Checklist of common mistakes B



          Are you avoiding gluten?


When the diet isn't working, you may need to reconsider gluten. Fewer people are affected by gluten than any other food chemical (e.g. for irritable bowel symptoms, 70% react to salicylates compared to only 20% to gluten). However, gluten is eaten many times a day every day, so if you are affected, it is important for you. If you have a coeliac diagnosed relative, a genetic test can tell which relatives are at risk, see page 16 of the RPAH handbook. Even if you aren't diagnosed a coeliac, you can still have problems with gluten, including behaviour.

Coeliac disease was previously regarded as unusual and glaringly obvious but is now seen as more common and difficult to diagnose. It can be implicated in a range of low key diarrhoea and abdominal complaints, neurological dysfunctions, Down Syndrome, schizophrenia, unexplained anaemia, osteoporosis, teeth enamel defects and other nutritional deficiencies, unexplained infertility, alopecia, insulin dependent diabetes, dermatitis herpetiformis and possibly psoriasis. Traditionally, coeliacs were thought of as small and skinny with a life-long sensitive stomach. Now it is known they can be tall, overweight, and have no abdominal symptoms. See the following story:

Eliminating additives and low amines as suggested by your book provided the answer my son's problems for some time. Then at nearly nine, out of the blue, he had some sort of breakdown. The teacher suggested Asperger's but he soon became worse - quite autistic, wild and extremely violent. He was off school for three months. The doctors I approached turned their backs on me … Without medication it was like living with a drunk - he could be fun sometimes, but more often silly and tiresome, and aggressive too often … Then, by chance ("Mum, I don't want Rye bread this morning, I want Rice cereal") we realised it was the GLUTEN. I never suspected it, because I'd known a baby who nearly died of coeliac disease and the symptoms were quite different from my son's. I followed up your footnote in Fed Up and read Professor Duggan's article in the Aust. Med. Journal. My son was diagnosed with Coeliac disease a month ago and I am absolutely delighted by his response to the gluten free diet. From story [892]


In my experience, gluten is by far the most difficult dietary component to avoid in Western societies. Here are some of my mistakes:

malt is a minor source of gluten so check labels on puffed rice cereals, soymilks etc

• assume cornflour in confectionery, baking powder and other products is wheaten cornflour unless otherwise specified

• avoid contamination e.g. from family members' toast crumbs in the Nuttelex or jam

• when eating out, avoid gravies, sauces and anything with thickeners that may be wheat based

Some items that may contain residual gluten: beverage whitener; dextrin in adhesive (don't lick postage stamps); maltodextrin; thickeners 1400-1450 (see page 70 of the RPAH handbook)

• Oats and oat milk are not permitted on the gluten free version of the RPAH diet; overseas the debate rages about whether oats are gluten free and it now appears that some Australian varieties of wheat may contain gluten, see the GF section of the Shopping List.

• Spelt flour is not gluten free although some people with non-coeliac gluten intolerance say they can tolerate it

WARNING: When switching to gluten free, don't assume that gluten free products such as bread and cereal are failsafe. Most of them are not, due to flavours, honey, fruit etc. See reader story below.

I have a 6 yo son who is going through a tourettes type attack at present - we are reassessing his diet to find out what has happened and back being really strict, he was doing so well, so this has been upsetting. We have also switched to gluten free. We started using healthy bake plain gluten free bread, is this bread failsafe?? Also the freedom foods GF tropicO cereal. I saw this cereal on the yahoo forum and someone said it was safe, perhaps not, what they say is natural is not always the case as we know.

Healthy bake plain gluten free bread turned out to contain olive oil, not failsafe. At the time of writing, Freedom foods GF tropicO cereal contained 'maize (corn) flour' which is not permitted due to moderate salicylates – maize starch would be okay; also 'natural colours turmeric, gardenia flour extract, sweet potato extract' not permitted because natural colours are listed as high in salicylates when concentrated; also 'natural fruit flavour'. Fruit flavours are NEVER failsafe. This product may be okay for some kids but not for failsafers.

Plain unflavoured rice cakes are some of the safest products in supermarkets – perhaps it would be safer and easier to stick to those as a bread substitute and crumbled with milk as a cereal when first going gluten free, see Shopping List.


          Are you suffering from increased bloating, stomach aches or diarrhoea?


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Sometimes a change in diet, including too much fibre too quickly cause cause bloating, stomach aches and diarrhoea especially in people with irritable bowel symptoms. Fibre intake should be slowly increased in foods such as vegetables, raw rolled oats (can be more digestible if well cooked), and dried beans. RPAH recommends starting with e.g. just a few chickpeas at a time. Vegetable gums such as guar gum 412, tragacanth gum 413, acacia or gum Arabic 414 and xanthan gum 415 in many processed foods known to contribute to this effect, and sugar free sweeteners such as sorbitol and mannitol must have a warning on the label "excessive consumption may have a laxative effect". See our sugar free sweeteners factsheet. For some people with food intolerance, wholegrains such as All Bran, wholemeal bread and wholewheat products such as Weetbix and Vitabrits can be a problem and refined products such as white bread are safer.

Psyllium is recommended on the RPAH elimination diet - but as with any form of fibre - including chickpeas and other legumes such as lentils - start with a very SMALL dose and work your way up slowly, otherwise you could be causing any or all of the symptoms of irritable bowel just by eating large frequent doses of fibre as in this reader story:

After reading your website about too much fibre possibly irritating the gut I cut out the chickpeas that I was eating every day and just switched to a small amount of psyllium for fibre instead. Almost straight away that cramping feeling that I was getting several times a day and other sensations disappeared almost entirely. I'm just going to very slowly build up the psyllium to a point that keeps me regular.

More information :

          Have you checked the label on every product you use?

  (Additives keep changing: 2:10)


Well done!


Product changes occur frequently - read labels especially with a packaging change. Bread, vegetable oils, soymilk, lemonade, pastry, margarine, blended butters, cream cheese, cooking oils and rice crackers have been some of the most changeable in the past. You can read about changes in Product Updates in our newsletters or check the Shopping List, see the following example:

I have noticed that in the Coles brand diced pears in syrup tubs (sold in 4 packs), on the failsafe shopping list, have concentrated pear juice in them – is this still okay? My daughter has been taking one tub a day to school over the last three weeks and is suffering quite a bit with sinus. Nothing else in her diet has changed, although she is has environmental triggers too, so can't decide whether the diced pears are to blame! I don't want them to be a problem as we have just discovered them, and it is wonderful that she can take some fruit to school!! As these pear tubs have been mentioned in the shopping list on your site and in the RPA handbook's shopping list, I wonder if the concentrated pear juice is okay....or alternatively, whether the recipe has changed recently … LATER … Thank you very much for your response re: Coles pear tubs. I did miss the product warning. I suspected they weren't good for my daughter, but did not want to believe it! – thanks to Carol

Some recent changes include:

• McCains frozen potato products have finally removed unlisted antioxidant BHA 320 so the Healthy Choice chips are failsafe (good news!!!)

• Darryl Lea white jelly beans with vanilla flavour appear to have changed again and should now be avoided.

• There are now no brands of lemonade suitable for the elimination diet. Some Schweppes lemonade or other brands might be preservative-free but avoid them altogether if you are not improving because they are now rated as moderate in salicylates.

• Sakata plain rice crackers appear to be the only failsafe rice crackers but we have received many complaints presumably due to contamination on the line, approach all rice crackers with caution and avoid for anyone who has not improved

• We also receive many complaints about reactions to plain unflavoured chips, again presumably due to contamination on the line. Discard any product with a flavour that tastes wrong. For people who are not improving, home cooking is safer.

• Philadelphia cream cheese is now free of sorbate preservatives in all products except the extra Lite (more good news)


          Have you checked for sulphites in your mince?


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A government survey found 58% of samples of mince (ground beef) in NSW contained illegal sulphites, now supposed to be improved due to better monitoring. It is safest to buy your mince always from the same place and test it once (on a Friday afternoon) with our sulphite test strips. See sulphite test kits in the sulphites factsheet. Or make your own mince.


          Have you considered other possible unlisted additives?


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Unlisted additives can occur in any product (both illegally or legally due to the 5% labelling loophole). If you think a product is affecting you, avoid it and reintroduce, if convinced, contact us. We frequently find illegal ingredients labels and we were once caught for months by an illegally unlisted additive in softened butter.


          Do you eat out?


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It is extremely difficult to find additive free food when eating out except in expensive restaurants with quality ingredients or organic cafes – see some suggestions in the Shopping List. Most food is preprepared and often contains additives – e.g. you can buy an additive free butter cake mix for home cooking in the supermarket, but the food service version of that product for sale in cafes will often contain additives as you can see by doing an online search, and it is the same with pastries, desserts, treats and cooking oils. Look for places where the staff are friendly and prepared to answer your questions about what's on the label.

• It is not okay to eat the meat and avoid the skin of BBQ or roast chicken with seasoning or stuffing

• Beware of stuffed fresh chickens in supermarkets, the stuffing is not failsafe


          Do you know about antioxidants in vegetable oils?


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Synthetic antioxidants in oils are often unlisted - due to mistakes or the 5% labeling loophole - in any product that contains vegetable oils or margarine, for example biscuits, snack foods, breads, pizza bases, frozen potato products and fudge

• check our Shopping List for safe products

• for unlisted products, check to see if the oil is less than 5% of the product

• if the 5% labeling loophole applies, the only way to find out whether oil contains nasty antioxidants is to phone the manufacturer and ask 'are there antioxidants in this oil?'

• natural antioxidants 300-309 are safe

• synthetic antioxidants 310-312 (gallates) and 319-321 (TBHQ, BHA, BHT) are nasty

• if no improvement, avoid any commercial product containing any kind of vegetable oil or vegetable shortening (such as hot chips) unless you are absolutely certain they are OK

Changes in products with antioxidants in oils can occur without warning and there will be nothing on the label to indicate the change, for example, Arnotts biscuits previously contained unlisted 320 but are now okay (except for a few flavoured varieties that are not failsafe anyway), but with other brands you do not know unless you phone the manufacturer

• home cooking oil in Australia is generally pure with a few exceptions, always read the label

• commercial oils usually contain nasty antioxidants so assume that any hot chips and other fried takeaway foods contain these additives

• bread can contain these nasty additives, unlisted (Bakers Delight and Brumbys do not use them)

• reactions are likely to build up slowly over several days or more

In New Zealand nearly all supermarket oils, commercial oils, margarines and products such as bread, biscuits and fudge contain nasty antioxidants in NZ – if visiting NZ, ask our Christchurch contact for the NZ shopping list


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. – thanks to Ian, from story [1057]

          Do you buy sweets?


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Remember that sweets are limited – e.g. for white marshmallows limit 4 per day of the Pascall's small white marshmallows. It is NOT okay to eat the white ones from a mixed bag of pink and white as contamination from the pink marshmallows – both colours and flavours - can cause a reaction.

We receive many complaints from parents whose children have reacted to the Natural Confectionery Co sweets. These products are not suitable for your strict elimination diet because they contain strong natural fruit flavours (salicylates and amines) and strong natural colours which are rated as high in salicylates by the latest RPAH Handbook.


          Are you sensitive to sulphites and/or do you eat prawns?


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Sulphites (220-228) are widely used in unlabelled foods such as sausages and prawns. These products are not failsafe but can sometimes be eaten by people who have passed salicylate and amine challenges and are unaware of the sulphite content, see story below.

Just purchased my Xmas prawns and thinking to avoid any additives, I always buy 'Australian' uncooked prawns. As I purchased 2Kg they came in the original box and shock, horror, I see preservative ticked, and then 223 (sodium metabisulphite). This product was labelled 'Wild caught Australian frozen prawns' from Hervey Bay - all sounds so pristine!

I rang the fish man morning and he informs me that all prawns are treated with 223 to prevent discolouring. This is common practice across the industry, the only difference being that imported prawns may not declare the preservative on the packaging. I phoned the Health department who were completely unaware of this practice. I suggested that as processed foods have to have labelling of ingredients what of the 'fresh' product?

An asthmatic with sensitivities to the sulphur group of preservatives may well react to prawns and then assume this is a seafood allergy, as preservative would not be considered a factor. Imagine if all those wonderful sea food displays at this time of the year were labelled 'contains sulphur metabisulphite'! – thanks to Judy - from story [996]

Most failsafers can tolerate the small amounts of sulphites in gluten free flours but failure to improve on diet or worsening of symptoms including asthma and eczema when gluten free may be sulphite-related, see the gluten free section of the Shopping List

High levels of sulphites (220) are permitted in gelatine but dissipate due to heat and storage – make sure you follow directions about heating when cooking with gelatine.

If you are an asthmatic avoiding only sulphites, see How to Avoid Sulphites in our Sulphites Factsheet.


          Do you seem to have problems with shallots, garlic, leeks, chives, cabbage or Brussels sprouts?


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A. According to the RPAH Handbook (p37), some vegetables - including shallots, garlic, leek, chives, cabbage and Brussels sprouts - contain sulphur compounds which double after 5 minutes of cooking. To avoid this problem, you can eat these vegetables raw, or quickly steam or stir fry.

Reader report: I was finding I was developing headaches every time I ate shallots with my homemade soup. I observed my reaction each time I added shallots, and there is this definite link. As shallots may be used by many failsafers, I just thought I would pass this info on, as I always saw shallots as a safe food.



          Do you seem to be extra sensitive?


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You may need to exclude more foods. People with severe symptoms or extra sensitivity may need to avoid some of the following • dairy foods • wheat or gluten • soy • citric acid • gelatine (see below).

Some people notice problems with sulphur containing vegetables including garlic, leeks, shallots, chives, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. After 5 minutes of cooking, the sulphur compounds become more accessible and can cause problems for the extra sensitive. To avoid problems, RPAH suggest eating raw or quickly steam or stir fry (page 37 of the handbook).


          Are you doing the diet for a young child with a strong family history of allergy?


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The development of allergy is a combination of inherited susceptibility and exposure to allergens. You may want to avoid cashew nuts for children under five and also cochineal natural colouring (120) as allergies to both are increasing – consult your dietitian, and be aware that true allergies as well as food intolerances can be responsible for skin rashes especially in young children.


          Are you doing challenges?


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Challenges can be more difficult than people expect. It is important to follow the RPAH recommendations for challenges from your dietitian because challenge can be inconclusive if you don't get the dose right. The worst case scenario is doing a challenge and still being uncertain. Some mothers find they are much more confident after doing a challenge twice. Seeing the same reaction twice makes it feel more real. For more information about challenges, see

• challenge recipes in the Failsafe Cookbook

challenge hints

• and ask for our Challenge Updates - email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


          Are you using medications, supplements, herbal or other remedies?

(Medications: 0:41)

(Supplements: 0:31)


There are some RPAH recommended supplements and medications if required that can be used during your strict elimination diet.


Anything you put in your mouth can affect the elimination diet. RPAH guidelines say take only essential medications (e.g. for asthma, epilepsy, but consult your dietitian) and avoid unnecessary medication during your elimination diet

Do one thing at a time - do not try to combine other diets (e.g. candida) or therapies with failsafe eating - your efforts are much more likely to be successful if you get failsafe 100% right

• it's best to avoid optional visits to GPs, specialists, naturopaths, optometrists and dentists while doing the elimination diet because preservatives, flavours or other additives in most medications and supplements will interfere with the diet

• aspirin and other salicylate containing medications e.g. other painkillers such as Nurofen, anti-inflammatory drugs and skin remedies such as wart remover - are absolutely not permitted on a low salicylate diet, see Shopping List for alternatives

• colours, flavours, preservatives and active ingredients in syrups, capsules or lotions, herbal remedies including Echinacea and supplements including fish oils may cause problems

• you can ask for white tablets or powdered capsules, mix contents with syrup, jam or icecream, or see the Vitamin Icypole recipe

• non-recommended supplements etc can be reintroduced as challenges after you have achieved success on your supervised elimination diet.

flavours or preservatives in vitamins or children's syrup medications such as paracetamol, cold medications, antibiotics, chewable vitamin tablets or iron supplements don't have to be listed on the label but will appear on the Consumer Medication Information sheet • do a Google search for 'name of product' and 'ingredients' • ingredients listed as 'superarome' literally mean strong flavour, see more on the Shopping List and Supplements Factsheet

• preservatives and colours from diagnostic or therapeutic eyedrops and some preserved contact lens solutions are easily absorbed through the eye and can cause problems.

• for dental treatment • you can take your own toothpaste • plaque disclosing tablets contain artificial colours. Beware, treatments your dentist may use or recommend can contain nonfailsafe ingredients

• the contraceptive pill can cause problems for female failsafers

• absorption through the skin can increase your daily load: salicylates and additives such as benzoate preservatives in skin creams, wart ointment, arthritis rubs and acne wipes can be absorbed through the skin and if used every day can stop the diet from working – effects can build up slowly

• beware of inhaled salicylates from Vicks Vaporub, Deep Heat, and similar liniments


          Are you using recommended toothpaste?



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Because you don't swallow toothpaste, people think they won't be affected. Wrong!! Mint flavoured or herbal toothpastes such as fennel are not failsafe because herbs contain salicylates, and coloured children's toothpaste - even pale pink - is definitely not okay!!! The wrong toothpaste can be enough to ruin the whole diet, especially for children who like sucking on toothpaste tubes. See Toothpaste factsheet for alternatives and story below

Three years ago I started the RPAH elimination diet and discovered I was suffering intolerance to dairy as well as other food chemicals. Although other symptoms cleared up, there were a few niggling things, particularly the blocked and running nose, always having my sleeve or back pocket loaded with tissues, ready for the inevitable moment. I had always suffered this morning and evening ritual of a running nose so 'just lived with it'. Trying the diet again 3 years later, after a week of full elimination, the runny nose persisted. I read and re-read through your checklist of common mistakes and decided to try plain toothpaste which I never did 3 years ago as my dietician at the time said, 'oh you don't have to give up toothpaste if you don't want to - everything else though' and I never really considered it could cause me such suffering. Well well well. A truly amazing change has occurred for me. No more nose blowing at breakfast time or when I'm settling into bed at night. The tap has officially been turned off! – from story [815]


          Do you or your children swim in chlorinated pools?


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On the surface of all chlorinated pools, especially indoor pools, there's a gaseous layer of chlorine and its metabolised gases called chloramines that are formed by heating chlorine or by reactions of chlorine with perspiration or urine. Although not mentioned by RPAH, these chloramines can cause the same reactions as food chemicals in some children, including behaviour, hives and asthma.

• saltwater pools generally contain some chlorine but not as much

• some families find they can minimize the effects of chloramines by children wearing goggles and showering in fresh water immediately after swimming

• outdoor pools are safer than indoor, home pools are generally better than public pools

• some children do better avoiding swimming lessons and smelly chlorinated pools at least until they have finished their elimination diet, see story below:

After 4 weeks on the elimination diet I was still scratching my head trying to work out what I was missing with our daughter. Our dietitian couldn't fault me how I was following the diet but seemed to suggest that she felt our daughter was possibly one of these children that just diet was not going to fix. She strongly suggested we give the diet another 4 weeks without doing any challenges and see how our daughter went, but to be realistic about the fact that she may not get any better and that we look into getting her psychologically assessed. I felt as though her swimming lessons were impacting on her behaviour so pulled her out around the same time. Well I am pleased to tell you that most days for the past 13 days particularly the later of these, we have had a calm, happy, relaxed, loving, caring, mostly compliant beautiful little girl. She seems to be more in control of her actions and I am not getting the "I don't know why I did this mummy, my brain can't help it". She is very excited about receiving her readers from school and proudly comes home and reads them to us with no problems at all.- thanks to Mel


For people who have a frequently used backyard pool, see this solution from the tropics below.


My 6 yo son's chlorine reactions are similar to his salicylate reaction except that he skips the usual initial silliness and hyper behaviour and goes straight into tantrums/anger/out of control behaviour. The first one we noticed (his first swimming lesson) was delayed 12 hours, he woke up the next day grumpy and irritated and was like that for a couple of days and settled down. A week later with the next lesson, grumpy again the next day but during that week descended into tantrums/swearing. The next few weeks followed the same pattern, but the behaviour got worse with no good days at all in the end. Obviously it was building up with each lesson and when he stopped it took another week for him to settle. We now have a salt water pool, where the chlorinator runs in the middle of the night only, so that by the time he swims during the afternoon, there is no smell (the filter is set up so that we can run it when we are actually in the pool during the day without the chlorinator being on).- thanks to Jenny H


• One third of the Australian Olympic swimming team have asthma. For more about chloramines as a cause of asthma, see


          Are you limiting exposure to environmental chemicals?


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Some people are more sensitive than others. Consider exposure to perfumed products and other smells, industrial chemicals and heavy metals and see Shopping List for alternatives:

• perfume in toiletries, cosmetics, after shave, washing powders, shampoo, conditioners, aerosols, deodorants, sunblock for all family members and household cleaners

• essential oils, incense and 'naturally fragranced' products

• scent sprayers, air fresheners and toilet deodorisers

• bubble baths, finger paints, preschool paints and glues, food dyes in playdough (see Playgroup factsheet)

• paints, solvents and other renovating fumes

• petrol, diesel, engine degreaser and other traffic fumes

• smells of new or newly cleaned soft furnishings, upholstery, carpets, new mattresses, furniture, ('new' smells mean chemical exposure)

• shopping malls, hairdressing salons - alternatives include fast cuts or home hairdressing services

• pet shops, cigarette smoke

• workplace chemicals

• chemical smells of new cars, electrical appliances including computers and CD players – display or second-hand models are safer

• strong smelling plants e.g. herb plants, strongly fragrant flowers and trees e.g. eucalypt, camphor laurel, pine, particularly freshly cut as in a Christmas tree

• freshly sawn timber, sawdust (especially camphor laurel bark chips) and new timber for renovations

• the smell of wood and smoke from wood fires

• lawn clippings and mower fumes

• the smell of strongly spicy food - don't cook it for others

• fumes are generally worse in hot conditions

• and see story below:

My daughter'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 … see story [1023]

          Are you (or your child) feeling stressed out?


Good! Go to last item


Too much stress for whatever reason including confrontational parenting or teaching styles can increase food intolerance. A mother wrote

Sue, I am really hoping that this will work because our lives have been very stressed. I am finding though that I seem to be swapping one stress for another as it is hard to stick to this diet and I was cross that he ate some crumpets that were offered to him! – thanks to Sandra

It is common for mothers to write me on days 4 & 5 of the diet feeling exceptionally cross and irritable, and complaining that the diet is too hard due to withdrawal symptoms – this will pass.

However, to reduce stress and make life easier for everyone, see the following suggestions:

* make some very kid-friendly food, such as homemade chicken and chips and a favourite dessert like pavlova or failsafe icecream. It is okay to eat homemade chicken and chips frequently during the first three weeks. One mother who was at her wit's end and about to abandon the diet during the first week broke the diet in a tiny way by doing chicken & chips with green peas (green peas, sugar snap peas and snow peas are all moderate) with a favourite family comedy DVD, the evening was so successful it broke the tension and the rest of the diet went well.

• reduce demands on your children and yourself during the first three weeks. Treat each other with respect and kindness

• avoiding confrontations, the 1-2-3 Magic DVD or book (from Amazon or in Australia) can show how to do this

• have some fun family time, e.g. schedule a regular family night with a good comedy DVD because laughter therapy really works - it actually boosts the immune system and makes the kids less food sensitive

• for adults, highly effective laughter yoga classes developed by a doctor are now available (Howard and I go to a regular fortnightly class) or see

• go through old photo albums to relive the good times and encourage positivity

• schedule family walks, bike rides or camping holidays - preferably with no shops or advertising, e.g. in a national park

• relaxation – you can play relaxing music while preparing dinner or at other times e.g.

• for adults, meditation is considered to be the single most effective stress reduction method. It is now called mindfulness and recommended by psychologists and the UK public health service.

Non-food factors such as an absent parent, a new baby, moving, house renovations, illness, changes in medication, a new school, bullying, criticism, punishment or lack of friends can contribute to problems - children on the diet need a failsafe house, support, love, praise, exercise and time with parents.

          Do you think that you are reacting to some food that is listed as failsafe?


If you think that you are reacting to some processed food that is listed as failsafe and have been rigorous in keeping a diary, avoid it for a time and see what happens. You can share your experience with the facebook group and see whether others are also having problems, as was recently the case with Crisco sunflower oil. Everyone is different any maybe you DO react to tocopherol 306 antioxidant, for instance, so try and avoid it to confirm.


Go to last item.

          Do you feel as if you still need help?

  (Conclusion: 0:23)


Well done!


You are very welcome to send me a complete list of everything that goes in your mouth, on your skin and up your nose (e.g. inhaled fragrances and chemicals such as flame retardants in new furniture) in a typical day, so I can check for anything obvious, see more details below.

  • what are you (or your children) consuming for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinks? (have you excluded dairy and gluten?)
  • what brand of soap, shampoo  & washing powder are you using?
  • which toothpaste?
  • which medications (full name please) & supplements if any? (this is very important)
  • do you live in a new or newly renovated house?
  • do you have new furniture, carpet, drapes?
  • do you wear fragranced cosmetics and hair products?
  • do you (or your children) swim in a chlorinated pool?


Reader question: I have seen a dietician and have been doing the RPAH elimination diet for 3 weeks (now starting my 4th week). There are not enough improvements to convince me to follow the diet long term. Is it possible that my symptoms are not related to chemical sensitivities?  I will stick with the diet for another week, but would assume that after that (4 weeks), if I have not seen any improvement, that food chemicals is not my problem?

People who write like this reader are almost certainly making a few mistakes (nearly everyone does). If you have seen any changes at all - good or bad - it suggests you are on the right track and just need some fine tuning. You are very welcome to email me: Sue Dengate at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - preferably after reading one of my books.



Thanks to failsafer Sonia Gulwadi for the great graphic

update November 2016