From introduction of solids when my baby daughter was 4 months old, she banged her head more or less continually, to the point of making her nose bleed constantly and causing deformation of the skull. She was always covered in big bruises and it was so bad we could never go out, I couldn’t even leave her alone to go to the toilet. After 18 months of this, we discovered your website 3 weeks ago (when she was nearly 2) and found she was eating heaps of annatto 160b in yoghurt and Kraft cheese as well as some other suspect foods. Although she improved, removing annatto alone was not enough. After a drastic change of diet (we switched to unhomogenised milk only), the head banging stopped completely and we are now slowly reintroducing foods. We cannot thank you enough. No one else mentioned diet. – parents at Launceston talk, Tas

It took me a LONG time to pinpoint Annatto as the cause of my problems. For years I just lived with constant diarrhea. It was at the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010 I started to develop new problems. I started getting severe abdominal pain (like nothing I had before) and then a few months later I started getting extremely bloated. The bloating caused me to have unusual belching fits which just added to the embarrassment of my situation. In Feb 2010, my wife and I took a week long cruise... most of the food on the cruise didn't bother me; for the most part I was symptom-free that week!

When we returned from our trip all my problems returned (much like your story). Then in March a new symptom ... I started to get some very unusual and severe pain in my nether regions to the point that it was uncomfortable to sit down. I went to go see my PCP about the burping, abdominal pain, and my "new" problem.

He diagnosed me as having celiac sprue disease and hemorrhoids. A few weeks went by; the problems continued even with a new diet. The pain in my bottom came and went. Then finally in March, I ended up finding out one of my problems was not hemorrhoids but a perianal cyst that I had to have lanced.

After speaking with the proctologist following my surgery and telling him about all my recent problems he decided to perform a colonscopy to rule out colitis and Crohns. Colonscopy was clean but the only thing they could tell me was that they thought I had IBS.

Finally, in August I went to go see an Allergist. The allergist performed a scratch test and put me on a BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast!) diet. I spent the next three months slowly adding unprocessed food back into my diet. When it was time to add dairy I began having problems again. It was only after speaking with my older sister that she told me she had problems with food dyes. Her problems were skin related (rashes / eczema). She explained to me that yellow cheese has a dye in it (little did I know at the time).

So, I decided to "re-challenge" dairy but this time with just milk--no problems! I then added yellow cheese to my diet--problems again! Finally, tested white cheese--no problems! It was a eureka moment! :)

I still make a few mistakes from time to time but I have been mostly symptom free since making that discovery. I now have no doubt that ALL my problems (including my cyst) were due to my intake of annatto in all the foods I ate. – by email, USA (we would like to hear from others who are affected by annatto with these symptoms or others: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

When my daughter was 12 months old she had a headbanging reaction to annatto in yoghurt. The next week she had another episode of screaming, tantrums and banging her head repeatedly on the metal frame of her bed. The very next day my mum saw a story on ACA or similar program with yourself mentioned, and thought the 4 year old kids on the segment sounded like what we had with our 12 month old ... so we looked up your website. I looked back at food she ate and I had given her a kids Heinz apricot bar and sure enough it had annatto too. This was all I needed to prompt me to look at what she, and we, were actually eating!

My daughter is now 6 1/2 and we still have the occasional uncontrollable outburst and know she's had something. We actually had an incident last weekend with her and the wicked 160b. She was at a friend’s place Saturday night and they thought they were doing the right thing when they gave her jelly snakes 'preservative free, no artificial colours'. I didn't know about the snakes but Sunday saw her at her worst. She woke in a rage and was lashing out, hitting, biting, screaming, indecisive about trivial little things and completely and utterly beside herself. When in this state (the worst lasts for about 4-6 hours) she cannot control any aspect of her being. She even goes as far as plucking all her eyelashes and eyebrows out with her fingers (trichotillomania) if left alone. I went to the friend’s house and began quizzing them! A peek at the ingredients on the snakes proved me right yet again when I saw the number 160b. (fyi they were Aldi brand).

After an annatto reaction is somewhat over, she 'sleeps it off' and will often then sleep up to 15 hours (say 6pm til 9am!!). She had a horrific day and finally fell asleep at 11pm Sunday night. She slept it off and woke close to 10.30am Monday morning. She was fine Monday and Tuesday ... But Wednesday evening saw her showing (relatively mild this time) annatto signs again. I asked her about school (started back on Tuesday) and she was hesitant to tell me her little friend had bought a lemonade 'spider'. I went to the canteen today and sure enough... Annatto in the ice cream!!!!

I'd also be willing to bet my husband reacts to annatto... he gets very moody at times and also his sleep patterns are all over the place. Some nights he will be up all night on the computer and just not tired, then other days/nights he too will sleep for 15+ hours. - Skye, NSW

My son started head banging at 6 months old with the introduction of solids (an all natural yoghurt with ‘no artificial colours or preservatives’ – but it did contain annatto). He has grown out of head banging but if he eats annatto by mistake now he suffers from headaches. – Jo, ACT

I'm a 40 year old physician who has a severe reaction to consuming annatto. If I eat any significant amount, I have the onset of severe vomiting and diarrhea roughly 12 hours later, which then persists for 12-24 hours. I don't have any classic "type I hypersensitivity" symptoms such as hives, just a severe delayed gastrointestinal symptoms. I've managed to effectively avoid annatto since the age of 4 or 5, except for rare exposures every 3-10 years since the age of 4 or 5. I've only recently learned about annatto and concluded that it is the additive that explains my intolerance to certain foods.

Here's my brief story. At a very early age, about age 5, I refused to eat cheese since I insisted it made me sick. My mother tells a story that she didn't believe this, had me eat some, and recalls "sure enough, he threw up!" However, I could drink milk and other dairy products without problem. As a teen, I figured out (the hard way) that white cheese like mozzarella didn't cause a problem, but yellow cheese did. So I continued to avoid yellow cheese, knowing that it made me ill. Everyone around me thought my aversion was odd, and I suspect many people thought it was my imagination. I would accidentally eat something with yellow cheese added every 5-10 years, get severe symptoms, and this would reinforce my belief that I really did have a "physical" intolerance.

I learned of annatto a year ago, and finally my reaction made sense. This connection was reinforced when I got sick a couple of weeks ago, and I assumed it was the flu since I had not eaten cheese. My wife looked in our refrigerator, and sure enough we had some orange yogurt with annatto added. I had eaten two the night before.

I'll also mention that at baseline, with no annatto exposure, I tend to have symptoms consistent with mild irritable bowel syndrome. I've never bothered to ask for a diagnosis, and am used to living with it. So, my pattern hasn't been chronic IBS symptoms with chronic annatto exposure, but severe reactions when I get exposed very rarely. – Physician, USA

After reading on your website the letter from Helen in NSW titled ‘Yellow Addiction’ I felt compelled to write to you.

I realised the adverse effect 160b had on my family approx 3 years ago when my now 6 year old son was about 3. Even at the age of three he was very good at sitting and concentrating at a task, be it drawing, lego or watching tv – except that was if he had consumed 160b within 24 hours. He became a completely different child. He couldn’t sit still, he couldn’t concentrate on anything and authority meant nothing to him – he was literally a nightmare. With hindsight prior to taking 160b out of my son’s diet, yellow was absolutely positively his favourite colour. I can’t remember him being attracted to only yellow foods – he has always been a fairly good eater but definitely yellow “things”. He always had to have the yellow cup and the yellow plate and if he didn’t there would be hell to pay. If you asked him back then what his favourite colour was it was most definitely yellow. His favourite colour today is unknown – it seems to be different every day. Until I read Helen’s letter I hadn’t made the link but who knows maybe it was linked to his 160b intolerance.

Today, obviously I keep 160b out of the house but I can tell straight away if my son has consumed it whilst at a play date! If I personally consume 160b I generally have a terrible night’s sleep and/or are very restless during the day. As you’ve mentioned on your website, 160b does seem to be creeping further into our food supply lately and it is driving me crazy. Aldi in particular seems to be extremely guilty of this. Sue, what can I do to try and get this revolting colouring out. (Contact manufacturers and see our Now Targeting section - S). Obviously we don’t eat a lot of processed food but just being able to let the kids select an icecream treat every now and again has turned into a nightmare. – Donna, by email

My son William had eczema behind his knees when he was 6 months old and then it went away. In October this year it reappeared (just before his 2nd birthday) with a vengeance! It was behind his knees and then spread to his legs, patches on his arms and his entire chest was rough. Fortunately we got onto it quickly and he didn't suffer with any broken skin, however the key things I took out were vegemite and grapes. He had only had vegemite for a few weeks but it took ages to get the eczema to go again. After spending a weekend with my mum, William had eczema behind his knees again. The only thing she gave him which I never do was Vaalia yoghurt (160b) so I took that out and double checked EVERYTHING he was eating for 160b and bingo! No eczema since, with the added bonus of far fewer tantrums. When I realised he had yoghurt with annatto at my mum’s house (and had a little eczema again) I threw out everything that had annatto in it (Heinz kids muesli bars which I was giving him occasionally). The other reason, apart from eczema that had me throw out annatto was his tantrums. William was headbanging again, which he hadn't done in a while. That day I took out annatto and that was the last time I saw him headbang, and that was in November!

He still gets frustrated and chucks a wobbly every now and again, but there's been a big big change since removing annatto. If a normal tantrum for William is a 3/10, they were 8/10 before I eliminated annatto. – Margaret, by email

I react to salicylates with pain in my joints, also I get very tender, raw skin in my genital area and intercourse becomes very painful. I saw you mention sore vagina in children - makes me happy to know I'm not the only one - I have always felt like a freak - so thank you for your books - they have helped me tremendously! - by email

I was just reading in your newsletter a reference to probiotics and thought I would share my daughter's story briefly. In short, she was diagnosed with dairy allergy at 8 weeks, and was finally skin prick tested at 12 months (after Dr's said it would never show up). She had a huge reaction to the skin prick and was promptly issued with an epipen etc. She is also allergic to soy. Her very understanding and experienced gastroenterologist (she has reflux and GI issues as well) suggested that Lactobacillus GG (available in Aust in Vaalia Yoghurt only) had been shown to assist resolution to food allergy. We imported some from the US (called Culturelle there) and she tolerated it very poorly. Her Dr found out that there was a tiny trace of dairy and this reacted with my daughter.

At the end of last year, in desperation because my daughter's quality of life was so poor, we thought we would give Inner Health Plus dairy free a go. It made an enormous difference to her- she started eating again and was not in constant pain. Today she was skin prick tested again with no reaction to dairy. We are about to do patch tests to look for non IG-E allergies- but this is at least a step in the right direction. As dairy allergy is largely outgrown by the age of four, it could just be a natural resolution, but I wonder if the probiotics helped, because it certainly made a huge difference to her life in many other ways. – Sara, by email

The introduction of VSL#3 probiotic seems to have changed my 6 yo son’s behaviour and tolerance. The teachers noticed the difference in his learning at school and we too noticed his improvement at home. - by email, NSW

I am using the RPA diet for management of chronic UTI pain and have found I am extremely sensitive to everything. I used the VSL#3 (probiotic) again) and bammm - burning pain. I think I have learnt my lesson. Just the diet nothing else. - by email, Sydney

After a course of antibiotics I had diarrhoea for weeks but probiotics (Inner Health) sorted me out in a week. - by email, Qld

A week after starting failsafe my eldest (3 1/2yr old) stopped wetting her pants which was nothing short of a miracle and has now gone to bed two nights in a row without a nappy!! – Anna, Vic

My 5 year old has a bladder problem. When she has to go toilet, she has to go NOW or she will leak and wet her pants. We saw a dietitian and started the diet 3 weeks ago. We are dairy free and are going into our 4th week now. We have seen great changes, in all three children. I'm doing the diet too and feel better, less stressed, more patience. Our daughter has had 7 dry nights in a row ... Wendy, Perth

We saw a dietitian and started the elimination diet (including dairy free) 3 weeks ago. We have seen great changes in our children. Our daughter has had 7 dry nights in a row, she is less hyper, less defiant, eczema looks better, no runny nose. Our baby is having less frequent dirty nappies (yeah!). So as you can see it is working for us so far. – Wendy, WA

I have got a 10 yo who is hyperactive and an 8 yo who wets the bed. I recently browsed your website and was astounded with what I found. I was feeding my children with additives just in their sandwiches every day from the bread to the cheese without even realising. I recently changed their toothpaste to a mint one and couldn't understand why one of my children was off this planet with behavioural problems and the other was wetting the bed a lot more. I would never have linked the problems to the toothpaste. I read about salicylates in the mint toothpaste and stopped immediately. The bed wetter has improved already. We have cut additives out of our diet and it seems that as long as we limit the amount of salicylates in fruit and vegetables that he eats, he doesn't wet the bed. – Tania, by email

We have noticed our 3 yo has geographic tongue when he is at the Dr for his ears - which is related to dairy. - by email, Tas

My son (aged 4) is very food intolerant. His symptoms include nose bleeds, ulcerated tongue, grumpyness, headaches, oppositional defiance symptoms and the list goes on. My daughter (aged 7) suffers from stomach aches, headaches and ulcerated tongue - although not as bad. We have followed the elimination diet in the past and have had success. But after being off the diet for 6 months both children's tongues are ulcerated again …

I first noticed the annatto/IBS connection (bad smelling gas, diarrhea, loose stools) with my 3 year old son specifically with processed cheese singles, so I try to keep him away from those and generally don't have a problem, or if so, it is only small. Recently, we were away for almost a week, and when we came back, he started taking these "gummy vites" children's vitamins ("all natural" and sure enough colored with all natural annatto) he hadn't had for some time, and it was like a switch went off and the symptoms were back full force. - Anna, US

My son is 6 years old and for the past year he has suffered from Sneaky Poos and has also suffered from SEVERE constipation. His bowel was so enlarged that he dirtied his pants on a daily basis. He claimed he could not feel it when he messed his pants.

As you can imagine, this was an extremely embarrassing problem for my little boy. I had taken him to the doctor on numerous occasions and was given Parachoc and Duphalac which I administered on a daily basis, and even though they did work, they did not solve the problem as to why he was dirtying his pants EVERY day. I also took him to the Continence Clinic to determine whether or not he had a psychological problem with going to the toilet. Although they were wonderful and supportive, my son still continued to mess his pants.

I was at my wits end, and very near hysterical when I was blamed for my son’s behaviour. I went and saw my doctor who mentioned that he had heard of a “lady who deals with food additives’ and referred me to a dietitian.

The results are amazing …my son was placed on the strict elimination diet, and the results were clearly seen by the end of the first week. He is now going to the toilet every second morning and not messing his pants during the day. He has lost weight, and his concentration span has slightly improved. I am only in week 3 and still sticking to the diet with him. He loves coming shopping with me and purchasing his special “Treats”. He tasted Brussels sprouts for the first time in his life and actually liked them (no sorry I cannot succumb to them!) I will continue on the diet and commence the challenges soon. I am so pleased with the results. – Anna, Qld

Regarding my son and salicylates, he found the last of the watermelon yesterday and today we had the worst case of soiling I can ever recall. He told me it just slipped out. He is nearly 6! He did try to clean himself up but as they do he made a bigger mess. We are very strict with his diet, well, normally. There’s no watermelon left now, the chooks enjoyed it. Thanks heaps.

We did the failsafe diet as a family for our seven year old’s behaviour issues. I would have said there was nothing wrong with the four year old. He used to poo in his pants sometimes but I just put it down to being too busy to listen to what his body was telling him. Now we’ve just finished our salicylate challenge, I realise how wrong I was. It was salicylates! And I used to nag at him to eat fruit and vegetables thinking I was doing the right thing!

I’m writing to say thank you for your work that has made such a huge difference to our twelve year old son. He used to live on stuff like cheese, ham, bacon but now he knows his sneaky poos are related to amines, he sticks to his diet really strictly. Of all the problems caused by foods, soiling really is the worst. No one ever talks about it but the stigma at school is terrible. The other kids used to call him names and make fun of him. My heart breaks for him when I think of what he had to go through, and no one else has been able to help us.

My husband and I have been doing the elimination diet for two weeks now. We are both feeling great, our tummies are not bloated, we are not sour in the stomach in the morning. Another thing that we are so pleased about! My husband can suffer with gout, if he has any red meat. There are also other triggers for him, but the red meat is really the big one. Over the past weekend, we were at friends, and enjoyed some beef and lamb (only seasoned with salt). I knew that we were pushing the boundaries, but I checked with my husband this morning, and there has been no sign of gout at all! Thank you. Things are really going well. - Carla, NT

My partner's uncle tells me he used to be addicted to tomato sauce and had to give up because it was causing his bouts of gout.Now he longer gets it unless he goes to Fiji, which he does quite regularly, where he eats a lot of curry (so obviously salicylate related).He had no idea about the connection. Cherie (gout has been associated with low dose salicylates in medication

Thanks for your newsletter - the Readers' Stories section is always my favourite bit. - Tony, by email

I had previously looked through your book and believed I already did 'all that' - I cook nearly everything from scratch for my children, it wasn’t until I sat down and read the book and realised that even the margarine I was using to cook my delicious home-made recipes was no good for my son! – by email, NSW

A week after starting failsafe my eldest (3 1/2yr old) stopped wetting her pants which was nothing short of a miracle and has now gone to bed two nights in a row without a nappy!! – Anna, Vic

We have been following Failsafe eating for three months and it has made an enormous change to our 5 year old boy. Pre-diet he was very aggressive and had developed a range of tics, now all the tics have gone and his lovely, funny nature is shining through. So far the challenges that have affected him have been dairy and salicylates – Karen, by email

My husband and I have been a convert to failsafe for 8 or 9 years - my husband heard Sue on radio late in the evening on his way home from work and from that night forward we read labels! Grand-daughter has survived to 13 years of age thanks to Sue – Kay, by email.

Thank you very much for the blood, sweat and tears you have exerted to make life so much easier for those of us who have food intolerances, or who have loved ones with food intolerances - in my case, my husband and daughter - Debra, by email

I am a coeliac, my two sons have coeliac indicators and one has marked behavioural allergic issues. Our home became a far calmer place within just two weeks of beginning the elimination diet. A full night’s sleep from our youngest after 3 1/5 years of multiple nightly wakings is such a gift to us all!! – Vincent, NSW

We are still having positive results on the diet ... it’s amazing, both kids have now added amine intolerant to the list & I am also, I would never have guessed I would have noticed a personal change but I feel great – Deb, by email.

All this just as she gets the bug to learn to cook (finally at 16) all those Masterchef episodes were wonderful. We shall now see if our creativity can extend to Failsafe recipes. - Jenny, Qld

Like the story in newsletter #64, my kids also have reactions to children’s paracetamol - the Panadol brand seems to be the worst for some reason - they become restless, and are then awake most of the night.- Jessica, by email

Please send your paracetamol recipe as our 18 month old daughter seems to get really upset after taking children’s Panadol syrup. – Helen, by email

When researching behavioural issues in my 2 yo daughter and 4 yo son, the information from your website helped me to work out that annatto in the Nestle brand yoghurt for kids was sending them off. – Rose, by email

I am reading your book 'Fed Up with Asthma' and finding it very enlightening. You have included so many alternatives to problematic chemicals and additives to make life liveable. – by email (Fed up with Asthma is out of print but available in libraries. Otherwise, see chapter 7 in the 2008 edition of Fed Up).

I had some bacon the other day and sure enough, the next day I had a migraine. First time in a long time. That has confirmed to me that this is definitely a trigger for my migraines. I also had pre-migraine thirst and a craving for sugary food. – by email

My husband is an amine responder and reacts to chocolate with gout like symptoms.- Rose, WA

My child (on coloured antibiotics) is like a kid on speed today - screaming and yelling, hitting her sister, breaking trees and generally being violent and frustrated at every little thing. I'm taking her off the medication in the hope she will get better on her own as the alternative is not pleasant for anyone, herself included. – by email

Unfortunately I was unable to attend your seminar in Port Lincoln. A few of my friends went and told me how wonderful you were. I borrowed your book Fed Up and read it in two days - unreal! It has been like a light switched on in my head! I also borrowed the DVD and watched it twice the same day!! We have made a few changes, and already I can see the change in my son! - Kylie, SA

I can't tell you how happy I am to have found out about FAILSAFE (by accident). It's only day three and I feel like a different person. However, I will be aware of any withdrawal symptoms over the next few days or weeks.

If this diet works, as I'm sure it will, you will have literally saved my life. I was on the brink of giving up. I felt my life was over. Words can't describe how ill and depressed I had become. Life was miserable. No doctor wanted to help, couldn't help or just didn't believe me. One doctor told me my symptoms were all psychosomatic.

I went to the shops today and didn't have social phobia. That in itself is a miracle. My depression has lifted. My nerves are calm and my tummy is happy. It's not a chore in any way to eat the foods recommended and avoid the others.

Update after one month - Overall, the depression is the best it's ever been. Of course, there have been days where I've felt down and discouraged. Even then, I handled a relapse of chronic fatigue more positively than I have ever done before. My daughter noticed this too and told me so. I just took one day at a time and listened to my body. Many days were spent flat on my back, which is the best thing I could have done anyway.

The social phobia is long standing (since about 8yrs old). Looking back at my childhood, I think that there were many foods that were affecting me. I had terrible shyness, was afraid of everything, had constipation, tummy aches, migraines, bad breath, heat intolerance, fluctuating weight and eating disorders (binges and starving).

Update after six months – I am happy to report ongoing improvements in overall mental, emotional and health conditions. I have had around 40 people now, tell me how amazing I am looking (I must have looked terrible before). They ask me what's my secret? I am happy to tell them- FAILSAFE!! I will never go back to eating the way I was. This diet is for life. - Liz, NSW

When I first picked up the two books I chose only the "Fed Up", because "The Failsafe Cookbook" looked just like another recipe book to me. But I was back to the bookstore a few days later buying “The Failsafe Cookbook” and it has become our manual for living ever since, and a permanent fixture on the kitchen bench! PS - the pediatrician was very pleased with my daughter's improvement and asked about the book, he had heard of it but not known anyone who had tried to follow it, so was very impressed when he could see results - Teresa by email.

First of all thank you for being my saviour!! My 4 year old little boy had been getting increasingly worse in his behaviour and we had pretty much become isolated due to his extraordinary tantrums that lasted anything up to 2 hours 3 or 4 times a week. I never knew when they would happen and it was normally as soon as we met up with friends in a play centre he would become aggressive, loud, uncontrollable and impossible to calm. Many times I have left a shop or playcentre with him folded under my arm, kicking and screaming, biting anyone or anything that came in his way.

We had already been seeing a paediatrician as he was also under weight and under height for his age. They hadn't found anything wrong but his blood tests were not quite right either. I was getting desperate and he is starting school next Thursday and I couldn't imagine what they were going to say!!

Until 'Fed Up' ... We have been following the elimination diet (mostly) for the last 2 weeks with dramatic results. We have not had any tantrums for 10 days. He is a pleasure to be around and he is sleeping much better. We are not there yet, but so much better. I can't quite believe he's the same child!!

(2 months later) He is now a couple of months in and we are so lucky to have such a gorgeous child now. We have had the occasional bad mood or minor tantrum if we have strayed a little or if we have made a mistake but no major full blown ones since we started the elimination diet - Fay, UK.

I first had contact with Sue way back in 2001, when her article called ‘Restless Babies’ in Nursing Mothers magazine saved my life!! I went failsafe as I was breastfeeding our unsettled/ ratty 6 mth old baby. We were amazed after she became a new baby after 3 days of diet!! That baby is now 9, and very conscious of the additives that affect her, and knows that by avoiding them, she feels better.- by email. ‘Restless babies’ article 

I am a frustrated mother of a beautiful 4 year old boy. I have taken my son to see numerous GPs, dietitians & gastroenterologists, all of who have told me that the Elimination Diet is too restrictive, too hard, not worth the effort or words to that effect. However, upon discovering The Failsafe Cookbook & Fed Up books and starting him on the diet by avoiding the artificial additives, we have noticed significant improvement in his symptoms. The initial symptoms were unexplained diarrhoea & stomach pain. However, an unexpected and exciting benefit of this diet is that his behaviour has dramatically improved. He isn't as irritable, more compliant and a lot more pleasant to be around - Anita by email.

About 4 weeks ago i removed 282 from my sons diet and he improved greatly, he would only speak in a mumble, he suffered from many nose bleeds in the week, was very negative about everything, not affectionate, didn't interact at preschool, would not co-operate at speech therapy. The change has been great he is talking so much more, he has not had a nose bleed since stopping 282, he is loving to everyone, he was great at speech did everything he was asked and sat still, interacts with others and notices things around him so much more - Reader by email.

I recently attended one of Sue's talks, and I have begun by just eliminating the additives on the yellow card I was given at the talk. While I have not weeded out all additives, I have seen a huge improvement in my son's behaviour, which I wasn't REALLY having too much of an issue with as a general rule, but I thought I would try it to see what happened. He has gone from a kid who wasn't getting in a lot of trouble at school, but only got 3 happy notes at school in two terms, to one who got a happy note about every 2 weeks from when I started eliminating the additives, as well as a merit award. While small compared to other people's results, I am really pleased with this, and he is generally calmer and easier to deal with. I never particularly noticed a link between what he ate and his behaviour, but now I see it! He had a lolly bag from a friend's birthday on Friday, and he was defiant and argumentative for 2 days after that. Fortunately, today it seems to be out of his system. – Alice, NSW

Our family have been following the Fed Up books for over 2 years now for a 5 year old daughter who was reacting severely with rashes on her face & body & a son whose doctor wanted to prescribe ADHD medication.

I can happily report that our daughter is rash-free and in fact after 7 years she doesn't even have eczema anymore. I believe her immune system has improved dramatically since being mostly failsafe. She is a healthy beautiful clear-skinned little girl with a good resistance to illnesses these days. My son is also progressing well with a mostly failsafe diet and fish oils to help with concentration. (our biggest problems - artificial colours & preservatives & in my daughter case - corn as well).

Just as an aside to this story - I put up with dreadful headaches every day for about 15 years, along with the headaches I got muscle cramps in my neck & shoulders. I was on a muscle relaxant for years until visiting a chiropractor. I went off the medication but after some weeks had a return of the problem after eating bacon & ham.....I am now convinced it was nitrates that were giving me the problem, and I have proven it a couple of times since. I have read about headaches & nitrates but can’t find anything on it affecting the muscles - for years I thought I was just being uptight!! - Julie by email

For the past 18+ months my wife has suffered from an increasing problem with gut issues and chronic diarrhea and related symptoms. She has tried various milks and milk substitutes (soy, etc). None have made any difference to her gut problems. Her GP has not found any specific cause and has recommended a range of tests and indicated it was probably "irritable bowel syndrome" which I'm sure you know is one of the catch-all medical labels which basically means "we don't really know".

On pure chance my wife (who had seen your report a couple of years ago on A2) decided about 6 weeks ago she had nothing to lose by trying A2 milk.

Our life has been transformed and this happened literally overnight! Gut patterns are back to normal, a far far cry from many daily urgent dashes to the loo, usually immediately after eating or drinking almost anything but particularly things containing dairy products. Literally life became normal within 4 hours of her first bowl of oatmeal with A2 milk. Absolutely amazing. The transformation has been astounding and we are very grateful to the people that have figured out the A2 story - Russell by email.

I found your site quite by accident Googling and I had an 'OMG' moment - I have suffered from rashes on my torso for more years than I can count, also itchy dry skin and bowel upsets when I ate different things. I read about 635 and I was saved. I went through my pantry and was gobsmacked at how many items I was consuming with this additive in it. Since disposing of them all (and believe me there were many) and checking what I buy but mostly sticking to food that looks like food all my problems have disappeared. I cannot tell you, nor would I know myself, how much money I have spent on creams, lotions, powders and tablets, and the misery my life has been because of this -and how it is a different as night and day since I found out about it. Thank God for your site or I would still be oblivious to what was causing my suffering....who would have thought that I would still be learning at age 64!!!!!! - Maev by email

I recently went on a cruise for 9 nights on a P and O ship. When I booked it sounded like the chefs would be accommodating for any diet, but I found the food a bit difficult! They don’t seem to understand salicylates, even the cooks!! By the end of the trip I was hanging to get home to eat properly - the food was getting very boring. They didn’t make any special gluten-free food other than bread so I was thankful I had taken some cake and biscuits. When we visited a little island we weren’t allowed to take food with us and they were providing a bbq. Well the only thing I could find to eat there was a red delicious apple!!! - Rosemaree, SA

I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your guidance on food additives. I noticed a while back, when we were living in Scotland that my daughter (aged 3) reacted to salicylates. I found some information about Dr Feingold's work and kept fruit etc to a minimum. It was only after we moved to Australia that I noticed a big change in her (anxiety, defiance, restlessness, night waking, loud silly noises, aggression towards her brother). We blamed it on the move, a new baby brother etc. But we had no real idea as to what was causing it until we found your website and realised both cream cheese and bread in Australia have preservatives! We never had this problem in the UK so I didn't realise dishing up cream cheese sandwiches (my daughter's favourite) would cause us all such bother! I do hope some changes can be made here in Australia. We are only two weeks into our changed diet and the difference is astounding! - Emma, WA (Australian regulators say we have a higher permitted level of preservatives because of our hot climate - S)

I did a colour challenge today with a Black & Gold Icecream cone (102, 110, 133, 155) on my 4 yr old son and within 20 minutes he was jumping around, making silly noises, laughing in a very silly fashion and unable to concentrate on a board game we usually play that he would normally focus on very well. My husband was there this time to witness it (I did it on purpose because the hubs is "cheating" a little with my son a bit too often now when it comes to "other foods"). I saw the look on my husband's face when the realisation hit. I got my point across without nagging. I even asked my son why he thought he was behaving the way he was because he does not usually act like that. I saw my son "try" to calm himself down and to his credit he was able to tone the behaviour down a little but it took over an hour and a half before he was able to settle back to what I would call normal behaviour. There was no anger or stern sounding instructions from me for his behaviour as I knew we had induced it. He was very clingy again too. He just wants a cuddle and tells me he loves me and once he is reassured he is off again bouncing around. Absolutely astonishing stuff. I only wish there had been more family and friends around to see it! – by email, WA

I was particularly fascinated by the reader story on the dog with fits [922]. One of our rescued dogs was adopted from the vet. She was doing very well on their dry food (additive free) and we decided to keep using this. OK so far. Then we adopted another dog -- this time a pure bred and we fed her the same food. But we decided this was getting very boring and in a creative (oh no!) moment, we decided to mix a bit of canned dog food just to give the dry food some taste variety. Although I was aware of failsafe food, I didn't think to read the labels -- given that the dogs would eat absolutely anything they can find (we live out bush) the last thing I thought of was food sensitivity. Kai started to fit in groups of three about every 2 weeks. Two vets encouraged us to put her on medication (would have been for life) but we instinctively felt we should wait a little longer before we did this. Our neighbour had been a vet nurse and casually remarked that they had found additives caused dog fitting. The tinned foods! We stopped them (have since added fresh dog food without additives to their diet). No more fits. We told the vet who was dubious about the cause of them. We had no doubts after one night when, after being fit free after we removed tinned food, she had three fits. I thought that our theory had been disproved until my husband realised that without thinking he had opened a tin I had neglected to throw away -- and had given her a small amount. No more fits ever since. – Jane, NT (see our Pets factsheet)

My 14 month old ate some hot chips at a restaurant last weekend for lunch and two hours later she had a very bad red burning rash/ eczema all over her body. She has had eczema from a newborn relating to milk but has out grown this intolerance. I was surprised at how bad her reaction was; very red and angry looking all over her body, very irritable and would not leave my arms. I was also very surprised at how quick the rash came out!! I called the restaurant they said the chips come already cut and packaged with ingredients: Vegetable Oil, Soya bean, Cotton Seed, Sunflower and dextrose. Chips are then cooked in Vegetable Oil with antioxidant E900, E319 and E320. Do you think it might be the antioxidants or something else? The chips did not have chicken flavouring on them - I thought of that and asked them they said no seasoning at all.

Two weeks later: went to a McDonald's Birthday Party today and while I was taking one of my other children to the toilet a friend gave my daughter approximately 10 hot chips (ingredients include antioxidant 320). When I was putting her to bed tonight she had broken out in eczema on her face and body. Only small patches, nothing like when I first contacted you regarding a bad reaction to hot chips at a restaurant and she ate a lot more that day. I am thinking if she had eaten a lot more the reaction would have been worse! I presume I can now say she definitely has a food intolerance to antioxidants as she has now reacted twice to hot chips with antioxidants 319 (TBHQ) and/or 320 (BHA). - Breda, NSW

My first child was what some would call a colicky baby. There seemed no pattern, and sometimes nothing I did would settle him. When he was distressed nursing helped, but he was restless, pulling off the breast after a few minutes. In fact he snacked all day and night, rather than taking full feeds. My midwife suggested that something could be going through my milk which disagreed with him, and I stopped eating dairy, citrus and onions for a while, but to no effect. I asked many people about an odd thing – when he fed, he often got one red ear. No-one knew what it was or thought it important.

By six months his distress had settled down, though he remained an anxious baby and toddler (a friend described him as a ‘whiny baby’). At 18 months he became very ill with gastroenteritis. From this time on he was never the same. His anxiety increased, he’d have what seemed like panic attacks, clinging to me with a highpitched squeal and a bewildered little face. He kept getting red ears, one or the other or both, flushed cheeks, and red lips. Yet at other times he seemed fine. (It took another 3 years for this mother to discover that food intolerance was the cause of her baby’s problems…) His symptoms changed as he got older, but now we know his main triggers, he is well most of the time. Looking back, we could have been saved all of this if someone had been able to tell us that red ears are a common sign of food intolerance. So are colic, night restlessness, anxiety, panic attacks, mouth discomfort and the desire to suck vigorously and many more symptoms he displayed. – Jan, from

I'd like to bring to your attention the outcome of my 3 1/2 year old daughter after taking Cephalexin or commonly known as Keflex. My daughter is intolerant to artificial colours, flavours and preservatives. The reaction should she eat foods with them in is the following:

· Lots of violent anger, frustration, screaming, yelling, temper tantrums off the scale

· Throwing objects, hitting people, hitting herself

· Will not listen to otherwise normal instructions

· Sleeplessness, very unsettled at night

This is exactly what happened after 4 days of taking Cephalexin (chemart brand) of Keflex...... My problem is that because in Australia it isn't legal for pharmaceutical companies to list their ingredients on the bottle/box it is very hard for the consumer to know what they are feeding themselves and their families. I had to ask the pharmacist, who looked it up for me, but lo and behold no numbers just a bunch of foreign chemical names, some of which I was able to decipher and found them to be detrimental to my daughters intolerance.

How come a packet of lollies can manage to fit a list of ingredients on it, but a big bottle of medicine can't .... I find it negligent of the pharmaceutical companies and the Australian Government to not tell the consumers what they are taking.

Why does children's medication have artificial colours and preservatives in that aren't necessary in a bottle that has an expiry of only 30 days anyway - it's really really bad and something needs to be done..... I refer you to this page to see how many people are affected..... Medication factsheet

Why doesn't Western Australia take a stand and enforce much needed changes on these pharmaceutical companies... some of the additives are banned in some countries - doesn't that tell us something? – thanks to Tiffany

When I started to really read food labels, I was horrified by the fact that I was poisoning our whole family - especially with 635 and annatto. You asked me how we are affected by these additives.

635 - Myself (main symptom is migraines): dried, red lips. It looks like I have lipstick on. I feel dehydrated and get migraine style headaches. Photosensitivity in my sight. Lethargy. Unfulfilled feeling of thirst. Frequent urination that seems very diluted. Mmy 4 yo son (main symptom is defiance): dried, red lips also. Dehydration and thirst. Frequent urination. Sooky or whingy type of demeanor. My 2 yo daughter (main symptom is urticaria): After having a piece of bacon the size of a 10 cent piece, it sent her into massive hives. It seemed like she had a headache or faceache and she screamed at a high pitch and then cried for about 20 mins. I nearly called an ambulance. Very out of character for her and she barely cries for more than a minute normally. Our 635 foods were French Onion Soup Powder – I would use in casseroles, potato bake, soups - Smiths brand Crisps, sausages from the butcher, tinned soup such as Spring Lamb with Vegetables, and takeaway BBQ Chicken and chips.

Annatto (160b) - Myself: insomnia, anxiousness, a shaky type of sensation sometimes - a bit hard to articulate it but its sort of like I have a vibration or fluttering going on in my body. I "snap" easily and it does not take much to make me get angry. My son: Difficulty falling asleep. Disturbed night sleeps. Silly behaviour and noises like a monkey (jumps around, clumsy, unable to sit still and focus for longer than 5 mins). Sometimes aggressive with no apparent trigger. Unpredictable around other children. My daughter: disturbed sleep. She was a good sleeper but started to go away from her past pattern of falling asleep by herself and changed into shorter sleeps and waking often at night. Once we took it out of her diet she started to sleep through the night and sleeps for a solid 2 hour stint during her day nap. Our annatto foods were Kraft singles, yoghurts (with Bob the Builder) and ice cream. – Rose, by email

My family is full of coeliacs - I'm about the only one who can eat gluten. I've had the blood test and I don't have CD. My problem is alopecia universalis - for the last 18 years I haven't had a single hair on my entire body (I wear a wig). What is the most likely cause for that? Gluten!?! But I love bread - it’s my favourite food! It’s the only gluten I eat.

- from the Fed Up Roadshow 2010 (In my experience, relatives of coeliacs may pass the blood test but often do much better when avoiding gluten. It could be that they are not eating enough gluten when they do the test because the family diet is likely to be low in gluten to avoid contamination for the coeliacs – S)

I was interested to read about gluten in your newsletter. I have a niece who is a coeliac, and one of my daughters has alopecia. She also has Down Syndrome. - by email (People with Down Syndrome have a higher prevalence of CD (7%) than the general population which some doctors think as high as 1%.)

Around the age of about 10 months, my daughter went completely bald from Alopecia Areata (she lost all hair on her head, eyebrows and eye lashes), but fortunately the hair started to grow back around 19 or 20 months. However, we are very disappointed to discover the alopecia appears to be returning as a bald patch has recently appeared on the top of her head. Are you aware of any foods or additives which may have triggered this condition? – by email, we are waiting for a progress report …

Over the past 15 years I have suffered from numerous things - CFS, IBS, Supraventricular Tachycardia, rosacea and itchiness. Post 2000, things were going along fairly okay CFS wise but I developed the SVT after the birth of my son in 2003. I had this corrected in 2007 (very long diagnosis!) but still continued to suffer the odd palpitation here and there. My IBS started in 1999 and I would swing from constipation to diarrhoea. My rosacea had been with me since 1997 and nothing would take it away. The itchiness started in 2008 and so did the headaches.

To cut a long story short, in January of last year I decided it was time to start looking into diet seeing no-one could work out what was wrong with me. So I went totally preservative, colour and sulphite free and purchased your book. Basically followed everything on the list of things to avoid. I did the same for my children. My rosacea disappeared! I also stopped itching and started to have less headaches and heart palpitations. I identified that sulphites affect my breathing, MSG affects my heart, something gives me headaches and 160b makes me itch. However, my diarrhoea and fatigue still remained. Eventually I looked more into salicylates (despite what the dietician thought!) and that was the final piece of the puzzle. - Rachel, NSW

I am very food sensitive. Last week-end when I was entertaining I ate one ‘plain’ rice cracker. It was Fantastic brand and had Flavour Enhancer 627. After realising this I threw them out! But never thought about them again. That night I awoke at 2 am with mild chest pains which I had off and on through until 5 am - the pains were mild but enough to cause me grief and stop me from sleeping - I stayed up most of the night. I have no doubt the Flavour Enhancer in the biscuit caused my problem. - Di, Vic

From time to time I notice an ectopic heart beat, Dr. tells me nothing unusual, most people get them. However last night after a couple of weeks eating really good and healthy natural foods we went out to a Chinese Restaurant. I like going there, but have not been there for a year or so I'd say. About an hour after I went to bed it began, I think you'd call it Tachycardia, a fast (100) and very irregular heartbeat. Some big strong thumping ones and then some feeble and fast ones. I got up, sat up for another 2 hours. Blood pressure had risen incredibly, and over the 2 hours settled down but the feeling on panic stayed. It's still here this morning actually and I didn't feel I could drive, so had to ask for a lift. Needless to say I am not having any of the left overs for lunch. Back to the straight and narrow. – Joy, NSW

If I have 635 I get Tachycardia, feel week and dizzy, and come down with flu like symptoms that last for around 2 to 3 days. Peter, by email

I was just reading your article about the link between sulphites and ventricular arrhythmia in the latest newsletter. I could relate to many of the symptoms experienced by Michiko. On several occasions (usually after a dinner party or night out at a restaurant), I've had a similar experience, lying awake that night unable to sleep and my heart pounding for hours. Just like Michiko I felt like I was 'buzzing' as though I'd had some hype-inducing drug. Sometimes I would also feel breathless and I noticed this often happened after drinking white wine or champagne. I'd never heard of anyone else having this experience and wondered what could be causing it. Thanks to this article I now have a good explanation, and will avoid preservative 220. - Michelle, by email

Most of the time my 5 year old daughter is a nice sweet girl but then sometimes this monster will emerge. When she is in one of these moods she will start grinding her teeth and make monkey type noises and get frustrated very quickly especially with her little brother who has to put up with a lot of punching and intimidation. We get an amount of this behaviour usually everyday but sometimes she will be worse than usual and be completely irrational with inconsolable crying and screaming. When we get one of these more severe episodes we can usually trace it back to something with bright colours like doughnuts with sprinkles etc. After reading your website I have realised that a lot of her staple snack foods have the food colours that have recently been banned in the UK in particular Arnotts country cheese crackers and the Quelch 99% fruit juice Super Doopers which I stupidly thought were healthy choices! - Lyndal, by email

More Articles ...

  1. [935] Teeth grinding and salicylates (September 2010)
  2. [934] Teeth grinding in a 6 yo due to amines (September 2010)
  3. [933] 635: AF (atrial fibrillation) due to flavour enhancers (July 2010)
  4. [932] Itchy terrier due to additives in dried dog food (July 2010)
  5. [930] One-liners (July 2010)
  6. [928] A2: Dairy free but now happy on a2 yoghurt (July 2010)
  7. [927] A2: Brief reports on A2 milk and rhinitis, autism and weight gain (March 2009)
  8. [926] Didn’t realise my daughter was affected by salicylates (June 2010)
  9. [925] 220: Asthmatic son affected by illegal sulphites in mince (June 2010) [COURAGE AWARD]
  10. [924] One-liners (June 2010)
  11. [923] How to get a reluctant partner to change diet and DVD feedback (June 2010)
  12. [922] 635: Epileptic seizures in a dog due to flavour enhancer (June 2010)
  13. [921] 282: Acne from bread preservative (June 2010)
  14. [920] 635: Headaches and aching shoulders from flavour enhancers (June 2010)
  15. [919] Snoring, sleep apnea, swollen tonsils and macroglossia due to additives (June 2010)
  16. [918] 635: labelling – you think you’re making the right choice (June 2010)
  17. [917] Adorable child after one week of cutting out nasties (June 2010)
  18. [916] AAaaaaaaagh! - Reaction to Colour Free Panadol medication (June 2010)
  19. [915] Autistic 10 yo affected by additives in Lovan medication (June 2010)
  20. [914] Extreme irritability, moodiness, anxiety, nightmares, night waking due to diet (June 2010)
  21. [913] 160b: Jack’s head banging and annatto (June 2010)
  22. [912] 160b: Rash and head banging with bruises from annatto (June 2010)
  23. [911] 160b: Head banging stopped when additives were removed (June 2010)
  24. [910] 160b: Annatto related head banging in a 2 year old (June 2010)
  25. [909] 160b: Head banging in a 3 year old (June 2010)