Our family has been (mostly) failsafe since our older son was diagnosed with autism and multiple food intolerance in 2003.

Last year for some months I was allowing a chocolate coated icecream on a stick containing annatto 160b, once a week I bought a box to share with the kids after shopping.

I had thought it would be ok as our very food sensitive older son didn't react noticeably to the 160b challenge.

Our now 5 year old younger son's behaviour rapidly went downhill until he was a truly horrible little boy, who physically attacked his siblings, flew off the handle at the slightest little thing, roaring and shaking with anger, things were broken in our house including a glass door and a bucket over his brother's head which drew blood! The behaviour followed a pattern each week of a couple of truly horrible days slowly getting less awful over the course of a week. So I had already figured out it was a food eaten once a week, around shopping day, but still hadn't thought of the icecream. Of course as soon as I woke up to it, the icecream was out the door, and our lovely boy and calm home returned. I've since tested annatto 160b a few times both deliberately and accidently and the horrible week long rage returned. Annatto 160b would have to be one of our family's most hated baddies! - Karen, Qld

We were told by pediatricians and individuals in the child development field that my son was autistic when he was 2 1/2 years old. He was extremely sensitive to certain fabrics and clothing against his skin. He could not speak so that we could understand him (he had his own language) and would display fits of anger when we could not understand him. He would close himself into his own little world at times and not want to socialize with our family or other children. He could not jump, he could not run or do simple movements that most children his age had already mastered.

We enrolled him in a special program for children who were developmentally delayed - he was in speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy 4 days a week.

He progressed well in the program but continued to have additional setbacks. He developed asthma and eczema and the fits continued. He started kindergarten with an IEP (Individual Education Plan) that continued to include the different therapy sessions and also added intervention for him with regard to the regular classroom activities.

I would find cheese wrappers behind our recliner, his favorite food was ANYTHING with cheese. We continued to work with different therapists and the school system up until he was in second grade.

By the grace of God, I was in my chiropractor's office waiting to be seen and I picked up a book in his waiting room that was about ADD, ADHD, ODD and Autism in children. I randomly opened it to a chapter that described my son in every sentence. Until I read that chapter I had never even paid attention to Annatto or Yellow food colorings. It was worth a shot.

It took me almost 6 weeks to clear my son from any artificial yellow food coloring. It was like living with a child drug addict. He craved anything yellow and would cry uncontrollably, throw temper tantrums, and sleep and sleep. A short while after we cleared his diet (I even packed his school lunches) his teacher asked me in for a conference. His reading score had gone from a kindergarten level to a second grade level in almost 9 weeks!!!!!

My son is now 12 years old and will be going into the seventh grade. He no longer has an IEP or any therapeutic intervention. He is an Honor Roll student, plays football and is active in the Boy Scouts. He no longer needs any medication for asthma and his eczema is gone. He knows that he has an addiction/allergy to annatto and yellow food coloring so he also is very aware to read every label and "just say no" when offered something that he can not have.

The yellow food colorings cause him to be hyperactive and then he crashes. The Annatto however, seems to be the additive that causes him to have the addictive symptoms. I read once that the annatto seed was once made into a paste and used as war paint in a particular tribe. Well, after watching my son once he has had the annatto I can see why warriors would be successful in battle under its influence.

In addition to affecting him through his food colors also affect him through medications and hygiene products. We noticed that once when he used shampoo with artificial yellow the skin on his neck broke out every time he showered. Also, chapstick or other products that go on skin make him itch.

This school year my son begged me to let him eat some things that our school cafeteria provides. I reluctantly agreed, after all he is going to have to make his own decisions about what he puts in his body as he gets older and is out without me more.  It isn't that he was eating things that contained yellow or annatto but he was eating foods that are processed. He has had the stomach flu twice and has had headaches more frequently, plus his muscles have begun to cramp more and more. Last week we made the decision for me to resume packing his lunch and I think that we both already notice a difference.

There is no doubt in my mind that the rise in autism, ADHD, ADD, etc. is a direct consequence of our trend toward processed "quick" food.  I feel so blessed to have read that chapter and found my son. Thank you for making a difference. – Rhonda, USA

I was a single mother living alone away from family support, breastfeeding and juggling a wonderful son who at 12 months was barely sleeping 4 hours a day. Most days he looked as if he had drunk a can of "red bull" - eyes rolling, twitching and distant - and sleep only ever seemed to come lightly for short periods once he was beyond exhausted.

He had a rash all over his body that just kept spreading and it made me cry watching him tear at it all day and all night without any relief.

At 12 months I put him into a local day care centre for 2 days a week for some sort of break (sleeping sometimes in the car just around the corner too tired to make it home to sleep after dropping him off). He was a real handful there as he would not settle and ever sleep and would upset all the other babies with his screaming.

I was beside myself by the time I swallowed what pride a new sleepless mum had left and sought every kind of assistance I could - my baby health nurse, my local doctor, and then another doctor all said it was normal (as they all shrugged their shoulders) and the eczema was a lifetime hereditary thing ...

I was even assessed at a local  government "sleep clinic" on the gold coast - an awful experience with him not sleeping at all for them and them saying 20 hours without sleep "may be normal for him " - (bugger me !!)

After my lowest darkest point whereby at about 14 months he barely slept in 40 mins increments I was sent to the state children's sleep school in Brisbane. The basic program philosophy is about controlled crying - but that wasn’t his problem …

It was a 5 day hellish event I would wish on no one. He screamed and cried for the first 3 days solid and set new limits in sleep deprivation - made easier the 3rd day only because he totally lost his voice and his screams couldn’t be heard !!! By day 4 he slept (passed out) from sheer exhaustion - so that was apparently a success and I was sent home day 5!!

After only a day or two at home it was obvious there was no improvement.

The next few weeks as I contemplated our future without support, sleep or potential for work as things stood really took its toll, until I was blessed to come across a pharmacist in our local pharmacy. She sat me down and really talked me through the failsafe approach - and really took the time to make it sink in. I was an unwilling participant as when you are so exhausted anything new seems to be insurmountable.

It took 4 days!!! only 4 days !! from having someone waking 8 times a night to 2 times a night!!! from sleeping 4 hours a day to 8 hours - and 10 hours by the end of the week. Once I switched to A2 milk the loop was complete and he started sleeping the night through by the end of week 2. The change was nothing short of miraculous.

For my son to go from the least favourite boy in his kindy to the favourite almost within a week!! It was like someone had handed me a new son.

He became an affectionate loving inquisitive boy that every mum would be so proud of - no tantrums, no fits of rage, renewed energy and able on concentrate on things so much better he simply bloomed, like watching a wilted flower come back to life after rain.

His rash completely healed - completely!!  He is now 2.5 years and it has never returned!!

When I tell people about all the positive changes we have had on the diet, they seem to think the diet I fed him before failsafe was really poor. They assume it was full of red cordial, McDonalds, coloured commercial lollies etc but I was aware of colours and MSG and he NEVER had those. At the time I was following the diet recommended by the child care centre. It was the sulphur dioxide in dried fruits, the hidden nitrates in meats, and natural colour 160b I wasn’t aware of, that were our biggest problems, also I was breast feeding at the time and was having more "junk food" and stimulants from comfort eating to keep me functioning so he was getting it that way. I realise my mistake in overdoing a "healthy diet" mostly consisting of a mega high salicylates, high amines and glutamates!! and although I was careful about colours and some preservatives, my son’s biggest and most immediate reactions came from fish/ meats/ and preserved fruits.

Having followed all the information you have put out there in the Failsafe Cookbook my son has thrived!!  He has come from behind to be the tallest and fittest in his class. The effect this failsafe lifestyle has had on Patrick has been evident to all who knew him "before diet" as we call it.

I often have people ask me about your work, especially from his childcare centre as they have followed his progress and it’s so rewarding to see the individual but still dramatic change it has on other babies, toddlers and children.

I get angry when I think of the torment and the lost first 12 months of his life - and that a children’s hospital in a week could not assist or pick up what a pharmacist did in seconds - but promise in my own prayers of thanks for you and the pharmacist that I will do my best to help those similar suffering mums that cross my own path. Thank you. - Patrick's proud mum, Qld

Calvin was an easy baby, slept well, settled after feeds beautifully and was just lovely. Once we started solids, things started changing for the worse. By 12 months he was waking 3-6 times a night screaming and was impossible to soothe. Only sheer exhaustion put him back to sleep. I looked into all sorts of options for sleep training, but none of them sat well with me as I was sure it was a pain issue, not a sleep issue, so I resisted urging from friends and family to control cry and looked into the possibility of food intolerance.

At that same time, Sue was advertising a webinar on sleep and food intolerance. I registered and joined in on the night. I listened and took notes, but still wasn't convinced this was us, I just hated the idea of a restricted diet for Calvin.

By 14 months things were desperate and my husband and I were chronically sleep deprived. We booked into a failsafe dietician and started the elimination diet. Calvin 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 and then slept through for another 3 nights after that. We have had some up and down nights since then, but nothing like the screaming fits he used to have. 7 weeks on, he
has slept through 10 full nights and only woken once or twice for a pat most of the other nights. Now we are slowly introducing challenges, but our need for sleep catch up and Calvin's age has meant that we have opted for the slow route rather than overload challenges. This means we still have a long way to go, but have felt very encouraged by the Fed Up website, book and cookbook - Thanks Sue for all your hard work!! - Pippa, by email

SUCCESS!!!  Our 12 year old daughter with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis is pain free!!

We have finished all challenges on the elimination diet and have discovered glutamates - MSG and all 600 numbers to be extremely bad for our daughter with arthritis. Within 8 to 12 hours of having MSG our daughter went from no pain to all the symptoms of arthritis, swollen joints, very sore, trouble walking, and lots of pain. We continued the challenge for 48 hours and by then she had problems with all her joints, soreness, swelling and was absolutely miserable!  Within 12 hours of stopping MSG her symptoms settled and she was back to "normal" – no pain! We now totally avoid MSG, all 600 numbers and unspecified 'flavour' listed on any product!

It has been 7 months now since we began the elimination diet and took our daughter off all arthritis medication. She is fantastic!  We had a check up with the rheumatologist recently and she was amazed.  We don't need to see her for another 6 months and she has classed our daughter as "in remission"!!!!  No pain, No symptoms and No medication!

I hope this is of assistance to other sufferers of arthritis!  It has made a huge difference to our daughter's life. Thank you for your wonderful information, without this we would be further down the track of a life of pain, misery and medications with nasty side effects for our daughter. To look at our daughter now, you would never know that she suffers from a chronic, debilitating condition, she is full of energy and her love for life is back again!

We completed all food challenges in this order:  milk, wheat, bread, salicylates, amines, MSG, propionates, sorbates, antioxidants, colours, benzoates, nitrites and sulphites (all food not capsules). The only challenge our daughter reacted to was MSG, 600 numbers and naturally occurring glutamates. She had no reaction to any other challenge. Once we had completed all the challenges we challenged tomatoes, broccoli and those foods high in natural glutamates separately. She came out in an itchy rash if she ate too many tomatoes or broccoli (at least 6 to 8 serves a day) but the amazing thing for us was that she didn't have joint pains. We are tending to think that manufactured MSG must contain VERY HIGH levels of glutamic salt compared to those foods that have it naturally occurring such as tomatoes and broccoli. We have now restricted how much she has of these things. She is very good at knowing what she can and can't have.  She reads labels everywhere, even when she stays over at friends or goes to birthday parties, she will read labels and decide if she can have it or not. We always send her with plain chips and 'safe' snacks for a party. Her friends have been very supportive and know that she can have plain hot chips at a party instead of pizza or party pies.

We saw the dietitian you recommended. She was very helpful, knowledgeable and thorough in what quantities etc to challenge. She was very interested in the results. She suspected MSG from early on because we had commented on how over the Christmas holidays (before elimination diet), our daughter had eaten CC's and was so sore the next day she could hardly walk. We kept a daily food diary and I also kept a dated scrap book with labels of products we had eaten so I could check back as a reference if needed.

For the MSG challenges we used "Coles Farmland" packet chicken noodle soup, about 500 mls to a litre a day (contains 621, 627 and 631) and soy sauce about 4+ tablespoons a day. (Need to check labels for soy sauce because not all list MSG or 600 numbers).

We are amazed at how many foods with unspecified 'flavour' (but no MSG or 600 numbers listed) affect her. We have found this with tomato soups, tomato pastes etc where they list 'flavour' and our daughter has been sore after having this. We have completed our own challenge with some of these products and her reaction varies. We avoid any savoury type products that have 'flavour' listed with no specific ingredient numbers on labels. The unknown is not worth the soreness for our daughter.

Foods previously eaten which we avoid completely now include:  All packet soups, cup of soups, packet stocks, stock cubes, any chips or corn chips that have a flavour, BBQ shapes and all shape/savoury biscuits with flavour, tomato and BBQ sauce, some mayonnaise and dressings, packet pasta mixes (ie continental pasta packs), sausage rolls, pies, breads with savoury toppings, pizza, concentrated tomato paste, tomato soup - most have unspecified 'flavour' - and lots of other savoury foods. We never used to eat a lot of these foods, but even having things once to twice a week was enough to have our daughter in continuous pain.

She now is totally pain free, medication free and living a very active, sporting life.  She plays netball weekly, has participated in the school athletics and cross country team this year and is currently in weekly training with the school volley ball team to go to Nationals in December.  All of these activities were completely impossible 12 months ago! The difference is amazing!  We are so thankful that your website and information has led us to finding an alternative to medication, and a way to manage our daughter's condition and allow her to live a very active life. I hope that there will be others out there that will try the elimination diet and find an alternative to medications and a life of chronic pain.  - Sandra, Vic

About 3 weeks ago we decided to do a "mini" salicylate challenge with our 5 year old twin boys as it had been 8 months on the diet, and we thought we'd just give it a go, just to see (salicylates are our biggest difficulty when it comes to things they really WANT to eat). So they had things like a bowl of berries with icecream, a few Pink Lady apples, some pineapple etc over the week. By the end of the week one had tonsillitis (had not had it since we began the diet) with a vengeance. He hit a high temp of 40.1 degrees, and his tonsils were bigger, and more pus-filled than ever before! Three days later, his brother came down with it ... same, worse than ever before (he hit a new record high temp in this house of 40.3 degrees).

Anyway, thought you'd be interested. I'm convinced that the salicylates caused a shock to their immunity ... and hello, back to tonsillitis. Thankfully our GP is now convinced that the diet has made a huge difference also ... and was very glad to help us find alternatives for medication that did not have preservatives in them.

The one thing I will say is that we feel particularly vindicated regarding this diet. We know we are now doing the right thing, and certainly have some 'proof' now for all of those who don't understand or believe why we are doing this with our children. - Jenny M, by email

My six year old son was diagnosed with asthma/allergy at 2 years old. Several medications were diagnosed for him. Not wanting to go down this path I consulted a naturopath, who managed his condition with vitamins and restricted diet. But this year upon starting school my normally bright, happy child became depressed, aggressive and hyperactive. A pattern of school canteen usage emerged at which point I requested a list of ingredients for some of the things he was buying. To my horror, the slushy he was ordering contained two artificial colours and two preservatives (benzoate preservative 211 and potassium sorbate 202). The lady who runs the canteen said that this product is known as an AMBER school product.  Apparently you are allowed to sell it in canteens as long as you do not have too many other AMBER products on the menu. – Leesa, by email

I have been failsafe for over 4 years now and my life has changed dramatically because of it. Before I tried the diet I was constantly unwell with chronic sinus and hayfever, period problems, varied stomach problems and lethargy. The worst thing was the asthma - it was getting so bad I couldn’t read a book to my children or talk on the phone for very long. Every day was a struggle to get through.

I have found out that I am intolerant to gluten, salicylates, amines, preservative etc. Since starting the diet, I haven’t had asthma medication for over 4 years - it is wonderful to be able to breathe.

Other things the diet helped me with are: changing a constant huge amount of phlegm to a small amount; getting rid of my permanent blocked nose; no more constant colds and infections (sinus and chest); changed daily headaches to rare ones; improved PMT and periods a large amount; got rid of my constant indigestion and reflux; removed the permanent frown from my face and changed it to a smile!!

I now have lots of energy and do Boxercise classes which I would never have been able to manage before. Going up a hill on my daily walk is no longer a problem. It is great to have so much energy.

I want to thank you so much for your book, it has changed my life. I just wish doctors would tell you about trying different diets to help asthma - I could have done with knowing years ago! – Rosemaree, SA (first provided in 2005 then updated as above)

I have been suffering from extremely labile blood pressure since 1995. The worst problem associated with this has been raised BP within an hour or two of going to sleep. I wake feeling unwell, head hurting, cold extremities, always need to urinate, and at times, shivering uncontrollably. I used to suffer from palpitations with it - but in recent times this is rare. I've been investigated for everything possible over the years. I am inclined to eat organic food and always watch the labels on any packaged food.

About 5 weeks ago I decided to join Jenny Craig as I felt I needed to lose up to 10 kilos and have been struggling to get this weight off. In the first week I was appalled to see how many 'numbers' were listed in the food. I could not eat things like their packaged snacks - with colours, flavours etc in them. At this point I consulted with them and asked for the food to be adjusted to suit not eating some of the colours that I know are not good, any sweeteners and Nitrates/Nitrites. This gave me a very limited list - and I could not avoid some Sulphites and Flavour Enhancers. I began to notice 635 coming up in many of the foods - and even most of the dinners.

By about 3 weeks into the food I woke feeling really bad with the old symptoms - including a feeling of pressure in my chest (which had been vaguely there the night before) and blood pressure that measured 217/114. As it did not reduce after a short while of sitting up (my usual method of allowing my bp to lower) I went to the local hospital. They did an ECG and gave me 1/2 Anginine and O2 which eased the symptoms. When the doctor found that my mother had Angina he suggested a Thallium Stress Test. This has been completed and the results are normal.

I have often since 95 suffered from a slight 'pain' in the chest - once definitely after eating a very tasty bowl of Chinese soup. I lived in Singapore for almost 12 years - from 91, but it was not until 95 when I was home for a short while and working on a camp site - eating mass produced food that these symptoms started to occur regularly...hence the visits to many doctors and specialists - always with a negative result for whatever they tested for. Food additives simply did not occur to me.

A few days after my recent visit to hospital, I thought - how dumb can I be?! ... it's the food! I stopped the JC food and within 36 hours began to feel well again. When did they begin to put 635 in food? It keeps being called a 'newer' flavour enhancer and I wonder if it appeared roughly in the mid nineties. I believe it may be a combination of 627 and 631. Some of the JC food has these two listed together and some has 635 listed. Many of the foods also contain the hidden MSGs such as HVP.

I now have a letter from my doctor to say that there is evidence that I am highly sensitive to vaso-active food additives ... and will be given a refund by JC. This has been an 'interesting' exercise that may finally give me the answer to my very labile BP and all the odd symptoms that seem to go with it.– Roslyn by email. (Yes, 635 was approved in the mid-nineties and is a combination of 627 and 631- S)

I had been suffering increasing episodes of tachycardia, arrhythmia and ectopic heart beats - two to three episodes a day. Despite escalating testing with various cardiac specialists over the past 6 months, nothing was determined apart from the fact I had high blood pressure and was placed on a low dose of appropriate medication for that. No known cause for my cardiac anomalies.

Last Tuesday (tis Wednesday of following week now) I ate a delicious bowl of my home made potato and leek soup for lunch. I experienced my usual (but scary and increasingly strong) palpitations and (frustrated, a little frightened and upset), I broadly Googled "heart palpitations" on Australian sites. Up came your website that mentioned 'soup' in the first Google lines that came up. Thinking "that's funny, I just ate soup, I'll have a look at that one before I find what I'm really after", I looked at it. Well, that's what saved me. What I found there were countless, comforting, case studies of people just like me, suffering consequences to MSG (635 in particular), just like me, who didn't know what was causing it. Just. Like. Me.

For me, it was a revelation, an epiphany. I was euphoric. My God, what have I been poisoning my family with, for so many years? Weekly, particularly in winter, I lovingly make risotto, casserole, beef in red wine, soup, etc, etc. Thinking I'm making healthy foods for my husband and my children, I've made all these dishes with more than a liberal dash of commercial stock (cube and/or liquid), all of which (no exceptions, I find) are loaded with MSG.

I stepped, willingly, into the world of chemical additives, flavour enhancers, neurotoxins, excitotoxins and ribonucleotides.

To cut a long story short, I have strenuously avoided any flavour enhancers (particularly 635) and all MSG in its myriad disguises since that bowl of soup on Tuesday. I did not expect things to settle immediately, but I've gone from having 2-3 cardiac episodes a day and thinking I was going to die like my father, at 46, to NOT ONE EPISODE IN MORE THAN A WEEK.

Gotta be something to this and I'm sincerely and eternally grateful for the information you have on your website and the comfort and advice it gave me. I think you saved my sanity and my life. – Shannon, WA

My 7 year old daughter has reactions to flavour enhancers which cause a rash across her body. Her first reaction that I could pinpoint was to Chinese food that she ate around 5-6 months ago. She has been getting small rashes for the last couple of years, but I have never been able to pinpoint what was causing them. We had Chinese one night and a couple of hours later she had a severe rash all over her body. My first reaction was something in her bed, so I put her in my bed and the next day the rash was gone. That day we had left over Chinese for tea and the rash appeared again. So I looked on the internet about what may cause it and everything pointed towards MSG. Once I cleaned out my cupboards of flavour enhancer foods, the rashes stopped. She has had a few reactions since such as hamburgers from Woolworths which said flavours on the packet, but no codes.

Your site helped me to pinpoint what was happening to her, and her doctor thought your site was very useful.

Two months later:

For about 4-5 years my daughter has suffered a lot of constipation, normally to the extreme where it would be days that she would go without a bowel motion, and when she finally did she would take ages and be in a lot of pain. Since taking flavour enhancers out of her diet, the bowel motions are normal.  - by email, SA

I have two boys aged 4 and 5. We are two and a half weeks into the diet and I had been starting to get very excited about improvements in the boys behaviour. Until yesterday. The boys share a room and during the night my younger one woke up snuffly so I rubbed some Vicks Baby Balsam  (contains Petrolatum, Eucalyptus Globulus, Parfum, Rosmarinus Officinalis, Cocos Nucifera, Paraffinum Liquidum, Aloe Barbadensis, Lavandula Augustifolia) on his chest.

Wow! When they woke in the morning it was just like the bad old days. They pulled their room apart looking for a toy, they were demanding and silly and unreachable (wouldn't listen!). Could this have been caused by the Vicks? Even though the older boy didn't have it on his skin, just spent a couple of hours in a closed bedroom with his brother.

A couple of months ago we were regularly using a vapouriser, with fluid containing menthol, camphor, methyl salicylate, pine oil and eucalyptus oil. Could this have caused some of the behaviour that lead me to try the diet in the first place? – Jane, by email (Yes! – those products are like a salicylate challenge due to inhaled salicylates, also absorbed through the skin. They are considered to be ineffective, dangerous and  responsible for children hospitalized each year, see warnings from Poisons Information Centres: http://www.health.qld.gov.au/poisonsinformationcentre/seasons_dangers/sd_winter.asp)

You have saved my son's life quite amazingly. He is a completely different child. He has gone from terrible to angel.

I saw your DVD and was amazed at the story about a toddler who used to scream for long periods of time. My son is 3 now and had been screaming extremely since he was able to start eating. He would scream and hit and become very aggressive and defiant. I tried absolutely everything and I have had quite a bit of professional training in managing behaviour and still struggled with him.

I am sure that if I did not see your DVD he would have ended up on some kind of horrible medication and under some private psychiatrist. I could just see him being exactly like the juvenile offenders in the DVD or worse but he is now a normal child and a perfect angel.

I am so surprised at how much difference it has made, this diet really works if you just do it properly. It is really hard at first to know what to put on sandwiches etc ... but it gets a lot easier as we go along. I never really understood diet affecting behaviour before and thought it was only really applicable to those who just persisted to feed their children fast food all the time. - Charmaine, Perth WA.

My 6 year old son has had the same reaction to McDonald's Soft Serve Cone as posted on your website. It started about 20 minutes after eating and lasted about an hour.  It was not the thing to have before a swimming lesson. He was behaving as the mother noted on your website (Story [850] – “our normally quiet son bounces, jumps, shouts, makes silly loud noises, blows raspberries, uses nonsense words, and generally just can't sit still”) and appeared to be on a planet of his own! – Trina, NSW

My sister is a devoted fan. Her daughter was in serious trouble with her health and behavioural problems before she came across your work.  She has met you at talks and has your books and has her entire family on a low chemical diet.

Her daughter needless to say has gone from being diagnosed as extreme ADHD with mild autism to being a perfectly well adjusted, normal, healthy, incredibly well behaved child, who is doing extremely well in school now.

Depresses me when I mention food as a cause of ADHD to other mothers who won't listen, or say "maybe for your child, but it won't help mine!" People prefer to be ignorant! – Stuart, NSW

I'm 80 years old and I have been suffering from a very bad rash on my face.  Altogether I saw five different doctors and all of them said to use a cortisone ointment but my face got even worse. Everyone who looked at me would say 'what on earth is wrong?'

When I was young (oh so many years ago), I worked for a private detective and he always taught me to check everything. I bought a book and began to write down everything I ate, what makeup I'd been using and even the vitamins I took. My doctor had advised me to stop using makeup and buy 'natural' makeup. I did, at a cost, but then I stopped using that too. I then decided to don the reading glasses and get out the magnifying glass to read everything on the labels of my supplements. To my horror, I saw on the Glucosamine with Condroitin, if you have a shellfish allergy, do not take them. I had previously been taking the old Glucosamine.

In the past I have eaten prawns without any problems but last year I had a nasty reaction to the IV Contrast Dye when I had to have a CT scan of my pelvic area. I felt quite sick and both my legs from the knees down, went bright red and were very hot.  It took ages for the redness to disappear and then the skin peeled off. I stopped taking the supplements and over about four weeks the redness improved then the skin peeled off and my skin is now back to normal. At 80 years, I am totally amazed to think I've maybe developed an allergy to crustaceans. That won't worry me at all but I will most certainly now read everything on the labels I eat. - by email

My son is now almost 4.  He has always eaten happily from a wide range of food groups. We generally try to avoid feeding him (much) processed food, but since we travel a lot, it is inevitable that we also eat on the run. He was just under 12 months when he had his first reaction - to eating cream cheese. The effect was instantaneous and obvious: raised, red rashes on mouth, face, fingers, belly - anywhere that the food made contact. Other common allergens (like dairy, wheat, soy, nuts) clearly were no problem, so it only took another couple of incidents for us to figure out preservative 202 was the culprit. Since then we have mostly been able to avoid it, but it does crop up when we're not expecting it: like in some yoghurts (in NZ), margarines and so-called some 100% orange juices (the 100% claim is on the front of the bottle, but preservative 202 is listed in the ingredients). Again, the reaction is obvious - and although it causes some discomfort, the reaction doesn't seem to pose any obvious health risk.

As an aside, after spending some time this evening trying to research 202 allergies on the internet, I am surprised how very little information is available on it. Your website was one of the few to contain any information. Thanks for the tips about sorbates being also present in pharmaceutical products, since I had no idea about this. – Kate, by email (It is illegal to say 100% juice if there is a listed preservative! The ACCC has prosecuted several companies over that, see https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/accc-receives-undertakings-from-orange-juice-producer. If you'd like me to act on it, let me know the name of the company. It is only through consumer complaints that change will occur.- S)

Our doctor thinks our son may have ADHD and wants us to try an elimination diet. Reading through your website it sounds just what we need. We have swapped the bread to Bakers Delight, swapped the margarine to Nuttelex. Stopped the juice (which only had every 2 days). Stopped chocolate and any other snack like that. Stopped the Vegemite and peanut butter. Plus more changes. Today we went out and I was very surprised at both my boys' behaviour. They were lovely. I know it's still early days but it's nice to see an improvement already. I am really looking forward to the changes for the better. My husband and I are also doing it too. Lead by
example. - Shelley, NSW

Just writing to tell you about my son's reaction to an antibiotic called Ibilex (keflex) suspension, for a recent chest infection.

On the elimination diet we have discovered a new child. Finally able to sit still in class and concentrate, no shouting out or disruptive behaviour and dry at night!

While he was on the antibiotic, the teacher informed me that our son’s behaviour had deteriorated. He was oppositional, loud, unable to sit still and disruptive. At home the bedwetting started again and his behaviour had also deteriorated but I had not made the connection, I put it down to him being unwell.

As I was giving him his dose one morning I was staring at the pink mixture and it finally dawned. I rang the GP immediately and sure enough it contained Allura Red. It took about a week to get him dry again and his behaviour to settle. – Helen, by email (Allura red is artifical colour 129; also contains bubblegum flavour. A compounding pharmacist can provide medication without nasties, see our Medication factsheet - S)

I would just like to thank you for saving us from having to put my nearly 6 year old daughter on ADHD medication!!

I was already known as the food nazi mum, and Lilly wasn't allowed any preservatives, flavour enhancers or artificial colours, but all too often I was seeing behaviour that I knew was a reaction to additives -  I just couldn't work out what!!! Life in our house was hell most of the time, and I was days away from taking her to our GP to get it sorted. A friend suggested reading Fed Up, which I've looked at your website many times in the past but didn't know where to start - the idea of cutting more food seriously caused me so much anxiety that I just couldn't do it.

I only had to read a couple of pages to realize that Lilly's diet was REALLY high in foods naturally high in glutamates and bad antioxidants - I knew how badly she reacted to MSG, so I cut those foods right back (her lunchbox used to have a tasty cheese and Ourmate sandwich plus a little tub of cherry tomatoes, then a dinner of Nonna's tomato/mushroom pasta sauce!!) When ever we had takeaways I was fairly careful but it always consisted of hot chips, which I've now realised just how much that nasty antioxidant affected her ... the poor thing, I thought I was doing the right thing but I was just making it worse.

Over the last 5 weeks we have seen our daughter turn into a wild crazy thing twice, once was exactly 48 hours after eating hot chips twice in one day aaaghhh - we had to lock her in her room, she was OUT OF CONTROL!!!! The second time was after my mother in law took her to the royal show- I'm still waiting on a list of foods she ate, but it was again 48 hours after! I always used to think she reacted immediately, but I guess she had so much crap accumulate in her that it just seemed that way!!!

Oh and the whole family have switched to A2 milk, and I have now just realized how sick and bloated normal milk makes me feel!!!

Anyway thank you again!!! After the last mega tantrum my husband was so amazed at the difference it has made he has decided to cut out lots of the bad foods he eats at work,  he was also a child like her and figures it must be affecting him now in much the same way!! (He  is quite the stubborn one that if I had suggested it there is no way he would have made the changes, hehehe!!!).


The difference in Lilly’s behaviour is that she has gone from throwing major tantrums over very small issues which used to result in her being locked in her room until she calmed down - mostly for our sanity because she was just wild, it could last anywhere from an hour to half a day sometimes!!!! She would disagree with everything, talk back, never do what we asked- including simple things like going to the toilet, so she used to constantly wet her pants instead, or she wouldn't get dressed for school- even though she absolutely loves going.

Before diet everything was a battle - I used to look at her and think if she was someone else's kid I would avoid spending time with that person because of how hard she made everything, so I of course have been carrying around a huge amount of guilt from having thoughts like that. I also couldn't work out why my 2 kids were so different, so I've spent a few years blaming myself for this thinking it must have been something I did whilst I was pregnant or breastfeeding etc. Its been really hard, I've been on medication for anxiety for the past 6 months - surprising I didn't start taking something years ago considering how badly I felt I was coping with these issues!!!

Now we have an ange l- the transformation is truly amazing!!! If she does misbehave it actually only takes a 1-2-3 and she usually does what needs to be done or said, the few time she has gone to time out, its been for her ten- tens (our timeout rule is she has to calmly breathe and count to ten, ten times- she can count to 100 now so its changed a bit- good counting practice lol) and then she comes out calmly and apologizes etc.

It’s going to be harder to get my in-laws on my side - I gave a list of what she shouldn't eat last week, and Nana returned her with a list of what she ate, AAAGHGH was all I could say. Vegemite sandwiches, croissants, take-away chicken rolls, mini magnum icecreams. So we had a bit of a rough time Saturday night/Sunday - but we coped and at least I knew what it was this time instead of just thinking I'm a hopeless mum!!! - Andrea

We are currently in the midst of an incredible food reaction, brought about by less than a week's worth of lip-balm! 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. Once it healed I decided to get her some lip-balm, as the cold sore was followed by cracked lips. Her behaviour started deteriorating after about three days, culminating on day six (yesterday) in difficulty following instructions, defiance, extreme sensitivity (tears, screaming, sulking), kicking and attempting to isolate herself when upset. Also, a very sore and red vagina (poor little thing). The only thing I had changed was the lip-balm, minute amounts, twice a day (I'd kept hold of it so I knew she wasn't slathering it on). The ingredient list - Coconut oil, beeswax, sweet almond oil, peppermint oil, Vitamin A, lanolin, comfrey root extract, rosemary extract. I had realised that all bar the Vitamin A and lanolin weren't Failsafe, but made the mistake of thinking it was such a small amount it wouldn't matter. Luckily, once we had figured out what was making her feel bad (I always get her to work it out with me, even at four) she decided that she'd give the lip-balm away (literally - "but I love it!  I want someone in my family to have it, I'll give it to Uncle Ian..”).  I'm going to try pure lanolin, and hopefully that will work out better.

It really high-lights that one small mistake can make all the difference! – Hannah, by email

After reading an article about Sue's talk and browsing the website I purchased the Failsafe Cookbook. I cleaned out my cupboard on the weekend only to discard 6 items, the others all being failsafe, so feel that I am on  the way already as I have had a lifetime of intolerances recognised only by me.

The cookbook answers all those questions that no one else can (like why I love over ripe fruit that no one else will eat) and I am extremely grateful. My husband now accepts that I am not mental.....

I am also extremely grateful for the recipes as I wake up some days and wonder 'What the hell will I eat today'. I have already tried several over the weekend and of course my husband is happy to have me 'back in the kitchen' so to speak. – Irene, NSW

I have a 6 yo son who is intolerant to additives. 282 in particular changed my beautiful sweet then 2 year old into a monster. Luckily, because he was basically born with eczema, I had been very careful about introducing foods. I started giving him crumpets for breakfast when he was 2. He would be fine after eating them, however when he woke from his sleep he would be screaming and hitting me, very violent and uncontrollable. I initially thought it was hunger, as I found that when I gave him something to eat he would calm down. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I found out about 282 (in all crumpets and some breads) and cut it out completely. He was normal again!! – Michelle, NSW

My 4 yo son used to wake up complaining of pains in his legs, sometimes they were so bad he would be sobbing with the pain. The doctor said it was just growing pains but after reading your website we tried an additive free diet. We found that he only gets these pains if he has been eating ham and devon (with nitrate/nitrite preservatives). – by email, NT

I was wondering if you could shed some light on how to rid my 9yr old daughters headaches that she has had nearly every Thursday all year, sometimes so bad she has to stay home from school. The doctor said does she hate school but she doesn’t. (Answer: It is very common for people to have recurring headaches on a particular day of the week. What do they eat the day before? In this case the school canteen sold hotdogs only on Wednesdays. When the hotdogs stopped, the headaches stopped.- S) – by email, SA

A few months ago we went over to Europe. When we came back my 6 yo son went back to school and started getting very clingy, crying and not being able to read or write properly and was not able to concentrate. I have had trouble with these symptoms on and off over the previous year and a half. I mentioned this to my friend, she gave me the book and I started your additive-free diet (we did not eliminate fruit/veg or cheese).

After about 1 week everything had improved dramatically. I waited about 4 weeks before I introduced nitrates (ham). He went pretty nutty after eating it, not violent, just manic. The next day he had bad eczema and was unable to read or write properly when I asked. The teacher also mentioned that he was having trouble concentrating again. He was also crying and clinging to me when it was time to drop him at school. The effects lasted about 5 days. I realized of course that when we had come home from overseas he was having ham sandwiches (not something he would normally eat). I then went back to the additive-free diet again. Michelle, by email

My son’s preschool required a letter from a doctor confirming that Charlie couldn't eat salicylates (because lunches were provided).

When I told him Charlie reacts to salicylates in food with eczema, asthma and behavioural problems, my GP said that made sense, since people with asthma are told not to take aspirin because it is high in salicylates.

I was astounded. "Then why don't you tell them not to eat high salicylate foods?”

He replied honestly and from the heart that as doctors, they weren't trained in nutrition and so they didn't know about salicylates in foods. - Helen, NSW

We're 3 weeks in to Failsafe, and I feel as if I've won the lottery!!! 3 kids aged 10, 8 and 5, all extremely active and slightly frenetic. The oldest was diagnosed with Aspergers and ADD at about 6 years of age, but concerns were noted since he was about 4 - very fixated on certain activities, difficulty being aware of his environment, very impulsive etc.  He repeated reception as he was really struggling, very highly strung.  We cut down on additives with some improvement, but he was still very hooked into his own thoughts and obsessional in thinking and behaviour, talking out in class, struggling academically. He was still incontinent of number ones and twos, as he had such poor awareness of his body, and inability to attend to more than one thing at a time (ie concentrating on schoolwork or a game, and bodily sensations).

He was placed on Concerta (a type of Ritalin) at 8 years of age, which led to a very noticeable improvement in ability to concentrate in school, and less impulsivity.  This was the very thing we had not wanted to do with our child, but we couldn’t continue with daily sneaky poos, constantly spacing out at school, and that level of impulsivity was taking its toll on the whole family. While I do believe medication is over-prescribed and should only be a last resort, we had done everything we could, and it did help. I strongly believe parents should not automatically be judged for medicating their children, we are all doing our best, with whatever information we have.

He began to really shut down about 18 months ago, becoming very isolated, spending every school break time alone reading, and not even responding to questions at home, instead preferring to read alone. He was very sullen, on bad days yelling at schoolmates who tried to engage him. He had no friends, and swung between a sullen and angry boy, or a highly impulsive, giggly and inappropriate "in your face" kid.

We had been additive free for some time, and he had a blood test which showed he was intolerant to wheat, strawberries, dairy and cocoa so those were out also. We had done the rounds of psychiatrist, psychologist, social skills training, occupational therapy, etc.

He is now in year 4 and just prior to commencing diet, he dirtied his pants at school and then told a classmate about it!  I panicked, I could not pinpoint any additives that would have led to the behaviour, and I felt desperate. I went to the Autism SA resource centre where I found "The Failsafe Cookbook", and I haven’t put it down since!

Our oldest son's favourite foods were tomatoes, and Nonna's pasta and meatballs - he would scoff a whole punnet of cherry tomatoes in one go if he could.  Our second child could have best been described as a fruit addict, regularly eating 5 apples after school (I would find the cores littered around the house).  He is an academically capable kid, but could be very oppositional, and was diagnosed as having an auditory processing disorder. He was very hyperactive also. Our youngest daughter had an almost normal diet, I think because I was so exhausted from meeting the needs of the older two that I didn’t have the energy to say "No", to be honest!!  I did notice that she was much harder to settle to sleep than the other two, especially after eating raisin toast (even with "no preservatives on the pack!), and flavoured snacks, which were given by friends etc.

Since the diet, the improvements have been extraordinary! I had to have a meeting at home with a colleague, and my children played lego together, without arguing mind you, for about 1.5 hours!!!  My oldest has dry pants at the end of the day, responds when asked questions, engages in appropriate conversation, and most heartwarming of all, has had several successful playdates with a boy from school. I was able to leave all three with my mother last week while I worked
without her having a breakdown. She was shocked at the difference, and my father reported that my oldest pruned a whole row of grapes for him!

The "fruit addict" is the most changed!  He is polite, helpful (someone pinch me, please!).  Our daughter is sleeping better, still has made an artform of irritating her brothers, but our home is overall much more harmonious, and I am so grateful.

My husband and I are both southern European, and it seems strange that our children could be intolerant to tomatoes and the like.  I'm still a bit puzzled, but I chatted about it to my dad, who migrated from southern Italy in 1960. According to him, my nonna only cooked with tomatoes once a week, for a Sunday lunch of pasta, with the rest of the meals being pasta with beans or lentils, or a vegetable soup. Unfortunately most Italian cuisine now involves a tin of peeled tomatoes and regular flavourings of wine and cheese in almost every recipe, so that's a real challenge for us.

It makes me incredibly angry that even basic foods are laced with additives that are harming our children. I see parents at breaking point and children whose self esteem and learning are compromised, and it is incomprehensible. I for one am TIRED of it.

Thank you so much for your care and compassion in the important work that you do. -  by email, Adelaide

(Natural Confectionery Lollies are NOT failsafe due to sals and amines in flavours  they are only suitable for people who are additive-free)

A year has now passed since we went Failsafe and I just thought I should drop you and note to say...... Thankyou! The difference this diet has made to my boys is amazing...it was like taking them back and getting them exchanged for ones that worked 'properly' - Miriam by email.

When strictly failsafe, we have a wonderful loving attentive child. Your works have been as no doubt you have heard before life saving for our family. Although considered a little weird at times for his diet, I’d rather him known as weird than that naughty kid, shoved in the too hard basket. - Peta, Vic

Just wanted to inform you of another success story in regards to my 9-year-old. We’ve been on failsafe for 7 weeks now and my son is now calm, settled and an absolute delight thanks to your books. I’ve spread the gospel around my local area with many parents and teachers genuinely interested. His teachers are all very supportive as they’ve seen the metamorphosis right before their very eyes – by email, Melbourne.

My story is similar to many on your website: a  5yo boy and a 2yo girl. We had concerns with our little boy, realising he did not seem happy, energetic, compliant, everything was negative, and a drama. After many bad bad evenings and lots of screaming / crying and being upset that my child was not happy we decided to watch the DVD read as much info as we could and did something about it. Well, we now have a very happy child with a much bigger control on what goes into their mouths and the outcome I can say is also a complete turnaround. So ... thank you - Michelle, NSW.

I was pretty annoyed when I checked the yoghurt ingredients and found 160b in the vanilla. I had been buying the yoghurt for my 4 year old as it is no preservatives, artificial colour, flavour etc. His behaviour can definitely be seen in the side effects outlined in the book! - Cassandra by email

I have been mostly sticking to the low salicylate veggies but had snuck in some Chinese greens last week, and we had some reactions. I had assumed that Chinese cabbage (wombok) was like other cabbage … Never assume!  Vera, by email. ((Previously all classified as moderate salicylates, Chinese cabbage (Wombuk) is classed as low in the new RPAH Elimination Diet Handbook (2009), but other Chinese greens now range from bok choy and pak choy (moderate in sals) to Chinese broccoli (Gai Ian, high in sals & amines) to Chinese spinach (Kang Kong) and some others (all very high in sals & amines) - you can request our Salicylate Mistakes information sheet: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

We avoid McDonalds soft serve since our 5 yo son had a reaction in the evening after eating a soft serve with cone in the afternoon. It had been the only thing he had eaten that day that we could think had caused it. After reading Failsafe Newsletter #60, we tried the Maccas soft serve again without the cone (in a plastic cup - upside down sundae lid). The reaction was less severe but still there. He was affected about 4 hours after eating the ice-cream both times (with and without the cone). This, for him, is typical for colours. Our normally quiet son bounces, jumps, shouts, makes silly loud noises, blows raspberries, uses nonsense words, and generally just can't sit still. The acute reaction generally lasts about an hour. The icecream without cone caused a shorter period of the acute reaction, with less volume and intensity. Probably lasted about 35 minutes and was more bearable but still consistent with the typical reaction he gets from colours. Peters Original and other failsafe varieties (eg Sara Lee and the organic ones) have never caused the same reaction. – Susan, Qld

(Can you help: we would like to hear from any failsafer who has observed a reaction to McDonalds soft serve (no cone) – same day or next day? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

My youngest daughter seemed to be the only one that reacted to the 282 (calcium propionate) challenge. By the afternoon of the first day of the challenge she was once again complaining of aching legs. She had not complained the whole time while we have been on the diet, and she used to wake up crying, we had previously put it down to growing pains. – by email

I would like to thank you for your wonderful book and website supporting the diet. Now we are in the full swing of it and have seen the difference, we share your horror at the unnecessary chemicals that are in our diet. I have become the crusader amongst our group of friends (many with preschool aged children) for feeding families "like Grandma used to".

My favourite line at the moment is "You have to think, when our parents were young, they ate apples, pears, maybe the occasional orange. All the other stuff - like Watermelon, Strawberries, Grapes - was a luxury and MAY have been eaten on special occasions". The other is to point out to people that the "Healthy Food Pyramid" that is drummed into us at every turn, that we should be eating, only suggests 2 serves of fruit a day. If this is, for the majority of the time, two pears or a pear and a delicious apple, I am sure my children (day 3 reactors!) will 'survive' in this world!

Update …. You will be pleased to know that we are now almost 4 months into the diet, and are so happy with the change in our children. Not only has their behaviour changed we have now noticed that we have had two other (surprising!) results:

•     The boys had recurrent tonsillitis (once every five-six weeks for the past 18 months) which they have no longer have ... we had refused the operation before Christmas (to get tonsils and adenoids out) because we didn't want them to go under a general anaesthetic and were hoping the diet would help. And yay! It has!
•     Our boys normally start preventers for asthma at the end of Feb and go through until at least November ... We haven't used preventers, or even relievers once since starting the diet.

So ... whilst we started mainly for behaviour, we have so many great other effects. - Jenny, NSW

I cannot begin to thank you for all your work!!  I am only nearly 3 weeks into our Elimination Diet (sal, amines and glutes) and was suddenly confronted with this!!!  The first picture is an example of my 6 year-old daughter's regular colouring, perhaps 2 months ago. The next 2 are in the last couple of days. I don't need to explain this to you, do I!  I was not paying much attention while she coloured and I suddenly realised what I was looking at. Complete, solid colour. Thought put into which colour she'd use. I would hardly have believed she did it, but I saw it happen!

To be picky, if you look at Spot's hat and the horse's head, you can see that she gets a little 'fast' there.  This was on a day when she was 'out-of-sorts' and she finally told me she'd had a chocolate muffin at school.  As she sat down to colour I was disappointed she'd chosen to finish this one because I felt that she'd now wreck it.  But I see it serves a good little 'illustration' for me.

Something this tangible was fabulous to have as I think I may have converted my in-laws!!!  They felt she just needed more vegies. ha ha. – by email, Melbourne

I have written before about my husband drinking milk and getting a pain like Gout in his foot. Now we just have A2 milk but he had a coffee one morning with Woolies Lite Milk (that’s all he could get and left the A2 for the kids) still got a pain in his foot, next time tried with A2 and didn’t have any pain.  Tracey, by email  (The medical recommendation for gout used to be avoidance of purine-containing foods -  essentially failsafe foods with a few exceptions - but this has been disproved. I wonder whether gout is just another symptom of food intolerance because failsafe families often report the father’s gout improved when they changed their diet. I’d love some more reports: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Nearly two years ago you referred me to a dietitian. My daughter Zoe was under her for approx a year for eczema problems. During that year she did the elimination diet and then the many food challenges. Zoe will soon be 3 and today she is a different child. Before doing the diet the pediatrician had talked to us about doing wet dressings. The diet showed that sulphites, nitrates and food colours both artificial and some natural affected her eczema badly. Sunscreen is also a big challenge for us. Anyway, I wanted to let you know how great the diet has been for Zoe and we can only hope that the manufacturers out there are able to find other alternatives for preservatives and colours. I find the biggest challenge is the byproduct sulphites like glucose syrup and vinegar. People always say to me how hard this must be for her. We are so incredibly lucky that she is not anaphylactic and that she has responded to the diet so well. She may only be 2yrs old but she always comes to us and asks if she can eat what is put on tables at parties and gatherings etc. Thank you once again for helping us out with Zoe and for getting the message out there. My girlfriend showed me the book and if it was not for that then I would still be following conventional medicine to combat the eczema. – Kirsten, NSW

I have a five year old boy who is currently going through the diagnoses and testing for adhd, but who also displays mild asd symptoms as well. I decided about a month before we saw the specialists to try the failsafe way of eating, but I did not put him on the strict diet, I simply printed out the list of additives that are no-go and completely stopped buying anything with them in it.  Within two weeks his behaviour still needed (and still needs) a lot of work but has drastically improved.  - Anthea, by email (children who improve on an additive free diet may do even better if they reduce their salicylates and/or amine intake too - S).

Some years ago I was suffering from severe sinus headaches, so much so that I saw an Ear Nose and Throat specialist who diagnosed non-allergic rhinitis and referred me to a neurologist for the headaches. The neurologist referred me back to the ENT specialist, so I was left nowhere to go. I continued to suffer from these headaches as well as several bouts of sinusitis each year. It turns out that for me salicylates and dairy are probably the culprits and I have not needed any antibiotics since last September, when I started failsafe. I thought it might worth telling you this, as I was just reading your factsheet about hayfever and allergic rhinitis. I think it applies equally to non-allergic rhinitis - Joanne by email. (see updated Factsheet on rhinitis etc)

I started our 5 month old on solids. She had a few days of farex (ingredients: ground rice, vegetable oil, vitamin c, antioxidant (rosemary extract), mineral (iron)). I noticed that she came out in a rash on her legs, the bubble eczema type rash. She has always had some form of redness behind her knees under her chin and in the creases (wet areas I call them) but this was much more obvious and red. I stopped the cereal and it settled down. I started again yesterday and the rash is back. I am worried that she will have skin problems that may be food intolerance and I want to do the best thing for her from the start. I have a friend whose daughter has such severe eczema and I just don't want to go down that path of creams etc. If I can do the right things for her from the start I will try. – by email (Rosemary is high in salicylates; salicylates are commonly implicated with eczema. You can make your own baby rice cereal: cook plain white rice with water, breastmilk or formula and puree in a blender)

A few months ago, my son developed a sudden, allergic rash that came and went with seemingly no pattern. The rash starts as unbearable itching and then quickly develops into raised welts, like mossie bites, over most of his body, or sometimes, only one part of it, such as his hands. When it starts, as you might imagine, he is considerably distressed by it and often the only sure remedy is to put him into a bath of warm water. This takes away the itching within about fifteen minutes.

We thought of all the usual suspects – things that had been applied to his skin, pool water, clothing, plants and more. We talked to our doctor who couldn't explain it either without going through the full allergy testing drama. Then a friend of mine told me how she had been to see Sue Dengate and directed me to the Fed Up website. We read a bit about ribo rash and thought 'Ah-ha!'.

The week prior to the development of the rash was an odd one for us. We normally eat a mostly organic diet, which began out of concern for the environment as well as health. We still ate occasional takeaway and treats like any family. That particular week, the organics were out the window as we helped our friends renovate – it was a busy week and a lot of convenience foods were eaten. We ate, as it turns out, something with ribonucleotides every single day that week. These included Fantastic rice crackers, ready roasted chicken (several meals), hams and other deli meats, sausages, chips (hot and from a packet) and probably more.

Then our son had the rash for three or four weeks, on and off, while we figured it all out (and of course continuing to unknowingly eat some of these foods). We had to keep him away from school, as the itching was unbearable, came on without warning at any time of day and the only solution was a bath.

The rash also appeared on the place on his body where he was cold, e.g. hands and feet at the beach, at a home pool and in a paddle pool filled with rainwater. The weirdest one was the paddling pool - he only got the rash up to his waist - that was the part that had been in the water.

Finally, when we made the connection, we cut out all foods containing 'the dreaded 600s'. It took almost a week and a half for the rash to completely stop appearing. It appeared less and less severely each day.

I thought that it would be good to try cutting all the artificial stuff out for a short time to see if there was any merit in it. Wow. What a discovery! We thought that his hyperactive moods at the end of each day were due to being 'overtired', in fact, they only happen on the days that he has eaten chemical food additives. Many behaviours that we had previously thought to be 'normal' have turned out to be brought on by chemicals in foods:

•     Preservatives: tears, moodiness, unable to be happy, as well as hyperactivity and babbling – usually next day reaction.
•     Preservative 282 in bread products – hyperactivity and babbling - about 30 minutes later.
•     Synthetic Antioxidants: irritability, opposition to small things, unable to be happy, tantrum like behaviour – about 8 hours later.
•     Colours: hyperactivity, babbling, bouncing – about four hours later.
•     Flavour Enhancers: rash, itching, recurring up to 10 days later.

We would never have found these reactions without cutting all artificial food chemicals from our diet. We would never have connected a white, McDonald's soft serve (2 colours) with bouncing off the walls four hours later. We certainly would never have figured out that terrible tantrum-like moments were due to eating chips (synthetic antioxidants in the oil) the day before. Since cutting all the 600 numbers out, our son has only had one more episode of the rash – following prescribed medication for croup, which turns out to have several nasty additives and which changed his behaviour too. We are very careful now and can even tell if he has been out with his grandparents and had a milkshake!

The numbers that are a total no-go for us are 620-625 as well as 627, 631, 635. These 'ribonucleotides' are added to most barbecue, chicken or other savoury flavoured things like rice crackers, chips and other snacks, to some hams and processed meats, to sausages, to ready cooked chicken, to hot chips (think chicken salt), even to some brands of 'plain' crackers and more.

A more full examination of failsafe eating has led to the discovery that my son is also intolerant to high salicylates, although moderate consumption is ok. A snack of strawberries or a glass of orange juice is enough to lead to behaviour changes - mainly oppositional. We were all fine with amines and natural glutamates. - Susan, Qld  (More about cold urticaria -hives associated with cold - at http://allergies.about.com/od/urticariahives/a/coldurticaria.htm)

Our baby suffered severe eczema for 8 months and was in wet bandages for 4 months straight. We were also using advantan cortisone cream on her every night. At 7 months old both my breastfed baby and myself (mother) did the RPA Elimination Diet which made no difference to her skin condition. She has allergies to dairy, soy, egg and peanut which she never consumed herself and which I stopped eating when she was 6 months old and still breastfed. After the dermatologist from the RCH said that it was most likely a food intolerance causing the eczema (she was 13 months), I contacted you again and then tried removing salicylates from her diet again as she was no longer breastfed. Within about 5 days she went from being in wet bandages, very itchy, irritated and hyperactive to skin almost completely clear and requiring only tiny amounts of cortisone. She also became a much happier baby. We have since discovered she also gets eczema from eating wheat. She is on a very limited diet because of her food intolerance and allergies but we are giving her some Neocate to try to make up for what she’s missing out on. Thanks so much for the tip on salicylates, although it is hard feeding her on a limited diet, it was much harder seeing her suffering, using steriods on her skin and keeping up with the constant bandaging. – by email, Vic

I've been doing a little research about the ingredients in the available toothpaste options for sensitive teeth – they all contain colours and flavours, and about half also contain two benzoate preservatives (which give me throat clearing/coughing for at least an hour afterwards). Most of them contain Potassium Nitrate as the active ingredient. I think this chemical is causing me to feel extremely unmotivated, disinterested in life, sometimes depressed.– by email, Vic. (Potassium nitrate is preservative 252, one of our nasty additives to avoid. It is even used in a particular brand of sensitive toothpaste labelled rather misleadingly "no added preservatives". See the Nitrates factsheet. See also a Nitrates - Alzheimers link in Research, Failsafe Newsletter #61. For prevention of sensitive teeth, see http://www.saveyoursmile.com/healtharticles/sensitiveteeth.html)

Thank you, these information sheets are most helpful. I have been doing the diet with my son for almost 4 years and there is always more to learn. He has been having trouble at school of late and I see where I may have been exacerbated things with my slip ups. I did not realise that not all pumpkin was moderate in sals and that chat potatoes were high. There were also a few other tidbits that was a great help. – Dianne, by email (you can request these updated information sheets from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

For 20 years I have suffered headaches, daily. Rarely a day goes by when I haven’t had one, often quite severe. There's not a practitioner or therapist that I have not seen or test that hasn't been done. Pain management is what I accepted my life to be. I trusted that all these experts knew that there was no identifiable cause. No one ever suggested it may be diet related!!! I didn’t consider it either as I ate a healthy diet! Even after reading Fed Up and the Failsafe Cookbook, I wasn't expecting my world to be turned around.

After 3 weeks failsafe:  I haven't had a headache since last Thursday. It has been nearly 9 years since I went a whole week without a headache. Given my history, there's no way that this is coincidental especially given that my headaches have been quite severe for a couple of months. They didn't just lessen in severity slowly, they just stopped dead! …Failsafe is no sacrifice. I am not missing out. For the last 20 years I have been missing out and making sacrifices to my quality of life … almost everyone I know now knows my brief experience and I will continue to spread the word! I keep saying to myself if only more people knew

After 16 months failsafe …Without a doubt, food is the cause of my headaches! I am now trying to find the main culprits and find a balance as my tolerance threshold is very hard to determine. I completed the elimination diet as recommended by the RPA Allergy unit. The Failsafe Cookbook and Friendly Food cookbooks were great. For inspiration and a bit of variety, I also modified many cookbook and magazine recipes. It took me ages to do the challenges because I felt so good and didn’t want to upset the apple cart. I was completely Failsafe and felt really good. One day however, I met up with an old friend and I decided “what the heck, I’ll have that piece of chocolate cake and wash it down with an iced chocolate!” The next day I woke up feeling sluggish and I had a headache! I decided to do the challenges so I could determine what the real cause was so I could resume eating anything that didn’t affect me. Firstly, I challenged salicylates with no adverse affects. I was expecting amines to be the culprit after what I had read and because of my chocolate cake experience. The next challenge was amines. I indulged in large amounts of chocolate and other amine rich foods as per the RPA diet recommendations. To my surprise and disappointment, there was no immediate reaction. About a week or two later, the headaches came back with a vengeance and lasted for about a month. (Incidentally, I have always had different and worse headaches with my periods. While Failsafe, the period headaches were minor to insignificant.)

After the amine challenge and returning to failsafe, the headaches eventually disappeared. I reintroduced salicylate foods to my diet. I began becoming less strict with amine rich foods as well, like the occasional use of tomatoes in a pasta sauce with a sprinkle of cheese, eating nuts, drinking cola, beer and champagne. The problem is that I don’t get an immediate reaction after eating something so I don’t know exactly what or how much is too much. I figure that I have a threshold that I can build up to. Once that threshold is reached however, the headache can be weeks long, even though I feel that I have just tipped the scales. The good thing is that I know I can go out and not have to make a special off the menu order. I choose the least risky, but if it’s going to contain amines, I just keep to low amines at home for a while to balance things out. Chocolate, cheese and red wine seem to be definite no-nos, but most other things I can handle in small amounts stretched over time. We recently went on a holiday to Victoria. I wanted to enjoy myself and remain headache free. I also wanted to enjoy eating out without fussing too much, so about a month prior, I went almost strictly amine free. Whilst on holiday, I was fairly headache free with only the occasional minor one, even at the MCG with 85000 roaring people! I knew that the delayed affect might occur, but I was prepared to deal with that when I got home and it wasn’t too bad in the end. It’s just about finding balance, but I know if I want to be completely headache free, I just return to Failsafe.

Now that I have control over my headaches, I have returned to study and recently completed 80 hours of work experience as a Teacher Assistant in a noisy classroom. I feared that the stress and noise would make my head sensitive and more prone to headaches, but I was so surprised to reach the end of the day and think “I didn’t have one today!”. There were only 2 afternoons that I had to resort to pain relief. Before Failsafe, I could not have contemplated study or work outside the home. Now I am considering going beyond being a Teacher Assistant and returning to uni to complete a Dip Ed and teach. – Sharyn, by email.

See updated Factsheet on headaches and migraines

I thought I would share with you briefly my experience of treating my wife who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. Apart from the Alzheimer's diagnosis, she suffered from asthma, sleep apnoea, was unable to speak more than one word at a time and was going down hill very fast. After a lot of research I decided to put her on to a 90% raw food diet and after one month, she started to speak the odd phrase. This was marvellous and only encouraged me to continue. However the amazing thing was after a few months her asthma symptoms began to disappear and she was able to reduce her dependence on puffers. After six months even the preventer puffer was reduced to almost zero and a year later in consultation with the doctor stopped using puffers altogether. Two and a half years later, she has been symptom free for two winters so confidently predict it has gone forever.  Oh by the way her sleep apnoea has gone as well. This experience of curing asthma with raw food is not unique as I have subsequently found out. When visiting your website I realised the raw food diet was eliminating additives. Commercial raw food has other problems i.e. pesticides, growth promoters etc but the experience of using commercial raw food has been worthwhile.  Would like to eat organic but currently that's not possible. When visiting, we eat normal food and don't expect others to provide the food we use at home. - by email

•     A nine year old boy from the NT suffered from snoring and sleep apnoea. The elimination diet revealed that a few food additives were responsible  sunset yellow (110), the bread preservative (282) and MSG (621). When he later developed the problem while avoiding his food triggers, fumes from a new mattress turned out to be the cause.
•     A forty something father who had struggled with sleep apnoea and narcolepsy for twenty years discovered through the RPA elimination diet to his surprise that his problems were due to dietary amines. 
•     My son had chronic apnoea, at 4 we had his adenoids out and ears cleaned in hospital, fixed the apnoea straight away, little did I know I could have fixed that with taking him off cows milk. He now has fresh goats milk from Woolworths.

My fourth baby had the same terrible broken night sleep pattern as the other three. After struggling for eight months, she did start to settle down, waking perhaps once a night.  This was great until I started her, at 10 months on bread. She immediately returned to night waking - for no apparent reason- and also had a clear runny nose.  I found that the bread had preservative 282 in it so we stopped feeding it to her. Within a couple of nights (I guess it had accumulated in her system) she again settled down to a peaceful nights' sleep! AND her nose cleared up! I can't believe that it could have been that simple!

•     Some of the things that have improved on diet: morning cough and rhinitis virtually gone.

•     I can’t believe the improvement I’ve had over the last few years since starting the diet – especially getting away from the constant runny nose.

•     Our two year old reacts to milk with night cough, dribbling, restless nights and runny nose +++ - it is hard to avoid milk but is easier than always being at the hospital or the doctors and having a sick child!

•     I went through 3 courses of antibiotics for sinus problems before I realised they weren’t helping. When I read your book, I started the elimination diet the next day. Within three days the sinus problem completely disappeared - I had had a runny nose, and headache for seven weeks prior to that! It was clear proof to myself and my mum that something pretty big was happening when I ate certain foods.

•     My son had an allergic rhinitis type of reaction with red swollen eyes and nose and really bad sneezing attacks to some fenugreek capsules I gave him once because it was suggested that they would help with his allergies. Talk about irony. He also reacted similarly to a chickpea falafel from the kebab shop. This was before I knew anything about salicylates.

I have been a huge fan of your diet, site, book, cookbook and dvd since it helped us sort out why our 2 year old girl was misbehaving. We did the full elimination diet very strictly and passed sals, amines but failed glutamates. We also avoid the nasty additives but haven't formally challenged those.

My little girl is now 3 years old. Her behaviour, sleep and eczema are so much better when she doesn't have glutamate or additives, however I have felt recently that there must be something still in her diet that is affecting her as she sometimes has mood swings, defiance, silly behaviour. I have been giving her home made stock and slow cooked casseroles thinking they are OK because she passed the amines challenge and I thought it was just amines that increased with ageing and cooking time but I recently read in Friendly Food that glutamate does too. – Michelle, Vic

I had been suffering increasing episodes of tachycardia, arrythmia and ectopic heart beats - two to three episodes a day. Despite escalating testing with various cardiac specialists over the past 6 months, nothing was determined apart from the fact I had high blood pressure and was placed on a low dose of appropriate medication for that. No known cause for my cardiac anomalies.

Eight days ago I ate a delicious bowl of my home made potato and leek soup for lunch. I experienced my usual (but scary and increasingly strong) palpitations and (frustrated, a little frightened and upset), I broadly Googled "heart palpitations" on Australian sites. Up came your website that mentioned 'soup' in the first Google lines that came up. Thinking "that's funny, I just ate soup, I'll have a look at that one before I find what I'm really after" I looked at it. Well, that's what saved me. What I found there were countless, comforting, case studies of people just like me, suffering consequences to MSG (635 in particular), just like me, who didn't know what was causing it. Just. Like. Me.

For me, it was a revelation, an epiphany. I was euphoric. My God, what have I been poisoning my family with, for so many years? Weekly, particularly in winter, I lovingly make risotto, casserole, beef in red wine, soup, etc, etc. Thinking I'm making healthy foods for my husband and my children, I've made all these dishes with more than a liberal dash of commercial stock (cube and/or liquid), all of which (no exceptions, I find) are loaded with MSG.

I stepped, willingly, into the world of chemical additives, flavour enhancers, neurotoxins, excitotoxins and ribonucleotides.

I have strenuously avoided any flavour enhancers (particularly 635) and all MSG in its myriad disguises since that last bowl of soup. I did not expect things to settle immediately, but I've gone from having 2-3 cardiac episodes a day and thinking I was going to die like my father, at 46, to NOT ONE EPISODE IN MORE THAN A WEEK.

Gotta be something to this. I'm eternally grateful for the information you have on your website and the comfort and advice it gave me. I think you saved my sanity and my life.  Shannon, WA

I have been aware of an intolerance to MSG (621) for many years and mainly suffer with severe headaches, dehydration and nausea. I steer clear of any preservatives and flavour enhancers wherever possible, particularly those with #6 at the beginning. My diet rarely incorporates any packaged or prepared canned foods, I have eaten take away food but not on a regular basis. In a previous life, I did eat packaged and prepared foods!

A few years ago, whilst a friend was cooking a store bought, marinated chicken dish, I suffered blocked nose, mucous throat and headache, not from eating, but being in the surrounding area.

I recently suffered an episode of severely blocked nose, thick mucous in throat and tightness in throat/chest, almost wheezing like an asthmatic. The symptoms started within 10 minutes of eating a Campbells "Chunky" Chicken & Vegetable, Curry with Rice meal in a tin left behind by a guest. Although it claims "No Added MSG No Artificial Flavours No Added Preservatives" it does contain 635. This is my first reaction to 635 as far as I am aware. I am a fit and healthy 54 year old and don't have asthma. I will certainly be checking for this number now. - Lee, WA

After I eat green food colouring, first it gets to my head. It confuses my brain and I can’t get to sleep until 9 or half past 9 (usually I go to bed at 8 o’clock). That night I can’t get to sleep and my mind is set on funny things and I have these weird dreams. In the morning I’m a big tired and miserable. – Six year old talking on our DVD

More Articles ...

  1. [824] Vivid dreams reduce on diet (July 2009)
  2. [823] Salicylate dreams ‘like war movie’ (July 2009)
  3. [822] Lying awake half the night from megavitamins (July 2009)
  4. [821] Snoring and sleep apnoea due to foods and new mattress (July 2009)
  5. [820] Sleepwalking from synthetic antioxidants (July 2009)
  6. [819] Night terrors gone in two weeks on diet (July 2009)
  7. [818] Apnoea, Alzheimers and asthma (July 2009)
  8. [817] Nose full of swollen tissue – now sleeping better (July 2009)
  9. [816] Rhinitis due to dairy foods (July 2009)
  10. [815] Runny nose due to salicylates including mint flavoured toothpaste (July 2009)
  11. [814] Depression and anxiety due to processed foods (June 2009) COURAGE AWARD
  12. [813] Amines causing a ‘locked in’ reaction in a 2 yo (June 2009)
  13. [812] Asthma researchers ignore the evidence - breathlessness, sleep apnea, tachycardia, pins and needles, anxiety from preservatives (June 2009)
  14. [811] Terrible debilitating headaches/migraines from salicylates (June 2009)
  15. [810] 635: My sister’s reaction to 635 in Thai food (June 2009)
  16. [809] Failsafe holiday on the road (June 2009)
  17. [808] From multiple daily tantrums to none in two weeks of failsafe eating (June 2009)
  18. [807] The ‘anti-inflammatory effect’: back pain and arthritis helped by low salicylates (June 2009)
  19. [806] Story [342] Part 2: Helpless, hopeless depression five years on (June 2009)
  20. [726] Fructose intolerance diagnosis not the whole answer (June 2009)
  21. [727] IBS from fructose malabsorption plus defiance from salicylates and amines (June 2009)
  22. [728] Needed to be failsafe and reduced fructose for full results (June 2009)
  23. [729] Period pain completely went away (June 2009)
  24. [780] Amenorrhea (June 2009)
  25. [781] Morning sickness and amine intolerance (June 2009)