Confused Failsafer asks for help

A woman just starting her RPAH elimination diet recently wrote about how confused she was. 

I remember when we started our elimination diet, I was confused too. It’s not easy, particularly in the first few weeks. Yet that diet was a magic answer for my family and it turned our lives around completely.  I like the RPA diet because it’s based on science (1,2) and it works – when you get it right.

However, I found such a huge gap between seeing a dietitian and actually getting the diet to work, that I started writing books and offering support through our website.  Many thousands of people have told us how helpful these are.

Now, 20 years later, everyone in my family is still on the diet – in varying amounts. Sometimes we need to tighten up, other times we can relax and eat a lot more, depending on what is going on in our lives - from stress or illness to exposure to industrial fumes or fragrances. In the last month, I’ve heard from two families who started their diets the same time we did. Their children, now in their 30s and 40s, have returned to university studies and both have gone back to their diets quite strictly because “I can’t study if I don’t”. 

This is what Confused Failsafer wrote:

I am doing the Elimination Diet  under the guidance of an immunologist and dietitian from your list. I’ve joined your FS facebook group which is great and also a few other beyond FS groups and what I’m reading is very overwhelming, with people claiming all sorts of things from parasite protocols to bone broths to ‘heal’ them, and saying that going FS makes everything worse.

I’m not surprised that this mother is confused. The elimination diet is hard enough without being bombarded by contradictory information. What bothers me is that a lot of people who write this stuff admit themselves that they never ‘reached baseline’ with the RPAH elimination diet. In other words, they didn’t do it properly. Elimination diets only work if you do them strictly and you should have the supervision of a knowledgeable dietitian who can help with mistakes, challenges and reintroduction.  With most people who email us insisting they are doing the diet strictly, we can find at least six mistakes.

This is what dietitian Joy Anderson wrote in the June 2013 issue of the Medical Journal of Australia Insight:

As a dietitian who uses the RPAH Allergy Unit Elimination Diet in my everyday practice, I can assure you that it does work brilliantly in the majority of cases, in infants (via mother's breastmilk), in children and in adults as well. However, it needs to be done properly ... The diet should be supervised by an Accredited Practising Dietitian with experience in food-chemical intolerances and conducted as a test diet, for a limited period of time - usually only 3-4 weeks in duration …. The challenges are then performed in a timely manner and the diet refined to be liberalised as much as possible, while only avoiding the problem foods long term. I have many, many satisfied clients who were fobbed off by other health professionals in the past, because they didn't 'believe' in food-chemical intolerance.

I wrote back to Confused Failsafer, explaining that I absolutely do not recommend joining ‘beyond failsafe’ groups until you have spent at least 12 months on the RPAH Elimination diet, challenges and working through reintroduction. In her case, especially because her reaction is so serious she needs to be in constant touch with her dietitian, and it is too confusing for her to hear about non-scientific therapies.

Failsafe works best when you do it properly

Try one treatment at a time - that way, you'll know what worked

Confused Failsafer replied:

I'm so glad you just gave me that advice Sue as I am more than confused by the mention of drinking chlorine solutions parasite infestations and crazy supplements.

So this is why we request that discussion of non-failsafe therapies be avoided on our highly supportive facebook group for failsafers at

Any mentions of non-failsafe therapies, particularly by people who have not given the RPAH elimination diet a good go themselves, are likely to be deleted.

For those just starting out, you may also like to read my books and see the DVD – people find them very supportive –and you don't have to buy any of them.  They are all available in libraries, see more below.


Scientific references

1.  Loblay RH, Swain AR. Food intolerance. In Wahlqvist ML, Truswell AS, Recent Advances in Clinical Nutrition. London: John Libbey, 1986, pages 169-177.

2.  Swain AR,  Soutter V et al.  Salicylates, oligoantigenic diets, and behaviour. Lancet 1985, 2(8445): 41-2.

How to find a supportive and experienced dietitian

See our list at

How to avoid mistakes 

Sue’s books & DVD