I am a new convert to failsafe eating and I am a sufferer of epilepsy. We initially began the diet for my son's problems but having read the information on the effects of additives I am also taking care to follow it myself.  My doctor recently changed my medication back to Lamictal and I was surprised and annoyed when I found the drug has had blackcurrant flavouring added to it so that it can be dispersed in water or chewed. This hasn't always been the case. A number of years ago I was taking this tablet and it was free of artificial flavours. I continue to swallow the tablets whole as they are not large or difficult to swallow and find this new format totally unnecessary. I am very disappointed with the fact I have no option to take a tablet that does not contain flavourings as I need this medication for seizure control. I believe many sufferers of epilepsy are sensitive to additives and I remember as a child of 12 when I first started having seizures that I made a connection with dark coloured icy poles and the simple partial seizures I suffered. I voluntarily stayed away from the raspberry flavours.

Many of the anti-convulsants used for seizure control are coloured to differentiate the strengths of the tablets so this problem is not just peculiar to my medication.  I would be interested to know if you can help in this area. [In our experience, the most effective action is to complain frequently to the manufacturers. It’s also worth complaining to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Since 1997 I have suffered with what I was told is chronic urticaria especially affecting my hands and feet. For about a year I had constant welts and itching on the soles of my feet and would develop huge welts on my torso and back at times. It then seemed to settle a bit and was more intermittent, sometimes not happening for several months. I was investigated for SLE and other autoimmune disorders - all negative.  Over the past year it had worsened into what looked liked an urticarial vasculitis where my fingers swell, become intensely painful and itchy and small watery skin eruptions would develop into purple swellings, like blood blisters but dry. I also had episodes of joint and bone pains that lasted 24-48 hours and always had patches of welts somewhere on my torso or thighs. Some months ago I again saw a GP about it and he felt I had probably developed mixed connective tissue disorder. However all my blood results were normal and yet again I was left feeling extremely despondent about any chance of management of what had become a very debilitating condition.

Then about six weeks ago I came across your articles and letters re riborash and stopped all foods with these enhancers. Within 48 hours my symptoms had gone and I am elated to say that since, I have had only 3 welting episodes.  I'm sure now that my symptoms had been intensified in the past months as we have been planning to do some long walks and trying out all sorts of pre-packaged and dehydrated foods (all containing 635). Ironically I was going to go on a course of prednisone to dampen it all down so that I could walk, while I would've been eating the very thing that is causing the problem. Now I have done a couple of day walks wearing boots (for months I have only been able to wear crocs as any pressure or rubbing around my ankles would result in a similar outbreak to my hands) with absolutely no problems!  Once again thanks for sharing your knowledge on the web. – see photos on Ribo Rash factsheet.

Our daughter Beth is five and a half. At four she was diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified, a bit of a mouthful but it sounds like Asperger's shadowing. She is not ASD but has a lot of symptoms in common: developmental delay in speech, fine motor and gross motor, attention deficit, poor eye contact, argumentative, very poor social skills, being in her own world.

… THEN we went failsafe and what a blessing it has been!!!!  … Ten days after starting failsafe, Beth suddenly began running around with all the other kids talking and interacting with them!! Every week, I hear new things that she is doing at preschool. At home she is constantly surprising us with new things that she says and does. It's great!! It is as if a block has been removed in Beth's brain and suddenly she has the possibility of being a normal little girl. Going failsafe is not easy but I had to give her the chance. Even though it may not fix all of Beth's difficulties, it seems to have removed a lot of them, see the full story.

How long have you been failsafe?

My 8 year old son Matt is a severe asthmatic who has been on the diet for almost a year.  We of course have our good days and bad days in making him stick to it, but regardless of that he has done so well and has not had to go to hospital since he has been on the diet, and for a child who has been hospitalized multiple times every year since he was 6 months old this is quite an achievement.

What made you decide to try diet?

I love my children and as a mother I could not continue to blindly pump drugs into Matt every morning, night and during the day, it made me feel sick and I couldn't see that it was actually making an awful lot of difference to his asthma, in fact it seemed to be getting worse. Just before we started the elimination diet Ventolin seemed to have no effect on Matt at all, only prednisolone seemed to alleviate an attack, which as you can imagine frightened the hell out of me. The doctors all said the same things, either give it to him or he could die.

How quickly did the diet kick in?

Amazingly, within a few days. We could not believe how quickly. I remember Matt had been 'trying' to play basketball, we would give him two puffs of ventolin before the game as the doctor had instructed and then the poor thing would try in vain to run up and down the court, but he really didn't want to play and used to ask to be 'subbed' off.The first week of the diet he had a game on the Thursday, so rather than pre-puff, I asked if he needed a puff - he said no - and went out on the court.I sat there nervously with his puffer in my hand at the ready, and off he went - running up and down the court, he was only subbed off when the coach did the normal process of taking equal turns between the players. He came off at the end with a bright red face, sweaty head and a big smile - and a noticeably absent wheeze. I could not believe it - that was when I knew this was going to work.

Which food chemicals affect Matt's asthma (e.g. sulphites, salicylates, benzoates, colours?)

Artificial red colours seem to have the most dramatic effect. Salicylates definitely, although salicylates by themselves e.g. apples, tend to creep up on him, taking a few days and even then the reaction seems milder than artificial colours. Sulphites definitely. Amines do not seem to present the same level of problem, but I am extremely cautious with them also.Have you done challenges or did you work it out from mistakes?

I am very loathe to do challenges, we tend to learn from his or my mistakes. The results are so obvious, usually that night he and I are up all night with his terrible croupy cough, he becomes unreasonable, eczema flairs up, his feet crack and bleed.There is no mistaking it when it happens, and I can't bring myself to deliberately create the situation.The only real trial I have done is with fruit because it is what he misses the most, golden delicious apples for three days, third day severe asthma attack, cracked feet - lasted 3 days.Bananas  no apparent problem.Half a mango - within hours agitated, croupy cough leading to an attack that night, but gone within a couple of days. 

What happens when he breaks his diet?

It depends on what he eats. Sometimes it kind of creeps up on me that he seems to be a bit wheezy, but nothing dramatic happens, which concerns me because I think maybe the 'build up factor' is occurring, so I put him back on the elimination diet and start again (we are doing this at the moment, because I have found out that he has been 'sharing' lunch at school and also put in a tuck order without me knowing!) I have reviewed his lunch box and was able to buy your cookbook, so now he is getting enough interesting things and variety so he feels that he is not missing out!

Sometimes it is so painfully obvious that he has eaten something, he just comes home and starts coughing. This happened before Christmas with those rotten candy canes that all the kids give at school - Christmas is a nightmare for me and Matt, he has to say no to things he loves and I have to be the 'lolly detective' to make sure he survives! He came home one day from school and was clearly having an attack, in addition to all of the horrible behavioural issues that accompany such food, I just said point blank - what on earth have you had at school? - and of course it had been a candy cane. School presents the biggest challenge on this diet.

What kinds of foods is he most likely to eat when he breaks his diet?

It depends, lollies, chocolates - things he sees all of the other kids having that he can't. When he did his 'secret' tuck order it was a ham and cheese sandwich and a strawberry milk. Funnily enough most people would think this was quite a 'healthy' lunch!! That night it meant a serious asthma attack for him, and all types of horrible behavior!

Has he been able to reduce medication?

He hasn’t needed steroids since he started the diet 12 months ago and over summer he went for three months without any Ventolin. He really only has it now if he is having an attack usually because we have made a mistake or he has had something at school that he shouldn't have.  After the ham sandwich and strawberry milk incident he had one dose of two puffs per night for a week, prior to that it had probably been about two months since he had a puff.

How about exercise?

Matt is very active, he plays basketball and football and swims four nights a week in a squad team.

Has Matt's doctor been supportive of diet?

No, I gave up discussing much of anything with the gp/specialist some time ago.Their answer has always been puff at all costs, nothing else will work, his asthma is totally unrelated to diet.

Do you have an asthma plan drawn up with your doctor for Matt?

We do have for school, but it is pretty standard stuff and says he should be puffed twice before any physical activity. He no longer needs and because of his age now the school more or less leave it up to him unless there was an emergency.

Do you measure peak flow readings? if so, do you have any examples of  what certain foods do to Matt' readings?

No, we have never measured peak flow - the doctor has never suggested it.

Did you join the failsafeasthma group and if so has it been helpful?

I just joined - so will let you know.

Did you see a dietitian about the diet?

I met with the dietician you recommended - she was fantastic, gave me some really good tips and excellent guidance.  Other than a couple of lunch box modifications she thought we were very much on the right track.

Any other comments?


I would love to see an action group in schools - school lunch is the hardest part of this diet. I would love to be able to refer the school to some committee etc that are educating the educators.

Also, I need to mention something else in relation to Matt's school work. Mid last year Matt's teacher told us that she thought he would have to repeat the year, due to his inability to focus and complete work, also his reading and writing were below standard for his age. She couldn't understand what the problem was, as he is obviously an intelligent boy, however nothing she did was working. We started the diet in the school holidays a few weeks later. We had a parent teacher interview at the end of the following term.The teacher told us that she couldn't believe the difference in Matt, and wanted to know what we had done as the change was quite profound. He was now able to focus and when he couldn't he actually removed himself and asked her if he could go to a quiet place to concentrate!! His reading, writing, completion of tasks, virtually everything had improved out of sight. So much so that she said there was absolutely no need to
hold him back a year.

I can tell if Matt or I have made a mistake - as much by his behaviour as his coughing.

Once again THANK YOU so much for continuing this wonderful work - it has changed our lives.

Over the course of a couple of weeks in September 2006, our daughter became progressively more lethargic, withdrawn and emotionally fragile (cried easily for no particular reason). She was getting upset quickly in a teary way and blowing things out of proportion. After the holidays her teacher commented she thought it was unusual for Lucy to be so lethargic, quiet, teary, keeping to herself and not playing, not interacting.  As an example, the teacher had asked all the kids to pack away the books. Normally Lucy would do this fairly promptly but she just sat there mesmerised in her own little world and didn't appear to hear the teacher. The teacher came over to her after all the other kids had left the area of the classroom and said gently to her ‘Lucy it's time to pack away now please.’ Lucy just dissolved into tears and it took a while for her to regain composure. The teacher said it was very out of the ordinary for Lucy who was usually full of energy, vibrant, bubbly, friendly and always very, very happy.

That night, after ruling out illness, and with much careful consideration and dissection of her diet and environment, I discovered from Sue's website that Kraft had introduced preservatives (sorbic acid, 200) in the tubs of Philadelphia Cream Cheese tubs. Lucy eats this on a daily basis on her sandwiches and sometimes as a dip as she had done for years. I rang Kraft and they informed me that they had only just started putting this ingredient in a couple of months earlier. After checking old containers I figured that she had consumed at least two tubs. The change in her demeanour had been gradual but still clearly noticeable by us as well as her teachers as this was not the Lucy we knew. Once we switched to the preservative free Philly blocks, she became ‘better’ within a few days and had returned to her usual energetic, happy, amenable self within a week. I now check labels every time, even if it is something I have bought many times before.

 

We put my 6-year-old grandson on the failsafe diet for ADHD and his 4-year-old brother (who has had 2 serious hospital admissions for asthma) has seen his asthma disappear!! Another off spin from the diet my headaches which I blamed on shift work and lack of sleep have disappeared except two times when we didn't have the boys and bought Chinese and went out for Thai both times I woke through the night with a raging headache.  And my husband who has been short tempered through our 28 years of marriage, has had a change in temperament/ behaviour, for the better. - Kathy by email.

•     I love your books and I love this diet, I have a completely different daughter.

•     My husband and I heard you talk when you came to Albury/Wodonga. Thank you, you have changed our lives! We have cut out all colours, preservatives and additives from their diet and it's like having different (normal) children.

•     We have just been lucky enough to go to Vanuatu for a week, self-catering, where we bought fresh food at the market every day and guess what? We all felt SO good. What are we doing to ourselves in the so called developed world?

•     I love the failsafe cookbook! - it has made cooking so much easier for me and the whole family enjoys what I am cooking.

•     Thank you for all the work you have done and continue to do, I teach in one of the largest primary schools in the state and over time I really hope that I can get the school to undertake some of your methods.

•     I enjoyed your seminar at Frankston in April - I could have stayed there all night listening to you.

•     My autistic son has gone without Gatorade, PowerAde and coloured drinks for just three days, and already his behaviour is improving - such a small thing to do for such a great result.

•     For the last two months I’ve had no additives, no kiwi fruit, no oranges, no strawberries, no tomatoes, no juice and have had 7 weeks without a mouth ulcer. Usually I only go about 2 weeks pain free before the skin on the roof of my mouth peels, the tip of my tongue becomes extremely sore together with a badly infected ulcer anywhere in the mouth.

•     My daughter was a very sick and unhappy child five years ago and after visiting RPA, eliminating and using your cookbook like a bible we have a happy and well child (she cannot tolerate preservatives and is extremely salicylate sensitive). I must admit five years ago when we started all of this if anybody had ever said that strawberries, broccoli and bottled tomato sauce could send my three children into crazed animals I would have not believed them. Bring on the pears!

•     My grandchildren's asthma is now much better. I managed to convince one of my daughters of the connection between the 'healthy' apricot bars she was feeding him and her son's attacks (despite a very dubious husband and other grandma!) and my granddaughter's behaviour and asthma has improved after removal from her diet of the highly coloured treats which she was so fond.

•     I have had my daughter on an elimination diet for 12 months now - the behavioural changes were literally overnight once I found your website. I want the DVD for her school because they still serve trash in the tuckshop and the teachers don't believe me when I say they wouldn't have anywhere near the problems they are having if they looked at what the kids were eating!- Sheryle by email.

•     We have just spent 3 weeks on the elimination diet, using " Fed Up with ADHD" and the "Failsafe Cookbook".  We are amazed at the positive change in all of us, (a hyperactive, asthmatic, eczema-stricken three- year-old boy; a 40 year old dad who has suffered from chronic asthma all his life; and a 34-year-old mum who thought she felt pretty healthy...until the last three weeks, where I have felt better than ever - Julie, email.

Earlier this year, we were giving Patrick a gluten-free bread mix which states on the packet, “preservative free”. We had reason to trust this product because it was listed on the ‘safe shopping guide’ issued by the Australian Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, supplied by our Dietitian. Once I increased the dose of this product for our son, i.e. pancakes for breakfast, French toast for lunch and a wrap for after school, within a day he displayed explosive behaviour and was unreasonable. 

We rang our Paediatrician who advised us to cut down on his supplements. After a week there was no change, even at school our son’s teacher was noticing a big difference in behaviour and learning. The Paediatrician advised a blood test, another week passed for the results which in turn came back within normal range. Only then did we suspect foods. The Food Intolerance Network always advises to check products containing fats or oils for hidden synthetic antioxidants. I rang Coles to double check if there were any changes in their sunflower oil that we use, and they advised there were none. I then rang the bread mix company and asked if there were any synthetic antioxidants in their product in question, he said he was pretty sure there wasn’t. We insisted that he double check because we were at wit’s end and we were ready to have our son’s head scanned because he was so aggressive and erratic in his behaviour. The man rang back in shock and was very apologetic, because the oil which was supposed to be ‘pure canola oil’ as stated on the ingredients list, has in fact got synthetic antioxidant 319 in it.

We were relieved but angry, our son was put through four weeks of hell, not to mention us as well, because he could not control what he was doing, and it took well over a week for the affects to wear off. We had our good boy back and he even said, “Mummy please don’t give me bad food any more”!

I have stumbled upon your latest newsletter in the search for what might be wrong with my daughter and found the brief note about IBS and salicylates. My daughter (15) has had gut problems for over a year starting with what we assumed was a gastro bug. A biopsy confirmed Coeliac disease however, a gluten-free diet did not clear up her symptoms of stomach pain, constipation and bloat and she lost a lot of weight and ended up in hospital for re-feeding (and no she is not anorexic!). She was also put on pain medication which doesn't seem to help. We are about to start eliminating salicylates from her diet under the guidance of a dietician, and will keep you posted on the result. She has always loved fruit and vegetables! – by email.

In reply to the Reader’s Story [537] about salicylate intolerance misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, in June 2004 I was referred to a gastroenterologist in with symptoms of IBS to check for coeliac disease. I had had IBS symptoms for 15 years. I also had a SIGA  (immunoglobulin A) deficiency which made diagnosis of coeliac from blood tests more difficult; and lots of other symptoms not connected with digestive tract including fatigue, recurrent sinusitis, joint/muscle pain, skin rashes and urticaria. I had a gastroscopy and biopsy and two pathologists reports were both positive for Coeliac disease, although the gastroenterologist was not sure that the tissue changes were completely typical of coeliac. I was diagnosed with coeliac disease and followed a very strict gluten-free diet for 9 months with no improvement in my symptoms and was eventually given a blood test checking for gene markers HLA-DQ2/8. The results were negative and made coeliac a very very unlikely diagnosis.

In May 2005 the gastroenterologist finally referred me to a dietician to do the RPAH elimination diet and we discovered that removing salicylates and preservatives from my diet improved most of my symptoms. He must have been aware of the possibility that IBS symptoms could be related to preservatives and other food chemicals. The help that I got from the dietician put me on the right track but the Food Intolerance Network website, Sue Dengate’s books and the RPAH cookbook were much more helpful in providing detailed information about foods and food chemicals and managing the diet. The dietician did not refer me to those resources but I found out by doing my own homework and searching on the internet – by email.

I have been aware of the RPAH diet for over 10 years and largely stuck to it during that time to help with symptoms of MS (multiple sclerosis). I have also suffered bowel issues for many years, predominately constipation but sometimes diarrhoea. My symptoms primarily include bloating, constipation and terrible pain. Initially, I thought it was the cause of my MS (bowel and bladder disturbance can be a problem) so just figured I had to live with it. When my lower bowel pain became quite severe - particularly after eating wheat and despite being failsafe - I decided to consult my GP again. She referred me to a gastroenterologist who preceded to do a colonoscopy to see if some inflammatory bowel disease was present and an endoscopy so she could take a biopsy and take a definite diagnosis on whether I had Coeliac disease or not.

Fortunately, all my results came back clear and the gastro told me that after examination she concluded that I had a 'nice big healthy bowel' (I guess that's a compliment to the gastro fraternity!) As she had eliminated all other possible diseases, she further concluded that I simply had IBS which has no real treatment. She said that dietary modification could help however, and referred me to a bowel dietician.

The dietician explained to me about fructans (a natural sugar) found in the onion family, wheat, chicory and asparagus. Having been failsafe, I knew about the amine and salicylate intolerance I have but thought that eliminating fructans could help considering I found leeks, spring onions and wheat appeared to affect me despite them all being failsafe and despite my not having Coeliacs. This all really helped so now I have refined my diet again and have eliminated all the trigger food chemicals (MSG, Salicylates, Amines) as well as fructans (leeks, spring onions, wheat, asparagus). This has helped my IBS greatly. I am now just trying to give up percolated coffee every morning as that appears to trigger IBS symptoms. This fructans information may just be another piece of the puzzle for some people who suffer IBS. – by email.

I have just read the IBS misdiagnosis story ([537], Jan 2007). After countless examinations, a colonoscopy, a couple of (very nice) women's physios, being told by a "bum specialist/surgeon" to lose weight and get fit (I lost 13kg, got fit), I still have my IBS. The basic solution I was offered by a specialist physio was to reduce stress, avoid cream, butter and rich, spicy food - a couple of failsafe tips there, but not enough. Yet another '"bum specialist/surgeon", not gastroenterologist, suggested a good dose of Epsom Salts to clear any backlog (not a regular occurrence, just when needed) and glycerine suppositories to relieve constipation. I and my kids have some other signs of food intolerance. Looks like I'm in for a rough time until I adopt the full failsafe regime and find out what our intolerances are – by email.

I'm just reading the latest FIN newsletter (#51) and came across Reader's Story [539] “The school counsellor … went on to tell me that it is coincidence that withdrawing a food substance or chemical would have a positive effect on our daughter. She then proceeded to tell me that Lily probably has Aspergers and that the paediatrician probably didn't want to tell me that. I am feeling so enraged. She hasn't even met Lily.”

As a Psychologist who used to work in education, I am so disappointed for this family. There seem to be a number of responses that I would hope were the exception rather than the rule of a counsellor's professional practice. Diagnosis should never be made without interaction with the person in-question. Theory and empirical-based study are important, however that "importance" should be balanced with a few other thoughts - 1)  the causes/criteria for illness are frequently "refined" over years despite each change being based on the alleged omniscience of empirical data, and 2) life on earth has never been 100% contained and explained by research based theory - there are always exceptions, and to dismiss the possibility (particularly when the individual has possibly never done a literature search on the topic themself) is to choose ignorance. Carl Jung made a profound statement on this - "Learn your theories as well as you can, but put them aside when you touch the miracle of a living soul." I know the difficulties I face getting parents and other professionals to even consider diet as a factor in their children's behaviour and/or learning challenges. I want to commend and encourage these parents for their intentional pursuit of their child's wellbeing. Perhaps a respectful suggestion to visit (or provision of) the extraordinary list of research links on the FIN website might open the eyes and mind of this counsellor. In the end, it is still our responsibility as parents to make decisions (albeit informed decisions) for our children - not doctors, not teachers and not counsellors. Well done for standing firm. – Psychologist, by email (Note that we now have a number of failsafe-sympathetic psychologists on our list of health professionals – you can obtain the list by emailing Howard: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

I am a New Zealander living in the Middle East as the climate and lack of huge amounts of trees, flowers and grasses makes my quality of life much improved. Unfortunately, foreigners are arriving and corrupting the food practices here by introducing all the things we are trying to have removed in processed food, as well as bringing in all the junk food and fast food chains. Currently the food producing companies coming from Europe have introduced synthetic antioxidants into all the types of oil, including safflower and sunflower, which used to be available in abundance unpolluted. – by email.

My daughter, now in her late 20s, first got asthma in her early teens. Recently she told me the story of her very first asthma attack. She was away from home camping with friends, when they treated all the children to a soft-serve ice-cream. Within a short time she was having troubles breathing. The other adults identified that she was having an asthma attack, severe enough that they were contemplating taking her to hospital. Prior to having this first attack, my daughter did not have many additives in her diet. I just didn’t let my children have lollies, cordials, snack foods, etc as I didn’t think they were healthy, and I did a lot of home cooking. Soft-serve ice-cream was just not something that she had ever been given. Over the years, she noticed for herself that if she had soft-serve ice-cream, or drinks and lollies with a certain yellow colour in it, that this would quickly trigger an asthma attack, and that if she didn’t consume these things that the number of her asthma attacks were less.

With hindsight (isn't it a wonderful thing) all of my children have got asthma as a result of additives. It was only watching your "Fed Up" DVD that let us work it out. My daughter already knew that certain ice-creams and 102 gave her asthma, but we hadn't realised that other additives, that don't give such an immediate effect, could also be involved. Asthma is in their father's family and their grandmother gets bad asthma, so I was expecting that at least one of my children would get asthma as well. When none of my children had any symptoms of asthma I was relieved. That was, until all three of them got asthma about the same time. My daughter was aged about 13 and the two boys were about 10 and 8. It was very confusing at the time as why all three would suddenly get asthma when none of them had had any symptoms previously. The only thing that changed about that time was that all three of them were getting access through their friends to types of foods that I had never allowed them to have before, like processed snacks that I have now learned are high in additives. At the same time as this, realising that I was not going to be able to stop them from eating whatever they wanted to when they weren't at home, and because of other family pressures, our diet was changed at home so that the snacks, foods and drinks that I now know are full of additives began to be consumed at home. The change was therefore from a largely additive-free diet to the average Australian additive-packed diet. So three asthma-free children changed to three asthma-prone children who all needed to be put onto medication. If only I had known then what I know now.  – by email

Our oldest son reacts to Vanillin.  His reactions are behavioural. He stops listening or following instruction and becomes disagreeable. We also see really distinct rough behaviour towards his younger brother. We usually notice a reaction the next day and it lasts for quite a while compared to his other reactions. After Marshmallows it lasted a week!  It also doesn't seem to take a very high dose to start the reactions. For us it is an absolute avoid-at-all-costs additive, we never compromise on this as we do with other things. It is simply not worth it.

I've heard so much conflicting info about this additive, so many people seem to think it isn't a bad additive. Sadly, I must disagree – Ruth, by email.

I'm 51-years-old. Tonight I went to Subway and purchased a Chicken Bacon Ranch Wrap. I hadn't eaten a low-carb tortilla in sometime and had forgotten the affect one had on my stomach. It wasn't until I finished eating that I, unfortunately, remembered. Every time I eat one, I have severe spasms in my stomach, with some nausea and gas. Tonight, it was so severe it felt as though a knife was cutting into me. I see your web site focuses on, mostly, children. I just want someone to be aware to the fact adults can have the same intolerances as children. – by email [see the Subway ingredients list on http://subway.com/subwayroot/MenuNutrition/Nutrition/frmUSIngredients.aspx).

I have been so inspired by the stories of others that I felt the desire to share my "salicylate intolerance discovery" story. I had been sick for many years and when I think about it probably since birth. Back in those days not many topical products had herbals in them so my salicylate intake was confined to food and aspirin products. And my symptoms were mainly digestive, brain fog, and numerous bouts with asthma. When I grew up and flew the coop things became increasingly worse. For years I have been in and out of the doctor’s office (I am in the military health care system) and all tests ran negative, of course.  And so the multiple diagnoses began - arthritis, mental illness, fibromyalgia and so on.  A few years ago one of my co-workers disclosed to me that she had fibro and referred me to the guai-support website.  I knew that it would be hard to convince the military doctors to put me on the Guaifenesin treatment so I decided that I would pay for it out of my pocket if it would give me back my quality of life.

On any given day I was experiencing 10-15 symptoms daily and was hardly functioning - it was very, very difficult. There were days I could not walk and my husband had to carry me to the bathroom. Just lying in bed was painful - the good days were marked with a raging fever, flu-like feelings, and a ringing headache. I did get to a point where I got used to the pain and learned to live with it - I really had no other choice - live with it or kill myself.

For some reason I knew deep inside that I didn't have fibro, it didn't seem right. But I reasoned what do I have to lose and on a long holiday weekend I set upon the closet to remove all topical sal-full products from my life. Within a week I felt incredible. When I talked to my co-worker she said maybe I didn't have fibro at all but a sensitivity to salicylates I was quite stunned. A few weeks had passed and I felt better and better but I still had some digestive tract symptoms so I went back to the guai-support site and re-read the information and one line jumped out at me - that you did not have to worry about salicylate in food as the body would break it down and it would not interfere with the guaifenesin. That led to another Google search and to other sites. I never had to beg the doctors to put me on the guaifenesin protocol as removing sal-full products and food from my life relieved all of my symptoms (listed below).

But there was still a period of "struggle" for me.  I am a gardener by hobby and trade so I had to learn to cover up my body and wear gloves to eliminate contacting plant salicylates. I also have been growing and eating my own food for years. That was the hardest part and I went through the denial stage for while - abusing my body with foods I knew I could not tolerate. How do you grow vine ripened tomatoes and perfumy exotic melons and not eat them?!  The mind would say - oh come on a few bites won't matter - but it really did matter!  So I finally decided to quit seeing my "problem" through the eyes of a victim (poor me, why me? why am I being punished?) and changed my point of view to a position of personal power. What a huge difference. So I can't eat some food and wash my hair in botanical goodness - so what. When I totally eliminated the foods/products that caused me trouble I felt so great that I could not believe that I could deal with
that much pain. And I never want to feel that pain ever again!

The nice thing about giving up the victim role is I could reclaim that negative energy and put it towards something else - last year I bought myself a motorcycle and began riding - something I had been wanting to do for years (I rode trail bikes as a kid and loved it) but couldn't do when I was ill. Regaining my quality of life and being able to work, exercise and play again (and I am quite sure my husband is happy that sex no longer hurts) is worth giving up "bad" foods.

For all you new to this I know it can seem just miserable - take it one day at a time, be gentle and forgiving with yourself, and know that life can be rewarding and fun without some pleasures of food, drink, and beauty products. Wishing you good health -  by email (with permission from another group)

Mind, emotion and behaviour symptoms: accident prone • anxiety • anger for no apparent reason • blankness • brain fogging • clumsiness • confusion • depression • detached/unreal feeling • difficulty waking up/getting out of bed (due to lack of sleep and aching muscles) • disorientation • dyslexia • hearing without comprehension • inability to think clearly • indifference • irritability • memory loss • mental exhaustion • mood swings • panic attacks • poor concentration &memory reading • restlessness • slow to process information • slurred speech • suicidal feelings

Physical symptoms: abdominal pains (thought I might have IBS) • acne • asthma & wheezing, tightness of chest • athlete's foot • bad breath • bloating (lost three dress sizes when I gave up the sals) • blurred vision • breast pain • constipation • crawling/burning sensation on skin • diarrhea • insomnia • itching • joint pain, stiffness & swelling • fatigue & lethargy (thought I might have CFS) • menstrual problems, pre-menstrual pain • metallic taste • migraines • mouth ulcers • muscles - aching, weakness, tremors & cramps nausea palpitations & racing pulse • poor balance • rashes • difficulty in swallowing • dizziness • eczema • excessive thirst • feeling drained • flushes - both hot & cold • frequent need to urinate • headaches • restless legs • sensitivity to light & noise • sleep disturbances • sore, itching, puffy, burning eyes, stiff neck • temperature fluctuations • ringing ears • weight problems.

I am a 55-year-old woman who recently worked out for myself that I have a muscle spasms as a strong reaction to 220 (sulphites) and minor reactions to others which I haven't identified yet. The muscle spasms are usually in the limbs and are worst when I sleep. I am a very fit and active person, so when I finally sit in front of the TV after tea and relax, this is when I feel the spasms. When mild it is usually any one muscle at a time in my legs and usually every 30 seconds. The affected muscle tightens or twitches and can occasionally jolt my leg or finger etc. When I have a worst reaction during the night, again it is like a tightening of, possibly, a muscle in my chest, or hip, or shoulder, head etc. When it is in the chest, some times it actually knocks the breath out of me as I awake with a jolt. Have you ever had the electrical impulses on your body when you are at the physiotherapist and a muscle tightens - that is how I feel. Sometimes of a night I feel as if I have a "motor" running in my chest or sometimes my head (sounds crazy doesn't it!) I can also quite often get a tingling (or motor sensation) feeling down my legs.

I went to four doctors last year and not one knew what was wrong, with one referring me to a neurologist. I become hyperactive in the evening – full of energy when everyone else is wanting to go to sleep - and have constant insomnia. When I am at my worst my muscle spasms (during sleep) wake me every few minutes and I experience hallucinations or bad dreams. Strong sleeping tablets don't eliminate these muscle spasms. It wasn't until I realised the 220 preservatives were in the "healthy" foods: dried apricots, sultanas, most yoghurts - that I was able to get my health back into order. It took me nearly a year to work out what was wrong with me.  Since watching my diet I am sleeping so well it is unbelievable; I haven't slept like this for possibly 7 years and only have mild muscle spasms resulting in bad sleeps occasionally when I'm not aware of the preservative in the food. I guess I am still finding it hard to check everything before eating!!

The last 12 months have been very scary for me when I didn't know what was wrong - I feel so strongly for our children who also must be suffering and unable to communicate how their body feels. - by email, Victoria.

My mother and I have known for years that we are allergic to aspirin. We both react with ringing in the ears, nausea, vertigo, lethargy, and I even lost consciousness once.  I avoid salicylates in cosmetics and toiletries at all costs, but my health has steadily declined (I am 24). My mother and I both have had doctors mystified for years with strange and debilitating health issues. They told my mother oh you have lupus, no you don't, yes you do, no ... so on and so on. Now they have
decided that we both have fibromyalgia. None of my doctors have ever mentioned that salicylates are in foods. After coming across this information I realised that almost every diet change recommended to me by the doctors has caused my salicylate intake to be astronomical. It's no wonder I've been in and out of emergency rooms.

Everyone made fun of me calling me a "health nut" because of the supposedly ultra-healthy diet I was on. I was trying to follow the USDA guidelines and eating lots of fruits and vegetables - especially citrus, broccoli, and spinach. The heart healthy recommendations include lots of processed tomato products and using as many different herbs as possible (to give flavor instead of salt). I also was trying to eat as many "naturally sweetened" things as possible. I was eating a lot of fresh oat granola, but it was loaded with honey, almonds, and pretty much anything that comes up high in the sals. I also was using olive oil for cooking, salad dressing, and with herbs instead of butter on bread.

It's no wonder that I was getting worse. I was having so many migraines that I only had about two days a month that I could function without excruciating pain in my head, I had chronic tendonitis, chronic fatigue, if I ever did get to sleep I felt more tired when I woke up than before I slept and I was still gaining weight. Now that I am on the right track I have only had two migraines in two months, and I have only had a tendon problem one day. I was diagnosed with adult onset asthma and was using an inhaler every day and now I only have to use it when I get exposed to salicylates. My mother and I have both been improving so drastically that everyone is asking us what is going on. – from the USA

Our 13-year-old daughter suffers extreme sensitivity to salicylates and our 12-year-old son suffers mildly (or so I thought). During Easter we had relatives visit and I had gone for a walk with the younger children. My son had a growing headache when I left, and our care for that is a warm carob and lying down in a quiet room. While I was gone he asked if his aunty had anything for a headache. (Incredibly irresponsibly!) she gave him an aspirin. By the time I returned from my half hour walk he had developed severe swelling of the eyes, upper lip, ear lobes and generally puffiness of his face; also urticaria over his whole body centred on his neck and under his jaw line. At first I didn't know about the aspirin. After much questioning, research and deliberation I came to the conclusion that it could only have been the aspirin. He became very agitated, very frightened, and very unlike his usual self. It took over 48 hours for all the symptoms to disappear. Needless to say, my children have never been given aspirin before, and it will never be allowed in my house again. – by email, see Salicylates factsheet for the aspirin-salicylate connection.

Thank you for helping us to get back the children we were meant to have. We have been failsafeing for about 2 1/2 months mainly for our 4 year old daughter who was defiant, argumentative, oppositional, angry, sometimes violent, sometimes hyperactive, deliberately annoying, and would be awake for 2 - 4 hours after bedtime before falling asleep. The contradiction being that she could also be charming, loving, insightful, enjoyable, happy, playful, caring, enjoy an activity (craft, colouring, building etc) for extended times, clever, calm and inquisitive.

About two years ago we learned about colours and preservatives (from "The Chemical Maze") and pretty much took them out - apart from occasional treats – with good results and we had no idea there was so much more to the food chemical story. I never would have considered fruit etc, I just thought I somehow had to be doing a bad job at disciplining my child and that must be why she is still the way she is. While reading Fed up with ADHD my hopes were ignited for a better life
for all of us as I worked up the courage to go failsafe and give this a try. It was a daunting thought with a new baby as well but we really had no choice as far as I could see so we started! Amongst the initial flurry of the first few weeks the results were incredible as we saw emerge this delightful child and hardly any of the pre-diet behaviour. I now feel it is our way of life and I am learning to manage the work load of the constant cooking, baking and planning around food. My once skeptical husband is a beautiful support and really helps out with the kids and the washing so I can keep up with the food etc. We have seen some remarkable changes but there are still some things that concern me though.

After 3 weeks on elimination, our first challenge was salicylates and we had a severe day 3 or 4 reaction, stopped on day 5 and I think we were just starting to come good after about 6 days from stopping when we had a friend's birthday party the next day. We had been so strict, everything to the letter and the girls’ attitudes toward the diet was so amazing that we thought we'd have a day off and give them a "treat". The party food wasn't as bad as it could've been. A lot of home cooking. But they did have some lollies, fruit and chocolate. The girls couldn’t believe it after about 5 weeks on the diet!  Anyway, behaviour started that evening and it was pretty foul for about three weeks. We also made the mistake of giving her Nurofen for a sore throat in the week following the party but apart from that we were back to 100% failsafe the day after the party.  So after about 3 weeks of reaction type behaviour she started to become progressively better but still with some D.F.Asleep (down to 1-2 hours) and still to many times of defiance and aggression etc. amongst the good behaviour. We are now 4.5 weeks after the party and 5.5 weeks after the end of our salicylate challenge and I feel like we are not yet back to how it was in the first three weeks. – from a country failsafer  [this family is now doing well]. Their problems included daily Sakata rice crackers, accidental exposure to lawn fertiliser, and Nurofen. Although Nurofen doesn't contain salicylates, most salicylate sensitive people have cross sensitivity to it and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxn and diclofenac. You can regard one dose of aspirin or Nurofen as the equivalent of a week’s salicylate food challenge, ref: Jenkins C and others, Systematic review of prevalence of aspirin induced asthma and its implications for clinical practice, BMJ. 2004;328(7437):434.For more possible reasons for diet not working, see Checklist of Common Mistakes]

My son was restless from the day he was born. His paediatrician told me to not feed him dairy or wheat and suggested I feed him meat and vegetables and fruit for the first year of his life. When he was one, I decided to broaden his diet a bit and started feeding him vanilla ice cream. I didn’t understand at the time, but he started throwing the most awful tantrums and head banging. He became obsessed with the colour yellow. He only wanted to wear yellow clothes, draw with yellow pencils and chose toys that were yellow. My friends constantly commented on his yellow addiction. I used to feed him corn and cheese omelettes for dinner with vanilla ice cream and banana for dessert. I’d mix the banana in thoroughly so the ice cream looked more yellow. It wasn’t until 18 months later that I started learning about nasty food chemicals, and learned that annatto 160b natural yellow colouring was causing a lot of problems. When we got together with other mothers, he’d go straight for yellow food and always want yellow drinks. It was a bit of a joke really. He’d choose yellow lollies over other colours and when I asked him what colour he wanted his room painted, he of course said Yellow. I stopped allowing him food with 160b in it, but still let him have it when he went out. My friends thought I was over the top with food.

One day after meeting with my friends, and my son eating their yellow food, he went off the rails. I managed to get him into the car, (which is hard when they stiffen their bodies like a board) and drove him to my friend’s house. He was screaming in his car seat, Let me out, let me out and was struggling like crazy in his seat. We drove up her driveway and my friend said Oh my god, what’s happened to Liam?  I explained this is what happens when he eats bad food chemicals. It was only after this that she actually believed me. I then became strict and totally eliminated it from his diet. His headbanging stopped and his outrageous tantrums stopped also. I then realised that his obsession with yellow was caused from an addiction to yellow food. When I eliminated it from his diet, he began to choose other colours to wear. He’d choose other coloured lunchboxes, drink bottles and hats. I’ve never heard any other parent mention the colour phenomenon, but I still believe it was connected to his addiction to 160b. – Helen, NSW (see similar stories [880] and [983])

In reply to the Reader’s Story [537] in the last newsletter about salicylate intolerance misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, our story started 5 years ago. We have fraternal twins who were born at 37 weeks and seemingly healthy at the time, no problems within the pregnancy was diagnosed in regular scans or when they were born. My first clue, looking back, that twin 2 may not be all right was her failure to use her bowel until day 3. I remember her gagging on day 1 and being told by the nurse that this was common in newborns until they had their first motion.

We then continued on a very long path during her first twenty-one months of life with an unsettled baby. Both twins were breast feed however twin 2 was always unsettled. At 6 months we decided to introduce solids - starting out with farex and progressing to adding small amounts of pureed fruits, ie pear, apple, etc 'all the safe ones'. To our shock twin 2 started to get the most horrible nappy rash with excoriation and bleeding. We couldn't understand it and were regular with her
nappy changes, we also noticed that she would strain whenever she tried to use her bowel. We went to see her Paediatrician who prescribed hydrozole cream and amoxil drops, suggested we try some small amounts of vegetables and sent us on our way.

Four months had passed and we were increasingly worried for our daughter who still suffered from the terrible nappy rash and constant visible straining when using her bowel (most unusual in a baby) and was generally unsettled. By now we had tried cows' formula (which resulted in vomiting) and soy formula (which resulted in diarrhea) and we had also noticed that with fruits the problem was worse. Things didn't improve and after many calls and visits to our GP and Paediatrician we decided to see another Paediatrician.

The next Paediatrician suggested we trial a prescribed formula for 2 weeks of 'Alfare'. This resulted in violent vomiting and trip back to him whereby an ultrasound was performed and we were informed that she in fact had chronic constipation, with a large mass in her colon. Our daughter was now 11 months-old and had to have immediate surgery to remove the mass which resulted in her having a colostomy for 3 months.

We were assured by the Paediatric Surgeon that in fact her problems were not food related and that she was born with an 'anorectal anomaly' and that all would be ok once the colostomy was reversed. To our disappointment as soon as the colostomy was reversed we went straight back to the problems of severe nappy rash and excoriation on her full diet. Our daughter at 15 months was then seen by a Professor at the hospital who diagnosed disaccharidase deficiency (sucrose
intolerance) to be the cause of the excoriation and unsettled behaviour; not the case.

Somehow eventually after breaking down many times and a visit again to our GPs rooms in desperation we were finally sent with a referral to the RPA Allergy Clinic (daughter 21months old). This was like a dream come true, they did a skin prick test for allergies; which showed no positive reactions (as suspected it would by the clinic Paediatrician). We were then talked through food intolerances and naturally occurring chemicals in foods which caused intolerances in some people! The evidence was there in front of us and we couldn't believe it we finally had answers. Our daughter is now a healthy 6.5 year old, on a low salicylate and mainly low chemical diet who continues to thrive and hasn't looked back. We do trial new foods occasionally and are starting to add small amounts of moderate salicylates to her diet and some dairy (her main drink is now rice milk). We know straight away if she has overloaded as this results in usually loose motions or not being able to control her motions. For us the evidence is overwhelming and we are just very grateful we have our daughter and we can now give her answers and solutions so that she continues to enjoy good health and happiness. - by email.

I was suffering with what the doctor said was normal for my age 39, higher blood pressure, heart palpitations, not able to sleep on my left hand side, rash around my groin and armpits that I couldn’t get rid of, weekly headaches and to top it of waking up at 2-3am  every morning with a anxiety attack.

I was attending a anxiety meeting every week and seeing a psychologist but the problem was that I couldn’t identify with any of the other people that came to the anxiety meeting. It seemed all of their complaints of the 100 or so different people that came to the meeting related to cyclic thought process that brought on the anxiety and kept them in that loop. I on the other hand felt a little on edge but was very relaxed about life. I delved into unresolved tensions with my psychologist but still no relief. Yoga and relaxation exercises seemed to help but what it truly did was let me watch my body go through the symptoms while I watched it happen in the third person. Because my symptoms didn’t fit the norm I refused to take any form of medication. I felt it was stupid to compound the problem until I knew what was causing it.

Finally I had yet again another anxiety attack. This time it was unbearable and my heart went over the 199 bpm that my machine could measure. I tried everything to relax but my system went into overdrive. My mother came around and my wife was there to help. I am amazingly good at relaxing my body but nothing seemed to help. I called nurse on call and they called an ambulance immediately upon hearing my symptoms. The ambulance arrived and went through the routine of checking me over and in the time they were there my body stabilised to around 100bpm. They gave me the option of going to hospital and waiting in the waiting room for 4-6 hours or stay at home and try and get over it. I took the wait at home option. The interesting thing from all of that is the male ambulance officer who leaned against the door frame for the whole time they were there said “gee you look like my wife does when she has a attack of 635” I thought he was full of
it and ignored him at the time. I felt like I had run a marathon.

The following day I looked up 635 on the internet and noticed the rash and the headaches that I had were the same but nothing else rang a bell. Having nothing else to go on I looked into what had 635 in it as an ingredient. I was amazed to find my pies, pasties from the local bakery had beef booster and hence 635 + 621 that was Monday nights explained then a lot of chips + crackers that I had for lunch - even ones from the health food section of my local supermarket that state quite clearly on the packaging that 635 is not 621 and therefore is not bad for you. What a laugh! I must stress I had no belief that 635 was the cause of anything but my rash and headaches. I have not changed my lifestyle in any way except for removing 635 + 621 from my diet and only very recently removed 282. But a key interesting note is the 12 hour delay from eating the food to the full blown symptoms.  I still eat selected junk food, I still exercise the same amount, I have even more pressure at work and I still get broken sleep from my now 2 year old.

When I would go to my doctor, her face would drop in that “not you again look” she would listen to me with bored expression and write in her notes, anxiety related. Please also note that my doctor since then acknowledged she has absolutely no knowledge of food intolerance re 635 – 621 and their symptoms. How are you expected to be helped if they are blind to these issues? The way I wish to truly express myself as to how I feel re their mainstream blindness is limited by my overriding desire to keep this letter polite. I have not read anywhere a person with my exact same experiences but I know it is simple. I have stopped eating 635 + 621 and I am back to how I remember the way I used to be.

From that week….

My multiple rashes of many years cleared up completely!

Not one single headache!

I have not had a single heart palpitation!

Not one single anxiety attack!

No hand or body tremors!

No racing heart!

No feeling of tension!

The only exception to this was when I went to a mothers’ group party and ate some salt and vinegar chips laced with 621 + 635. I had a bad night sleep that night. I checked the chips at the supermarket the following day and found the suspect ingredients. I will not eat any food that I cannot check the ingredients. Hungry Jacks will not return my calls to tell me what foods have 635 in, and Nandos will not return my calls as well. It is of interesting note that the American version of Hungry Jacks (Burger King) + KFC list their ingredients but the similar Australian version of the web sites have the ingredients list missing. I FEEL LIKE A NEW MAN – Wayne, by email

•     I sooo appreciate what you are doing - people are starting to believe me that I have a problem and it is not in my head, and many of my friends now make a special effort to provide at least some food that is safe for me to eat – email, NZ.

•     I took my 4-year-old daughter off all additives, preservatives and colours. In one week she has had a dramatic reduction of mostly myoclonic type seizures, down from her usual 2 - 40 throughout each day before" – Karen.

•     Since going failsafe our daughter has changed her afterschool activity on Fridays: instead of having a therapy session with the Institute for Learning Difficulties, she is now attending a gifted and talented program – by email.

•     I have so far not visited any internet sites which have enlightened me as much as yours - thank you! – by email.

•     We are in the process of learning all new foods and additives in the US  - surprisingly and disappointingly, it is not as advanced as Australia when it comes to gluten-free foods and awareness of additives, preservatives etc. – Australians visiting the USA.

•     My kids have some classic signs of food intolerance - tantrums for one and "sads" for the other. – by email.

•     Salicylates make me wired, pee a lot and cause dark circles under my eyes; amines make me very angry and I wake up with palpitations and sweats – email, USA.

•     The information on your website is fantastic and it's great to have support networks provided - it makes you feel like you're not the only one looking for answers! – email, Qld.

•     My sons aged 9 and 4 – now additive free - both had croup in the last week and the younger one even had a cold as well but neither of them had asthma which is unusual for them. – Kylie

•     We just had our Tu Beshvat holiday (New Year of the Trees), ate a good bit of dried fruit, and guess what? - more headaches, asthmatic spasms, gut in an uproar, and the boys nervier – by email.

•     Thank you for all you have done - you have changed, and possibly saved, many lives – email, US.

•     I am a mom of two and have found your book a delight - my four-year-old has improved so much since we started cutting out things in her diet. – by email.

•     Thank you for giving us hope. – email, UK

•     When buying foods I have a problem trying to read the small print (even with new glasses!) - I would love to see these written bigger! – by email.

•     I have an active son, who reacts to food, although like you thought at first it was sugar. I have told so many people about your books, and how it has benefitted our family - and we don't do the whole thing, just some eliminations and awareness.- Cassie.

•     Thank you for your book Fed Up, which I just happened to stumble across at a friend’s house, it has changed our lives and I am now frequently referring to your website - Jane.

Allergy clinic didn't know about connection: I recently had my appointment with the Allergy Clinic and they didn't know anything about the connection that your website mentions between gluten intolerance and alopecia. I first had alopecia back in 1995 very badly and I do remember my diet being very poor and high in wheat and gluten products, I have only been told that it was probably caused by stress but am interested to learn more. I have had small patches ever since, and my general intake of wheat has been much lower than in 1995. I am now doing the elimination diet for the second time and it has been going better. I failed the wheat challenge on the 3rd night and am interested in the connection with alopecia to gluten as I still have some joint, lethargy and lack of focus issues.

Discovered the cause of alopecia areata by accident: I suffered from alopecia areata on and off for many years without having any clue about what caused it. It was very embarrassing and difficult for my self confidence. I only stumbled across the answer by accident after I found out about bread preservative 282 - that was where my journey started. I was staying with people who ate preserved bread so it was easier for me to eat rice cakes instead, and I noticed my alopecia improving. I have been gluten free now for three years and have had no more problems with alopecia.

Led to diagnosis of coeliac disease: Your mention of alopecia areata and gluten in "Fed Up" led to my being diagnosed with coeliac disease. No one else seemed to know anything about it, so I really wanted to say thank you. It has led to a huge improvement in my quality of life.

Another association besides stress: The information on your website about alopecia areata and gluten is the first bit of useful advice I have received suggesting that alopecia could have another association besides stress.

Criminal. It's the only word that comes to mind when I realise that, from the age of 10, I have suffered terribly from asthma; and yet, over the next 23 years, not a single - I repeat NOT A SINGLE - so-called "doctor" ever once asked if my condition might be due to environmental factors", or that it might be caused by the food that I eat... All they ever did was pop a stethoscope on my back, and fill out a prescription for ventolin... "See ya next time, Mark!"

I am so angry and frustrated at the modern medical establishment for their open neglect. For years, almost every morning I would wake with an awful wheeze and a fit of coughing... And it only got worse as my 20's progressed!

When I think back to those days (although I never made the precise connection myself at the time), it got to the point where I would need my puffer after almost every meal! Macca's.. Pizza... Pies... even good 'ole home cooked meals like curries, stews & roasts! As you can imagine, I became very depressed.

I will also confess that I was indeed a smoker as well (I know, I know), but I gave them up around 3 years ago thinking that IT was the main *cause* of my asthma... Oddly enough, I was wrong ... the daily ritual wheezing-fest continued unabated. I was, by then, needing up to 20 puffs a day and my depression worsened. I remember thinking: "I've given up the damn ciggies, so why aren't I any better?! What's wrong with me?" I began to accept that I would NEVER recover from this ailment.

Then I discovered your website, "Fedup!" ... And oh what a life changer!

I bought the video a few months back and have read much of the material on the website, and with what I now know about salicylates, amines, preservatives and additives of all kinds, it finally all makes sense! So far, my family and I have managed to stop the intake of preservatives and additives (That's the EASY part!) with noticeable improvements too, I might add, especially for my asthma! However, I have not completely recovered yet, and my eldest son - although improved - still has temper problems; so, over the last two days we have finally started tackling the salicylate/amine issue... It's harder I'll admit, BUT, I can already see definite positive-changes from my first-born son, and in my own well-being as well.

It's been around 6 months now since we actively started amending our diet, and overall, my asthma is now highly manageable... (I now use the ventolin only rarely, and the morning-wheeze is completely gone!) But, it's not just that: I finally feel "in control" for the first time ever; I feel that there is now real hope that it could perhaps, go altogether! I really do.

Thank God for you, Sue. Thank you for caring enough about human beings in general, to do what you do. Alright, I'm falling to tears now... so I best go - Mark & family, Vic

See update: story [1080]

Without sounding corny, it is like my daughter has been given a second lease on life. 

Our youngest daughter was diagnosed with asthma at 3 years of age and we then spent many times in and out hospital, with still no improvement. She missed so many days of Preschool, could not run without puffing and requiring her asthma puffer all the time, she also had permanent grey colour under her eyes. We really did not think we would be able to send her to school.....it was that bad.

Then a friend of mine from work went to a Sue Dengate talk … and the light went on. I contacted my husband immediately and told him about it, cause we had been so worried and that night I cleaned out all my food cupboard and fridge and made it additive-free.

Our daughter is now 6 and is going into Year 1 and has not been in hospital since the month we stopped the additives. We have a liitle girl who runs, jumps for ages on the trampoline, has lost the grey under her eyes and very happy parents.

Abbey knows that she can't have food with additives and has had to make a lot of sacrifices, but when she said to me a few months after stopping all of that, that she feels better then I know it is all worth it - Kathy, NSW

We have had excellent results with diet for our five-year-old daughter who had severe asthma attacks with daily singulair, ventholin, atrovent and also 3 lots of prednisilone within the space of about 3 or 4 months at the beginning of 2006. Since going failsafe in August, not even a cough. I attribute a big part of this success to eliminating both sulphites and artificial colours in particular.

I always felt that there was something more we could do, but just didn't know where to start. My children had what I thought to be such a healthy diet, no cordials, lollies and lots of fruit and dried fruit for snacks. Now I know better. 

If telling our story assists in being a catalyst for positive change for other families in situations like ours, that will be wonderful - Monica, NSW

One mother reported that her two year old daughter Maya was a “huge dried fruit eater”, consuming two or three packets of dried apricots or similar and two or three fruit bars per week. At three packets of dried fruit per week that’s roughly 250 mg per day, or 20 times the Acceptable Daily Intake for an average two year old (0.7mg per kg bodyweight or half a dried apricot for a 2 year old) set by the World Health Organisation. Sulphites are associated with both asthma and cough. 

Maya had been diagnosed with suspected bronchiolitis at nine months. “Ever since then, she has had bouts of coughing on a regular and frequent basis, often only two or three weeks apart, usually with a cold but occasionally following a slight fever,” wrote Maya’s mother. “The coughing can last all night at its worst - but usually is about 40 minute bouts every few hours. There is no apparent wheeze, although sometimes doctors have found a slight wheeze with a stethoscope. Very occasionally, it will resolve gradually after a week or two but usually becomes worse and requires antibiotics”. When Maya’s cough was diagnosed first as asthma, then as hypersensitive cough receptors, “the paediatrician advised that there was no link to diet and that she would probably grow out of it”. Although her mother had never noticed any connection, since avoiding sulphites Maya has been free of cough – reported by phone.

After years of friends and teachers telling me that my child needed medication (she was a "Jekyll & Hyde" according to one teacher) and doctors who just assumed her problems were hormonal, a girl guide leader noticed my 9-year-old daughter’s behaviour problems (fighting, defiance, stealing etc) after eating certain foods and suggested failsafe eating. Within weeks, apart from a few withdrawals, everyone noticed an improvement and now, nine months later – what a difference! When we decided to do the diet to help our daughter, we didn't realise it would help our 6-year-old son’s asthma too but he hasn’t had an attack or been hospitalised since we started.

Unfortunately my doctor is not very supportive, but I have found a great paediatrician. As she said in the last appointment, the food companies market all of these so called good foods to our children, but she ends up dealing with the backlash e.g. behaviour problems etc.

My son and daughter are now at the stage where they don't ask for "bad” food any more because they know what it does - at a friend’s workplace recently he bought them a huge packet of lollies, to which they politely stated "No thank you". When he persisted as to why a couple of 9 and 6 year-olds didn't want lollies, they said "Because I choose to be healthy" which is what they have learnt to say when teased at school about having to be on this diet.

I know now that what I thought was healthy, e.g bread, devon, tomato sauce etc, wasn't healthy for them. During the challenges, my daughter reacted to amines, colours and preservatives. My son reacted violently to the colours with his asthma mostly but hasn’t had an attack since we started failsafe. My son couldn't care less what the kids at school say anymore. When they open their packet coloured foods, he says "my mum makes better anyway".  When we had a fete at school in September, we had a failsafe sweet stand and the kids loved it. My daughter's 9th birthday went wonderfully - no hyped up kids, a few kids didn't want to come because of the "diet" food, but they missed out. The parents commented on how well they all behaved, even the magician I'd hired couldn't believe how well they played, participated and listened.

My Mum and Dad, Before and After School Care, Church and Girl Guides have been totally supportive of my children’s diets. If they have a party/special day etc they always phone me and either ask me to make food (which I'm more than happy to do) or they will ask for certain recipes and all the kids cook.  My mother-in-law‘s "let's not tell mummy and daddy" attitude towards little surprises changed very quickly when she saw how my 9 year old reacted after a "Happy Meal". Ironically, not such a happy time was had!

We have a wonderful restaurant round the corner from home which we used to go to once per month as a treat for the kids – after the diet I phoned them, feeling a little silly, but as long as I tell them what they can make, skinless chicken, sauces etc, they are happy to do it and we haven't had a reaction yet. 

At school, even though she has come such a long way in 9 months, my daughter is still being stereotyped by certain teachers, and sadly even the principal thinks she's not being given a fair go. So, we are starting off at a new school in January 2007 and are all looking forward to this change.

So many people told me not to be stupid, not to do all of this work etc, just put her on medication - I work full-time, plus do the normal mum and wife things in the home, but no matter what happens, we won't go back to "normal" eating ever again.  I know it mightn't work for everyone, but it has worked for us. 

I would like to say to all parents and caregivers, THE EXTRA HARD WORK IS WORTH IT!!!  If you slip up, these things happen, just keep going!  It has made our lives soooo much happier. To the Schools: help us parents out - stop having so much processed crap to sell the kids, they get used to having homecooked food without the nasties in it and your days will go much smoother. – ‘Maitland mother’, NSW [Maitland mother would like to get in touch with other failsafers in the
Maitland area, please email via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

For the last month, my daughter has been suffering from hives on average about every two days. It is driving me crazy not to mention how she is feeling. It started when we went to a friend’s place for swimming lessons, something that we had done every week for three months. She broke out in hives all over her body, arms, legs, chest, vagina, and bum, everywhere; luckily, it did not affect her breathing. I took her to the doctor straight away and he thought it must be from the chlorine in the pool, my friend then told me that it was a salt-water pool, so then we thought it must have been something that she ate.  Four days later Emma got hives again on her arms and thighs, this time after eating salted peanuts. Two days later again at 4:30 in the morning, my husband and I were beside ourselves as to what was causing this.  Each time it happened, we gave her Phenergan, which made it disappear.  We then went away for ten days, with a supply of Phenergan and Emma got them about six times while away. On coming home, I wrote down every time Emma had gotten hives, and suddenly it dawned on me that it was about half an hour after eating or swimming.  I think I have narrowed it down to additive 635, as that was the common ingredient in all of the foods Emma had been eating.  What I want to know is why this is now present when she was always having these foods, has she built up an intolerance to these foods? [See a similar report of hives from 635 and swimming in story [467]. My understanding is that saltwater pools do contain chlorine, although in smaller amounts than usual - S]

We have been on the elimination diet for 6 weeks using a dietitian from your list and she has been great. Salicylates, well that's our nemesis - I get cranky, stressed and short tempered, my 8-year-old daughter gets teary at the drop of a hat - crying, stressed and the “what ifs”.... . My three year old is extremely sensitive to amines - defiant, disruptive and hyperactive. Antioxidants don't affect her behaviour but her cheeks flare so something isn't right. More than 5 plain Sakatas or
LCM bars send her off the planet.

It’s hard as you would know trying to ensure they have food without the nasties. I am educating Day Care and they are trying to buy failsafe foods as they are sure other children are affected as well, not just my daughter. Next my challenge is going out to Little Athletics where they only sell "crap" icy poles when it is a stinking hot day.  – failsafer, NSW

A reply to the question in newsletter #50: my oppositionally defiant amine-sensitive daughter is having a hard time at the moment and I am wondering if it might be due to spring flowers?

The question about ODD and spring flowers in the last newsletter rang a bell with me. My daughter Louse also gets really cranky and her ODD symptoms worsen during the period when all the wattle begins to flower, and then in early spring when the flowers start to bloom in abundance. Unfortunately, this also happens to be the exact time when she has to be most in control of her temper and emotions due to her Irish dancing commitments - the state and national
championships.

This year was particularly bad - there seem to be so many more wattle trees around here now, and they started blooming at the start of July. Louise was extremely bad-tempered - her quality of schoolwork declined, her spelling declined (even though she is now a voracious reader) to the point of going backwards, maths dropped back to grade 3 level (age-wise, she is year 8) and there have been many arguments and temper tantrums with all family members. It got to the point where I was beginning to doubt my sanity! and also, whether she was sneaking non-failsafe food from other sources - but I know my friends wouldn't give her anything unsafe, and her friends just don't like her behaviour when she deviates from the diet, so that wasn't a factor.

I was thinking that the culprit might be pollens. It was totally validated when we went to Canberra in the last week of September for the Australian Championships. One word – FLORIADE - Canberra's flower festival. Yee-hah. All that pollen in one convenient location! Louise’s dancing was shocking during practices, she argued with her friends over the dancing (SHE wasn't making mistakes, EVERYONE else was), arguing with her teacher (who she loves), crying, picking fights, "I wish I'd die, then everybody would be happy, because nobody wants me around" - I'm sure you can imagine the rest!!!

It's getting better now, I've cracked down on a few infractions, and she is asking her friends not to spray their deodorant near her (and at dancing, spraying deodorant, hair-spray or perfume inside the hall is now banned) and she's taking a claratyne daily to help with the pollens. She's definitely a reactor when it comes to pollens and spring! – reader, Vic

As a baby and toddler, my son had constant unexplained “fevers” as part of his never ending list of reactions.  It wasn’t till he was 6 years old and he had had a few unexplained fevers with hallucinations that we found these came from soya beans.  He has always been “picky” with soy products, usually refusing them himself – but mum didn’t always trust him fully - now I know they do him no good!

His hallucinations were shocking to witness – they happened only in the evening or night, usually just after falling asleep or when disturbed in sleep, e.g.picked up for toileting. He often didn’t have a high temperature according to the thermometer but woke in an unconscious way with eyes open and talking and listening.  He saw terrifying things around him and removal to another room with comfort helped a little but only usually for seconds. The only solution that worked properly for us was cool wet towels for reducing fevers round his neck and forehead whilst cuddling him. He usually dropped off to sleep again with these. On a bad night this continued again after a couple of hours.

As usual doctors here were at a loss to explain these and claim them to be most probably fevers related to viruses.  They suggested continued treatment as we do perhaps with paracetamol too keep it at bay. It was only after that I connected intake of soya beans 36 hours previously on the last occasions and I tested it with a very small intake which showed a minor reaction - still hallucinations but for a much milder and shorter period. Consequently soya beans are off our menu and I respect my son’s taste buds when he refuses foods – he is usually allergic or intolerant of them. Allergy specialists here avoid giving soy milk to milk allergics as much as possible due to the close connection of the two allergies and the fact they believe soy allergies develop quicker in such cases. – reader, Sweden

Just responding to question in newsletter #50 about depressive reactions to soy - my daughter reacts the same to cows’ milk as to soy, even small amounts of soy in anything.  Exactly as the question in the newsletter said, "it makes her depressed, intrusive, argumentative and very negative (feels the whole world is against her). She seems totally unaware of this occurring, even when pointed out".  – reader, Vic

Stories [534-532} are replies to the question newsletter #50: “my daughter has tried soymilk several times but it makes her depressed, intrusive, argumentative and very negative (feels the whole world is against her). She seems totally unaware of this occurring, even when pointed out. Is this a reaction you are aware of?”

Whenever my son drinks soy or eats soy products he spends most of his time crying ….often about nothing that he can pin point. He becomes resistive to discipline and is reluctant to do his work at school. He becomes tired and will often fall sleep in the afternoon. I’m obviously not 100% certain that this is what it is but it sure does seem coincidental… - email, Qld

I read in the newsletter that you were interested in reports about improvement in PMT and infertility and the diet.  Prior to failsafe I was having irregular cycles, really really bad irritability for almost two weeks prior to my period and bleeding which sometimes lasted for three weeks for each cycle. I had sore breasts from about day 17 of each cycle, sometimes they were so bad I couldn't hug my little boy without being in pain.  Since being on the diet I no longer have sore breasts prior to my period.  I only have very mild irritability about a day or two prior to my period and I am having 27 day cycles every month with bleeding only lasting about 5 or 6 days and no clotting.  Also, my period pain has lessened a great deal too.

I have been trying for 2 and a half years to conceive and I'm now hoping I will be able to get pregnant if I stay on the diet.  It took 13 months to become pregnant with my first child.  My PMS seemed to become worse after I had my son. – by email

Replies to the question in newsletter #50 – “My almost 15 year old daughter who has had monthly cramps but no period for 4 years suddenly got her period. We have been on the elimination diet for 3 weeks. Is this a coincidence?”

I too have had lots of success in regards to the diet with my whole family but the main improvement for me was dealing with PMS. I am a 28 year old woman and have had two children. As a teen I had very irregular periods and would sometimes not have a period for 3 or 4 months, quite often becoming physically sick when the period did come, not to mention the cramps and mood swings, and I always had PMS symptoms when I was due, whether the period came or not. Having children actually seemed to help my symptoms, but without realising, I was eating differently through my pregnancy and then afterwards because I was breast feeding.

Two years ago all my symptoms started again and six months ago I figured out why. I had gone back to work and was relying on prepackaged food a lot more where I always used make my own, and as a result my whole family suffered. My then six year old had all sorts of trouble emotionally and my then two year old turned into a monster. My husband was diagnosed with irritable bowel and I had all my former problems including depression. Now thanks to a friend who recommended failsafe I am pleased to say we are now back on track and I can safely say that it is all down to food. We tried, through trial and error, all different sorts of treatments to help all our ailments, but simply changing our diet has helped us all.  - by email

I have completed the elimination diet and found that I have an intolerance to salicylates. My father is a gastroenterologist and when first had symptoms of this intolerance (stress, constipation, headaches, sinusitis etc) he thought it was Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). He referred me to his colleague, who also stated the diagnosis was IBS.  Both of these gastroenterologists never considered that the problem may be related to diet, and they didn't even know what salicylates were! I might add that both of them are very professional doctors and have both been head of the gastroenterology department at hospital - so you would think they would know something about it. It took my dad a long time to recognise that salicylates exist - I had to show him websites and papers that linked it to behavioural problems for him to really believe me. He just thought I was on some crazy diet and that there was no real basis to it!

My concern is this – that there are many people out there, particularly young women, who may have this food intolerance and be provided with the easy diagnosis of IBS.  As you would be aware, an IBS diagnosis really doesn’t help anyone because there isn’t much you can do for it. And unless you keep searching for a solution (which I did, and my GP eventually came up with it) then you may never know you have an intolerance because salicylates are in everything!

Do you know of many other people who have been provided with an incorrect diagnosis for this food intolerance? I only know of one other person, and if there are more, then I think this should be brought to the attention of the national body for gastroenterologists.  – by email [if you are in this category, please write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your story]

I have 3 sons, aged 11, 10 and 6. I started the elimination diet about six months ago and have seen a great improvement in my two younger sons. The middle son is by far the worst effected by all the things that you say to avoid. At times he will have things he shouldn’t and for the afternoon he is off the planet. When he settles down I ask him how he felt and he'll say he knew what he was doing but could not control it. Now he even tells his grandmother “No, I can’t have that”. Even a friend of his grandmother’s noted how quiet he was. Last month my mother-in-law gave the three boys an icecream as a treat. She is from the old school and didn't really believe what I had said. Within minutes the two youngest were off their tree, so this was a real wake up call.

My husband and I have two lovely children. We have been through the whole thing of oppositional, erratic and violent behaviour and for us the worst part was insomnia and extreme restlessness at night. No-one ever got a rest. This all was cured with the invaluable assistance of your books, and a profound response to the elimination diet especially for our youngest child who is a 7 year old girl, Lily. She is extremely sensitive to everything – salicylates, amines, chemicals - you name it. Our son is affected, but not as badly.

At times I have wondered if Lily perhaps has Aspergers, or is somewhere on the autistic spectrum, but we had her assessed at age 4 (after being failsafe for three months) and were told that she is bright, possibly gifted, and that she can be extremely anxious because she is clever enough to be able to think about things and therefore worries about things. We prepared her very carefully for school and so far have had no problems - until this month.

Twice this month Lily has lashed out at school, due in part to chemicals. She started swimming lessons every day and the other thing was a class party with heaps of bad food which no-one helped her to avoid. Today she has been "red-booked "and placed on detention for the second time, for hurting someone. The school counsellor who was called in told me "there are NO studies that prove that food intolerances are in any way related to behavioural disturbances". She went on to tell me that it was all in my head, and that it is coincidence that withdrawing a food substance or chemical would have a positive effect on our daughter. She then proceeded to tell me that Lily probably has Aspergers and that the paediatrician probably didn't want to tell me that. I am feeling so enraged. She hasn't even met Lily.

We follow the failsafe lifestyle to the letter, and are eternally grateful to you and your family for sharing your stories, and for your tireless work. Our family wouldn't have survived without Fed Up and how some one can say the things that this counsellor said belies belief. Our son who is now 13 is easily able to make good food choices and knows only too well what bad choices do to him. He was shocked at the response of the school counsellor. My husband - who was a total sceptic
4 years ago - was absolutely livid with that school counsellor. He knows how bad it was here, and how much work I have put in to making our little family happy and calm. I guess we will just keep soldiering on and spreading the word, but this person nearly got the better of me. – by email, NSW (see comment on this story at [552])

When I originally wrote to you, my three-year-old son had a severe speech delay, many behavioural problems, refused toilet training, was having upwards of 6 dirty nappies a day and the paediatrician was heading towards a diagnosis of autism.

The first two weeks on the elimination diet were "HELL". My son’s behaviour was so bad I was in tears when the day was over and he was in bed asleep. My husband and I were determined to give this a go and we stayed strong together to get him through the rough patch. Four weeks after starting, his behaviour improved each day, the tantrums decreased dramatically, he became calmer, his attention span increased, he was happy to try sitting on the toilet for me, the autistic traits stopped, he would sit and do activities with me and the most impressive of all in one week he said - "Dad", "Mum" and his own name "Sam". He has never called me mum & it brought tears to my eyes - he has since then said love you mum and tries hard to string words together. 

The difference in him is so dramatic the paediatrician was in shock, he is a non-believer of diet having an effect on children, however, after seeing the difference in Sam he was blown away. He said he was pretty sure after the last visit he would end up making a diagnosis of autism for him, now after seeing him six months later he is thinking it is just speech delay and is not so worried about the minor autistic traits.  We are focused on sticking to the diet especially with the progress Sam is now making. He does on occasions slip on behaviour - but he is only three. We feel we have our beautiful little man back. – by email, Qld

I have excluded artificial colours and preservatives where possible and this seems to work with my children however I noticed some reactions over these holidays as I have let them have some treats. Corn chips caused a really silly reaction in my 5 year old son, he was even not able to focus his eyes properly, and the same reaction from a BBQ meatlovers pizza. – by email

Having suffered panic attacks and palpitations on-and-off for years I started seriously looking at the foods and additives I was stuffing into my system. I can now tell you that the prime trouble maker for me is flavour enhancers. As others have done before me I visited doctors and hospitals after bad attacks only to be sent home with a "nothing wrong with you" report. Then one day, I had taken a double dose (flavoured corn chips and kebabs) which well-and-truly landed me in hospital. The interesting point to this story is the specific effect the MSG had. While I was on the heart monitor (for about 12 hours) the doctors and I could see what my heart was doing and we were able to determine the safety of the situation. 

The sinus node (the electrical trigger) was firing and was firing regularly. This was a good thing! The troublesome aspect was the MSG was somehow interfering with the distribution of the signal around the heart. This meant that although the heart was beating/pumping, it was doing so at a reduced flow rate. That is, the contractions weren't as strong as they should have been. Although it was pumping enough blood to keep me lucid/conscious, a beat could not be felt by me in my chest, nor could a pulse be felt at my wrist. NOTE: it felt as if my heart had stopped but in fact was just beating weakly. I tried to convince the doctors this was MSG-induced, but they just closed their ears, their eyes glazed over, and told me they couldn't understand why my heart was behaving the way it was.  

Now I know what my heart is doing, I no longer have panic attacks triggered by a few 'missed beats'. The difference is knowing that the ectopic beats aren't going to kill me, and even though I can't feel the beats, I reason that if I'm still alive and not suffering chest pain etc. then I'm just having another 'episode'.- by email

By the time she was three, my daughter was covered in eczema and watching videos all day as she couldn’t keep up with other children. We now have a healthy five-year- old after one year on the diet. Her energy improved within three weeks of starting the diet. Reading your book was a comfort as I thought I knew lots about allergy and eczema. She had been on the healthiest foods: wheat free, sugar free, chiropractors, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, biocom, skin specialists …

I was exhausted and pretty fed up when I started learning about failsafe foods. One year on we have a clear picture of what we can have and it is expanding every month. Sulphites, benzoates and salicylates are our main problems, but we stay off any preservatives and colours. Thank you for helping us. Reading your book helped me feel not so alone and laugh at some of the crazy mistakes I made. – by email, South Australia

Ho sentito che oggi parlate dell'introduzione in Italia del farmaco Ritalin per i bambini con ADHD. 

Prima o invece di dare Ritalin ai bambini, e' opportuno fare un "elimination diet" per individuare eventuali intolleranze a salicilati, ammine, glutammati (che sono "natural food chemicals"). Inoltre, sarebbe un controsenso dare Ritalin a un bambino che continua a bere bibite colorate!  Anche l'annatto, un colorante giallo naturale, ha un forte effetto sul comportamento di molte persone.  In Italia siamo piu' tutelati rispetto all'Australia per quanto riguarda gli additivi alimentari, ma poco tutelati riguardo alle sostanze inutili aggiunti nei farmaci. - by email, Italy

At present I'm doing Vacation Care for children aged 6-12. I have done this program for the last two holidays and this year I have changed the program so that we provide morning and afternoon tea. From my results so far - a week and a half - it has been fantastic, and the difference in the children is amazing. The parents have been very understanding and have not complained about the extra $1.00 charge per child per day. We cook things from your Fed Up book and the children love the food. When they bring things they shouldn't, they put it back in their bags. We can have up to five children with ADHD or behavioural concerns but now you wouldn’t know they were in the program. – Nicole, NSW

•     "If no one's told you recently, thanks so much for all the work you do - you have changed our lives! It's good to have a asthma free, medication free, tummy ache and diarrhoea free child after many wasted futile hours and $$$$ spent in specialist surgeries!! And even now I've found the answers (thanks to you), still the doctors are not interested in hearing about it. That's what I find so hard to believe! - Fran, NSW.

•     "We've just had Christmas day down at my nanna's who is very very supportive, her traditional christmas "feast" of things processed, bought ready made to save her work went out the window in 06.  We went totally failsafe for everyone and you know no-one missed out, we had what the kids could have and everyone had a top time not like Christmas 05 with it ending it tears etc  - email, NSW.

•     I am a mother of five children who has recognised the benefit of a failsafe diet.  My kids were never really 'bad' just a bit naughty sometimes, and having trialled full failsafe we are now on a preservative, additive, flavours etc free diet and all doing well. – email, Qld

•     My five year old son was a ‘bread brat’ as you describe in your books - as soon as he stopped eating preserved bread and started drinking magic cordial he changed.- email, Tas.

•     I work in health and am constantly amazed that there is not more connection made to food related reactions as I can recognise them a mile off - asthma, eczema and so on. – email, NSW.

•     Thank you so much for everything, without your work my family would still be wheezy, itchy, rashy, cranky and doped up on medication for all these ailments! – by email

Hi. I can already give you some feedback, as my 3 children and I have been on the elimination diet for 3 days. My eldest child is 14 (depression, asthma, sleeplessness, fatigue, restless legs, easily irritated, unmotivated etc): this morning she got out of bed without being nagged, had a shower without being told, all while smiling! I stopped taking antidepressants 2 weeks ago, and today for the first time since, I am not feeling my normal symptoms of depression. My youngest, 3, is hyperactive and today has been a lot calmer. He also normally wakes about 6am, and today slept in till 9:30!!! My elder son, 6, who has a learning delay, woke up teary and temperamental, as he was before bed last night, but he was at out-of-hours schoolcare yesterday and ate apple, cheese and yoghurt... One thing the book 'Fed up with children's behaviour' doesn't address is what to do when in a situation where I do not live with my ex-husband and he only sees the kids once a week, how do I get him to understand that the kids need to try this? He sees their issues as being 'normal' and although none of my kids are extreme in any way I want to give them the best life they can have, now and in the future. How do you convince people that relatively 'normal' kids still can benefit?

(later) thank you thank you!  Despite all of my best efforts, my ex-husband is aggressively sabotaging my efforts with my children, constantly telling them that failsafe foods are 'silly' and if they ask for failsafe foods he gets cross at them. They spent one night at his house (Day 11 of the elim.diet) and he gave them everything he could think of that was on the list of 'Don'ts'. Consequently they came home silly. Neither of the boys (6 and 3) could get to sleep that night, the littlest one crying and rolling around in bed sobbing 'I can't stop, I can't stop'. In desperation I gave them both a half teaspoon of bi carb, thinking 'this isn't going to do anything' (I should know better!). As it tasted so awful I let them chase it with a Werther's. Within 10 minutes they were both asleep....- by email.

Our 3 year old always had puffy eyes, we just thought that was the way she looked. We don't eat whole eggs, I would only use them in cooking such as in a cake or at most a quiche because I used to throw up after eating them as a child. After we started the elimination diet my husband made the home made Mayo in your recipe book and because it uses raw egg, she had a more pronounced response. We missed the first response, it’s so much easier with hindsight!  She mucked up at the dinner table straight away after trying the salad, wouldn't sit still, so we sent her to her room. After 5 minutes I went in and her eye was all puffy, I asked her what happened, did she fall? and she said "yes". But I noticed that the eye didn't blacken like a bruise over the next day or so. Two days later my husband gave her the same salad dressing. Again she mucked up at the dinner table, I took her to her room, but I laid her on the change table and that's when I saw she had hives coming up around her mouth. I knew that was bad so I grabbed her and took her straight to the hospital. Over three hours she slowly reacted, the hives went down and then the eyes started puffing up. We saw the Paediatric Registrar who told us "these things sometimes happen when they have a virus - take her home and giver her antihistamine". At that stage one eye was almost closed and the other eye was well on the way and the doctor had noticed she had a runny nose. I was yet to learn so much. I took her home, the runny nose wasn't from a cold it was her nasal airways closing up. I gave her the antihistamine and we stayed up most of the night to make sure she was okay.

After that I rang the hospital and asked for a referral to get her checked for egg allergy and the paediatrician tried to fob me off. If there is one thing I have learnt with my five year old, it is that I have to be my child's advocate. I stood my ground and pushed until the doctor gave in. When we eventually got to see the allergist some four months later, my suspicion was confirmed. My daughter was very allergic to both egg white and egg yolk. Not anaphylactic, one step away. I have since been to a number of talks and learnt about anaphylaxis. One of the most important things I have since learnt (for us) is that children who have a decent allergy to an item, will often turn anaphylactic if they go on to develop asthma. My husband and I are both asthmatic and are now very vigilant. – by email, and see Nell’s egg free cake recipe in Cooks Corner (Failsafe Newsletter #50).

My story started with an uncontrollable daughter who at 8 years of age was already getting suspended from school and was a horrible bully. The school wrote me a referral to a paediatrician. At the time I thought would only mean having her medicated to control her which I was dead set against.

I have two older boys that were very well behaved so I wanted to find the cause of the problem and not just cover it up with medication. Three days after Christmas 2002 my daughter went off to such a degree that all I could do was hold on to her while she bit, kicked and screamed until she was physically exhausted. That was when I knew there was something seriously wrong so I went to see a child psychologist who fortunately for me recommended your book Fed Up.

Within a month I went from thinking my daughter was destined for jail to thinking what a lovely young girl she is turning into. The results were noticeable that quickly. And from my daughter’s point of view she felt better within herself. She was no longer on an emotional roller coaster every day. Because of how she felt on the diet it made it easy to keep her on it. She was feeling a whole lot more in control of herself.

Since cleaning out our cupboards I noticed that my eldest boy no longer suffered migraines and no longer took so long with gut aches on the toilet. So obviously he also was affected by these chemicals but in a different manner than my uncontrollable daughter.

Now in our family two of my nephews and a niece have also gone on the diet with the same excellent results. One of my nephews went from struggling to get through one reader a week to reading one a night almost instantly.

My daughter is now twelve with her full potential being realised and is the biggest advocate of all for the failsafe diet. We laugh now about what we refer to as her "psychotic episodes" (which thankfully we haven't seen in a few years now). I used to think "what did I do so wrong with my daughter. My boys are good boys where did I go wrong." It was good to learn that it wasn't anything I did wrong as such. It was the food I was feeding her. – email, NT

My daughter is nine years old now and I intend to keep her home schooled for the rest of her school years. Not only is she behaving better because she eats only failsafe food but her concentration has improved, she enjoys learning and is learning more and is a far happier child as a result. I'd strongly recommend home schooling for parents of kids with ADHD. Before we started home schooling, my daughter exhibited strongly ODD behaviour patterns and was becoming a very unhappy and unsettled little girl. It's so good to see her playing happily with the others and being able to hold a conversation instead of fighting and tormenting.

Socialisation is no problem for us. We are already a large family, however, we organise outside activities as well. Our kids do a horsemanship course (their choice) as well as other activities that bring them into contact with others. Last year we tried our daughter with ballet for a while but would have been better with all-in wrestling. This year she's doing trampolining. It's more her style. Largely, I think that kids in schools get too much of the one kind of socialisation. I personally think they develop better if they learn to socialise with people across all age groups.

To get permission to home school is easy, in NSW you download the application forms from the Board of Studies website, fill them in and send them, but there are a few things that need to be in place.

Firstly, you need to develop a plan of what you are going to teach. To help with this, the website of the Board of Studies has a site that tells what subjects have to be taught and what sort of components in each subject you need to address. It's the normal school curriculum that has to be followed. I found this a bit worrying at first but it ended up being fairly easy. I am a trained primary school teacher which did of course make things much easier, but I found the greatest amount of help from other home schooling parents on the internet. You do not have to be a teacher to home school but you do need to develop a pretty good program. I'm pleased to say that the Board of Studies has approved the programs that I've written for my girls and has asked if I would help other homeschooling parents in my area, which I do and I'd be happy to help 'failsafers' with theirs if they need it.- Chris (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

More Articles ...

  1. [463] “Tell Sue I’m not a cranky pants anymore” (November 2006)
  2. [464] Food intolerance developed in an adult (November 2006)
  3. [465] Trip report: food in Ireland (November 2006) (November 2006)
  4. [466] Swimming pool chlorine triggers oppositional defiance (November 2006)
  5. [467] 635: Ribo rash and increased sensitivity (November 2006)
  6. [468] Lots of mistakes at first (November 2006)
  7. [469] ‘Old fashioned butcher is safer’ - asthma from amines in meat (November 2006)
  8. [470] Overcoming resistance (November 2006)
  9. [471] 319: 320: Chronic tic disorder from synthetic antioxidants (November 2006)
  10. [472] ‘Years of difficult days, tears of frustration and questioning myself as a mother’ (November 2006)
  11. [473] Two weeks of hell from coloured antibiotics (November 2006)
  12. [474] One-liners (November 2006)
  13. [455] Diet diary of a six year old self-harmer (September 2006)
  14. [456] Heart palpitations and buzzing sensation (September 2006)
  15. [457] 635: Heart palpitations from 635 (September 2006)
  16. [458] 635: Irregular heart beat - “thought I was dying” (September 2006)
  17. [434] My daughter’s epilepsy (August 2006)
  18. [435] Amines are the really big problem (August 2006)
  19. [436] Amines: depression and hungover (August 2006)
  20. [437] Amines and eczema (August 2006)
  21. [438] I have well and truly got their attention now (August 2006) COURAGE AWARD STORY AUGUST 2006
  22. [440] "my son had an horrific reaction to fish oil " (August 2006)
  23. [441] Tim's world (shadowings of Asperger's) (August 2006)
  24. [442] Thoughts from a 12 year old failsafer (August 2006)
  25. [443] 635: Spasms of the oesophagus due to 635 (August 2006)