BITING as a food reaction


Question from a daycare director:

"A two and a half year old girl is a problem because she bites the staff and other children. Could that be related to diet?"

Our readers say: yes, diet can cause children to bite adults, other children, or even themselves (self-harming).

Reader reports

"My son was a chronic biter … after seeing  … about the additive 282 I took him off that bread and he stopped biting" - from story [381]

“… when my daughter was 4 years old, overnight she became utterly unmanageable… she was melting down 4-10 times a day … she started hurting herself … she would bite her arms … Was anything different in our diet? … YES … bread …  282 preservative … I threw it in the bin. The meltdowns and self harming stopped the next day , three days before we re-visited the paediatrician to be told there was nothing wrong with her and that it was a parenting issue" – from story [1296]

"... tonight I bought a packet of mixed white and artificially coloured pink marshmallows. Older daughter had 4, younger had 3 and they both went right off! My younger daughter started biting again, something she hasn't done for ages and they were both shouting and went stupid... " - Tania from story [656]

"My daughter is now 6 1/2 …at a friend's place … thought they were doing the right thing … jelly snakes 'preservative free, no artificial colours' ... next day ... She woke in a rage and was lashing out, hitting, biting, screaming ... ingredients on the snakes … number 160b (natural colour annatto)" - from story [1075]

"Many times I have left a shop or playcentre with my 4 year old little boy folded under my arm, kicking and screaming, biting anyone or anything that came in his way... We have been following the elimination diet (mostly) for the last 2 weeks with dramatic results. We have not had any tantrums for 10 days"- Fay (in the  UK) from story [990]

"My seven year-old had got to the point of having no friends … was continually at the principal’s office, hitting and biting both parents etc.... This is the 5th week he has been on the diet, and he is becoming the lovely child I always knew he could be..."- Merrill from story [645]

“(Our younger son’s)  behaviour was so bad... My husband and I still have marks on our bodies from his bites. He was violent, kicked and hit us … After a week on the elimination diet, family and friends asked if I had sedated him. His behaviour had settled so much” – Irene from story [717] (and see Irene’s recommendation below, under More Info).

"My daughter Jessie is three and a half now and from the moment she was born we have had nothing but problems…. We started the diet in a month ago and within 3 days her behaviour had changed, no more kicking, hitting and biting … Suddenly I had my little girl back, the one that I spent three years looking for… I cannot thank you enough… You helped when no one else could"- from story [337]

“… how wonderful it was to find your website and help our 4 1/2 year old son (and the rest of us) lead a much more ‘normal’ life. He's had horrible symptoms of terrible mood swings, off and on stuttering, biting … Since introducing the new diet, he's been basically a new, happier little boy and the mood around the house is SO MUCH CALMER" -  From story [352] (in the USA)

“This is more than just the terrible twos! The tantrums started about six weeks ago and are unbelievably dreadful …  she tries to hurt herself during the tantrum either head banging or biting her arms, wrists and hands causing bad bruising .. The light dawned as I read Fed Up - this child is very sensitive to salicylates …Since withdrawing the cranberry juice 10 days ago we have been tantrum free …” - from story [007]


FREE VideoFed Up with children’s behaviour

Irene from story [717] above says “ladies show your men the video as they will rarely read the book. Watching an hour of a DVD is more comprehensible to the male brain. That is how I got my husband to finally understand our son’s behaviour and to support what I am doing with him. He now has the book in his van and every spare moment he has, he reads it."

A trial of the elimination diet - the best way to find exactly which additives/natural food chemicals are causing the problem is to do a 3-week trial of the RPAH elimination diet with challenges, supervised by a dietitian, see our list

WARNING 282 preservative - Propionate preservatives 280-283 can also be hidden as an innocent-sounding ingredient such as cultured dextrose or fermented wheat flour!

If you’d like to try diet   

We support the RPAH Elimination diet (from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney). There are 3 steps

  • elimination for 3-6 weeks
  • challenges
  • gradual reintroduction

For best success we recommend seeing an experienced and supportive dietitian from our list:      


•   People find my books and DVD extremely helpful and dietitians say it cuts an hour off consultation time if people have read my book Fed Up before they go. You don't have to buy – my books and DVD are available in libraries

•   Our free booklets show how manageable this diet can be

•   People say our facebook group is friendly and supportive: Sue Dengate Failsafe Group

Read more

Introduction to food intolerance

How to start failsafe eating