The Food Intolerance Network provides information and support for people worldwide using a low-chemical elimination diet free of additives, low in salicylates, amines and flavour enhancers (FAILSAFE) for health, behaviour and learning problems.
What’s on sale in your school canteen/tuckshop?
Low vitamin D levels linked to allergies in children
Research: Raine ADHD Study: Long-term outcomes associated with stimulant medication in the treatment of ADHD in children, NY schools study revisited
In brief: 243 Ethyl lauroyl arginate (new food preservative); Declaration of soy in medicines; University of Qld eczema survey; Quorn foods; Doctors find fruit and vegetables better than antibiotics for ear infections
Now targeting: Colours in school canteens/tuckshops. Good news from Parmalat about 160b annatto.
Success stories: -
Shopping list: new products, warnings
Questions: detailed help and information
Around the groups: meet our members
Cooks Corner: How to make quark, Maple quark jelly, Swedish rotmos, Lamb Kebabs with Raita
After nearly 20 years of lobbying, I am pleased to see that artificial colours have been completely eliminated from all the foods sold in Aldi supermarkets and from home brands in other supermarkets. This is a win similar to the dropping of bread preservatives by major brands six years ago, and shows what consumer concerns can do. Well done to all who have been involved in our campaigns, have complained to manufacturers and most importantly, have refused to buy foods with artificial colours! Now we need to get rid of colours from school canteens, see our Fed Up with School Canteens campaign below – you are invited to have your say.
Thank you to the thousands of readers who have emailed us. We can't include everything, but you'll find a mixture of interesting, inspiring and extraordinary stories in this issue, along with more ideas and recipes to help your family, and details of our Fedup Roadshow 2011 talks in August – pre-pay tickets are now on sale – and thanks to all the failsafers who are helping to make this tour happen.
Happy failsafeing - Sue Dengate
What’s on sale in your school canteen/tuckshop?
Many parents have expressed their disappointment to us about the anti-obesity, ‘healthy’ food guidelines in Australian school canteens. As one failsafer commented: ‘Low salt, low sugar, low fat and let's give them every other bit of rubbish we can find to give it taste. Missed the point I'd say’.
Low vitamin D levels linked to allergies in children
In February, a study of more than 3,000 children at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York showed that low vitamin D levels are associated with increased likelihood that children will develop allergies to both food and environmental allergens. Over the last five years, low vitamin D levels have also been linked to asthma, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, dementia, schizophrenia and some common cancers as well as auto-immune diseases such as fibromyalgia and MS.
The best source of Vitamin D is the action of sunlight on the skin, so vitamin D deficiency is common in people who use sunscreen and other forms of sun protection or who spend little time outdoors. People with coeliac disease and other bowel conditions that cause malabsorption are also at risk. A failsafer whose dietitian recommended a blood test was surprised to find her daughter’s Vitamin D level barely in the normal range (55, regarded as sub-optimal) with no improvement after three months of trying to increase sun exposure, see story  below.
In Australia and New Zealand, the official sun recommendation for exposure of unprotected face, hands and arms ‘most days’ ranges from 7 minutes at 10 am in summer in Northern Australia to 97 minutes in winter in Christchurch. According to researchers from the Vitamin D, Skin, and Bone Research Laboratory in Boston, in the absence of exposure to sunlight, a minimum of 1000 IU vitamin D per day is required to maintain a healthy concentration of vitamin D in the blood. Vitamin D supplements permitted on the strict elimination diet include OsteVit-D which contains the equivalent to 1000 IU vitamin D3 per capsule (consult your dietitian).
Further reading: Sharief et al, 2011; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110224103244.htm; Holick, 2011 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21415774; Joshi et al, Vitamin D deficiency in adults 2010 http://www.australianprescriber.com/magazine/33/4/103/6; Reader Story  belowBooks, DVD and Failsafe magnifying card now available through www.fedup.com.au
You can buy Sue’s books and DVD individually or as “the set” (Fed Up, the Failsafe Cookbook & the DVD Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour) at competitive prices. The new magnifying failsafe card with names and numbers of all 50 additives to avoid is also available.
May 2011 Raine ADHD Study: Long-term outcomes associated with stimulant medication in the treatment of ADHD in children. This study reported a lack of significant improvements in long-term social, emotional and academic functioning associated with the use of stimulant medication, and that between the age of 8 and 14 years there may be a negative effect of stimulant medication on diastolic blood pressure above and beyond the well-established immediate short-term effects on cardiovascular function. http://www.health.wa.gov.au/publications/documents/MICADHD_Raine_ADHD_Study_report_022010.pdf
NY schools study revisited - the New York City Nutrition Policy Modification Project 1978-1983: this 4 year project removed additives from meals in 803 schools and more than a million students. It was associated with an improvement in ranking in national achievement tests from 11% below average to 5% above. No other school district could be located which reported such a large gain above the rest of the nation so quickly in a large population. The Learning Disability rate was more than halved, with over 75,000 children no longer classified as Learning Disabled. Schoenthaler et al, 1986, more details.
Diet not working as well as you'd hoped?
243 Ethyl lauroyl arginate (new food preservative approved 2010 - CAUTION) approved by food regulators in yoghurts, cheeses, sauces and toppings, deserts, snacks, peeled and cut fruit and veg, cooked rice, flour products, processed meat and fish, fruit and veg juices, water-based flavoured drinks....
Declaration of soy in medicines: thanks to Clare in Tasmania who wrote to the Therapeutic Drugs Administration (TGA) about soy not being declared on medicines and got this positive answer – “the TGA has been reviewing labelling requirements for medicines and is aware of the importance of the declaration of certain ingredients that are potential allergens. It is expected that future amendments to labelling requirements will include the mandatory declaration of the presence of soy derived ingredients. http://www.tga.gov.au/. It also appears that the door has been left open for future mandatory declaration of GM products too.
University of Qld eczema survey: researchers are asking parents of 3-10 year olds with eczema to complete an online survey. Survey details at https://experiment.psy.uq.edu.au/eczema/
Failsafer comment: ‘It seems to be a great opportunity for food intolerance management as an eczema management approach to be represented in this research as the emphasis seems to be on parenting choices not just treating symptoms. I’ve just done the survey, reflecting on how we handle eczema for my 5 year old son (mostly a non issue these days as long as we stick to low sals diet) - thanks to Melinda
Quorn foods: Lawyers criticize FSANZ’s inconsistent approach to scientific-based public health and safety risk assessment for mycoprotein: http://www.foodlegal.com.au/bulletin/articles/is_fsanzs_approach_to_quorntm_mycoprotein_consistent_with_previous_fsanz_policy/
Doctors find fruit and vegetables better than antibiotics for ear infections: NSW GPs Dr Andrew Black and Dr Ray Jones at the Grafton Aboriginal Medical Service have found that providing a subsidised box of fruit and vegetables works better than antibiotics for frequent ear infections, skin infections and hospitalisations for children with Vitamin C deficiency.
Fed up with school canteens and tuckshops? Tell us about your canteen – good or bad - so that we can compare them with others. (You and your school can remain anonymous if you wish). Several schools have already responded. Details
In the last issue we asked you to complain to dairy giant Parmalat about annatto 160b in yogurts. See Tiffany’s letter below  and the Parmalat reply - “they are currently working to make this ingredient change. When the change occurs it will be reflected on updated packaging.” Parmalat yoghurt brands include Vaalia, Pauls and SoyLife. Congratulations to Lyndel, Tiffany and everyone else who participated in this campaign !!!
For every story we report, there are probably another 10 which cover similar issues. And these are just the ones we get to hear about.
See all stories and search them. Names have been changed to protect privacy.
 One-liners (May 2011)
Your website is a real life saver for all us FED UP with Doctors & Medical Industry & Food Manufacturers - Cher by email
I have a mast cell activation disorder that seems to result in amine and salicylate sensitivity, but I have felt much, much better since discovering failsafe eating – Monica by email.
I just want to say a huge thank you to yourself, Sue and your team of volunteers. We have managed to keep both our children off all medication for hyperactivity and ADHD diagnosis through your diet and recommendations. Whilst it is hard and we slip up - it is worth it. - Leonie, Sydney
The information and support I had from your food intolerance network changed my life incredibly at a time when I really couldn't see an end to the challenges I was experiencing ... and for this I will be forever indebted to you both ... I continually forward people onto your website and books for help – Tina by email
Thank you Sue, we are so blessed that you willingly share your knowledge ... and truly care about people. – Joy, by email
I knew I react to glutamates and I believed intolerance to gluten but I recently went on holiday and ate bread daily - I normally eat bread about once a week – and had very few fruit and vegetables and felt like a different person, looks like a lot more reading and strict elimination may have to be carried out now - Sharon, by email
From your fantastic website I have just found a local butcher who makes failsafe sausages! - by email
I am currently seeing a dietitian for my salicylate problem, which is helping me heaps. I am not on the full strict diet any more as we have worked out I can tolerate Low and a couple of Moderate level foods but if I have too many then the problems start up. I didn't know about medication and perfumes, so I am going to go through my cabinet and start to replace. The funny thing was I didn't link my problems with my daughter’s problems with behaviour until I was reading your website and now I see how it is all linked. - Fiona, Qld
  Brief reports from various school canteens (May 2011)
P&F actively aims to have low additive foods: The parents and friends association at Beaconsfield Primary school in Victoria actively aims to have low additive foods in our canteen ... One of the products has artificial colour - flavoured milk ¬ and this product was chosen because it had less additives than other flavours. Most of the other products are “nasty” free, and they even have 2 failsafe products! - Miriam, Vic
Our school seems intent on using "red light" days to the extreme with the selling of "spider drinks" – artificially coloured soft drinks and ice cream.
 Canteen changes came from parents requesting no nasty additives (May 2011)
The school canteen at the Glen Huon Primary School is only open once a week and is run by volunteers. As part of the policy the canteen avoids the additives as listed on your website. There are products available on the shelf at the local supermarket, it is just a matter of reading the labels. Sometimes the products we purchase do cost more and do not last on the shelf as long but it is worth the little bit of extra effort. The changes at Glen Huon came about from the parents requesting 'no artificial flavours, colours and nasty preservatives'. So get other parents to let their school canteens know what they want. – by email
 Canteen sold every food known to man that was loaded with additives (May 2011)
Our canteen at Warnervale Public School used to be "a healthy canteen" that met all the government requirements. It was stocked with every food known to man that was loaded with additives. With a push from a couple of parents and the full support of the Principal and Assistant Principal, the canteen has been slowly changed as foods were sourced to replace current ones, and finally we just deleted every food that didn't meet the no chemical additive requirement. The one exception being the bread, but we're working on that. This included not only colours, but preservatives and flavours as well. The weekly menu was completely overhauled and although it has been difficult at times with a couple of upset parents, we have had far more support for the changes than opposition. It's an ongoing education for parents, as there is so little true understanding of what 'healthy' actually is. What many parents consider healthy actually isn't. We have sourced sausages and meat patties which are additive free and contain 40% vegetables. We sell juice by the cup that is 100% additive free. The only milk for sale is plain milk. We have worked up a slushie recipe (as they are so popular) that is additive free. Anyway, you get the picture. – by email
 “For the first time in my life (I am now 41), I don't have a sore on me” (May 2011)
I would like to mention that I recently purchased all of Sue's books so I could expand on our recipes. When I bought these my husband decided that we (as the parents) should go through the elimination diet. We are both diagnosed adult ADHD. We are on week 2. By the end of week 1, I was overjoyed with a diet response. I have suffered with a "mysterious unexplainable" skin disease since I was about 10. I have seen Chinese doctors, acupuncture, naturopaths, had biopsies taken of the sores, etc. Nobody could give me a diagnosis so we put it down to a stress trigger. I would get a pussy looking pimple that got itchy. I would scratch it and it would blow open into an ulcer. Within 3 days I would have an ulcer the size of the top of my little finger. I had to keep cool bathing and in severe cases wash in Pinetarsol to heal the wound up. Right through primary school, high school - my whole life. First week on the diet and for the first time in my life (I am now 41), I don't have a sore on me. No pimple looking things, nothing. My skin has never been like this. My husband made a joke last night and said he looked forward to having a Christmas party this year where I could wear a sleeveless dress. During teenager years (when I was obviously eating most of the nasty foods) I could have up to 40 ulcers on my legs and arms at a time – Leona, ACT
 Jade’s story: no ventolin needed after 27 years of asthma (May 2011)
I have suffered from severe asthma since I was 18 months (current age = 29). I have been completing the elimination diet with the supervision of my GP because there are no supportive dietitians here.
So far I have passed the following challenges: salicylates, amines, propionates, sorbates, benzoates, colours, nitrates and sulphites. I have failed: dairy, lactose free dairy, and MSG/natural glutamates. When I was little I use to react to milk with asthma after half a glass but always thought it was only milk that set me off, not all of the other dairy products too. I reacted to the milk challenge by day 2. With the lactose free milk, I actually woke up in the middle of the night with quite bad asthma. I have also found that my skin has improved, my post nasal drip has pretty much gone and my sinus pains have been almost nonexistent since beginning elimination.
I completed the MSG/natural glutamate challenge and failed on the 3rd day. Asthma became quite bad and I needed ventolin for next 3 days after. I had to use Buteyko breathing a lot to feel ok. Also found that I fell into a blubbering heap for 2 days after the challenge, not much fun!
I am doing it by myself and have found it extremely challenging socially but I am coping. I was so unwell last year that I just had to do something else. This was suggested by my homeopath. Thank you so much for spending the time on Fed Up.
My asthma has improved significantly, from 1600 mg pulmicort and an average of 8 puffs of ventolin a day (in the week before beginning elimination) to 800mg pulmicort a day and I haven't had any ventolin since failing the MSG/natural glutamate challenge so the last puff would have been a month ago. My doctor is hesitant to reduce this dosage of pulmicort as my asthma is also impacted through environmental factors such as weather changes. I have even been attending fitness classes again, which is so exciting and haven't needed ventolin so far. I have been able to just use my Buteyko breathing if feeling a bit of tightness. Feels like I'm getting control back on my life! - :) Jade, South Australia
 Sneaky poos (May 2011)
We started the strict elimination diet a year ago and have been following it since then for my 6 year old son because he was diagnosed with encopresis, given drugs that didn't work and was soiling his pants every day at school. Horrible. When we started the diet we had amazing success. He started pooing in the toilet every day and the pants soiling stopped almost immediately. The only time that this happened again for all of last year was when he was reacting to something through challenges or by something that snuck into his diet. – Toni
 Trying to pinpoint what went wrong last time (May 2011)
I am about to embark on the strict elimination diet for the 3rd time, but I am trying to pinpoint what went wrong the 2nd time round – I was consistently bloating but not as severely as normal - versus the 1st time round when I felt fantastic. Using your salicylate and amine mistakes information sheets and the product updates on the fed up site, I have so far picked up the following errors: Coles Pears in Syrup snackpacks (contained pear juice), Simply Wize Crusty Bread (maize flour), Dovedale Rice & Chia Bread (Chia seeds), and the wrong Cenovis multivitamin (Once Daily Women's Multi, contains evening primrose oil). Thanks for all of your help and detailed knowledge, I think I would have been doing many more things wrong in the diet without having the fed up site to look at. - Belinda, by email
 Fitting and blisters - damage to children or dogs (May 2011)
I have been looking at the dog food section of your site. Many years ago my dog began fitting much like the dog story reported and he also broke out in blisters. I too removed all preservatives and followed an additive free diet set down by a herbalist and dog breeder. He was fine for a while but then the grandchildren came to stay and as doggies do he was cleaning up after them ... he now has blisters on his skin again but no fitting. My daughter and I have just gone through our cupboard looking for all the additives etc and are astounded by what we found. We will be reading the labels in future to remove the likelihood of further damage to either the children or the dogs. Thanks for the help. Denise, by email
 Reacted to amines in supermarket meat - despite dietitian advice (May 2011)
I haven't been back to see the dietitian again. I found that I knew more than she did, and while she was supportive, she needed to look up information in books that I already knew myself. She would probably be good for someone who hasn't done as much online research for themselves and wasn't as aware of nutrition. She did have some good suggestions, but her advice re: amines wasn't so great either - she said supermarket meat should be fine as long as it was in date, and was determined that my son couldn't be reacting as much as he was - to get me to try meat again (which I did, and got an awful reaction from him). – by email, (If you have found a really good dietitian or someone on our list isn’t good enough, please let us know so we can help others! Also, please email health professionals with feedback if possible; it is the only way they can learn by their mistakes. - S)
 Chronic fatigue, endometriosis and diet (May 2011)
I have had Chronic fatigue symptoms for 6 years and seen heaps of Doctors. I have tried an elimination diet and a vega allergy test diet through a doctor and not found much relief. I started failsafe eating as soon as I read your book last year and found it made me feel much better, but I still felt very lethargic and felt something was wrong. I had been on the merry-go-round of Doctors for almost 7 years and finally they found late last year that I had a severe case of endometriosis. Immediately after the surgery I felt so much better! It was like a miracle. I was very angry because my symptoms had actually started 18 years prior and no one had picked it up!
I think my body had been struggling with it for so long, it was just packing it in. I really believe the diet gave my immune system the break it needed and probably kept me alive and going last year. I at least had the energy to keep annoying the Doctors, who had told me it was all in my head for years. While sick, on the diet, I basically could only stay on the lowest food chemicals. After surgery I gradually tested amines, salicylates and MSG and found I suddenly had no reaction to them like before. I believe this indicates that a stressed immune system doesn't cope with food chemical and additive overload. I have still to test additives/colours, but have just found it easier and healthier to avoid them. Thanks so much for your help, books and yummy recipes. I’m so glad you have started this journey and hope you can keep making a big change to what goes into our food. – by email, Qld (See more on our Womens Health factsheet)
 319, 320: Antioxidants and chronic fatigue (May 2011)
In 1995 I gradually developed CFS and was invalided out of work a year later. In late 1999 I began the RPAH elimination diet. Ten days later my brain fog and fatigue were greatly diminished. Challenges confirmed intolerance to dairy and gluten – which I had eliminated years previously – and indicated intolerances to salicylates, amines and glutamates.
In the following years I had a few relapses, usually lasting for no longer than a couple of weeks. The exception was a six months relapse, which ceased five days after I decreased my intake of vegetable oil and changed from canola to sunflower. (Both oils had no additives listed on the label)
In January 2007 I was feeling quite well and had no significant CFS relapse for a couple of years. At the beginning of February my energy plummeted. I needed to spend at least twelve hours a day lying down, instead of eight hours. Physical fatigue and brain fog returned in force. Six weeks later I bounced back, and was quite well for a few weeks, then I plummeted again. These irregular fluctuations continued throughout the year, but the highs got lower and the lows got lower. I became much more sensitive to amines.
In early February 2008 I went to Woolworths for grocery shopping. I picked up a bottle of sunflower oil and glanced automatically at the contents. In a way, I was not really looking because I ‘knew’ that nobody put additives into sunflower oil in Australia. But there it was: ‘Sunflower Oil, Antioxidants E319, E320’. I squeezed my eyes tight, reopened them, and read the same thing. Then I grinned and imagined myself leaping into the air and clicking my heels. Yes!
I phoned Woolworths and was told that their sunflower oil had E319 and E320 since the beginning of 2007. But sometimes my wife bought sunflower oil from Coles. No, Coles had never put antioxidants into their sunflower oil. We take about six weeks to consume a one litre bottle of sunflower oil. I looked back in my diary and found that the length of my ups and downs were in multiples of six weeks. We swapped to Coles sunflower oil. Eighteen days later I was fully well again. – Ian, by email
 Victoria’s CFS & perfume sensitivity story (May 2011) COURAGE AWARD
My daughter Victoria is now 13 years old. When she was five she became very unwell with a gastro bug and was quite ill for three weeks (vomiting, diarrhoea, nausea). The sensation of nausea did not go away after she recovered. After some weeks we were referred to a paediatrician who diagnosed nervous dyspepsia. I knew this was not right and asked to be referred to a gastroenterologist. The GP reluctantly did so. The paed gastro specialist did an endoscopy and found a helicobacter ulcer which was then treated with antibiotics. Unfortunately the nausea remained, and diarrhoea started to become more of problem.
We were referred to a dietitian who dealt with intolerances and followed her elimination diet to the letter with very little improvement. I understand now that this dietitian’s diet was quite relaxed and included many foods in the moderate category (yoghurt, mangoes, just ripe bananas, Colby cheese etc). We abandoned the diet after three months and just ate home-cooked plainish food with no artificial additives (this did include a range of organic fruit and veg).
For the next six or so years we battled with Victoria’s health. The tummy problems continued (nausea, diarrhoea). Her immune system was poor (she caught everything going around). She was irritable, impatient and not affectionate. She constantly had dark circles under her eyes. And then about three years ago she began to suffer frequent headaches mainly sinus ones. She was just never well.
We went everywhere and did everything to try to help her (blood tests, acupuncturist, paediatric allergist, naturopath, eye tests, physiotherapist, ear/nose/throat specialist you name it we did it with no improvement).
Now it is relevant to talk about myself for a moment. For 20 years I have had turns where after eating out I would become really unwell. This was usually at a restaurant. First I get nausea, then feel faint and break out in a cold sweat followed by vomiting or diarrhoea or both. Sometimes I do actually faint. Even though we had not had any success with the early (relaxed) elimination diet I did learn about food chemicals at this time, and realised that it was ultra high-amine foods that I was reacting to (e.g. camembert cheese followed by aged beef with wine gravy etc).
Now cut back to mid last year one evening I prepared a meal of very fresh roast organic chicken (with skin) and homemade gravy, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and peas. After eating some of her meal, Victoria had a similar reaction to the ones I described above. This was the first time she had had the same type of turn as me. I recognised that this meal was high in amines (but not too high for me) and realised that amines were a problem for her.
So then I read your books and went to a new dietitian (dealing with intolerances) and discovered that Victoria needs to eat a diet low in all food chemicals. If she does stay absolutely strict she is reasonably well. The nausea problem has reduced dramatically, as has the diarrhoea. She is less irritable and more affectionate. Her headaches have reduced. Her immunity is better. We have seen a real improvement!
Her diet is very limited. (Unfortunately, she is also intolerant to raffinose, so she can’t even eat all the vegies in the low category!) We have to get our meat from a butcher who phones me the day the beef arrives from the abattoir, and I go that day and buy (and freeze) meat for the next month. She is very sensitive.
Victoria’s sinus headache problem is certainly affected by food chemicals - it has improved quite a lot on the elimination diet, but a whole range of environmental allergens seem to trigger it too. The grass being cut affects her. Walking through the detergent isle in the supermarket affects her. The smell of perfume and cosmetics affects her. Household chemicals affect her. Some particular irritants:
- Hairspray and other spray-on hair products: She feels an urgent need to remove herself from the smell of these products. She feels she can taste them and they cause her a serious headache. We can’t go to a normal hairdressing salon - she says they are toxic. We have our hair cut at a home salon and the hairdresser doesnt use any products on us.
- Dust: she is aware of dust if it is around and finds it unpleasant because it irritates her nose, but it is not until later that she develops a sinus headache. These headaches can be quite bad and last for many days.
- Perfumes/aromatherapy scents: these smells are all really distasteful to her. She feels nauseous and headachy in environments that are scented. She has a strong feeling that she needs to leave.
- Garden smells and pollens: she is very aware of them - they make her nose feel sneezy and occasionally she develops a headache.
- The smell of clothes washing detergent and other cleaners are most distasteful to Victoria. The skin on her face flushes and feels irritated, and she develops a headache if exposed to the smell for more than a couple of minutes. For washing sheets and pillow cases I often just use a hot water cycle with no detergent and dry them in the sun. They look and smell clean to us. For washing clothes I use the skin care cycle on our machine which uses more water and does an extra rinse, and just use a little OMO Sensitive or Earth Choice Sensitive. Once again, things come out clean, even with less detergent. We can’t detect a fragrance after washing and drying in the sun.
- If we happen to wear a garment that has been washed in normal fragrant powder for whatever reason, we both feel unwell and get a headache. I developed a very severe headache that lasted for days once (years ago) as I had lent a shirt to someone and they returned it after washing it in normal detergent and using Fabulon during the ironing process. I foolishly wore it to work and became so unwell and dizzy that I had to go home sick! We ourselves use Mitchum unscented deodorant, QV non soap alternative, Bod ultrasensitive fragrance free shampoo and conditioner purchased online from Biome or Simple shampoo and Conditioner ordered in by our local pharmacy.
- Victoria notices and dislikes the smell of petrol, cigarette smoke and basically anything else with a strong smell.
- Oppressive humid weather gives Victoria (and her grandmother) a sinus headache.
I suffer from sinus headaches too, and all of the above affect me, but I am not nearly as sensitive. Victoria and I both have a fantastic sense of smell. We can both smell cigarette smoke from a neighbour smoking in his back yard four big house blocks away. We are both super sensitive to food smells as well, especially protein foods (which of course comes in very handy with catering for an amine responder!)
One of the many specialists we have taken Victoria to is a paediatric allergist. She took one look at Victoria and commented that she looked like an allergy sufferer. She noticed (amongst other things) the dark circles under Victoria’s eyes and a wrinkle or line across her nose that indicated constant rubbing of her nose. Victoria was tested for a wide range of commons allergens, but the skin prick tests did not reveal allergy. The specialist said that she was surprised, and recommended Victoria use a saline nasal spray (which she does) and use antihistamines when needed as she may be allergic to things other than what she was tested for.
The whole body load issue is certainly relevant for Victoria. How badly she responds to irritating food and smells certainly varies according to the load on her body school stress, PMT, illness etc. She is definitely doing better on a diet of all low chemical foods, but it does not take much to upset her balance.
When Victoria is not doing well she feels overstimulated very easily by light, noise, smells (of course) and other stimulants. She also has poor volume control at such times, even though she is usually a quiet girl. Another recurring problem is urinary tract irritation not pain or burning just a constant feeling of needing to dash to the loo.
I have two other things I wanted to mention (for what they are worth):
- Victoria is gifted. She was accelerated a whole grade in primary school and excels academically. I nearly choked on my tea when I read in one of your books that we ‘should not blame bad behaviour on giftedness’ - I had been blaming her prickliness, impatience and irritability with others on giftedness to some degree.
- We have very recently discovered that Victoria’s blood levels of Vitamin D are in the normal range (55), but only barely. Our dietitian (from the failsafe list) says that in her opinion the bare minimum should be 75 and we should be aiming for 100. She says that recent overseas research indicates that there is a link between intolerances and low vitamin D levels. We are trying to get Victoria into the sun for safe periods every day to improve this, and will test again in 3 months …
Update 3 months later: We have actually been faring better over the last month or so. We had a re-test for vitamin D levels and to our surprise discovered that despite trying to increase sun-exposure, Victoria’s levels were still at the low-normal level of 55 (normal range is 50-300). Our dietitian had suggested previously that we should aim for higher than 100. So I decided to try a failsafe vitamin D capsule. I don’t know if that has helped, or it is just a co-incidence, but after a couple of weeks Victoria seems to be back to faring quite well on the low-chemical diet. I am cautiously optimistic.
What a long story - and this is only a small part of it! Thanks very much for your wonderful work. Your books and website are fantastic. I am very grateful. - Carol, by email
 I feel better without FRUIT (May 2011)
You actually brought tears to my eyes when l read, you don’t need fruit, vegetables are best!!!! You know before l knew my problem was food, l used to eat soooo many fruits and vegetables l was sooo sick all of the time, but the sicker l got the more fruit and vegies l would eat. I do know l feel better without FRUIT, it’s just lovely to have someone to talk to that doesn’t think lm over the top! – Helen, Vic
 635: Ribo rash in a breastfed baby (May 2011)
 Effects of dairy foods (May 2011)
There is no doubt at all in my mind about the great effect that foods have on my children although it has taken me about 3 years to accept it. But I still cannot get my head around why dairy foods cause such a behavioural response with my daughter. When eating dairy foods, she gets dark rings around her eyes, and is not just bad, she is impossible to live with. I just can not understand how a food can affect her in this way. Her oppositional defiance is incredible. It is also as if she is completely deaf. Her voice becomes so loud it makes me cringe and it also becomes a lot higher in pitch. She is not affectionate at all and is very serious as well. It is as if she has complete focus, driven, locked in, intense, not able to snap out of her bad behaviour. It is only now (she is 5 1/2 years of age) that I am starting to bond with my daughter in a calm and loving way, before this it has been a desperate, lost love.
Since she has been dairy-free she listens, talks more quietly and without intensity, she lets me cuddle her, she does not get locked into bad behaviour and we can negotiate together. She has always been strong willed and very smart but now I can enjoy it. I am so happy now. I guess if there was a logical explanation for this huge behavioural response I would stop questioning my judgement so much. Because it is just behavioural, you can tell our peer group think it is our parenting and they also question the failsafe food idea as a bit odd. I guess what I am trying to ask is how can food affect the voice, make you deaf, fearless, and completely oppositional? - reader, Qld
 Powerhouse brain (May 2011)
I am an 18 year old student. The diet has been immeasurably useful for me. I can now think better, clearer, and I can reason logically where before an idea would just revolve around in my head. I can now do household chores! This might not seem too momentous, but just ask anyone in my household. I actually have fun cleaning up the kitchen now!
I have ventured forth from the den of my room, and have spent less time skulking around the Net and more time socialising ... Thanks to the diet, I am going to try again to pass Year 12 next year, so I can go to university.
It's quite interesting to trace the time in my life when I started doing badly in school. It was the exact time that I moved to the city, and started eating more junk food like meat pies, ham etc. I continued to do worse and worse in school until I dropped out of Year 13 last semester. Now, I can be confident of having my old powerhouse brain back again. – Russell, by email
 Behaviour problems due to hairspray (May 2011)
My girls were on elimination for 3 weeks. Our eldest - we did it for her - was a new calm tolerant child. We were thrilled. We did the salicylate challenge and after 4 days we had to abort it as she had enormous stomach cramps, diarrhoea and bad behaviour. Since then she has gone downhill and we have not been able to do another challenge yet (3 weeks). Her behaviour and concentration have plummeted and even the netball coach commented this week. The only thing we have done differently is that we have a new hairspray, my husband feels that must be problem and I am getting suspicious too. Even though her diet is true elimination could one small spray of this hairspray each morning be the culprit??? She is miserable and we are back to being exhausted with her. I feel sorry for our eldest as she had been making such progress. Update a few days later: Well, our daughter has already settled down after about 2-3 days. She even said this morning gosh I feel better. – Nic, by email
 160b: Annatto 160b in yoghurt - an open letter to Parmalat (May 2011)
Why do manufacturers have to put 160b in their yoghurts? I am really disgusted and disappointed that they can't see what this harmful colour does to children and adults alike. Before I knew of its harmful side effects I would gladly give my 2 year old a tub of yoghurt thinking I was doing the right thing, little did I know at the time that I was giving my child a dose of crazy and irrational behaviour that bordered on vicious and just plain heartbreaking to watch. Now that I know that this colour is detrimental to my child’s well-being - I will never ever purchase something with it in. Why is it not banned in Australia? For a supposed first world country with brains and intelligence - we have made some really bad decisions when it comes to food additives and artificial colours - we are poisoning our children - yoghurt can definitely shoulder some of this blame. Make the right choice, take this colour out of yoghurt! – Tiffany, by email
 160b: "It wasn't me mum, it was Annatto'' (May 2011)
A few weeks I thought my son decided to kick start the terrible two’s early and begin to show me his quite advanced tantrum throwing. Out of nowhere he would start banging his head! on the floor, wall, me or what ever was in close range. And as most mothers would do I would either kneel down to him and talk with him, place my hand under his little forehead to stop him from hitting the hard tiles, carry him away, distract him, ignored him, you name it, but it continued and got worse! Then started the slapping and hair pulling, he would constantly slap the sides of his head with either one or both palms of his hand and or pull his hair to the point he would cry. His face would frown as he would moan and continue to slap himself.
It wasn’t just the physical actions either, he was again constantly irritable. Now for those mums who have intolerant children, irritable behavior can vary when affected. With my son, it’s a continuous grizzle along with constant disruptive behavior. Again, I know this sounds quite normal for toddlers to behave in this way occasionally, but it was daily and for most part of the day. And it only got more constant as time went on. I would look at him and think “this can’t be just a behavioral issue I have on my hands” my baby was clearly distressed and as I sat in a familiar field of not knowing what to do and at times on the verge of tears I would begin to question myself, what am I doing wrong? What kind of mother am I if I can’t settle my baby….again! Maybe I just have an unsettled, quick tempered emotional child on my hands! I then reassured myself that this wasn’t the first time I had been here, the lonely field of what to do and where to go, this place was no longer unfamiliar, I knew there was an answer I just have to find it and as time went on I did and it wasn’t him, it was Annatto!
Having already established that my son was dairy and food chemical intolerant, I began to sit back and re access his diet. He was still following the recommended RPA Strict Elimination Diet in exception of one or two extra side dishes and began to suspect extra dish 1, the ‘Soy Life’ vanilla soy yoghurt. It was literally the same day when I found a great Australian website where there was story after story of the effect that natural coloring 160b had on children, and what was the most common reaction you ask?........head banging, and where was the coloring? In the soy yoghurt!
I immediately stopped feeding him the yoghurt and just short of a week I began seeing dramatic improvements. My son didn’t show any reactions to the yoghurt the first time he tried it, and it did take quite some time before his change in behavior took place, however as he began teething and his desire for soft cold solids increased over time, it was the constant high intake of the yoghurt that did in fact cause the adverse reaction. - from Happy Tummies blog http://hubpages.com/hub/t-wasnt-me-mum-it-was-Annatto
 Quite shocked by food options (May 2011)
I'm quite shocked by the food options in our school canteen, especially considering the schools push for healthy food choices and the term long curriculum unit for grades 1 and 2 about healthy eating - any suggestions, support or information would be much appreciated. - thanks to Hannah
 Pleasant surprise in school newsletter (May 2011)
I have been concerned about my kids school and their food policies and have been gathering info so I could show the school the link, but yesterday I got a pleasant surprise.
In the weekly newsletter there was information from your Fed Up website informing parents of the risks of food chemicals and preservatives and the symptoms associated with them plus info about what parents can do and suggested foods to buy.
I almost fell off my chair - I am so happy that finally the school is recognising the important factor that food has on kids behaviour.
I am hoping that this will translate in better food at the tuckshop and lessen the push by teachers for dried fruit and cheese sticks (with preservatives) for the kid's brain food (ie snack food). I am writing the principal a "thank you" email for putting this info in the newsletter, hopefully some parents will take note. I thought I would let you know that the word is spreading, even up here in Nth Qld, and I think it is great! - Fiona, by email
 What kids eat during breaks (May 2011)
I work as a relief teacher (primary) and I am appalled by the food kids eat during breaks. Sometime I just want to throw up when I see their brightly coloured muesli bars, yogurt snacks and prepackaged "whatever is on the market". I have often come back from morning break to a totally different class of kids. It's like they went from angels to little devils. It can only be what they ate that has turned them so crazy! I think it is outrageous what they are doing to our food. There is hardly anything left to buy that is prepackaged in the supermarket that is safe to eat! - teacher, Qld
 Eczema exacerbated by dust mite allergy (March 2006)
A few years ago my son's health was declining with eczema attacks lasting several hours, and hives breaking out without us knowing the reason. He was already on a restricted diet but he was awake for 2-4 hrs every night, screaming "please help me, Mummy", and his legs were sometimes so scabbed up that he could not straighten them enough to walk. He was five. Eventually, we found the problem was dust mites. We knew he was sensitive to them because he had been allergy tested by a doctor, but I had "relaxed" a little with the vigilance I had previously had. And then I realised that the whole time, he had a big tear in the dustmite cover on his mattress.
So I went back to using the dust mite wash from the supermarket, and washing his sheets four times in clear water after that, and hanging them on the line all day, every six weeks. And washing his sheets in hot water every three days. And clearing his bedroom of everything except a bed, and wet-dusting once a week. he difference was amazing. The first night, he actually slept through. And now, a year and a bit later, his legs, which were just big scabs from bum to ankle, are beautiful creamy soft smooth skin. And a much happier boy. The emotional scars are still there, and taking time to heal. We got a book about eczema by a dermatologist that discusses the emotional toll on the family, and it is so true.- from the eczema factsheet.
 Allergy to Sorbolene (March 2006)
When our daughter first developed a rash our GP diagnosed it as pityriasis rosea, which is uncommon but not unheard of in babies and resolves itself after about 6 weeks. Two months on the rash was still there, so since then we have been trying to figure out the cause via the GP, naturopath, paediatrician, etc. Then one day I took my daughter to see the clinic sister who has seen her rash LOTS of times and mentioned to me almost in passing that some people can be "allergic" to sorbolene. Apparently people can build up a sensitivity to it over time and we've been slathering it on our poor daughter for months! I stopped putting it on and within a day her rash started improving.- from the eczema factsheet.
Don’t forget, you can see all current stories
Products are updated in the Failsafe Shopping List.
Here are recent updates from that list:
New Product: Quark is a mild white European cheese sometimes described as cottage cheese but it is actually made from yoghurt. It can be used as a spread, a dessert (fresh or frozen) or in cooking e.g. European-style cheesecakes. See Cooks Corner.
Quark is available from
- Barambah Organics Quark www.barambahorganics.com.au
- Elgaar Dairy http://www.elgaarfarm.com.au/Products/Fresh%20Cheese/Organic%20Fresh%20Cheese%20Main.htm
- Biodyndamic Farm Paris Creek Organic, as German style low fat or Swiss style full cream, www.bdfarmpariscreek.com.au
Reader report: Aldi wholemeal, multigrain, white sandwich and white toast bread from their basic range ie the 1.09 for white bread and 1.79 range for the wholemeal and multigrain all contain the antioxidants 319 and 320. I have found that the Coles Smart buy bread and Woolworths Homebrand does not contain these antioxidants, have changed over and so far no problems. Many Aldi products are using these antioxidants now so be aware. – thanks to Glenda
Ashburton 3147: Ashburton Meats 235 High St, Ashburton VIC 03 9885 8118 have listened to the community and are now making failsafe sausages! – thanks to Lucinda (there are now 80 butchers around Australia selling Failsafe sausages – see list by postcode in link above)
Reader report: Our lovely local butcher makes failsafe beef sausages as well as failsafe chicken sausages. He also has gluten and nitrate free ham. All his meat is free range (including his pork - although that of course is not failsafe!!) and he will make products to order if you ask him. – thanks to Pippa
Facial cleanser (fragrance free) for eczema from Cleure www.cleure.com
Reader report: I have been using the facial cleansing system for two weeks and the small amounts of stubborn eczema and adult acne which have hung about - even after going completely failsafe and even further restrictive due to additonal allergies and intolerances - has started to clear up quite miraculously. – thanks to Emma
Failsafe insect repellent from failsafe leaders group: Mix 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract with 1 cup of water, apply to skin. You can also place some neat vanilla extract in a small open container where the gnats tend to congregate and this will keep them away. http://www.makeyourown.net/Insect_repellent.shtml - has anyone fund this works well?
All questions from Food Intolerance Network members can be searched here.
Some of the information, particularly that about specific foods and what they contain, may be out of date – always check the Failsafe Shopping List for the latest information.
Q. Is okra OK for the elimination diet?
A. Okra (also known as gumbo or lady finger) is not listed in the RPAH handbook but canned okra was tested in the 1985 analysis of salicylate contents of foods at 0.59 mg/kg which makes it similar to fresh peach (0.58) classified as high - and we don't know about amines or glutamates. So not failsafe unfortunately.
Q. Is there any connection between diet and endometriosis?
A. Endometriosis is a condition in which misplaced cells from the lining of the uterus swell and bleed during menstruation, causing pain and sometimes infertility. Since endometriosis is considered to be an oestrogen dependent condition, researcher Dr Neal Barnard considers that women with endometriosis would benefit from the same very low fat diet that has been shown to be successful for women with heavy or painful periods. Dr Barnard also says that it is very common for women with endometriosis to suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Since failsafe eating works so well with irritable bowel symptoms, this suggests to us that a low fat version of failsafe eating may be worth a try. See the Womens Health factsheet
Q. I am not convinced about sugar. I gave my nieces pure white freshly made fairy floss thinking it was better for them, and they turned high as kites for 15 minutes after. Swinging like monkeys from the furniture and laughing their heads off! It was quite a remarkable change.
A. Research shows that children do not normally react behaviourally to sugar. When behavioural effects do occur, it is most likely because the children are salicylate sensitive (salicylates can cause ‘salicylate-induced hypoglycemia’). Strange as it may seem, kids like this will usually be far calmer and happier on a low salicylate diet than a low sugar diet. Remove the salicylates and they will be able to eat sugar without behavioural effects – although that is not the aim of the exercise.
Q. I have been following failsafe diet for my kids (3 and 5) with great success, but with cough and colds around now am struggling with pain relief. I have been trying to crush ½ Herron paracetamol tabs as this is the right paracetamol-per-kg and mix with golden syrup but they are not!! keen on taking it. Any suggestions?
A. Mary Poppins didn’t have it quite right - a tablespoon of failsafe ice cream such as Peters Original Vanilla or Sanitarium Vanilla Bliss is better than a spoonful of sugar for making the medicine go down because it numbs the taste buds.
Q. Twice now, we have gone out for dinner/party, and I have had white wine, only to have a reaction to it. I get very dizzy, can’t walk, hyperventilate, have heart palpitations & can’t talk coherently. The worst reaction is for the first few hours, with a vague dull dizziness and fuzziness in the head for a day or two afterwards. I realize that this sounds like I’m drunk; in fact, the first time it happened, my husband thought exactly that, and wasn’t very sympathetic! I can tell you that 3 glasses of white wine will make me ill, but 3 glasses of red wine, or beer or mixed spirits, will not affect me in the same way. I’m not a big drinker, and certainly don’t binge drink – 3 or 4 standard drinks would be the maximum I have ever consumed in one evening. The second time this happened, my husband began to suspect that I was reacting to something in the wine. Would it be the sodium metabisulphite? I have read that white wine is much higher in 220/223 than red.
A. There are many different kinds of reactions to sulphites. It is quite common for people to experience headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations or a hungover feeling from sulphites and it is true that high levels of sulphites are more common in white wines. There is an easy way to find out if sulphites are your problem - you can remove most sulphites from wines using Pure Wine or SO2GO www.so2go.com.au (this is a measured amount of food grade hydrogen peroxide which removes 50 to 80% of the sulphites). If not sulphites, it could be that you are affected by some of the natural food chemicals in wine.
New factsheets Factsheets are becoming our major way of making information available, now in printable format as well as online.
Updated factsheet: Sweeteners: sugar free and artificial
Can you help?
A 'Food Intolerances in Singapore' Facebook Group has been formed to collect together information and keep contact with a few other mums doing the diet/lifestyle there:
Nearly 2.3 million people have now visited www.fedup.com.au. Over 8,000 families now receive this quarterly newsletter.
See local contacts who can generally answer some questions about failsafe eating - many have brochures and a copy of the DVD to lend out. They can also advise on supportive dietitians locally.
Fedup Roadshow 2011 itinerary
Make sure of your seat: pre-pay print-at-home tickets. Tickets will also be available at the door or through your contact.
Brisbane Tuesday 9 August 7.30-9.30pm: “Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour” by Sue Dengate at St Thomas' Catholic Primary School, 10 Stephen Street, Camp Hill, Brisbane. Parking - Stephen Street, Joseph Street. Enter through roller door entrance towards Joseph Street end of school grounds. $15 for one parent, second parent free. Contact: Penney (bh) 07 3398 6633 or Leona 0412 627 563 or 07 3398 5584. Sue Dengate’s books and DVD will be available at a reduced price (cash, cheque or debit/credit card)
Newcastle Fri 12 August 10.00-13.00: Sue Dengate will be available to talk to parents and books will be for sale at the Hunter Alliance for Childhood (HAC) Expo, Cardiff Panthers Club, cnr. Munibung and Pendlebury Rds Cardiff.
Newcastle Sat 13 August 10.00-13.00: Sue Dengate will be available to talk to parents and books will be for sale at the Hunter Alliance for Childhood (HAC) Expo, Cardiff Panthers Club, cnr. Munibung and Pendlebury Rds Cardiff.
Tue 16 Canberra ACT (TBA)
Shepparton Wednesday 17 August 7.00-9.00pm: “Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour” by Sue Dengate at Harder Auditorium GOTAFE 152-200 Fryers Street, Shepparton VIC. $15 per person. Contact: Larissa 0422 316 203. Sue Dengate’s books and DVD will be available at a reduced price (cash, cheque or debit/credit card)
Monday 22 (TBA)
All Failsafe Newsletters can be searched and printed. There is a wealth of research, issue discussion, recipes, personal reports and recipes now available in one place. But some of the links are out of date and you must always check current products rather than relying on historical information.
Hint: “I just read the maple slushies recipe in Cook's Corner and thought I would mention that in some schools the plain slushie mix is a concentrated apple juice base with preservatives added so mums may want to double check the mix at their schools first before utilising this idea! How wonderful if it was just a plain ice mix you could send a little magic cordial or pear syrup as well!” - thanks to Lauren
How to make quark: Quark is a mild white European cheese made from yoghurt. Since yoghurt is now listed as moderate in amines (so not suitable for the strict elimination diet) whereas quark is listed as low, we wondered whether homemade quark is a failsafe way to eat yoghurt.
1 tub yoghurt, low fat if desired
Maple quark jelly
This dessert is quick and easy to make, low fat and delicious (contains dairy).
3 tbsp maple syrup
0.5 tsp agar agar
400g quark (or strain 500g yoghurt overnight)
On a hotplate, stir together water, maple syrup and agar agar in a small saucepan until boiling. Simmer gently for 2 mins, remove and cool a little then add to the quark stirring continuously. A wand blender makes this easy. Pour into a mould or bowls and set within a hour or so in the fridge. You can gently slip the jelly out onto a plate to amuse kids with the shape.
Rotmos meaning root mash is a mixture of mashed swedes (rutabagas) and potatoes, sometimes with carrots added.
1 medium to large swede (rutabaga)
3-4 medium potatoes
4-6 medium carrots (optional, mod salicylates, not for the strict elimination diet)
generous knob of butter (optional, but good for flavour)
3 tbsp milk (dairy, soy, rice or other)
salt to taste, preferably iodised
Thickly peel vegetables and cut into chunks. Steam or boil for 20 minutes or until soft. Drain most of the water, leaving a few tablespoons in the pan. Add the milk and butter (if using). Mash well. Add salt if desired. Serves 4 as a side dish. – thanks to Helen
Lamb kebabs with raita
These tasty kebabs are marinated in yoghurt and served with raita, a cucumber yoghurt sauce. To avoid moderate amines, you can use homemade quark as above (watered down if necessary) or soy yoghurt if also avoiding dairy.
2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt to taste, preferably iodised
2 x 200g tubs plain yoghurt (moderate amines, not for the strict elimination diet)
500g diced lamb
8 wooden skewers, soaked in water for 15 minutes
1 small Lebanese cucumber, thickly peeled and finely chopped (optional, mod salicylates, not for the strict elimination diet - chives would be a suitable alternative)
© Sue Dengate (text) PO Box 718 WOOLGOOLGA NSW 2456, Australia but material can be reproduced with acknowledgement. Thanks to Helen, Joanne, Sarah, Vera, Linda, Robin, Shell, Michael, Carol, Bron from the Adelaide group and especially Kathleen and Jenny from the Melbourne group; and the many others who have written, phoned and contributed to this newsletter. Further reading: The Simplified Elimination Diet from dietitians, Fed Up and The Failsafe Cookbook by Sue Dengate (Random House Australia), Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour (DVD) by Sue Dengate and Friendly Food, by Swain and others, (Murdoch Books).