I need to rant... I’m defeated without even starting. My 6 y/o was diagnosed with adhd, anxiety and sensory issues just over 2 weeks ago. Since then I have been researching and getting together recipes to start next week, as per our paediatrician recommendation. My husband, the school and his GP don’t believe this will made an ounce of difference so we are going to medicate and do the diet at the same time. (There’s lots of eye rolls and smirks involved when changing his food is mentioned). Every time my husband talks about this it’s always I want to do it (not we), he has already decided that he won’t eat the meals unless he absolutely has to (dinners only) and there’s no reason for us all to do it, when it’s only for our son. He makes comments like now our son can’t go to parties and now his sister misses out on all the yummy foods, he won’t get enough nutrients etc. he’s already said that it’s on me to make sure we stay on the diet and he eats properly. I understand and agree with medication because he is really struggling at school and it breaks my heart that he is constantly in trouble, so if the medication helps him get through a school day that’s great, but I would like a bit of support in trying this. We have not told any family about his diagnosis as we don’t want their opinions on what we should do, so I am literally doing this alone - end rant! – Sam

I note that the paediatrician recommendation, specialist in the field, likely knows more than husband, school and GP combined 😉. Do you have a dietitian monitoring nutrition to add credibility? - Tracy

People can be so crap about it. My husband changed his tune on the first challenge. “How did we ever live like this?” he said – Lee

It will be worth it though. Just ignore comments and tell husband to cook for himself if he doesn’t like what you dish up! – Lisa

My three boys were all diagnosed with adhd, and one is on the autism spectrum. This is going back 14 years ago, so there was no support group, and I stumbled on the book Fed Up by accident. I changed their diet, and they went from complete ferals, to the politest boys in the school in three weeks. There was no support. The school sent me to psychologists with the boys, who would recommend "medication, but mother won't medicate" on the reports. It was really upsetting. My inlaws would tell everyone that the only reason the boys were on a diet, was so they couldn't have them over. My husband worked so much, he didn't care what he ate, so long as he didn't have to cook, so that was something. They did however go to parties, I just took their own food. Everyone ate the same, there was no his food, or my food, so no-one felt that they were being hard done by, and I learned to cook and read labels. The whole family’s health improved, as well as the general mood in the house. My recommendation would be to not medicate, as you won't see the changes the diet makes, or rather, doing both at the same time, you won't differentiate which change is diet and which is medication. But stick with it, because it is so worth it. I have now got two boys doing engineering at uni, and one in grade twelve, also aiming for uni, also, engineering, so, if I hadn't had the fortitude to keep to the diet, and hold strong against the tide of naysayers (and in general horrible people!) I don't know what they would be doing now. And truthfully, you aren't restricting the diet, you are eliminating the crap from it, so it isn't going to hurt them. Good luck, and hugs!!! - Elizabeth

Reason for the whole family to do it: imagine being the little boy who’s always in trouble and has just been told that there’s something wrong with him that he doesn’t understand, who has to take medication he doesn’t want to take and doesn’t like how it makes it him feel, and who now has to sit there and watch everyone else eat all his favourite foods in front of him, after everyone at school just had cakes he couldn’t have. And psychologist talking: don’t mess with meds. Either on them or off them, not on them for 6 weeks then off them for a while. They will barely have had a chance to start working (if they work). The whole point of the process is to follow the scientific method and only change one variable at a time, and that’s the food chemical being tested. If you change the medication chemicals as well, then you’re no longer at your baseline ready to challenge, so you can’t do the challenges if you’ve just changed his medication. Get your paediatrician and GP to weigh in on that plan -Tracy

My daughter’s friends all wanted her food, and her lunches. Because they were better. Any time we went out to birthday parties, etc., the plate of alternative safe foods I took was always the first to disappear. I soon learned to keep enough for my girl packed aside. Once off strict, my daughter still wouldn’t eat the other foods - it wasn’t as good as my homemade food. You’re eliminating food chemicals, not food, not life ... and you just might find a lot that become favourites even when no longer on FS – Tracy again

Stick to your guns Sam, it’s worth every second of it. My hubby is actually quite liking the diet. He’s getting more steak, lamb and veg which he loves. I’ve also done a couple of curries, spag bol etc to freeze for my hubby and other daughter to have when they don’t want what I’m cooking - Julie

It can help to name it up as the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Elimination Diet as it then seems more 'evidence' based to others and having the RPAH handbook helps you have the language and charts to get others on board. Your husband might find it helpful to read the excellent description of the difference between allergies and intolerances. Also maybe start slowly with omitting all artificial colours flavours preservatives bread improver etc, then add Failsafe breakfast and then lunch, this can be less overwhelming for some people and allows you to get your head around the new brands to buy and recipes. Good luck, we did the diet when my son was 7 and we went from being given ADHD books from the teacher to now seeing my 12 yr old be highly academic and so happy - Neeta

Why do people dismiss it until they've tried it when it is proven to work for so many? He may come around. I always took a packed lunch alternative to kids’ parties with allowed treats and the time goes very quickly before they realise they don't want to eat the food that makes them feel bad and they get old enough to understand. Stand strong. Your Mother's instinct is correct – Caroline

This diet literally SAVED me and changed my life at age 22. I wish I had found it earlier. You will see improvements within 3 days if you are strict. You’ll never look back! – Jacqui

We’ve seen a huge transformation in our son by eliminating artificial colours and flavours and most preservatives. I wasn’t sure the school would take us seriously. Then they accidentally gave him a zooper dooper as saw him ramp up. I’ve had full support since – Megan

I have bipolar and also take adhd medication. I still need my meds don't get me wrong but food made a huge difference! Such a difference that I have only cheated once in 2 and a bit years. My life has changed! I don't think it's the answer for everyone, but I think it's important to do the elimination and challenges to find out. Good luck – Jen

We have been where you are now. It’s overwhelming for you, your husband and your son. In 6 months time you will look back at now and see how much you have learnt – Eli

What should be normal procedure by any doctor, school would be to try the diet first then if it doesn't work go the meds. It took 3 days to see the difference in my ODD, ADHD, Sensory child. Only 3 days! We did go hard and took dairy and gluten out as well the first week. What if he doesn't need meds and diet is enough? Can you somehow agree to hubby giving it a week on diet just so you both know for sure you explored the option and made the best decision. What's one more week? - Roxanne

And by the way what a wonderful pediatrician to recommend diet to you. Mine laughed at me and seriously put me down when I suggested it. Two months later when I returned to discuss the medication at her request she couldn't believe the change in her, that she could no longer diagnose her with any condition, said she had never known it to work. So I showed her – Roxanne again

My husband and I were talking today about how pleased we were that we went with the diet. No ADHD meds needed – Elaine

It will get better. I saw amazing change in my Aspergers / ADHD child with a change of diet. But it wasn't enough. Don't let anyone tell you not to do the drugs if they help. We do for school, after school activities and social situations where there will be over-stimulation. Hubby will eventually come around, mine did. But it took ages. You are your child's advocate even within your family. Stand strong! You can do it. One small step at a time, bit by bit. How do you eat a (failsafe) elephant? One... bite... at... a... time! - Leonie

Agree with all of the above. Same story here. But my boy is now 16 and this all started when he was 7. It will become your way of life and once triggers are worked out you will be thankful you did this - Elise

We started the diet when my dd8 was in prep. It made a huge difference and helped all of her adhd tendencies except concentration. At the end of year 1 (over a year after starting the diet) she started meds as well to help with concentration. You don't need to wait a year but I would try and have a bit of space between starting both. Salicylates affect my daughter’s sleep - which I know because we did the strict elimination. Ritalin also affects her sleep- even a dose taken at 8am. The worry is if you start both you won't know what is causing the improvement or problem. For my dd diet helps so much- most people don't even notice if she doesn't take her meds- her come down is also barely noticed. It's hard but so worth it - Tanja

I can relate, it’s tough. My husband totally gets it now as changing my kids’ diets had a huge impact on both of them. Just know that meds have ingredients that can continue to trigger symptoms. We had to take the meds out of the capsule...but this only works for a few types. Most of them have to be taken intact. If my son was still getting the dyes in the meds, we wouldn’t see much difference in diet. It only takes a tiny amount of these chemicals to make a huge difference in behavior, like night and day. Hope that helps! Best wishes to you and we’re here for support! - Laura

We're on meds and on a restricted diet. We all have food sensitivities to a degree, so I do not make the diet change household-wide. We were on the diet for over a year before starting meds. The diet helped with most of our issues. Then I noticed more subtle ADHD symptoms that I didn't know were actually symptoms (pestering others, dropping/losing your pencil repetitively during school work). The meds do not keep our food symptoms from occurring. It will only take one food reaction after the change to change your husband's mind. I had doctors rolling their eyes at me because my son was better behaved out of the house. Our doctor never understood what we were going through and just wanted to throw laxatives at his constipation - never heard of this diet. My husband was on board with the change. Unfortunately though, he thought it wasn't important to be strict at first. Even now, three years in, he occasionally gets this mentality. My response is always, you cause the reaction, I'm sending him to work with you to deal with. Hang in there. The proof is in the pudding! - Jenna

My son was 3.5 when I was absolutely desperate to find ANYTHING to help him. I went to drs and let’s just say I have lost all faith in the medical profession. My husband heard what the drs said and so believed there was nothing wrong with our son (he put his sister in hospital twice and was so strong I couldn’t hold him when he was angry at 3.5!) I found failsafe and thought it was amazing. I showed the video to my husband who sat on the other side of the room with his arms folded and said ‘that’s the biggest load of hippy crap!’ We tried it basically so my husband could say ‘I told you so’ when it didn’t work. After 3 days my son was a different kid! My dad asked whether we had medicated him the difference was so dramatic. My parents and husband thought it was a coincidence and it would wear off, placebo effect but it didn’t. Within a fortnight my husband was telling everyone who would listen that EVERYONE should be on failsafe. If my husband can be a convert there is hope for everyone! Hang in there, you are not defeated yet! We are mad of stronger stuff! 😀 - Emma

Can I say my daughter is about as extreme as it gets. She has cerebral palsy, autism, adhd, ptsd, anxiety disorder and it is all caused by a terminal metabolic disorder that causes brain damage and significant delays. Think a child with Parkinsons and dementia. I can tell you 100% without a shadow of a doubt it will work. It may not be 100% the fix you need but if you do it to the letter you will be astounded. My concern is that if you don’t do the diet first you won’t know just how many issues are genuine and how many are food related. My daughter still needs adhd meds but we didn’t give until 3 years after starting the diet and at an incredibly low dose even now. Three years ago she was attacking us, herself, smashing her head on the floor, screaming 24/7, night terrors, impossible to toilet train, the list is endless. I’ll gladly give a testimonial to any sceptic but if it can transform my daughter it can help anyone - Charlotte

Regarding diet just explain to people that you are attempting to see if any foods or chemicals make a difference in his behaviour and schooling and could they please keep an open mind as medication is NOT a cure-all. My dd 21 was diagnosed at 5 and all anyone wanted was to either medicate or chastise me for a) believing the twaddle told to me or b) not being a good mother and keeping her in control but I was doing everything in my power to help and even when we had done everything and accepted medication it was still a struggle to find the right meds and dosage. I found out about this food change and decided to try it and was knocked down by everyone until at the wake for her g.g.grandmother my hubby asked me to allow his Nan and her sister to feed her whatever they wanted to try to ease the pain. For the next few days my child was out of control in ways she hadn’t been in a very long time and he was shocked and soon was on-board. It wasn’t easy to help her and we still didn’t get a "normal" child but she is who she is and I taught her to be the best she can be. Every small step is a step in the right direction so praise him when he can finally do something he couldn’t before even if it is not perfect eg dd would pick up her foot and wobble or fall over, after years of Karate class I realised she was standing on one foot for 10 secs without wobbling and this was a huge achievement for her and something to be praised and her Sensei felt the same as he taught many alphabet kids and others with specific needs and each small achievement was praised to encourage them to continue stepping forward. You are his advocate and you have to be the mumma bear to protect him from everyone who only wants to knock him down or just doesn’t understand - Adele

FINAL WORD 6 WEEKS LATER: Thank you all for your wonderful comments and encouragement. We did the strict elimination for just under 3 weeks, but have moved onto a more additive and preservative free lifestyle. It was really difficult as my son pretty much starved himself the whole time (wouldn't eat lunch or dinners and would only eat the snack foods), so his behaviour at school actually got worse as he was hungry. The lack of food was also a concern for us as he is currently sitting on the 5th percentile for height and weight. We ended up starting medication last week and his teacher has noted that his concentration & focus (which was always are main concern) has improved dramatically. I think the combination of medication and correct diet is what he needs – Sam