. Not easy, but worth it for no meds - Jenni

I don't do failsafe but cut out additives ie preservatives, colours and flavours, as a way of managing my daughter asthma. When I did it I noticed a great change in my son’s behaviour, he's in kindergarten this year and doing really well, with the occasional down days (usually my fault for slipping with food). So good luck, I noticed results far quicker for my daughter’s asthma, but it did work for sons behaviour, tied in with me trying to be more calm and consistent with managing behaviour. He doesn't have ADD or anything, was just really loud and impulsive, I couldn't manage his behaviour all the time which was frustrating and he's even noticed he feels better. Good luck, well worth a try - Kate

I agree Jenni. Nothing to lose trying, 2 weeks is what it took to rid my daughter of a 6 month long cough, I think it took so long to see results with son because preschool 2 days a week were feeding him anything. Once he left results were far better. My daughter’s preschool are fantastic at modifying my daughters diet to suit her needs, no probs there - Kate

At our house, the diet means the difference between absolute madness, and a lovely, calm, inspiring life! Well worth trying, and although it's hard initially and although the process overall may take a little while, you are likely to see results quickly. Amongst many other benefits, my own fibromyalgia pains disappeared inside a week (wheat and dairy in my case)... I was furious that nobody had mentioned it to me before :0) – Susanne

This is definitely worth a try Sarah Definitely!! - Sonia

Sarah I think it's awesome your trying this first. As a psych student and previous carer I question meds. The impact it has is devastating. I finally have a child carer at school who agrees in the difference in my son’s behaviour on diet. I wouldn't consider my son anywhere need ADHD etc but the difference b/w diet and off diet is VERY different that this carer (as teachers are oblivious) now says “what have you added this week?” - Julie

Good luck Sarah, my son has ADHD and was prescribed 2x 10mg Ritalin daily. His teacher last year wanted us to increase the dose. We pulled in our failsafe reins, and although we're not as strict as we could be, he is now on 1x 10mg Ritalin daily and it's JUST enough to help him through school – another Sarah

It's worth a try. My 4 year old was a right little monster, almost ODD. I have taken out colours, preservatives and flavours haven't done the whole fs diet but this has worked wonders. He can concentrate now flow directions his per prep teachers have seen a massive improvement. We can also tell when he had had something that he shouldn't. Give it a go it is worth a try - Tracey

Thank you so so much for your encouragement xx - Sarah

Do It!!! I had a terrible prep year did the elimination and turns out she is intolerant to colours and sals. It was literally Jekyll and Hyde with her now we have calm and peace and sometimes she starts to slip and we pull the reins up on the sals , absolutely amazing the difference in food can make - def worth doing! My only regret is that I lost 6 yrs living with her like that and that the behavior specialist never mentioned food I had to think of that myself – Michelle

So true. We loosely follow this diet too. Behaviour was crazytown then we went on the very strict elimination diet and i did notice a big change. As my son has gotten older we have gone down the ritalin path but I’m convinced that diet is related. Do ALL U CAN. I don’t believe 1 thing works- it’s a combination of love, support, diet, routines, boundaries and sometimes medication. oh and a good paed! - Narrissa

I find it strange that no health professionals ever mention diet as a way of managing issues. You'll need the encouragement Sarah, it's a daunting thing to start, but 12 months down the track you'll wonder what all the fuss is about. My main issue ATM is the canteen at school. For some reason having mum put a fun thing in your lunch box is not as fun as getting it yourself at the canteen. But you'll find what works for you and learn some new negotiating skills along the way - Kate

I know!!! I got my DD was explosive and suggested books to read which we're nothing more than ways to tip toe around her - not one mention from anyone about food until I had the light bulb moment and googled "food child behavior " and my whole life changed… Oh and the canteen why oh why do they make lemonade slushies blue it's so unnecessary it's infuriating - Michelle

Thankfully my son’s canteens don't do slushies, I'd never hear the end of it! The canteen guidelines in NSW (red amber and green) are a joke, the kids only buy the amber foods, which in large amounts is ridiculous and almost everything in my sons canteen is classified as green or amber but are loaded with additives - Kate

I'm from the UK but live in Oz. I find the guidelines here for kids food MINDBLOWING! - Sarah

We have red amber green too but only red on Fridays she can't have anything without backlash. I found a microwave travel bowl that I heat last night’s tea in and send it with an extra hot heat pack to keep it warm I thought we were far more educated than what's available on the canteen list grrrr - Michelle

We tried fail safe with my 6yr old wasn’t working after a week of gluten free wow new child - Bec

Good luck, it’s challenging at first but so amazing when you see the results a few weeks later. We've been doing it for nearly 3 years, it becomes a way of life - Nora

Oh lovely, it's saved us, and it sounds like you are where we were. Welcome. You won't regret it xx – Susan

My 5.5 year old still wets the bed (and has anger issues and self control problems etc) so we are setting up to start the diet. But could I expect the possibility of him stopping wetting the bed in the process. Is that normal thing to expect? - Bree (Later: diet was not enough, as Bree said “we have a bed wetting alarm but he is too immature to use it, he undoes it and pulls his pants down”)

Within a week, my little one stopped bedwetting and stopped having night terrors. For years, both would only happen as part of a reaction. It can happen - Tracy

I don't know when he stopped because I wasn't expecting it, but I just figured he would grow out of it when he was ready, wasn't expecting diet to affect it. I should also add that when we challenge him or re-introduce sals the bed wetting at night starts again - Selina

My daughter was just short of 4 when we started failsafe and stopped wetting the bed within 2 days. Only time she wets it now is when she has amines or preservatives in high doses - Danielle

So for bed wetting it is all or nothing. I am just doing low sals at the moment so is it unlikely I will see a change until I go all out? - Bree

If sals is the only thing your child reacts to it may work....but if there is other reactions then maybe not....or it may not be the food at all. Good luck! - Danielle

My son started bed wetting when we went failsafe because he was sleeping too well. It only lasted a few weeks. Something to think about?? - Eilis

I am still learning about failsafe and there is a lot to learn. Could someone explain how the food affects the children to wet the bed. Is it because they constantly wake during the night due to being restless? Thanks in advance - Melody

For us Melody it just seemed to go hand in hand with poor sleep, restless, unsettled behaviours day and night. But not sure why really. My daughter stopped wetting the bed and slept through the night for the first time ever when we started failsafe, so we just assumed it was diet related!? And when she eats the wrong things the restlessness, night wakings and bed wetting comes back. I wonder if it has anything to do with muscle tension or control or something? Have never thought about it. Great question! - Danielle

Our son stopped at aged 8 in the first two weeks of full elimination, and it was a clear sign for sals, and preservatives for us when challenging, he also had bowel control issues with these as well (the sneaky poo's) our son slept through deeply before failsafe, but now seems an easier waker, as he can tell us about what goes on after bed, but has remained dry on failsafe, so no that theory might not work either - Ries

Two of mine stopped wetting when we started FS. This weekend was a non failsafe weekend as they were at their Dads. Woke up this morning, one wet bed! - Tanja

See more at http://fedup.com.au/factsheets/symptom-factsheets/bedwetting

I'd be really interested to hear people's experience with withdrawals in relation to behaviour, eg timing of it, how long it latest etc. also, if a high chem food is eaten in error, does it take weeks to get back to baseline again? Thanks – Rebecca

My son’s withdrawals initially were day 5-7 then again at the end of week 2. Depending on the slipup it reactions can last a week, especially if there's a few slipups together - Vanessa

I find it's bad for about four days, then day 4 or 5 is a revelation, amazingly good (I think I had one of those yesterday). Then a bit up and down til day 10, Day 10 can be a bit rough, and another revelation from then on, and even better after 3 weeks. Mind you I've read some things - like milk, for dairy responders, can take months to leave the system completely - Lynette

My son took 2 weeks and then he was so much happier and healthier. However I rang the dietitian at the end of week 1 telling her that his behaviour was terrible, but then we made it past the withdrawals and it was worth it - Kerri-Ann

I found that with the salicylates challenge my eldest daughter took reacted within about 2 days and then it took a week to get back on track, but when we did the amine challenge it took at least a week for her behaviour to change and at least 3 weeks to get her back on track with the FS diet – Bronnie

see more at http://fedup.com.au/factsheets/symptom-factsheets/withdrawal-symptoms

A dietitian put me on a simplified version of the RPAH diet 9 months ago. I'm fine on a very restricted diet, but am finding that fumes (strong flowers and incense) are immediately producing the same symptoms. As a nun, there are times when I can't avoid them. Do you have any experience with nose filters, which I see advertised on the internet (I was looking at the First Defense Nasal Screens). I wondered if they would do the trick, and enable me to be exposed to some fumes without being hit by the ghastly symptoms. It would be great if they work, as I’m currently having to sit outside our part of our Chapel for Mass when the priest uses incense, and I’d much rather be inside. (Even so, I can still smell the fumes in the room almost 24 hours later, and it is affecting my health for the rest of the week ­ brain fog, fatigue and sometimes a migraine too.)

Two months later ... Good news! The nasal screens have worked really well for me. I’ve been able to try them 5 days in the past week. It took some getting used to putting them on correctly so my breathing wasn’t impeded, but I’ve improved with practice. I have been able to remain at least an hour in a room with incense, strong solvent glue, and even clean the brass with Brasso, all with no ill effects. During that week I had one day when I was exposed to Pledge furniture polish for about 5-10 minutes and didn’t have the nasal screens on. The result? Within minutes I was confused, unable to think clearly, rather irrational, and then wasn’t up to doing much for the next day or so.

I’m really delighted with the result. It means I should be able to safely make a trip to an important meeting in Australia, which I was a bit apprehensive about, as the thought of being in a planeload of perfumed bodies didn’t exactly please me. If anyone else has a really bad scent sensitivity that is preventing them from doing important things, I would recommend they give the nasal screens a try. The manufacturer said you can actually wear a pair for up to 24 hours ­ I haven’t needed to try that, as I can usually control my exposure, but I did have them on for nearly 13 hours one day.

I eventually obtained mine through the US Company, as the Australian Distributor didn’t reply to any of my emails. They only took 5 days to get to me in NZ, so that was fine. - by email, NZ

2018 UPDATE (5 years later): … somebody told me about a training programme called The Lightning Process which uses neuroplasticity to resolve some health issues including food intolerances and sensitivities.  As I was down to only 12 food items I thought I had nothing to lose. Since completing the 3 day programme I have been able to eat everything again, and have had no problems with smells either. "

See more information on Sue's blog on brain retraining and also Ian Cleary's website https://iancleary.com/

I recently took my 97 year old aunt out for dinner at her local bowling club. About half an hour after eating, she suffered an attack of a severely itchy rash that comes and goes and was diagnosed a year ago as shingles. I checked with the club and sure enough there was 635 in the gravy she had eaten (in a catering flavour base called beef booster). I also found out that she regularly eats canned soups with 635. It seems to me that the 'shingles' could be ribo rash, but trying to explain that to her is difficult. When she was born in 1916, canned soups and gravy were safe to eat and doctors were gods whose wisdom was not questioned. – Sue, NSW

See also factsheet on adults and food intolerance

I'm 22 years old and have always had issues with anxiety, and since I was in my early teens I've suffered from bowel problems. I saw a doctor about it a few years ago who diagnosed me with IBS and said there wasn't much I could do. I was put on the fodmap diet and saw some improvement, but my anxiety seemed to get worse. Then my Mum told me about you because she had some kids at school trialling the diet to treat their ADHD.

I bought your book and I felt like you were writing about me and my family! All of us have symptoms of food intolerance: my sister who is hypoglycaemic and prone to mood swings and my brother who is withdrawn, quiet and unmotivated. I could relate to so many of the symptoms: reflux as a baby, constant ear infections as a child, anxiety and OCD habits (handwashing, wringing my hands etc) and in my teenage years I felt distracted, foggy brained, unmotivated and developed depression in my last year of high school.

Since I've started the elimination diet there has been a slow improvement, and it wasn't until I considered everything together that I realised how much better I feel. I could go on forever with the improvements! I don't feel drunk or dizzy anymore, I don't take 5 wrong turns when driving to the shops (used to happen all the time), I can concentrate at uni and feel more awake, I am calm and so much happier, don't snap at my boyfriend over silly things AND my stomach cramps and bloating are gone: I have normal bowel movements for the first time in years!!!! My boyfriend has been really supportive and did the diet with me, not expecting much. I saw changes in him from the first week- he is happier, calmer and more enthusiastic about life. He even said to me when we reintroduced sals that he felt like his patience got much shorter and he had trouble sleeping.

I've only done two food challenges so far: I tested dairy first, since I had thought for years that I was lactose intolerant, and passed. I've just completed the sals challenge and it seems to be a culprit. I went for a week feeling fine, though I did have a little bit of dermatitis on my hands and a day where i felt sad and a bit hopeless. I kept on because I wanted to be more certain, and it didn't take long! From around day 8 I felt tired, distracted and 'drunk while driving' again, I slept over 10 hours each night but woke feeling exhausted, snapped at my boyfriend over nothing and had trouble controlling my body temperature, like I had a cold. It has taken me around 3 days to start feeling better, but I am already feeling more lucid. I'm just so excited to finally know where to start to feel better :) Finding out about the RPAH elimination diet and the Food Intolerance Network has made me realise that feeling like a drunken sailor every day is not "just the way I am" and that it is possible to have a fog-free brain and a calm, happy life! :)

Thanks so much Sue, for everything that you're doing to help people feel well, and helping kids to avoid a life of medication and labels! - Isobel, by email

We were previously struggling with our eldest daughter, she was five at the time and we were concerned about her difficulties sleeping and her behaviour. As a baby she was quite unsettled, something we didn't realise until our second daughter was born and actually settled and slept well, showing us it was possible!  Due to family history of depression I was also worried about my daughters' future and began reading to find out if food could be an answer.  We originally went almost sugar free for one year and saw some improvement (most likely due to cutting out most fruit and making most food from scratch) but knew there was more going on.

We discovered Failsafe 14 months ago while we were spending almost a year travelling Australia, I cried reading the story of your little girl, she sounded just like ours in many ways.  Following Failsafe our little girl started going to sleep at night, her extended meltdowns disappeared, she played nicely and didn't overreact to little problems, she came out of a fog and listened to us, she slept at night without nightmares, she didn't cry when her sock was twisted inside her shoe!
Doing FS while travelling in our camper was great- no invites to birthday parties, no school, we just ate our own food and could watch our little girls as we challenged- dairy in Broome, Sals in the Kimberley, Amines at Uluru. Our eldest daughter and myself failed the same things (sals, amines, glutamates) and our youngest daughter and dad passed them all.

Our daughter has now started school and is thriving, pre-FS I didn't think she would cope with school. So many little and big improvements have occurred for our daughter and for myself that we are only reminded of them now when we make a mistake with our food.  We also returned home from our trip pregnant, conceived naturally (we had previously needed fertility treatment) and have a new baby boy.

We credit Failsafe with changing the whole dynamic of our family, our kids are still ratbags at times but they respond to discipline now and we are not despairing of how to raise them, we are enjoying them so much - Bonnie by email

Our family had a brief encounter with the elimination diet in the mid nineties and then another longer one some time after 2000. Never supervised. We considered ourselves to be living a healthy lifestyle, eating lots of fruit and vegies, enjoying an alcoholic drink at times but not excessively and we all exercised regularly. Food additives ended up on the forbidden list. Energy levels were really on the low side for our age but that only made us try harder to live the way we thought health should be achieved. Of course there were some other problems too but they weren't very big or we just never got to the bottom of them and had given up really. Yes, we had eliminated salicylates from the diet at some stage but it looks like we missed the changes in ourselves. Perhaps a supervising dietician would have been able to keep us on track.

More than ten years after the first attempt at the diet, in order to cope with the stresses of my job, I decided that I would eat only fruit at lunch times, lots of healthy oranges and other fruit. A fair bit of fruit really because I was exercising about 2 hours every day as well. In the evening I cooked heaps of tasty vegies (taste means often high in salicylates) ...

A week later, I happened to meet a young lady and we had a chat. Later on in the week I met her again, just before she headed off to live 600km in one direction. At the end of the week I was off to live similar distance in the opposite direction. Again we had a chat.

A few days after the last encounter with the young lady I kept thinking about her. On the first day this seemed a bit amusing, like being in love but it was getting stronger and stronger and soon a reality check happened. What the hell am I doing?

1. I am a married man with children, I don't need this.
2. I hardly know anything about her, we had two brief chats and at the time I wasn't really terribly interested. Nothing happened between us.
3. She never showed an interest in me, this is just fantasy.

It got worse and worse. My thoughts came back to her all the time. Every 5 minutes of every day for the next 15 days. I saw her face, went back to the relatively few sentences we exchanged, went over them time and time again. Going around in circles. It happened during the day, when going to bed and it was also the first thing I thought of when waking up in the morning. Everything reminded me of her. Strong feelings were boiling up in me, automatic and unstoppable. Emotionally I was on edge. It was hard to concentrate at work, it was hard to listen in meetings. It was getting between my family and me.

There seemed to be no end to it. I had lost control but I could not explain why, which of course made it worse because I could not do anything about it. I was eating healthy food, exercising heaps, cut out the last alcohol because life was troubling me already as it was. No coffee, no tea, no additives, no smokes. I felt that I was close to going crazy or was I crazy already? I used to pride myself on thinking logically and having a very practical outlook on life. What had happened to me?

The move at the end of the week to another town brought a change in diet with it. Still a fair bit of fruit, but less. My brain got marginally better but would still be bad for another 12 days. By that time Sue's DVD "Fed Up with Children's Behaviour: how food and additives affect behaviour" had come in and I watched it several times. Then the penny dropped, perhaps it was salicylates? Perhaps we had missed salicylates the first two times playing with the elimination diet. I cut fruit out of my diet immediately since I was desperate to get back to normal. It took another 2 plus weeks before I started to consider myself normal again. Other things improved too: singing voice better and more consistent than ever, sticky poos less of a problem, sleep improved, bloating reduced, feeling of incomplete evacuation reduced.

This was the closest encounter I've ever had with a run-away brain. Needless to say, it was not a constructive part of our marriage, however, we have survived. This story embarrasses me extremely but perhaps others can benefit from it ... - by email

I am reporting a reaction to a can of Campbell's "Chicken & Corn" condensed soup. The flavour was very pleasant, but an hour or so after consuming it, I developed a very unpleasant headache and eventually felt ill enough to go straight to bed without my usual shower. I was O.K. by next day and didn't develop a rash. My wife, who also enjoyed the soup, was untroubled.

The can was marked in bold type as having no MSG, but I found "Flavour Enhancer (E635) in the list of ingredients. I phoned their Customer Service line and they were quite sympathetic but pointed out that they did list the flavour enhancer amongst the ingredients. As indeed they did, and spelled-out too, not disguised as a yeast extract or something similar. I expressed my opinion that it was somewhat deceptive, though, to label the can as not containing MSG when it did contain a close relative.

A survey of their other soup varieties seemed to show that anything with chicken in it was liable to also include E635, but the vegetable soups such as Cream of Pumpkin, Celery, Asparagus etc were free of it. - Dennis aged 87, by email

Both of my children both suffered from eczema. My son was diagnosed as infantile eczema at 10weeks old. I had discovered that before failsafe that what affected his eczema was lactose, legumes, nuts and coconuts. I had his skin perfect before going failsafe for his ODD and Hyperactivity. Seems that allergies can play a huge part in eczema so I have found. Now, that he is not on failsafe anymore, I have noticed he gets really severe eczema in the creases of his elbow and behind knees. I have put it down to 635 as he works at McDonalds and eats more junk food.

My daughter had milder type of eczema so wasn't too much of a concern. However, when she started eating more junk foods, she started with a small itchy red rash on her leg, then it spread to both legs, moving upwards towards her face. I had a suspicion it was 635 that did this. It was still getting worse even though she had stopped eating anything with 635. She took oral steroids, but as soon it wore off, it came back again. I took her to my appointment with my allergist and he had a look at her legs and said 'reactive eczema' and to eat 'what your Mum eats' to get it down. I had already done elimination diet many years ago with my daughter and found that glutamates and high levels of salicylates affected her. So I simply just cut out the salicylates and glutamates and within 2 weeks the rash had gone. She then slowly introduced the salicylates again and tries to avoid glutamates as much as she can. She can now pick it if she eats something that has 635 as she gets extremely itchy legs which bleeds - Teresa, Victoria.

I would like to say a very big thank you for helping change not only my son's life dramatically but in turn the whole family.

Last year I put my eight year old boy onto your elimination diet. Before the diet my son was in trouble at school every day, he was argumentative, angry, hyperactive and overall his behaviour was negative and every day was a huge struggle. After discovering that he reacts severely to preservatives, colours, salicylates and amines, his overall well being has completely changed.

Not only is the household a much more calmer place now, also so is his class room. He would of been considered to be one of the naughtiest children in the class but now he is achieving amazing results at school. He competed in the National Maths Competition and got a distinction (finished in the top 11 % in all of Australia), he also achieved very highly in the Naplan and has amazed his music teacher by performing songs that are way above his year level.

Not only is he a much happier boy, so are his siblings and both my husband and I. Not only has this diet given him a much better chance for a successful future he is living testimony that this diet is truly life changing.  - Paula

We are on day 13 of our elimination (not GF or DF) and we have definitely noticed wonderful behavioural differences in our 3 boys - my MIL came to babysit last night and ate our FS dinner of rissoles (filled with hidden veg!), chips, steamed beans & pear sauce. She loved it (she saw the hiding of the vege in the rissoles as well so I think she was pleased with that as well). Then when we got home, she said she couldn't believe the difference in the boys and didn't know quite how to describe it but said they were quieter, happy to just talk/play without fighting, eager to listen when having a conversation - all in all, that she fully supports us now and wants to know how she can help! She said she's always seen the sweet side of the boys nature but now it's their nature almost all the time! Thank you Bree for telling us about FS! – Eleanor from facebook group

Some of these reports came from readers after a Medical Journal of Australia article questioning the value to low salicylate diets. Details of the article can be seen at https://www.mja.com.au/insight/2013/22/salicylate-diet-claims-unconvincing

• We've noticed a HUGE difference in our son's temper tantrums and violent tendencies! - Julie, NSW

• We have been really pleased by the change in behaviour of our 8 year old son who is diagnosed with Aspergers (and ADHD). His oppositional tendencies in particular have markedly reduced - Marg, by email

• We are day 6 into the elimination diet, and having amazing results. My son (8yrs) was diagnosed with Aspergers a few weeks ago and within days a lot of his symptoms are reducing. The meltdowns are nothing to what they were. Plus, the skin rashes are almost gone too, yet we are still working on the night time bed wetting – Nicole from facebook group

• We've been on a low Salicylate diet for only a couple of weeks now and the change in my son is absolutely remarkable. For the first time this year he is having his first full day at school today. His attention-span and distractedness is still an issue, but to a lesser degree - Jo from facebook group

• The proof is in the pudding so they say and [my son] is the pudding! - Amy

• Low sals diet is "harmful"?? Who on earth did they pick for their sample? It certainly wasn't any of us! Nor any other of the thousands of very healthy, happy failsafers out there - Naomi

• No one asked me here in NZ. I've been nearly 60 yrs trying to find out what was wrong with me. Even the immunologist couldn't help. Now I have energy to burn! - Di

• Hmm bubble and squeak with rice popped chicken and pear crumble, for pudding . Philli and pear mountain wraps and boiled egg for lunch. Shocking diet. I would much rather eat processed ready meal with chips, coke and lcm bars for lunch. Ah throw a slush puppy in as well. Insert sarcasm. Yes this diet is limited but it is short term. Surely all of us are a diverse sample group with no bias other than wanting the best for our loved ones. You can keep your 5 veg 2 fruit wheat and processed marg. I will stick to my butter, pears, and cabbage – Carrie

• Just skimmed their article now, it's HIGH time there was some decent clinical studies put forward, particularly in the light of these criticisms (can lead to eating disorders?!) and the emphasis on NSW being "where these diets happen" ie a stab at the RPAH. I wish the RPAH would do their own retrospective study. Why don't they??? It's been years since they published anything at all on their work and what they do is positively life changing, not "harmful" in the slightest. I must say this study has made me extremely angry - Naomi

• They can come and study my violently sal intolerant kids. At 6 months, one of my sons cried for 8 hours after eating a small serve of mashed pumpkin. Even tiny amounts of mod sal foods like carrots and sweet potato brought on massive rashes and stomach aches. Wish sceptical people could see this stuff - Veronica

• Google "PubMed urticaria salicylates" and there is actually quite a bit there - some is food intolerance and exclusion diet but not specifically food salicylates, some is specifically aspirin, but urticaria from food salicylates is there too eg http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6148685?report=abstract - Tracy

• There are a few things that jump off the page to me, the definition of "harmful" is one and also the insinuation that elimination diets are linked to eating disorders. Do these "doctors" have any idea about the causative issues relating to eating disorders? Because from what I recall from the Mental Health side to my (nursing) degree, the evidence base clearly stated that they are very much linked to a myriad of non-food related issues – Naomi

• Diet success stories include recovery from eating disorders after going failsafe. http://fedup.com.au/factsheets/symptom-factsheets/eating-disorders-and-food-intolerance. I can see how an elimination diet done incorrectly or handled badly could trigger eating disorders in those at risk - Tracy

• When faced with the alternative of taking mind altering drugs long term, I'll live with the small chance of minor nutrient deficiencies from a limited diet thanks. The failsafe diet as far as I know is actually quite a balanced diet if done properly - Lydia

• This is the best thing I have done for my son . He is a new man. All I can say is that he eats 100% better and a well balanced diet than most kids I know – Tanya

See more stories and science on the salicylates factsheet

A full story collection of effects of salicylates (83 pages, October 2015)

Two stories that readily come to mind about food and speech are:

First, a new client, 4 year old boy. When I was assessing his language comprehension, which involved him looking at 4 pictures on a page, and pointing to the picture I was speaking about, this young boy merely pointed to all 4 pictures on each page, counting "1, 2, 3, 4". I honestly thought he had huge cognitive issues.

His mother rang me the following day, asking for help, reporting that he had wandered off the previous night, and been picked up by the police on the highway. At our next appt., this amazing mother had made huge changes to this boy's diet!!! And when I asked her why she was being so proactive, she reported that she was a science teacher...and it all made sense!!!

Well, within 6 months, this young boy's standardized assessment subtest scores went from 1 and 2 to 11-13...(normal limits for standardized scores being 7-13. And I am not that good a Speechie!!!)

Second, another new 4 year old client's mother handed me the Paediatrician's report, which mentioned that he had severe eczema. He was also very active!! I immediately handed her your network brochure and latest Food Additives to Avoid card.

Again...this incredibly proactive mother set about making huge changes to her son's diet. Several weeks later, as he sat and attended well during our Speech Path session, his mother reported that, as I could see, he was now sitting and listening, and was also doing as he was asked at home.

She then went on to tell me that last winter, her son had been seeing a dermatologist in Melbourne, who had instructed her to not only put a particular cream onto the rashes on his arms and legs, but to then wrap his arms and legs in wet bandages.

She reported that when she refused to use wet bandages because it was winter, she was told she was non-compliant. This young boy's mother smiled with such delight, as she told me that since making your suggested changes to his diet, his eczema had completely gone.

I have to hold back tears when I hear such wonderful success stories...especially after explaining to the parents that I have no training in this area, but am just passing on your information to empower them to make a difference – Jane, Victoria


I have severe racing heart after consumption of MSG or free glutamic acid. Last year I put in a complaint to Qld Health who then went to Vic Health re Coles chicken flavoured chips, with no success. The chip packet boldly stated NO ADDED MSG.

I knew MSG was in the chips (due to my heart racing over 200 bpm) but no doubt it was contained within the other 6.. numbers (ingredients: hydrolysed vegetable protein (corn), flavour enhancers 627, 631). Qld health had the chips lab tested and as I already knew due to my racing heart, found MSG in the chips but it can't be proven the MSG in the chips was ADDED separately

I am now so sensitive to glutamic acid that two months ago I had to go to emergency on 2 occasions had to be injected with adenosine to get my heart back from 238 bpm to a more normal 70 bpm. I am also on verapamil 180 sr prescribed by my cardiologist to try stop this happening. However even on the medication it has still happened twice but the racing heart doesn't last as long ... only 35 mins of 200bpm. Pff! (As opposed to 1.5hrs over 200bmp, prior to being on the verapamil). I have since started going to Emergency when this happens - when the glutamic acid is hidden - do I really want to test my heart out that much before suffering cardiac arrest!

Note this happens when MSG is HIDDEN within foods. It is such a minefield; as you never can tell where it's hidden and they don't make it be labelled. This was never a problem for me ingesting MSG till approx 6 years ago. As you said, maybe the 635 has made this worse. - by email, Qld

(Comment from Sue Dengate: in this case, the food manufacturers are being deliberately ingenuous. Of course they know they are adding MSG in the form of hydrolysed vegetable protein rather than flavour enhancer 621. The other 600-number flavour enhancers - 627, 631, 635 - are MSG-boosters designed to boost the effects of any MSG up to 10 or 15 times, so you are much more likely to be affected by those than 621. Anyone who wants to avoid MSG should avoid any flavour enhancers e.g. 620-635. This pretty much means sticking to plain healthy food and cooking for yourself, which of course is now recommended for weight loss, cancer prevention and a whole host of other health problems.)

This week our son turns 21 and starts his 4th year of a BE(Hons) Bachelor of Engineering Degree.

We have come so far from when he was 8years old and I was reading the Fed Up Book and thinking this is us....
The teachers had mentioned ADHD and Learning Issues....in my heart I knew he was not any of these, in fact I believed him to be very smart.

A month after starting the diet without mentioning it to the school. They asked what had changed and we never looked back. He was now able to show the true little lad he was...bright, happy and friendly. Thanks Sue and Howard- you have always been there for us. We are so proud of our son and so pleased we found Failsafe. Yes at times it was a challenge, but wow look where we are now. It was worth everything it took to achieve what we and our son have.

We are very proud. We as a family know for sure that our son would have had quite a different life without FAILSAFE. His oppositional behaviour alone would have changed that. Let alone the learning issues - Linda

In a little over two weeks, my daughter is turning 21. And I have to say a big huge THANK YOU to Sue and Howard - without your first book "Different Kids" I doubt my daughter would have made it this far. Your friendship, information, help and most of all, support, have been invaluable in keeping my beautiful daughter alive. Thank you both so very, very much – Sharon

I have to tell you your books and DVD have been a Godsend! We've noticed a HUGE difference in our son's temper tantrums and violent tendencies! We have told everyone we know about you and your research. Thank you! - Julie, NSW

We have been really pleased by the change in behaviour of our 8 year old son who is diagnosed with Aspergers (and ADHD). His oppositional tendencies in particular have markedly reduced. My thinking is this is related to taking most salicylates out of his diet; however, I think I now need the help of a dietician to guide us through a more specific diet to ensure we are not excluding foods that are actually fine - Marg by email

Just wanted to say a huge THANKYOU to Sue & Howard! Have a daughter who has been failsafe for 5 years now. Though it is still really difficult @ times, she is massively improved since we discovered you by googling 'explosive diarrhoea.' Love your work, & our happier little girl!! Veronica from facebook group

Thank you for your continued referrals. It never ceases to amaze me how many people have heard of FAILSAFE and the elimination diet and are prepared to give it a go. I keep seeing fantastic results with it – from breastfeeding mothers finally getting a better night's sleep (due to more settled babies), to pre-schoolers behaving now as pre-schoolers should (rather than throwing un necessary tantrums), to adults finally feeling well and understanding what causes their symptoms after years of unanswered questions. And of course everything in between! – Dietitian by email

We are day 6 into the elimination diet, and having amazing results. My son (8yrs) was diagnosed with Aspergers a few weeks ago and within days a lot of his symptons are reducing. The meltdowns are nothing to what they were. Plus, the skin rashes are almost gone too, yet we are still working on the night time bed wetting – Nicole from facebook group

I wrote to you quite some time ago regarding rosacea. My skin is still not 100% right, although avoiding salicylates, amines, preservatives and additives certainly reduces the symptoms of flushing, itching, and red pimples. - Lyn, NSW

See Rosacea and acne factsheet

My nephew was put on the diet for encopresis and I know that it helped him - salicylates and amines to a lesser extent ended up being the culprits, but I know that with him it took AGES (I mean several months) on the baseline /strict diet before they saw improvement. I encourage you that sticking with the strict diet for longer may be what his body needs to heal and recover - Peggy

The failsafe diet definitely improved my son's bowels. Salicylates, dairy and gluten seemed to be the main culprits for him. Ultimately, though, it was strong probiotics and home-made yoghurt that seemed to fix the problem. He was dairy intolerant but we started with tiny amounts and now he's eating 2 bowls of yoghurt a day - Veronica

My eldest son has always had epic meltdowns and tantrums, just thought was his personality. Last year he was getting way out of control and then soiling every day, it took me a while to realise this as I just thought he wasn't wiping properly. Doctors visits, movicol in large doses all to no avail. A friend put me on to the fed up site and its been great. He is currently gluten, corn, soy free, only allowed A2 milk and keeping ALL colours flavours glutamates and nasties from his diet. Have been to gastroenterologist and done a seven day movicol clean out followed by a differing daily dose of osmolax and toilet time 2 times a day. I have been giving him a probiotic " Polybac 8". The change in him is amazing. It has taken a year of research and lots of mistakes, not checking ingredients properly especially if packaging has changed has been a challenge and adds to time in the shops but rather there than a meltdown for days on end. Swimming for 5 hours in inside chlorinated pool was not a great move for him as next day was teary and emotional so now we know to limit inside pools - Denise

My daughter has been suffering wetting for about 18mths now. I had been everywhere and back with doctors, scans. con. clinic. They were pretty much no help as it continued. Than my sister introduced me to FS and ED and said it could help. After my own research, I saw a dietician and now we are on day 5.I made small changes to her diet a couple of months ago & saw improvements. We managed to get 7 days in a row dry. Than, with Xmas/New Yr went backwards. Now, today it is her 9th day dry. I am convince that this really works - Nicole

We have had encopresis with our son, whose behaviour was the reason for failsafe but had no idea encopresis was related until it stopped, just thought it was behavioural or through stress. He is 8 and it was causing terrible problems at school, also leaking urine too with complete denial even if we took all his clothes of and showed him the evidence! At our wits end with that and behavioural probs, amongst others. Two weeks into the elim diet and it all stopped so I thought it would probably be just a development change... until he ate some things by mistake off the diet (additive related) and it all started up again. He has been milk protein insensitive since birth and yet can tolerate milk in cooked foods or so we thought. When on the diet if I cooked with milk, he got encopresis, and finally I worked it out. Stopped EVERY bit of dairy except small amounts of butter and he has no problem but if I bake or cook with any milk at all it comes right back. So for us it was going lactose-free as well as milk protein free...the urine leaking has also gone.

Then there was his sister who had been toilet trained a year or more for wee, but not poo and seemed to be going in the same direction. She is NOT lactose or dairy intolerant and has A2 milk on the elim diet. She "trained' or gained her bowel control in week two of the diet as well, with no probs since, except with a few slip ups as well on the diet, same time as her brother.

Interestingly, the youngest has just toilet trained as well, he was almost 3 when we went on the diet so the time was right but he showed absolutely NO understanding of when he was going until the diet, and began to tell us straight away. I just did nothing about it as it was winter and too hard with a new diet, new job and child care etc, so I waited until holidays. He has had no 'accidents' unlike 5 of his siblings. I am putting it down to preservatives as well as dairy for some of them.

We have a family history of bedwetters until about 10-12 years of age, and also every one of them a dairy problem except the 5th one - Ries

I am so excited! Improvements with my 6 year olds behaviour already today! She ate two serves of protein (almost never happens!), was actually hungry at dinner time, has listened to instructions and fell asleep beautifully! First additive/preservative free day! YAY! – Hayley from facebook group

I just stumbled on your web site. Wow! It's really great to see what you've achieved since those early days. It looks like more and more people, even the 'professionals', are coming on board. I guess hard evidence finally overcomes pride and stubbornness. As one of your early believers, it's great to see you get the success you deserve - Jack, NT

The diet is very effective. I am forever grateful to you both because my four kids were a mess on natural organic food and now they are very sweet and all we have to do is be careful what we eat. They get crazy when we mess up but thankfully I know how to get back to baseline and enjoy the peace again – Naomi, USA

We have proof here at my house that Mentos are made by the devil himself. 4 days of withdrawal and counting. Be wary of this demon drug! – Jo from Facebook group

My son has eye motor tics, since he has been failsafe his tics have vanished - Rachel, UK

The diet has been wonderful for my son. All the things that Sue wrote about with your daughter were what we were experiencing. My son is a bright healthy 7 year old who is doing very well at school. We have been failsafe for 12 months now. It's not easy but it is totally worth it. – Maryanne from facebook group

My daughter has recently been diagnosed intolerant to amines, we have been low amine for about 2 months. We have had great results, days we have cheated she has been lethargic, thrown up, looked pale etc. The difference on the days we have not cheated are amazing, my happy 12 year old is back. The results have been so startling that today we will become a FS family. She is intolerant to amines as she has been diagnosed with cyclic vomiting syndrome, you can add that in if you wish as not many people know about CVS and finding out that low amine diet helps took us 6 months of various doctors and A&E trips. – Sarah on Facebook group

My son has been diagnosed as ADHD however on the elimination diet he proved to be sensitive on the amines challenge, and bad - threatened to kill me, uncontrollable crying yelling, yet when we avoid the amines the ADHD symptoms all but disappear! I have a wonderful dietician, she has done wonders for us as a family far more than any of the paediatrician we have seen, it's amazing what a change of diet can do. – Katrina on Facebook group

I have been on the failsafe diet consistently for the last 8 years, and intermittently for the last 15 years, since I was diagnosed with amine and salicylate intolerance at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. I have tried everything to improve my tolerance of amines and salicylates, including the failsafe diet, long term naturopathy, homeopathy, stress management, exercise, and an expensive and fruitless exercise involving spinal stimulation.

I thought you might be interested to hear that last month I came across what I could only term a 'miracle cure'. I had been reading about the subject of psychoneuroimmunology, and how even rats can display a powerful physical placebo effect in tests. So I visited a clinical hypnotherapist to see if she could uncover anything in my subconscious to explain or address my food intolerance.

She told me the story of a patient with multiple personality disorder, who when they were their "normal" self tested positive for Coeliac's disease. However when they were another personality, they tested negative for Coeliac's disease and could eat wheat products with abandon.

In a single one hour session, the hypnotherapist and I discovered that that the onset of my food intolerance coincided with an incident involving claustrophobia in my mid-20s, which we linked back to a trauma involving claustrophobia as a child. On both occasions, I had eaten spicy food, which of course are high in natural chemicals. The second incident triggered a subconscious trauma, and I haven't been able to tolerate spicy foods, among others, since. Under hypnosis, we 're-made' the traumatic events in my sub-conscious to become benign situations.

I had absolutely no idea of this link, and the revelation was extremely powerful. Since then, I have eaten grapes, peaches, melons, broccoli, cauliflower, milk chocolate and other high-chemical foods with no reaction. I had forgotten how wonderfully delicious these foods are after so many years on my bland diet. I do not know how many other people this technique could work for, but it is certainly worth telling my story. I know your philosophy in the Failsafe Newsletter is usually abstinence, but if this story helps one person, it is worth telling.

5 months later: I continue to eat lots more things than I used to - eg grapes, dried fruits such as prunes and apricots, berries, commercial sauces such as mint sauce and gravy, herbs such as oregano, rosemary and bay leaves, hard cheese, basil pesto, chocolate and curries, without any noticeable effect. I even add a tin of tomatoes into my bolognaise sauce. I do not eat every food, as I am so accustomed to the failsafe diet and am reluctant to push my good fortune. So I take a 'moderation' approach eg I do not eat citrus, wine or some other foods eg mushrooms or capsicum that I am not that keen on anyway. I feel lucky to be in the position I am in, after so many years on a very restricted diet – Lisa by email

I have found Fed Up to be amazing, a real eye opener. My daughter is 28 months old, and I now know that my daughter has Oppositional defiance. What a relief as I thought I was going to go insane with her. We have made a few changes with avoiding anything with 160b and 282 in bread and the difference already has been amazing. Now I want to undertake the elimination diet under supervision as I also have an 11 month old son who I know will also benefit. The book has really opened my eyes and has inspired my partner and I to push forward to get the best from our kids instead of living in a war-torn home. The work you are all doing is amazing so please keep up the good work. You have given me belief that life will get better and that the kids will have a better quality of life, because from small changes we can already see it happening so I can only imagine once we have completed the elimination diet the benefits we will receive. Thank you sooo much. - Gloria

My 4 year old daughter was headed for a life of labels due to her inattention and naughtiness especially at kinder, and I am hoping we have found the answer. She was advanced with everything up until the age of 2 and then has slowed down, especially in the last year, becoming more and more immature, naughty, silly and unable to concentrate, with only selective listening, especially in public and at kinder, but she wasn't like that all the time, so I knew it wasn't the real her.

It's been 5 days on the diet and she has been calmer, more co-operative and more focused, but I think we have made some mistakes each day, due to wrong vegetable oil and my ex-husband's insistence that only a "tiny bit" of curry powder would be fine. It wasn't fine, she went hyper. I also suspect dairy could still be causing problems, her bolts to the loo and sloppy poos have almost stopped with lactose-free milk, but she is still doing it occasionally and can't maintain concentration after a while if she's had products that contain milk.

A month later: We are still progressing well. The school holidays were great, as it was easier with less rush. My daughter has been wonderful. There have been some wow moments: I had to drop something off to a friend who works next door to a McDonald's, and she asked if I wanted to grab a quick coffee there. I explained to my daughter that I would not be buying her anything, but would get her something yummy when we got home - she went and played and didn't once ask for anything to eat or drink. Then, at a birthday party I told her to say good-bye to her friends because we were leaving, and after I had said my goodbyes, expecting to have to hunt for her and then have the typical battle to leave I'd always faced, I was shocked to find her inside, waiting for me at the front door.

Milk still seems to be a problem for her, even A2 milk, on the days she has more, I hear a lot of throat clearing and the more old behaviours I see for the next day or so - silliness, lack of concentration, irritable and more oppositional, but still nowhere near the pre-diet days. Her kinder teacher has noticed and commented on the change, and so did her Ready Steady Go Kids instructor (and that was on one of her not so great "after-dairy" days).

As for me I have not been as disciplined at times, especially when we are rushing out somewhere, I have skipped breakfast in favour of a muesli bar on the run, and paid for it later with headaches and irritability. But overall I feel so much better, clearer headed and my sinusitis, hayfever and headaches are, for the most part gone!!! They used to be frequent – Jenny by email.

It only took a year (!) but we have finally managed to convince our lower north shore Sydney primary school to delete the Slades "Quench" drinks from our tuck shop menu! After an unannounced presentation on the true ingredients and their potential for behavioural disruption (backed up by a teacher rolling her eyes in exasperation at the effect the drinks have on kids in the afternoon) AND passing them around for parents and teachers to smell (no one dared drink them) the case was won to remove them.

The front of these drinks reads "Lightly carbonated spring water with 10% fruit juice" in fact when I compared this drink it is about 95% like Fanta with 35mls of juice added to get into the tuck shop guidelines (and fructose added presumably to increase the sweetness while being able to claim say reduced sugar).

Kids taste red, orange, or green cordial/soft drink but as they are consumed at school parents rarely, if ever, see/smell/taste these shockers for themselves and so are unaware of the true nature of these drinks. No ingredient listing is on the ordering system - one needs to hold the product to find out what their kids are getting from the tuck shop. It was clearing out my daughter's bag that I found an almost empty one that reeked of a raspberry lolly.

I really think involving people's sense of smell and taste in these products makes their judgement of the drink - complex ingredients lists and marketing tricks aside - eg everyone can identify a red raspberry lolly smell - even if the bottle says spring water with fruit juice.

I have realised there is a serious disconnect between what our kids are TASTING and what parents THINK their kids are drinking.

Savvy companies are knowingly, or maybe unknowingly, taking advantage of this communication gap in schools.

Not perfect in the canteen - but much better - thanks to Clare

Thought I would just let you know that the school principal has still not responded to my offer to print your Failsafe newsletter for attachment to our school newsletter! Just shows - it is a small 70 pupil school which has some kids with strong behaviour concerns - how unopen the supposed leaders of the community are to options to help manage their own challenges! The food they serve in the tuckshop is just awful...

Anyway - I tried. Have however sent it to the local paediatrician, ed psychologist, GP and local Child Behaviour Unit for information - all of whom we spoke to for our own boys concerns and all of whom never considered diet as an area to look at for solutions!

Well that's my rant done - you are all to be applauded for the effort you put into it - Maria by email

I only got to your website after another bad reaction to a meal, this time at a very western pub in Fitzroy, where I had a meat-pie. Of course, it was not long after I was feeling very thirsty and restless. In the middle of the night, I was waking again and again from nightmares and spending long periods of time trying to fall asleep again, while feeling flushes of heat / itch all over my body. I know that again, I will have a second night of bad sleep as it generally takes about 24 - 48 hours to clear up, and not even sleeping pills help me most of the time.

I have actually spent all my life with incredibly bad sleeping patterns and bad asthma, especially when I was a child. I used to live in Peru and clearly remember an always present bottle of Aji-no-moto on the table. I am now 37 years old and still suffer from terrible insomnia, which got even worse when I spent time working in Hong Kong and Singapore, where I regularly ate the local food. The lack of sleep then included these vivid nightmares, where I was sometimes aware of being in dreams that I tried to wake myself from. I think I have become more sensitive to it and the bad sleeping patterns have led me to a level of depression.

At my return to Australia, I talked to a few people about this and suggested it could be the MSG used in food preparation. The more I read the more contradicting information I found, especially because I could still recognise the symptoms (flushes of heat, sudden short-breathiness, thirst, itchiness) like last night after eating non-Asian food.

5 months later: When it comes to improvement, I have certainly tested MSG as the main culprit. Most of the times I can recognise the symptoms within a short time if I ingest something with it unknowingly - Carlos, by email

Thank you for all your efforts over the years. I am certainly a champion of the cause after the success we have had with our daughter. Anyone that talks of issues with their children I talk about FAILSAFE, even buy the books for them.

In 2003 the teachers, doctors and paediatrician all wanted to medicate our daughter for ADD. She was behind in school, had trouble keeping friends, would have fits of rage then extreme bouts of depression, wanting to self harm or die. It was tragic and heartbreaking. Looking back we now see how we went from a really good baby to a terrible twos and beyond ... after the introduction of main stream solids. I was quite determined not to take the easy way out and spend $20 a month on subsidised dexamphetamine ... so my research led me to Fed Up. We haven't looked back, yes admittedly we have slipped over the years but behaviours and moods always bring us back. It's been a long and at times arduous journey but well worth the effort.

Our daughter graduated high school last year with one of the highest OPs in her school which guaranteed her entry into a number of top universities. Everyone (including the teachers) comments on how polite and engaging she is as a teenager.

My advice to those starting the failsafe journey ... hang in there ... the rewards are well worth the effort. Thank you Sue and Howard! - D from Brisbane

I've been concerned about brain fogging for some time, but never knew whether it was a real effect (or just 'me') or where it came from. After doing the Elimination Diet for about 6 weeks and then the RPAH Glutamates Challenge of 4 tablespoons of soy sauce over rice, I developed quite strong brain fogging within about an hour. As a former regular eater of strong cheeses, Marmite, and soy sauce with sushi, I then understood where my brain fog problem came from! I also think that my heart rhythm issues have decreased since I've started avoiding foodstuffs with high levels of glutamates. Your website and the RPAH book and challenges led me to my answer, thank you very much! I also recently learned that when my mother got bad arthritis in the 70s or 80s, she did some research and decided MSG was probably the culprit, cut it out and the arthritis subsided.- Neil, UK

My son is 3 years old and we have his asthma under control due to the low salicylate diet he has been on since 18 months.

He still has a problem if he eats to many salicylates, an example is a few nights ago I let him have a very small amount of a pasta dish which had tomatoes and dried herbs, that was at around 6.30pm at around 4.00am the next morning he came into my bed and his breathing was terrible - fast and through his mouth, I had to give him his ventolin and it took him over an hour to go back to sleep in my bed he would not go back to his own. I had to take him to the GP on that same day at around 3.00pm to have his tonsils checked as the speech therapist thought they were large (the GP said they are a little bit but not enough to be causing him any problems), the GP also listened to his chest and said it was very good. I should have known better and will not do it again in a hurry. I am convinced the diet works and it has really helped William.

His dietician put him on gluten free as after about 3 months or so of the as he was not putting on weight has he should be. I thought you might like to hear that the A2 milk is helping William's speech, it has improved a lot. Also his appetite is much better and he is no longer constipated as has been since we started failsafe eating. – Louise, by email

Our paediatrician advised us to try failsafe eating for our 8 year old boy after years of struggles with asthma and ADD. What a change. For the first winter in 8 years he has gone medication free - his usual line up was prednisolone, antibiotics, 2 x preventative puffers and constant ventolin.

We tried the benzoate challenge. Within 24 hours of trying one glass of lemonade he was coughing again (causing mucous/vomiting as well) and needing ventolin for the next 48 hours. The same happened after a neighbour 'kindly' gave him a blueberry frostee! 48 hours later we are still recovering, but this time from headaches as well! – Meg, NSW

FIN Comment

Most children's medications contain benzoate preservatives (also called hydroxybenzoates or parabens) - even asthma medications - and these too can contribute to asthma, eczema and hives as well as behavioural effects.

Asthma and intolerance to benzoates http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8952792

Clinico-immunological study of 16 cases of benzoate intolerance in children http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9162174

We are just amazed how much healthier our 8 year old son has been since trying to be failsafe. Have you ever looked into the relationship between additives and obesity? Since being on the diet my children's appetite has diminished incredibly. Simply because they no longer have cravings and feel hungry after eating a meal. (Obviously related to additives). With the amount that the government spends on obesity related diabetes etc, you wonder if the budget could be lessened if additives were directly proven for stimulating the hunger pains and creating all these health issues. Thank you so much for all the encouragement your website and books bring. – by email, NSW

FIN comment

Studies in China show that MSG contributes to obesity regardless of activity or caloric intake. The Western diet contains MSG in foods aimed at children and often labelled as flavour enhancers, hydrolysed vegetable protein, yeast extract or others. See MSG factsheet


Association of monosodium glutamate intake with overweight in Chinese adults (752 healthy Chinese aged 40-59 years, randomly sampled from three rural villages in north and south China) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18497735

Consumption of monosodium glutamate in relation to incidence of overweight in Chinese adults (10,095 healthy Chinese adults aged 18-65 y at entry from 1991 to 2006) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21471280

Behavioral and endocrinological effects of single injections of monosodium glutamate in the mouse. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3785512

* Day 4 now and into withdrawals - my thoughts are scattered, disjointed, I can almost hear my brain "creaking" as it tries to work!! Even put some bicarb into a glass and then left it there on the bench, instead of adding water and drinking!!!! Found it 1/2 an hour later. My other physical symptoms seem to have improved since day 2, but we'll see how it progresses from here, carefully recording everything too. Boy you wqouldn't believe how long it's taken me to write this email!

* We are on Day 6 today and going fantastically! No withdrawal symptoms so far, just a bit teary at night time (she says her body just wants to cry) ...

* Our son's issues decreased within the first week of the diet. He was less hyper, more compliant, and able to sleep better, except for one noticeable withdrawal episode - his first on-the-floor kicking temper tantrum. - from story [908]

* We booked into a failsafe dietician and started the elimination diet. Our baby son improved a little, and then had textbook withdrawal after a week and a half. In week 3 he slept through the night for the first time in 15 months ...- from story 878

* About a month ago my daughter had developed a cold-sore as part of the withdrawals associated with going back onto the very basic elimination diet after we'd let a few too many fruits and veges creep back into our diet - from story [860]

* I only took out gluten about 1.5 years ago, as I still had some unexplained joint pain. Didn't realise it was connected with my moods, till I came off it and had severe withdrawals - headaches, depression, diarrhoea. On challenging it, I had severe depression, disconnection with reality, had trouble making my body respond to my brain, like I couldn't make a decision to move, and terrible anxiety. So even though I was doing very well on Failsafe and not gluten free, I'm doing even better off gluten. - from story [806]

* At this stage we think that too many amines make our son nasty and too many salicylates make him hyper. Since we took him off the cows milk as well and got over the withdrawals he no longer needs speech therapy, has a great appetite and is putting on weight, is able to enjoy play dates, is calm, doesn't complain of tummy ache etc and our life is much easier. - from story [716]

* We did the diet for our 9-year-old daughter's behaviour problems (fighting, defiance, stealing etc). Within weeks, apart from a few withdrawals, everyone noticed an improvement and now, nine months later – what a difference! - from [528]

* We are doing the elimination diet for my three children. I have been on the diet too and on the two occasions I had chocolate with my husband, I had a huge headache the next day. I have been a chocoholic all my life!! I also had a headache for the first week due to withdrawals, I presume. - from story [212]

* We are doing the elimination diet to try and help our 8 year old daughter. Her main problem is that she has suffered from regular, unexplained and excessive fatigue for several years. We have also recently realised that she suffers a lot of dizziness and light headedness too. On day 3 and 4 of elimination she "lost it" - picked fights, became over emotional, almost hysterical, restless, teary, irrational, and claimed we were all against her. I was a bit scared as this was not in the least her normal behaviour. She also had some nausea. However thankfully these withdrawals eased off by day 5. The first improvement she noticed was that she didn't feel irritable any more. Then she started to say she had more energy. - from [156]

* I went onto failsafe for symptoms that my doctors were calling irritable bowel. I had gone off antidepressants for about six months before testing for IBS, but the first thing the doctors did when looking into my bowel problems was to put me back on antidepressants. During this time I had still been eating my old diet of chocolate, plus other foods that are high in amines. So for my bowel reasons I went onto failsafe, cutting out everything including wheat and dairy. This was very hard, and the withdrawal symptoms were awful, my husband put up with me yelling at him for no except that he wouldn't go and get me chocolate! - from story [344]

* This is our second week Failsafe and the seriously awful headaches from the withdrawal seem to have stopped and I am feeling energetic again. - from story [1137]

I have found failsafe eating to be extremely helpful in controlling the symptoms of my mast cell activation disorder (far more so than the medications my specialist initially recommended, actually, and he subsequently agreed that the diet is fine as long as it works for me). I have a relatively mild mast cell problem that seems to result in amine and salicylate sensitivity, but I have felt much, much better since discovering failsafe eating.

Note that there are other forms of mast cell activation disorder for which the diet might help reduce symptoms but would NOT be sufficient on its own, and I don't want someone with one of those to maybe be misled by my comments into thinking that they should stop or reduce their medications without discussing very carefully with their doctor first.

My family's diet changed for the better as well, and my younger son's mysterious "growing pains" disappeared. Your books and www.fedup.com.au have been great resources - thank you! I greatly appreciate the way I feel much better every single day than I did before starting on failsafe! - Monica, by email

[new] mast cell activation disorder
I have found failsafe eating to be extremely helpful in controlling the symptoms of my mast cell activation disorder (far more so than the medications my specialist initially recommended, actually, and he subsequently agreed that the diet is fine as long as it works for me). I have a relatively mild mast cell problem that seems to result in amine and salicylate sensitivity, but I have felt much, much better since discovering failsafe eating.
Note that there are other forms of mast cell activation disorder for which the diet might help reduce symptoms but would NOT be sufficient on its own, and I don't want someone with one of those to maybe be misled by my comments into thinking that they should stop or reduce their medications without discussing very carefully with their doctor first.
My family's diet changed for the better as well, and my younger son's mysterious "growing pains" disappeared. Your books and fedup.com.au have been great resources - thank you!  I greatly appreciate the way I feel much better every single day than I did before starting on failsafe! - Monica, by email

August 2012: My 11yo son has had these allergic welts which start with his hands and feet itching so bad that he is in despair then he gets red blotchy welts on his torso and legs and his legs go purple and he has goosebumps the whole time. After numerous trips to the doctors to be told he has a reaction to the dog, may have a weird virus that will just go in time, to are you sure you have not changed his soap or washing powder product?.... I knew it was something else so started doing my homework.

January 2013: I took the Flavour Enhancers (621, 635, 637 and any other enhancer starting with 6) out of my son's diet back in August last year, and have not seen another episode of reactions at all. I have taken that number out of my whole families diet also, so I am sure it was the cause of these rashes and welts on his body. He was just having severe reactions to these enhancers.

My kids are super savvy now finding this number in foods, its like a game really and at times they are disappointed that they cannot eat certain foods containing these numbers, but elated to find other products that they really want that don't have that number in... so it is an ok situation.

I have been back to our GP and talked in depth to the nurses about these numbers and what they can do to young bodies and they said that it is so interesting and will look up information for future cases like my sons. Thanks a lot for your help.

Which foods? Foods that my son was eating were not things he had every day, but we were so surprised to find that these 6 Number Flavour Enhancers are in soooooo many foods that kids like and us Mums give them as treats and as spreads etc on toast in the am thinking that they are ok.

Our number one shocker was Promite (which has two numbers 627 and 631). So that went, my son loved Promite and would have it every day on toast...! Trigger and we did not even know. Things like spices, season all, chicken salt you have to watch as it is laced with 6 numbers... Cuppa soups, Maggi noodles (the satchel that you put in- especially the chicken) no good. National meat pies and sausage rolls – cant have flavoured chips like Samboy BBQ, BBQ shapes etc... We just have plain sea salt chips now, nothing with flavours. A lot of dips and Indian spiced foods (sauces) have these numbers also. Some companies, because of loopholes in the Aust/NZ system for labelling our food don't even put the numbers they just say "natural enhancers or "flavour enhancer", and we just steer clear of anything like that.... It is in soooo many foods now, but it is possible to avoid them if you train yourself and your kids to eat differently and to look at labels.

It is very wrong of the Governments to not label these enhancers correctly as it can cause such illness in our kids.. It makes me really angry and if they had seen my son's reactions they would be too. Hope this helps you guys out some . - Anna, Tasmania (watch out for yeast extract and hydrolysed vegetable protein (HVP) too!)

Post: My 5yo suffers blood noses and we suspect salicylates. Has anyone else experienced this? We did the elim diet for our 2yo and don't think he had any during that time. Anyone else have this problem?? He gets leg pains too from to many sals (though he can have a lot more than FS levels) - Andrea.

Edited responses:

My DS used to get nose bleeds from amines – Teresa (Good to know as I hadn't considered amines, as he's pretty much ok with them.. – Andrea)

Our son had nosebleeds from amines for many years until we found out what caused them. But it may be salicylates for some – Howard (Because our son is a fruit addict I had just thought it was salicylates and hadn't considered amines. But now I will! – Andrea)

My son gets nosebleeds from sals. He does not get them anymore and is low sals, moderate amines. I have never suspected amines, thanks for the info - Chelsea

We had nosebleeds for 5 years. Had tonsils, adenoids removed, multiple cauterizations, toooooo many rounds of antibiotics for sinus infections...all to no avail. They stopped on elimination and reoccurred on both the salicylate and amine challenges (bedwetting also). Can't wait to be back at baseline! – Nicki   (Thanks for the info. My family keep saying "he's probably just prone to them"...mmm yeah right. Plus they don't really think sals do anything. My son's seem to worse in summer and rather than being the heat I think its the summer fruit. You have all given me the reinforcement to trust my instincts again! I'm going to reduce sals as I'm fairly confident that's the issue and see if there's any effect, then challenge. Would be nice to have a week without one! – Andrea)

Ya, Andrea we got the same thing...even from the medical community of "experts"...no one knows our kids like we do. - Nicki

When you say summer fruits... which ones? – Teresa  (We especially noticed when he gorged himself on watermelon. But he also eats apples, strawberries (though we have cut those out now), melons, mango, bananas & grapes. But we noticed the sals connection after he ate loads of watermelon in one day, and honey (which he loves). So we are reducing sals for a week and will try and keep them at a more moderate level. My helpful family said it was the heat, but he didn't get nose bleeds during 40+ temps last week! – Andrea)

My son had bloody noses all the time especially in summer when we seem to eat more fruit. He has salicylates and amines intolerances, before we found out this he was sent to an ears, nose and throat specialist as his nose wasn't growing outwards... Tracy (wow what a difference. It's so good to hear so I know I'm on the right track! If I had to have his nose cauterised my family would think that's fine, but cut out fruit and they think I'm bonkers – Andrea)

Thank u so much for this thread... Have a friend with a 3 year old who has blood noses and he eats so much watermelon I don't know how he isn't one yet! – Emma


Prior to Easter we had been strict failsafe the results have been great and my son has been a pleasure to take out. We have had chocolate over the Easter break - not a lot in comparison to other years, but obviously too much. This morning my son is bouncing of the walls (obviously the chocolate) no more chocolate, back on failsafe. As well, my son, daughter and myself have been having nose bleeds. We have all had period when we have had nose bleeds in the past but not put it down to food before - but obviously now wondering if they could be linked to the chocolate (amines). - Kylie, by email

During my daughter's first week in primary school I caved in to her demands to allow her to take Twisties for a snack 'just like all the other children'. Two packets in one week, and two of the WORST nosebleeds imaginable. Combine that with M&Ms to get her to do all the homework, and I'm sure you get the picture! It turned out to be a good thing, as when I explained the connection, she was so frightened by the nosebleeds that she now asks me if food is 'friendly' before eating it, and is unusually compliant about it all. - by email


While doing the elimination diet, it has become obvious that for me and my son, the cause of our frequent nosebleeds is too many dairy products - usually combined with getting very hot during exercise or because of the weather. If we avoid A1 dairy products (A2 is okay) we can get hot without getting nosebleeds. - by email

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