I had suffered from a slight temporary problem now and again which seemed like an extra beat of my heart but couldn't pin it down to anything so put it down to probable after-effects of a cold or flu but one morning after enjoying a very large multi-course Chinese meal while on a works outing dinner the night before, I felt terrible and quite ill! I could sense an irregular heartbeat that seemed to be every second or third beat, I was going dizzy and feeling faint now and again, had a funny
tingling feeling going up my neck into my head and scalp and felt very weak. I honestly thought I was dying. It was so bad I even wrote a quick note to the wife and kids. Obviously I sought medical treatment, had various tests and an ECG which all showed up normal...the irregular beats were intermittent now and I got to feeling a little better, the doctor said everyone suffers from irregular beats now and again, it’s a benign condition and no problem!

Anyway I decided it may have been to do with the amount of alcohol I had drunk at this works dinner and gradually the beats got back to normal and I put this down to my now 'sensible drinking' . ....a few weeks later my wife and I arranged to meet up with a couple of friends and have a Chinese takeaway at their house...you guessed it … in the night and next morning the same feelings came back and the irregular beats ... I now dismissed the alcohol connection and thought it could be something I had eaten, so being a bit computer literate I looked up on a search engine the phrase 'heart problems after eating chinese food'. I was amazed at the search results, that so many people suffered from this and that largely doctors were ignorant of this! One web site even referred to it as Chinese restaurant sydrome!......so knowing the problem and after extensive research on the net I know if I can avoid MSG as much as possible I do not get these heart flutters!...even a packet of hula hoops (potato snacks) can give me slight heart irregularities.

Two years later: I still get irregular beats even after a packet of corn snack type crisps. I find that the irregularities with MSG kick in after about 12 hours and around 24 hours after eating 635, and that the 635 tends to hang on longer than MSG. With me the effects of MSG last usually a day sometimes two, and with 635 it’s usually two days sometimes three. – from the UK

This is about a mother's struggle with her daughter's epilepsy and what it took to give her daughter's life back to her. (from Andrea Collins' epilepsy list)

"My daughter is 7 years old. She has development delay, autism and was diagnosed with Lennox Gastaut Syndrome at the age of 2. She began the Ketogenic diet Jan 2000, and came off of it July, 2003. She was on the diet for 3 years and 3 months. She became seizure free 14 months after the diet was started. (It took 9 months to wean her off all the drugs and another 5months to take out all the foods that were causing her problems.) I found the diet very difficult as I didn't have the medical backup to see me through it. Found a Paed 3 months before she became seizure free who believed in what I was doing. A mum off this list was my only support. I would not have done it without her. I was so tired and felt so sorry for my daughter being on such a restricted diet and yet still having seizures but I had to see if the diet actually worked on its own. Her last seizures were all occurring during her sleep and I thought "at least she's not hurting herself" but I was forever running into her bedroom to help her get through her seizures. I was so frightened that I had done the wrong thing, weaning her off of all her drugs and the seizures were not getting any better. I was lucky to find a Paed that believed in what I was doing. She actually advised me not to reintroduce the drugs. The best thing I ever did was getting rid of the drugs altogether because I was then able to fine tune. What I did find however, that whatever she ate really affected her. Two days before she became seizure free I removed carrots from her diet because that was the only food I was giving her in the last meal that wasn't "failsafe" and a miracle happened. The following night she had a cluster of 20 very slight myoclonics and that cluster was the last seizure she ever had (April, 2001) and has been off the Keto Diet since July 2003, however she remains on the Failsafe Diet and Dairy free. I have since tried her on carrots and found her to be having staring sessions (were they absence seizures??) and keep her off of foods with beta-carotene. It's paid off in the long run. She is talking, doing well at school, playing with other children, enjoys her food (although I still have her on a mild diet watching what she eats) and is generally happy 100% of the time. I don't know what I would have done without the Ketogenic Diet and Failsafe foods."

My 14 year old son goes off his face with food colouring but it only lasts a couple of hours so we can put up with that. Salicylates aren’t too bad either, at home, although it must be terrible at school. He gets bouncy and silly. In class he wouldn’t be able to sit still or listen to the teacher. He would be too busy poking and prodding the kid next to him. Amines are the really big problem though. When he eats amines it’s World War III at our place. We need an air-raid siren. He’ll get up in a foul mood, kick the wall, swear, throw things, yell. Absolutely revolting. After we started the elimination diet we had five months of a perfect child but when we started our challenges that was the end of our wonderful existence. With his amine challenge he took nearly four weeks to calm down again.

This father who was doing the elimination diet to support his son chose to do the amine challenge first because he thought he wouldn’t react. ‘How wrong can you get!’ he wrote in his account of the challenge:

'I had a violent reaction within a few hours and have never felt so awful in all my life. Here are some of the symptoms: depression, suicidal tendencies not just thoughts, melancholy, looking for an argument, feeling the whole world was against me, lethargy, shakes, pressure on the skull and tingles in the extremities, feeling of hangover, inability to focus on thoughts, ringing in the ears, inability to sleep. The hungover feeling lasted until the next day. Not the best 24 hours but at least I know there is a cause for symptoms that I have experienced in the past.’

I am now 46, and have lived for most of those years with dreadful eczema all over my body, some times much worse than others. I went to many skin specialists, all who told me that diet was not linked, not to scratch, bathe in the sea when possible, not to use harsh soaps and apply cortisone creams. My eczema never got any better. I started the elimination diet a few years ago with my daughter, who suffers migraines, and not only did her headaches decrease, but my eczema also faded to almost nothing!  Amines were the trigger for her migraines, and with keeping off amine rich foods in our house, I have not had any eczema problems since, and I no longer need to apply creams to any parts of my body. What a relief!

Maybe as parents we should take our children into these places, give them the harmful products and walk out and say see what happens and good luck.  Then they might start listening. I did this to my son's school recently after they thought I was a mother overreacting to my son taking part in morning tea that was brought in by other students in the class.  The Principal actually commented that "you need to let your children have a bit of fun in their lives".  So I decided to let him join in the fun!

They got the shock of their lives when they saw the reaction they got in my son.  His teacher made a comment to me that she was shocked at the change it caused in him.  He was totally uncontrollable.  I said "yes, I am not a mean mum just a caring one".  She then said that she had discussed it with the Principal and they know that I am trying with him.  It's amazing how they change their mind when you show them. Unfortunately he had to get into trouble to get their attention.  But I think I have well and truly got their attention now - Tania from WA

I complained to the Adverse Medications Events hotline (thru your website) about the fact that the label on a particular brand of fish oil supplements says free of salicylates and amines and they were most sympathetic and helpful. They asked the Queensland Nutrition Council to investigate and discovered that not only does the lemon and lime flavouring contain salicylates and amines, but so does the tuna, and how high depends on whether the tuna is fresh or canned. As I told you, my son had an horrific adverse reaction to it, and was waking up through the night on it - in fact, he asked me if he could stop taking it. I tried lowering the dose to a teaspoon in the morning only (two teaspoons recommended morning and night), and it made no difference, so I stopped it. The AME spokesperson told me she had written to the company involved asking them to justify their claim. She also told me the product has been withdrawn in the United States, but she didn’t know why. I’m still investigating, but it would appear from my research that the US Federal Trade Commission ruled that the company made unjustifiable claims that it helped kids with ADD. Later the company was ordered not to make these claims without scientific evidence. (Complaints after January 2006 to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).- father of a six year old

When we had our son Tim assessed for Asperger's, we found that his way of viewing the world was different from ours. The tests highlighted his strengths such as maths, eg he scored 17 out of a possible 19 for this area, comprehension and reading skills. They also highlighted his weaknesses in motor coordination and his differing ability in various social situations.

Tim's world can be black and white. He doesn't cope well to change and is like a sponge soaking up written information. He was described as a little adult trapped inside a child's body. This can vary from day to day, depending whether Tim is in what I call 'child mode', happy to play with trucks and toys and his brother, or 'adult mode', needs specific jobs to do, be busy, needs to know and plan ahead.

Tim's overall score fell just a few points short of the criteria for diagnosis. When this happens, the person is described as having shadowings or ghostings of Asperger's, that is, enough of the traits to be a huge concern. This has helped us to find ideas and strategies to cope with his condition.

An occupational therapist with a special interest in sensory/tactile areas explained such things as why Tim likes to wear specific clothes, bounces up and down, spins (though this only happens every now and then) and why his hearing and sense of smell are so acute. These actions and sometime making noise help Tim balance himself. We were advised not to stop these actions, but find ways of directing them into a more socially acceptable form eg bouncing on a trampoline.

Overall, if we can improve his motor skills, his social skills and behaviour will improve.

Tim struggled socially at school last year, but this year things seem much better. We have had friends around to play, though I'm always on hand to help direct the play and social skills needed for a happy afternoon, and I can honestly say Tim is not the lonely little boy he was eight months ago.

My advice to other parents who feel there is something different about their beautiful child, but no one will seem to listen: don't give up. We were patted on the head by doctors for three and a half years ('he's just highly strung, he will grow into himself ' - what a great help that was!) and it was my own sister who suggested Asperger's due to an article she had read.

Having put a name to and found a reason for Tim's behaviour has empowered us to help our beautiful, bright and unique child to be happy. Tim seems sensitive to any artificial products, either additives or smells. We have seen him react to smells such as air fresheners and roadwork smells such as tar. We were also told to watch if his ears go red as this can often be a warning that something is not agreeing with him chemically and we have found this to be true. He can eat salicylates but is limited on amines. - Elaine

I have been on the diet for nearly 4 years. It has helped me a lot because when I was eight I was really naughty such as screaming all the time and hitting people and hitting my head on the wall. It felt so bad but now I am on the diet I feel so much better - I don't get headaches or pains in my side and feel sick in the stomach all the time. When I first found out about the diet and Learning Connections explained why I was acting and feeling the way I did I was so happy - happy that it wasn't me that was naughty or bad inside - it was the food I was eating. I can't eat takeaways now but I don't mind because my mum cooks nuggets and chips. I used to be sad that I couldn't eat my favourite fruit but I am used to it now. I haven’t been able to eat lollies that other people can eat but mum cooks me lollies ... (mum does the smashi lollies ...no longer trading unfortunately) – from Qld

On occasions my tongue would swell and my eyelids would swell up and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I’d been to doctors and a naturopath and I was still getting it, and then I read an article in the Sunday Sun, and it was all my symptoms on 635 and that the reactions would take 48 hours or so to come out. I thought “that sounds like me”, so I eliminated them from my diet, and then I ate them again, and within two or three days the reaction came out, so I stopped it again, and to
be sure, I ate it again, just to see what would happen, and it came out again, but I also get what I was told was spasms of the oesophagus. I started off thinking I was getting indigestion, and it would just pull really tight across my chest. It would last for hours, and I thought I was dying. - verbal report after presentation.

Another disturbing symptom due to 635 that has only accompanied the rash twice is a very strong sensation of 'knotting' in my oesophagus. It's similar to the feeling of eating a lot of food too quickly and having to wait for it to travel down. It comes in waves, like contractions, and I wonder whether it is the peristalsis of my oesophagus firing unnecessarily. It has woken me from sleep on both occasions and I find that it responds to taking an antihistamine. - by email.

I have started my two year old boy on an additive free diet and I can’t believe the change in him.  I had come to a point where I wanted to hurt my son because he was driving me nuts. I hadn’t a clue what from till a friend said try this diet and I’m so thankful to that friend for showing me the light in raising a great son who I now enjoy.  It’s still hard at times as we still need training in what he can and can’t have but now I know what sends him so silly and don't blame him for being a pain.

I have always watched what he was eating and thought he was eating all the right foods. How wrong I was. When I starting looking at what was in food I was shocked to see that all the foods he loved were really bad for him.

I have taken him off additives, we now do lots of baking and making foods from scratch and I watch the amount of fruit he has and what sort. He is great and loves bananas and when we go to the shop instead of asking for junk he will say mum can I have a banana. All I can say is thanks for making my son normal. – by email.

This is the diary of a salicylate food challenge with a five year old boy who suffered from two different kinds of effects, behaviour and rash. Note that effects can be delayed, build up slowly and fluctuate. Behavioural reactions are likely to occur and resolve more quickly than rash. Behavioural symptoms can depend on what is happening around the child.  Food chemicals can cause irritability resulting in tantrums when children don’t get their own way and good behaviour when they do.

Day 1 – No reaction

Day 2 - Tantrum, kicking, punching (wanted more peppermints)

Day 3 -  Punched a peer’s arm at kindy

Day 4 -  Itchy rash appeared on inside of elbow

Day 5 - Well behaved

Day 6 - Red blotches and pimples all over lower half of face, tantrum, screaming and hitting me (didn't want photo taken)

Day 7 - More blotchy and spotty, face sore and raw. (End of challenge foods)

Day 8 - Wet bed

Day 9 - Wet bed, sore tummy, sore red anus, constipated

Day10 -Wet bed, kindy complained of very small attention span, loss of concentration.

Day11 - Face clearing, no wet bed, generally seems to be getting better

Day12 - wet bed again.

We started the diet nearly a year ago for my son, a sweet 5 year old who would become an aggressive, extremely hyperactive and an emotional monster nearly every day. I saw you on A Current Affair and after taking muesli bars and sultanas (which I had thought were healthy) out of his diet I noticed most of his aggressive behaviour disappear.

After that we started the full diet and not only did our son become an angel, we noticed that our daughter was a very strong amine reactor, becoming uncontrollably emotional, depressed and ‘full on’, as well as having frequent nightmares and bedwetting. Unfortunately since we have moved 2 months ago our son has gone backwards fast, I now think as a result of amines in meat from new butchers. It is so upsetting to see all the progress disappear, and he has had HUGE problems at school this term. I have traveled back to our old butchers to stock up on meat and am started to see some improvement after one week.

The biggest shock for me however, was when I recently discovered I was a food reactor!! I was a junk food addict and would eat about 5kg of chocolate a week. I can’t believe now I had so many symptoms, and I never even put them together as symptoms, let alone found the source of the problem! I was getting migraines, I constantly had a headache behind my eyes, I felt very faint and disoriented, had stomach pains that felt like needles - usually after eating lollies, and I was always bloated - something which really upset me.

The weirdest thing to attribute to food however was my extreme ‘fear of the dark’ as I called it. I would be terribly scared of the dark, I would think that my mind thought it could see little people and things out of the corner of my eye, even though I knew they weren’t there, I would open my eyes every 10 seconds while trying to get to sleep, just to check if there were monsters or robbers there, and every time I closed my eyes all I could picture in my head was horrible things that
would scare me. I was a bit worried I was starting to go crazy, then I stopped eating chocolate and didn’t even notice all these symptoms disappeared.

It wasn’t until I splurged on a whole chocolate cake over two nights that I discovered what had caused these problems. After eating the cake I was completely on edge. I couldn’t sit down for ten seconds without turning around to make sure there were no monsters or robbers behind me. Eventually I had to sit with my back to the wall so I wouldn’t think there were things behind me. That was the last time I ate chocolate, and the thought of ever eating it again scares me! – by email.

Since food intolerance runs in families, I would expect identical twins to be affected by the same food chemicals, so when this mother wrote about the reaction of a twin to the bread preservative, I asked whether the other twin was affected. You can see her answer below. This is an excellent illustration of how parents are more likely to identify behavioural reactions to food chemicals and to miss other types of reactions. Yet usually if one member of the family is affected, others will be affected in different ways.

I am the mother of identical twin girls aged three and a half. I have discovered that one of my twin girls reacts violently to the preservative 282 in bread and since my girls were 18mths old have been purchasing bread through Baker Delight with great success. Recently for the first time in two years she was eating preservative bread on holiday and went off her head.  Screaming, tantrums, the whole nine yards so to speak … later … When you asked does my other girl react differently, I really had to sit down and think about this one. Yes I suppose she does. It seems to me that her ability to hold her bladder disappears while being affected by 282, that is, she says she needs to go pee, then her pants are wet. Off 282 for a few weeks, mentions she needs to pee in the middle of grocery shopping, I have time to quickly finish off shop then get trolley through the checkout and then get to toilet. A big difference. At home now she will need to go, but can keep playing for about 2 – 5 minutes whereas if she is eating 282 and needs to pee, she will pee on floor on the way to bathroom. – by email.

My seven year old son recently developed a severe rash that covered all parts of his body after he had tried salt and vinegar chips for the first time. However we did not realise this until we saw you on Today Tonight and realised he had never had these chips before. When the rash had almost gone (it was completely covering his back, stomach and groin) he went to his nannas and had Arnotts chicken crimpy and crispy bacon biscuits (which we now know contain 635). He came home covered in a severe rash this time on his legs. He was scratching it so badly that he made his legs bleed.

I was going crazy trying to figure out what was causing it until I saw your segment. I am very grateful to you for solving this problem for me as the medication was getting expensive and I was getting nowhere with the doctors. On the first visit for the initial rash I was told he had hives and given two types of medication that didn’t work so we went back. Then we were told he had eczema and we were given a different medication. This one was working until he had the chicken crimpys and the rash came back in a different area.

Our eldest started boarding school this year and it has been both awful and wonderful. Tina is affected behaviourally by foods. Have you read the 'Animorphs' series of books for kids? Well there is a little creature called a 'yerk' that takes over people’s brains and that is how Tina describes it when she is not failsafe. It is scary for her.

Boarding school has been hell and she has been miserable, but by term 3 the staff started to take us seriously that the behaviour, social and academic problems would virtually go away if we could remove problem foods from her diet. The school counsellor is very supportive and suggested I cook cakes and biscuits to be kept in the freezer in the kitchen for her to pack her own morning teas and snacks. They are buying additive free bread for her and keeping vanilla yoghurt. When they have a roast they freeze slices of meat (not pork) for her lunches. One day they ran out and boiled eggs up just for her. She just leaves the main queue and goes to a different door and they help her. They have also purchased pats of pure butter instead of margarine. Her diet is not pure failsafe but it's heaps better and now she is so much happier. If boarding school doesn’t work out this year, she can do Distance Education next year. – by email, Qld [contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for the name of the boarding school].

My two and a half year old daughter has had severe eczema and cradle cap since she was a few months old, I never made the connection between the eczema and food allergy because she wasn’t even on solids when we first noticed the eczema. She was fully breastfed and I am embarrassed to admit that it didn’t occur to me that what I ate may be causing the rash! I had her to the doctor plenty of times over her first two years and came away with all sorts of creams and lotions, but nothing that worked. (Mind you the doctor never once suggested food allergy either!)

Anyway six months ago she had an allergic reaction to peanut butter, we took her to an allergist who performed skin prick tests and not only is she anaphylactic to peanuts but also allergic to egg and tomato. We eliminated all nuts and egg and tomato from her diet and whilst she improved and her cradle cap went, her skin still didn’t clear up. She still scratched a lot (mostly at night), got allergic shiners under her eyes, and always seemed to have a slight cough and a clear runny nose.

I recently got hold of Fed Up with the idea of doing the elimination diet then slowly introducing things back in to see what else may be causing her eczema. I am pleased to tell you that the eczema is now completely cleared up along with all the other symptoms simply due to avoiding all preservatives.

Before going fully failsafe we eliminated all those nasties from our diets and what a difference it has made! I just want to say thank you for what you do and for making it so much easier for parents like me, who 18 months ago had no idea what 160b or 282 were and thought I was giving my children healthy food with their yoghurt and cheese spread etc. I almost look at my daughter’s anaphylactic allergy to peanuts a blessing in disguise, because if not for that I never would have investigated food allergies and would still be obliviously feeding my family all sorts of nasty things.

I let my 7 year old eat as many dried apricots as he wanted for the sulphites challenge because he’s definitely not salicylate sensitive - he ate 10 (little) whole apricots yesterday and said it was a bit hard to breathe even thought he has no known asthma problem.

Last night my son had 3 night terrors close together, where he screams and his legs cramp and he twitches.  I phoned his day care as he spoke about eating glue.  I found out it was a thing the school calls 'gloop' to tailor fine motor skills.  It is made with flour, water and (yesterday) green food colouring.

I am another recent convert - my almost 5 year old was always difficult in terms of behaviour and the term oppositional defiance describes her well - when we cut out preservatives after seeing you on TV last year she improved heaps (no more threats of violence).  Since then I have borrowed one of your books and now we don't touch flavours, colours or preservatives, WOW what a difference - I will most likely do the elimination diet in the near future to pinpoint other possible issues like salicylates etc.

Positive symptoms I've noticed since we started our elimination diet include that we all seem to eat less ... and less frequently. The children seem to be more or less satisfied with 3 meals and the odd snack. We’ve also gone from three wet beds a night to none most days so I figure the extra time I spend in preparing food is time I don't any longer spend in the laundry - a very fair trade!

Thanks for your time, Sue. I really appreciate the hours you have put into this to make it so much easier for people like me. I've seen such a huge improvement in my (I suspect ADHD) son. It's lovely to see him a happy, coping little boy. You and yours have been a great blessing to our family.

I noticed a dog food advertisement on TV recently stating "no added flavours or colours" for the health of your dog - if they do it for DOGS why not people??

Our 6 year old son’s urticaria and rhinitis have improved dramatically by avoiding cats and dustmites (for allergies) and additives annatto 160b and flavour enhancers 621-635. He is now starting to feel better, sleeping better and behaving better (previously we were told it was ADHD but I have my doubts now).

It is great to see that food intolerance and other chemical sensitivities are now getting recognition - I have spent a lot of time and energy explaining to people why I can't eat certain foods or why certain smells (paint, new carpet, nail polish) cause nausea and sometimes cause an asthmatic reaction.

Our dietician has already cleared one thing up for me - why I often find my throat closing up when eating peppermints. I had no idea that it would be a salicylate issue.

An added benefit of this plainer diet is that their tastebuds have become accustomed and now they actually eat vegies etc more than they ever used to because they don't taste so bad compared to everything else (previously highly salted and flavoured) on their plates. Since failing her amine challenge three months ago my six year old daughter has had no more amines, and no more snotty or blocked nose, nasal sprays, nightmares, sore tummy, teeth grinding, sore legs or nail biting - and her nails are growing for the first time in her life.

Your DVD opened the eyes of my family and my son's school teachers! It's really well put together, and my son was excited to be able to take a DVD to school to show his class all about his food!  - Karena, Tas.

Without your information about diet, my family would have been torn apart, purely because of the behaviour of our five year old son. He is now a pleasant person to have around - most of the time. My husband and I are also much calmer and handle our children in a far nicer way than we did previously.

I look forward to your newsletter - keep up the good work and there are more and more of us sounding the warning bell.

Food additives are a big issue with consumers and getting bigger all the time. – excerpt from an email from a failsafer to a food manufacturer – thanks to Helen.

Previous to the diet, on the recommendation of our pediatrician we tried fish oil capsules for 4 weeks with good results for concentration. We stopped using the fish oil supplement when we started the diet as we wanted a clear reading of what it would do. (We were very much non believers at this stage). The difference on the diet was amazing and we did the diet very successfully for over three months. We were into our second challenge when I reintroduced the fish oil thinking nothing of it as it was recommended along with diet by the pediatrician. We never got back to where we started even after four weeks of strict diet. We came off it thinking it was possibly a one off and his body had adjusted to the diet. We have paid heavily for it, forgetting what life was like before the diet. My son is unhappy and we even began Ritalin trials feeling that we had exhausted all avenues. Then a friend who is also a failsafer was told by a doctor at the RPA Allergy Clinic that there is a problem with fish oil and I just wanted to warn others who may fall into the same trap. We have begun the diet again today and my son is happy to go back on it even though he knows it means no McDonald parties and fruit and pizza which are his favourites. Thank you for giving us another option, and this fabulous website which makes the daunting task much easier.

When my daughter was two I noticed that her eczema seemed to flare up after I had given her spaghetti one day or two before.  I asked my dietitian if it could be tomatoes and she said "yes - it can be salicyates".  So I stopped giving her spaghetti and tomatoes thinking this would solve the problem however she still had eczema so I just treated it.  When she turned three years old she started getting asthma, about every month and when she had a virus or a cold. My daughter always only drank water or milk but at her Kindy Christmas Party we had to give her some cordial to drink because there wasn't anything else and that night she had asthma. The same thing happened a month later after she had a raspberry fruit drink. My doctor just told me how to treat the asthma so I went to my dietitian. She prescribed vitamin supplements and took my daughter off dairy which reduced the frequency and severity of the asthma but made the eczema worse. It  took a couple of months for me to realize that I was mixing the vitamin powder in orange juice, then the dietitian gave me a list of all the foods that contained salicylates so I could avoid them. A few weeks after we started avoiding salicylates, my daughter's skin started clearing up. So you can see the pattern with the tomatoes, fruit juice and orange cordial with real fruit juice – reader by email.

My daughter developed eczema when she was being introduced to solid foods at about 6 months but I didn't take her to the doctor for another year and then we managed it with eczema cream until we went travelling when she was two. The eczema got much worse while we were travelling and eventually we tried the elimination diet. We went gluten free right from the start and at first she got much worse. It took us months to work out that she was sensitive to many food chemicals but especially sulphites, which were in gluten free flours and also in the bore water on our property. I was also using a herbal cream that was making her eczema worse. She is very sensitive and reacts to Sorbolene, and smells like Estapol.

"I have a 3 year old son who was diagnosed with eczema around the 12 month mark. He started having rashes when he was put on solids but nothing too serious. Last year we took him to a skin specialist who told us his condition was very mild and prescribed cortisone (Elocon). When we asked for allergy testing, she told me it was not caused by foods. Fourteen months and a few tubes of Elocon later, his condition was very bad. He would scratch himself in his sleep to the point of bloodstains on the sheets and had problems staying asleep. His skin was permanently scarred and bloody because of scratching the same spots so they never had a chance to heal. I was in despair and did not know what to do especially as I took him to my GP and he again refused to do anything other than prescribe Elocon."

Eventually this mother decided to try diet for herself and contacted the Food Intolerance Network through our website. Through cutting down on additives she found that preservatives were the main culprit and wrote:

"Since we took him off additives and preserved foods (eg lollies, juice, sausages), his skin has improved very well. He stopped scratching and started to sleep through the night. Then on Saturday he had half a sausage and bam, itching and redness started within 30 minutes. Luckily it only lasted a few hours and again yesterday we went to a party and against my better judgment I let him have orange juice and soft drink and same thing happened.

“Because I now know exactly what he eats, it is easy to pinpoint the cause.  I am disappointed with our medical practitioners, the so called specialists, especially the one who saw my son last year and put him on steroids. I have become an avid label reader and when I explained to my 3 year old why he cannot have all the stuff he normally loves, he surprised me with how well he is coping."

I knew I had food intolerances to the Nightshade family of foods so I had been avoiding them and my symptoms were much improved but even when I was sure I hadn't eaten any of them I would occasionally get severe sudden reactions: severe irritable bowel symptoms, a slight but very itchy rash and a severe feeling of nausea.

From looking at the responses on your website and finding a lady who said 635 in soups was the problem for her I went and checked the packaging of what I was eating and I realised flavour enhancer 635 was the common link for me. At the times I had sudden reactions I had been eating foods like Continental cuppa soups, packaged noodles, and beef stock, which all had 635 in them. Thanks for helping me find and kick this unhelpful additive out of my diet – Selina by email.

I was lucky enough to come and see you talk recently. Our son is nearly 8 years old and I reckon for 7 of those years he has been very hard to handle, episodes involving throwing things at me, chasing me, yelling, getting so upset he would go blue and lose his breath. We have taken him off a lot of foods you recommend not to give your children, and his behaviour improved, episodes consisted of whingeing or crying for 10 minutes instead of hours. Since seeing your talk, we have cut out a lot more foods, and I have stopped using my beloved Red Door perfume, within a week we have seen an amazingly different child, he now sits with us, not hyperactive, yes mum, no mum. I said to my husband I am overwhelmed as for the past 7 years I have known a naughtier child. We both want to thank you so much for giving us our darling little man to us. We have the opportunity to give him a better way of feeling and acting, it is all to you, although I miss my perfume, I have now given it to my mum and my husband and I are enjoying some special days with our child. We now only feed him fresh foods - no processed foods, home made cooking for school lunches. Thank you so very much - parent, Victoria.

Thanks so much! I'm buying DVDs  for all my family members because Sue's book "Fed Up" has turned my family completely around. We have in the past month made every effort to remove additives and preservatives from our diet and the results have been astounding. My 13 year old son has been angry and depressed for most of his life, to the point that we have had him at a psychologist but within two weeks of altering his diet he has become happy and affectionate, constantly telling me he loves me and that he no longer has a foggy head! We are yet to do the elimination diet (I'm waiting for my husband to finish the book) but have already noted that salicylates do seem to be a problem for some of us. The difference has been so enormous that at least three of my friends have gone out and bought Fed Up having seen our improvements. I think I have also singlehandedly cut the sales of Tim Tams in our area quite dramatically since we found out via Sue that the beautiful chocolate colour is not from chocolate! In addition, I've noticed a couple of unexpected benefits: firstly, our taste buds seem to have improved (for example, I have never been able to stomach the richness of lamb before but suddenly can) and secondly, by going back to basics with the cooking we seem to be developing a much closer bond as a family... I'm not sure I can explain it, but it's something to do with putting love and care into everything we cook. A sort of return to old values, I suppose. – reader, Sydney.

Before going on the diet, I used to get panic attacks at night, where I would be absolutely convinced that there was a gunman just outside my window. When I finally did go on the diet, it was for the sake of my children, not myself, so I thought it was okay at week three to eat an enormous amount of chocolate - I believe it was one Hershey bar, and a massive Cadbury dairy milk block. The next day, I was so paranoid that I convinced myself that my husband was having an affair, and went to the extent of driving to his work to watch him through the window, then following him home on his bike. When he arrived home, I dashed outside and hid in the darkened garden, crying. After about four hours the paranoia episode just finished like that, and I had to explain myself to a perplexed husband - reader, NSW

Ever since my son - now aged 10 - was a baby he would get a persistent dry cough that would continue relentlessly throughout the day and all through the night of only the winter months every year - at least 6 months every year without fail. The doctors would all say that they couldn't hear wheezing, so stopped short of diagnosing asthma no matter how sick he was. Finally a new local doctor a few years ago suggested asthma and asked me to try a blue puffer with ventolin. It fixed him immediately after 5 months of relentless coughing! He is an extremely active, sporty child, who plays and trains hard every season, but never got the asthma in the summer months.

Ventolin continued to control it, although he was worse after soccer training and games - in recent years accompanied by acute chest pains during games - and often had to come off. Last year, he participated in a school cross country held in May and got into the next level (extremely hilly) in June. After the race he could not stop coughing, had difficulty breathing and was very ill, missing school for some time after, which was when we started to make the exercise connection. We then started to observe and realised the trigger was exercise. Once winter was over he was well again, right up until March this year.

The beginning of March coincided with my reading your books - for other problems, I had forgotten about the asthma as it was controlled with ventolin and seasonal - and the gradual reduction in non failsafe foods in our house in the lead up to going failsafe. During this time he participated in the soccer training and school cross country practices and came first twice - no coughing, no problems. About 90 per cent failsafe, he went to a two day school camp this year – we don’t know what he ate. The next day (Saturday) at soccer he had severe chest pains throughout the game.

After the game his father bought him a sausage sandwich. He started coughing sometime that afternoon and continued for several days. On the Monday and Tuesday at school he came last in the cross country practices on both days, and came home extremely ill on the Tuesday, still coughing continuously. He stayed at home on the Wednesday with ventolin and the vaporizer and gradually recovered.

He was still coughing a little but much better the following Sunday, when we were unavoidably delayed whilst out. The kids were starving at lunchtime and begging for hot chips. At this point I was not aware of the food-asthma connection nor of the sulphites in hot chips. Later that afternoon he quickly began to get much worse again and needed the puffer and vaporiser again on the Sunday and Monday night. By the Tuesday night he didn't need the puffer or vaporiser anymore and went to soccer training on the Wednesday night without coughing or chest pains. He has eaten 100 per cent failsafe since then (4 weeks later) with absolutely no sign of the asthma cough despite plenty of exercise and sport. He actually won his school cross country - no reactions at all afterwards or during, whilst plenty of kids were, in his words, "dropping like flies with asthma attacks all around him" - some quite seriously so! Of course, as usual, the school had a sausage sizzle going all that day to raise money - bizarre isn't it?

I wrote a record of this for myself to help me work out cause and effect, as I gradually started to realise the connection after I had gone over everything else they had eaten during that time - which was all failsafe. The camp food, sausage and hot chips were the only things not failsafe, and his coughing reactions began within a couple of hours of consumption. I am extremely grateful to you and your books for having made him almost failsafe at the time, to enable me to so clearly observe cause and effect with the food and the exercise – reader, NSW.

Some years ago now, I remember reading  a message from a failsafer who’d had a gastroscopy before he went failsafe, which showed scarring and evidence of reflux, and he was put on strong antacids and told he might eventually need an operation (presumably to repair the gastric sphincter).

Exactly the same happened to me. I get the neurological symptoms (depression, paranoia, neurosis, ADD, and visual discomfort dyslexia - which improves but hasn't been resolved), but I also had years of gastric symptoms and had had two gastroscopies before I discovered failsafe eating. The first one showed no ulcer but that the lining was inflamed. After the second I had exactly the same diagnosis as in the story above. I remember the gastroenterologist telling me that although the symptoms weren't typical, the problem was definitely reflux, and suggesting the operation.

After I had been on the diet for some years, I had another gastroscopy to investigate the possibility of coeliac sprue. This wasn't found (thank heavens) but it did demonstrate that the scarring and inflamMation that had previously been there was now gone. The diet had resolved about 10 years of painful gastric symptoms for me.

I'm just wondering whether there might be other adults or children who have had the same experience. As people are so keen on physical evidence, maybe someone could pool the results and put out a paper? - reader, NSW  We would love to hear from any others with similar stories: please write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Since we are going on the diet next week, we let our son have some things that we haven't allowed for a long time including bacon, tomatoes, ham and a doughnut. This morning I had a raging child, who was refusing to go into his classroom and throwing punches at me. Since we have cut a lot of nasties out of his diet he has not been violent at all until this morning!  The only good thing to come of this is now we are absolutely convinced it's his diet that's causing the grief. – reader, NT

My eldest son suffers terribly from eczema and while we have dabbled in diets in the past they were too difficult and the people who gave them to us seemed to be peddling their own vitamins and supplements! My son’s allergist recently suggested a diet along with the RPA and your books. Boy oh boy even after three days we could see the difference.  He has now been on the diet for four weeks and as his eczema is so much better as well as his general skin condition. – reader, NSW

My wife is acutely allergic to the orange colour tartrazine (102). The first incident was with "fresh" orange juice. There were no labelling requirements at this time, and the orange juice itself was thought to be the cause.

The second incident was when she was prescribed antihistamines, coloured orange, for a bout of hay fever. She went into anaphylactic shock. Later the doctors at the hospital remarked how interesting it was that the tablet that was keeping her alive was also trying to kill her. It was at this point that 102 was identified as the culprit.

Since then we have attempted to avoid 102 whenever possible but we have been caught several times by undisclosed use of the product. We find local food providers are generally co-operative when they understand the consequences. However, corporations do not care …recently I noted that Marathon was again adding 102 to its products.

As I understand it the pharmaceutical companies are not required to label their products …a recipe for disaster. We have to open the coloured capsules so that the foul tasting contents can be taken with water - reader, Qld

My son 14 is a state ward and has been for 18 months. His behaviour at home was violent, aggressive and surly to such an extent that my safety was threatened. He had damaged property, harmed pets, broken my bones ... He was 12 when he went into care and this behaviour had gone on since the age of 7. He tried to kill himself a number of times, initially playing chicken with cars, starving himself, much self harm behaviour and nearly succeeded last year when he cut an artery in his leg.

I tried to get help for years only to be told that I was a bad mother. I was accused of abusing my son so many times it wasn't funny, even dragged before courts for it. They didn't get it. I was the one with the bruises and broken bones not the kid.  He was never diagnosed with any disorder. All behaviour was put down to an incident when he was 6 and a teen tried to molest him. I had seen him lose touch with reality and even respond to voices - at 8 years old. School suspensions started in grade 2. His school had a sign that other children would file out of the classroom on a pre-determined signal ... I could go on and on.

He became a state ward after a particularly bad incident where I ended up with concussion but to get him off me I had to bite him ... therefore proving what a violent mother I am.

I got your book Fed Up from the library and read it over the weekend. What a revelation to me.

He has just been diagnosed as a possible coeliac. He has always had some intolerances and his sister had GI probs and lactose intolerance too. Both have not done well away from what they ate at home, which on reflection was low gluten and low additives.

Well, at the moment the lad is keen to clean up the diet, at least the gluten part, but I think it is too late to mend our relationship.

I should have done more research and figured out the food connection earlier. I did make food connections, from when he was very young. He was lactose intolerant, had trouble with other foods. He was also a bedwetter until nearly 10. He always had gut problems. We noticed if he had certain foods he would be worse, even his family day care parents learnt the hard way about the foods. His doctors knew this, the psychologists knew this but NOBODY made the connection. Even now the only reason he got checked out was I pushed and after a few incidents in the unit I raised Duty of Care.

Anyway at least I have hope now. Hope that he won't end up in the justice or mental health system. Hope that he can get back to a normal school. Hope that maybe one day he can come home to visit. This system he has ended up in is not used to bright kids and he is in a school for not so bright ones. Meanwhile he has learnt heaps of bad behaviour from others ...

I can see that failsafe foods have been your work for years and indeed you work very hard to get the word out. What I can't understand is why more people don't suspect food problems in behaviours with kids. How many more families have to go through what we have been through?

So Sue if any of our story helps other families or professionals please go ahead and use it. You don't have children for other people to raise. I should count myself fortunate I still get a say as I am still a guardian but it is difficult and if the connections had been made when I first suspected them none of this need have happened - reader, Vic.

•     Antioxidant 320 [BHA in oils, margarines and most commercial products containing oils] gives me a terribly flushed red face as well as extreme fatigue and irritability - by email.

•     Your DVD is great, it convinced my husband that doing the diet properly is the only way to go … before that he thought we could do just bits of it – by email.

•     After reading your book I realize that salicylates might be the reason my teenage daughter has had terrible bowel problems for the last few years because she had bad eczema as a kid, got a mighty dose of tinea when she overdosed on grapes last year, and our diet for the past few years has been VERY high in all the very high salicylate foods such as dried fruit (muesli), dates, tomatoes, eggplant, rocket, onions, almonds, avocados, grapes, broccoli - by email.

•     About five years ago when I was working as a childrens' worker in Victoria I contacted you - by phone in those days - on quite a few occasions prior to and while I was working with young children with behavioural problems. In every case the "Fed Up" regime worked and I was convinced of its success, since then I have recommended to lots of parents that they look very seriously at this program for their child – by email

•     We have our son on a lot of the readers’ recipes and have noticed a huge improvement in his demeanor – by email.

•     I love your jam packed website and count myself exceptionally lucky that I stumbled upon it accidentally the other day - I am so impressed with how everything is so well researched and is truly scientific - by email.

•     The boys were watching some of the DVD with me, with Ashley singing my food’s on the telly, my food’s on the telly, it’s the best in the world, the best in the world when you were showing the failsafe foods. It’s fantastic, you should be very proud. Well done to you and everyone else involved. – Jenny, Melbourne VIC.

•     I'll be lending my DVD to lots of people, so I think its a great way of spreading information! – Susie, Sydney NSW.

•     I have just watched the new DVD and I have to say - it was a tremendous job that was well done. The personal comments from parents who have been there are worth listening to. The DVD has enormous integrity as it involves both scientific research and experience. Sue's explanations are very clear and straight to the heart of the matter. I just loved her "nasty food" scenes. This DVD is well worth going to all schools - Cheryl, teacher Coffs Harbour NSW.

•     The benefits we have derived from your hard work are worth far more than the cost of a video!!!! – Mother, Newcastle NSW.

Our family has been largely failsafe for the past couple of years due to our daughter’s behaviour, but an added side benefit seems to have emerged. My husband has a rare disorder called Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT) which causes his capillaries to balloon and bleed easily. His blood count is always very low and like all HHT sufferers, nosebleeds have always been part of his life. He has had far fewer nosebleeds since he's avoided salicylates and that's the only change that he's made. I wonder if it could be that the lack of salicylates decrease the bleeding? He can't ever take aspirin, so I suppose it makes sense, but if my suspicions are correct, then other HHT sufferers might benefit as well. I would think that it's worth investigating and I will certainly share it with anyone who is interested or concerned. – Chris,
NSW(This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) [and see our new Factsheet HHT and salicylates]

I just wanted to tell you about the effects of aspartame on my insulin dependant father in-law. He has drunk at least a can of diet soft drink every day for the last 10 yrs since becoming diabetic, thinking he was doing the right thing. But about 12 months ago he started having regular blackouts every few months or so. He is 6ft 5in and a very big man so when he falls there is a lot of room for damage of some description. The last blackout on his veranda whilst sitting on a chair putting on his boots resulted in a badly dislocated shoulder with permanent damage. He no longer drinks diet drinks after I researched and found some absolutely shocking information linking aspartame to blackouts and has not had a blackout in over 12 months. Aspartame is definitely not recommended for diabetics and no-one should ingest this poison. The alarming thing is I have recently found it in salad dressing and things kids would eat. It’s also in most low fat products. - Simonne, by email  [and see our new Factsheet: sugarfree sweeteners]

I have been unwell for a few years with many mysterious and varied complaints. I experienced a bout of Optic Neuritis in March 2004. I was hospitalised with a possible MS diagnosis. It's a long story but I was researching a link between my maladies and a toxin as a possible cause of my health complaints when I came across aspartame and its numerous effects on health. My problems I believe can be related to the vast quantities of Diet Coke I was drinking, 1.25 litres every second day and I was addicted to this stuff. Diet coke was my preferred drink. I also had lots of sugarfree chewing gum, pocket breath strips, diet foods etc. Coke and Wrigley say its safe because FSANZ say it is. I deleted aspartame from my diet in Sept 2004 and my symptoms have gone or abated at the least. I was put on a nasty anti-depressant as well back in March so life was a struggle. I have avoided all aspartame since Sept 2004 and got off the anti-depressant in Nov 2004 and am slowly feeling like my old self. I know aspartame did terrible things to me and I hope I have not suffered permanent damage. I fear for our kids. - Andrea, by email

My 6 ½ year old son, Tim (not his real name) is currently undergoing investigation of mixed depressive disorder with anxiety and obsessive ruminations. We have used failsafe in the past with one of our other children, but had not ever thought of foods being linked to Tim's mood problems. When you mention a "gifted and depressed" child at your recent talk my ears immediately pricked up and took note. Tim has been identified as highly gifted and everyone has been saying that is the cause of his problems but I have always felt there was something else underlying that was contributing. We will be contacting our GP today and hopefully starting the elimination diet as soon as possible.

2 weeks later...

Just wanted to let you know, we are all amazed at our son's improvement over the last two weeks. I have been in contact with the dietitian you recommended, she is lovely and very supportive. We will be starting the "proper" 3 week elimination diet on the weekend after the school camp (couldn't manage that one!) But I wanted to tell you also that even my GP has taken to your book for herself and her family. She is raving about it!

2 months later ...

Since starting the elimination diet Tim has not self harmed once! He is much calmer and has noticed this in himself. He no longer seems to be as restless and has been falling asleep easily at a reasonable time in the evenings. We started with the salicylate challenge this week and there seemed to be no reaction, until day 5/6 when we started to notice his behaviour was getting worse. We will stop this challenge tonight and wait to try some other groups. His GP and Clinical Psychologist are both thrilled with the change as well! ...

One week later ....

After I emailed you we finally had the BIG reaction we were looking for. It happened on Day 7 of the salicylate challenge - we had already stopped the challenge that morning. Tim went to bed as normal then began to write swear words all over his bed, his sheets and his body. ("I was angry with you because I couldn't fall asleep") This is the behaviour and obsessive ruminations this poor boy was experiencing on a daily basis before the elimination diet, which we have not seen until this challenge.

My son had been assessed by a speech therapist at the preschool. She diagnosed, as best she could - we couldn't really keep Jack in the room much less anything like on-task - a severe expressive language delay and a moderate receptive language delay. Six weeks, later when off wheat products, he was reassessed by the same speech pathologist, using the part of the test that Jack had not done due to being non-cooperative. This time he seemed to have no significant receptive language delay and was only mildly delayed in his expressive language. She said she had never seen a child change so dramatically within such a short period of time. … It took this family another year to discover that their child’s problem was not the wheat in bread, but the preservative calcium propionate. For the full story, see [036]

My 7 year old son has been failsafe for a couple of years now with great results.  My 5 year old daughter has quite a bad stutter and it has just dawned on me that diet may make it worse. I have often noticed that her speech is worse when my son’s behaviour is at its worst. Her speech therapist pointed out that it may be due to diet and that his hyperactivity is the symptom but her symptom is stuttering.  Given that they both generally eat the same thing this makes sense.  I tend to be more lax with her diet though.

My son becomes hyper and stutters as a result of reactions to salicylates, amines, wheat, dairy, preservatives, colours and flavours. His older sister also stutters when reacting but she is more tolerant of foods and other reactions are milder.

My daughter is allergic to mosquitoes and while we were doing the elimination diet she was badly bitten. Our doctor recommended daily double doses of claratyne liquid. On the second day my daughter started to talk incessantly and stutter a little (this had previously been a problem months ago). Then on day 3 at daycare she became drunkish, socially withdrawn and stopped talking (selective mutism, although not gone, had improved on failsafe). The staff at daycare had been amazed to say the least about her improvement on the diet, so this was obvious. When my husband came home, he picked up the bottle of antihistamine and read the label, to my dismay it contained sodium benzoate! Well, that went in the bin, we got claratyne tablets, she had a half, and the next day at daycare she was back to normal.

Sulphites (220-228) are used in a wide range of foods including dried fruit, fruit drinks, sausages (not in meat in the USA) and potato products such as hot chips and dried potato. We did the sulphite challenge with Deb mashed potato. My son was stuttering slightly before the challenge but by day 3 of eating ½ cup of Deb mashed potato per day, his stuttering was so bad that he would not talk at all. His stuttering continued for 4 months after the challenge stopped. Two years later he has had no sulphites and no speech difficulties.

Our two and a half year old son had difficulty with stuttering for a few months.  After my sister-in-law, a nurse, told us about the potential dangers of nitrates for children, especially contributions to developmental delays, we removed all nitrates from our son's diet and within about a week the stuttering was gone. Yesterday, our son went on an outing to the zoo with my mother. Strangely, his stuttering returned full-force today. I called my mother to ask what he had ingested for lunch
and dinner yesterday. The glaring answer:  a HOTDOG.

My 9 year old son started stuttering when he was around 4 years old. He seemed to be sensitive to preservatives especially 211 and I have steered clear of this preservative, but a few weeks ago his stuttering came back in full force, around the same time I had apple juice in the house. He is a big juice addict, and thinking back, has always had juice, either straight or diluted. I have always watched out for the preservatives in juice, and bread, but I now think he is intolerant to salicylates
as well. I have changed all of his foods to failsafe foods, and his speech is now good. He has calmed down a bit as well.

In 1997 at age 19, I developed an itchy, burning rash under my nose.  For the next six years, I went to doctors, naturopaths, homoeopaths, meditation and relaxation. Nothing worked and no-one could tell me why it was there and what it was.  In 2001 I gave up smoking and went through a lot in my life while living overseas and in 6 months went from 55kg to 72 kg.  I started getting bowel problems (flatulence, constipation, cramps and diarrhoea) and no matter what I tried I
could not lose the weight.

By the end of 2003 I had moved back to Australia and was on a wheat-free diet. My rash went away but I was still having bowel problems and irritability. Sometimes I would buckle over in so much pain I couldn’t walk, have terrible wind and then diarrhoea. I always needed to be near a toilet. That is when I went on the elimination diet and found that I was incredibly sensitive to sulphites and that the cramps and diarrhoea were from sulphites. The bad wind was caused by amines, and artificial antioxidants were a mixture of the two.  My rash is staying away too. I am also back down to 55kg after coming back to Australia, going off wheat but also enjoying the active Australian lifestyle.  I can now eat wheat as long as it has no preservatives - maybe it was never wheat that was the problem!

I am now only just on the other side of finishing the diet and am trying to come to terms with what I can and cannot eat. I have been trying no added preservative wine, which is a lot better, but I still sometimes have a bit of a reaction. I am very sad about Amines, I love chocolate and I can't eat much at all, same with cheese. I just know that it is not worth having sulphites because the reaction is too bad. My family have now begun to take out additives in their diets too after hearing from me just how bad they are. It gets confusing talking about natural food chemicals and chemicals to other people, but eventually they understand. – by email

Having four children who have all been milk and soy intolerant from birth, intolerant to artificial additives and sensitive to levels of salicylates and amines I've seen possibly every symptom food intolerance can produce raise its ugly head at some time or another. Unfortunately due to either being uneducated or narrow-minded, many mainstream medical practitioners including specialists just wouldn't go the food intolerance path so it took me several years to really get to the bottom of what was happening with my children.

The first symptoms that we came up against were reflux, eczema and a lot of skin rashes. My third child, Jessica, was extremely miserable and seemed to be in a lot of pain. She'd started refluxing from one week and was started on prescription medications. Luckily the paediatrician was able to identify a rash around her bottom as being associated with lactose intolerance so we went the road of trying various formulas until we got to nutramigen which settled her demeanour but did nothing to alleviate the reflux side of things, so we had unwittingly started down the right path. She also had a constant post nasal drip from very early on so we were shovelling her full of various antihistamine type medicines trying to alleviate that and she had eczema. My fourth child Zac knew that breast milk just wasn't for him so at two weeks he decided to starve himself in preference, refusing the breast. He also was covered in eczema and had silent reflux. Luckily for him he was put straight on to neocate, for during the couple of years leading up to his birth, our family paediatrician who by this point had all four of my children in his care had seen the flurry of symptoms food intolerance can produce.

As my eldest child Levi was still on syrup medication for reflux until just before he started school, his paediatrician felt it would be a good idea to see how he went, off medication. I was able to get him through with the occasional dose of over the counter antacid for a couple of months until he started school when his reflux exacerbated, so the prescription medication was reintroduced. I took him for his paediatric review a few days later and was told to start him on a prescription
syrup antacid as well as he'd been complaining of heartburn symptoms. Within 3 days something was going wrong. His teacher asked me what had happened to him, he was bouncing off the walls and displaying ADHD symptoms, being loud and disruptive. I rang his paediatrician and told her that I was taking him off the prescription antacid and told her what was happening. But things were going down hill fast, his ADHD symptoms were becoming worse, his coordination had
plummeted and he'd lost all sense of balance (which had never been a problem in the past), he'd fall over for no apparent reason, there were times that he would behave like he was drunk or high, giggling and slouching, and his eyes would zip from side to side really quickly (I was told the medical term, I think it was nystagmus…)

To top it off, Jessica, had started doing the parkinsons shake (she was still refluxing terribly and was also on both Zantac and Prepulsid syrup medications). Levi's teacher asked me to have him assessed by an Occupational Therapist who diagnosed him as having dyspraxia, a developmental condition that makes them have to have constant repetition as they have to relearn everything over and over because they can't retain it. I knew that it wasn't a developmental problem as he had always been in advance of his age appropriate milestones and I'd spent lots of time with him, he could climb trees, jump, skip, ride a bike without training wheels
from 3 years old, and had great hand eye coordination prior to this happening. All of that coupled with the ADHD stuff just wasn't right. So I made an appointment for the paediatrician (his regular paediatrician wasn't available so I asked for the one that was now looking after my other 2 children). He was dumbfounded. He'd remembered seeing Levi from time to time when I'd had to go for appointments with the others and he didn't have a clue what was going on. So he ordered
several blood tests, a CAT scan and an EEG. Everything came back clear. I remember saying to him at that stage that it had all started when the syrup antacid was introduced but I couldn't understand why it was still happening. I of course got a Tsk Tsk for pointing my finger at the medication. So I battled onwards for a couple of months, racking my brain, I rang the reflux support group and the lady I talked to said that her son who was on these medications was also ADHD. I was at my wits end, Levi's symptoms were getting worse, I resorted to ringing the drug company who manufactured the antacid and talked to one of the medics who worked in the lab. She told me that she had heard of this sort of thing happening before and that it was probably due to the alcohol, or the preservatives and flavourings used in the medicine as they are really concentrated in ALL syrup medications. BINGO. Now I was facing a dilemma. How could I treat my children’s reflux without the medications, I could see what it was doing to my kids - all 3 were on the same medications. I found a naturopath who made a tonic catering for my children’s reflux symptoms. In a matter of weeks I was able to control the older 2 with the herbal treatment alone. Within 7 weeks Levi's ADHD had settled down, his balance and coordination had returned and when we saw the neurologist at this point he agreed that Levi's problems were due to the preservatives and flavourings in the medications and felt that he was a normal 5 year old. Funnily enough Jessica was cured of the parkinsons shake and Levi stopped falling over.

I at that stage really started to read labels. With careful monitoring I was able to avoid foods that contained artificial colourings, flavourings and preservatives so the kids reflux and behaviour was settling down. At this time you could buy rice milk and oat milk as an alternative to cow’s milk and soy so the reflux for the 3 older ones was controlled purely by diet alone. I was able to see symptoms occurring when they'd eat a particular food or have a drink of juice. Jess was still in a flurry with the post nasal drip which would cause a persistent cough where she could barely catch a breath in between. At our next appointment with the paediatrician (I now had only Jess and Zac going), I told him about what foods would cause what symptom and he suggested going into the RPA clinic. So off we trotted, it was a big day that day, we found out Levi was anaphylaxis to peanut (I'd known he was mildly allergic and avoided it entirely) and I was educated about salicylates and amines. We did the elimination diet and with the reintroduction of certain foods it caused chaos. We lived a couple of years of pretty bland, I've found that they certainly improve with age, but I still have to be pretty strict with what Jess and Zac eat.

When Zac was two he was taken off the neocate. Our paediatrician suggested a follow on formula that was cow’s milk based but the protein was broken down into small chains. Within days the poor child was on the tantrum rollercoaster, throwing tantrums which generally lasted around half an hour at a time, where he'd hurt himself, belt into things, bash anyone who was around, and he'd have 6 to 8 of these a day. I was genuinely concerned that he was going to hurt himself or someone else. I rang the paediatrician (by now I was well and truly on a first name basis) and told him that I wasn't giving him any more formula and that he'd have to get by on rice milk.  Now you can get calcium enriched and vitamin enriched rice milk so that's somewhere else to go if you need to.

I've also seen dairy cause speech problems (this happened to Zac when he was on the follow on formula), tantrums, dyslexia (they can't get their tongue around words, mirror write letters and misspell words), very pale skin complexion, behavioural problems, ADHD symptoms, along with the gutty symptoms, reflux, eczema, and postnasal drip and that's just in my children. I understand that dairy and wheat are now being looked at as being causes for mild autism.

If you're at your wits end, if your child displays any of these symptoms or has a learning difficulty especially if there's something happening with each of your kids, even if their symptoms are different, food intolerance is worth looking into. It runs in families. Dietary modification may be the answer you’re looking for. My children are now medication free. If your GP doesn't want to go there, find a doctor that will. You need to be strong and assertive because you're going to encounter a lot of doctors and specialists who think it's all a crock, but you have to ask yourself why are there so many kids with ADHD, behavioural problems, learning difficulties ....unfortunately a lot of the food you buy from the supermarket has artificial additives, for the sals and amine intolerant remember that a lot of the fruits and veg that years ago were seasonal are now available all year round not to mention what they do to them to ripen them and keep them fresh, and for the dairy intolerant look to your genes for the answers, there are several races that are known can't tolerate dairy. It may just change your life. - Sandra Madden, Heathcote  NSW This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Sandra now coaches children with dyslexia and learning difficulties and is happy to hear from others, please put food intolerance in the subject line)

I exchanged a few emails with you early last year in regards to a breathing problem I've had since my early teens (I'm 41 now) and thanks to your information on how to watch out for certain foods my life is MUCH improved. I have been weight training since my late teens and have picked up quite a bit of knowledge on nutrition along the way but looking deeper into foods containing preservatives, sulphites etc has opened my eyes to a whole different side of eating. As an ex-smoker I always put my problem down to that but limiting my intake of mince meat, prawns, pizza, processed meats etc. to a very small percentage of my diet has done more for me than giving away the cigarettes. – Richie, Vic

My 4.5yr old son has been our biggest challenge. All his problems are proving to be food related – it’s amazing. His issues are aggression, ODD, poor impulse control, argumentative, continual congestion and ear infections (2 lots of grommets), continual rashes, blotches, sore tummies, burning anus, bloating, bedwetting etc, all of which are being controlled now by diet. We had been giving him decongestants, antihistamines, nasal sprays and antibiotics since the day I stopped breastfeeding him at 6 months ... He was a wild little boy but we've now found out that benzoates are his worst enemy. His nose his dry now and needs no medication. – by email, NSW

Since the age of two I have seen a pattern develop in my daughter Jaslyn whereby she gets a cough every time she gets a cold. If I treat her with cough medicine the cough persists and becomes chronic, sometimes lasting weeks and causing great distress. In the worst episode two years ago she developed a serous asthma type wheeze with obvious distress and difficulty breathing after drinking soft drink – which she rarely has – and taking cough medicine.

Since them we have discovered that her symptoms and cough are greatly lessened if we do nothing when she has a cold and let it take its course. What we have found for the past two winters is that now if she gets a cold she will get a cough but it will last only for one or two nights if we do not give her any cough medicine. We have a strong family history of allergies and asthma and although I was aware of avoiding sulfites and preservatives in her food I was not aware of the use of benzoates in medicines. I realise now that the benzoate preservatives in cold medicines exacerbate my daughter’s symptoms and turn her persistent cough into difficulty in breathing and asthma like symptoms. – Julie Eady

About two years ago, I attended one of your seminars in Christchurch, NZ. When I first entered the room, I remember seeing information on foods to avoid including broccoli, avocado and olives. I was shocked. Not only were these my son’s favourite foods but they were healthy. I listened, watched the videos and felt these were all good descriptions of my difficult boy ... but I was not stopping him from eating "healthy foods"! Two years later and Shaun (not his real name) is now 10. During this time, his behaviour at school has deteriorated and he is having a tough time. Despite being an excellent reader and achieving high maths results, he cannot spell, his writing is messy and he finds it hard to stay on task. He annoys other children and is very defiant towards teachers. At home he can be demanding, argumentative, sulky and has low motivation. Last week I remembered the book "Fed Up" I had bought and pretty much shelved. I pulled it out and was surprised that two years ago I had highlighted the symptoms for Oppositional Defiance listed on page 3. It was an exact description of Shaun. He even agreed that’s how he felt.

Shaun has now been on the elimination diet for a week. On the first day of the diet, Shaun did a homework sheet for me in 5 minutes that normally would take him 15 to complete only half with lots of moaning and groaning. His writing seemed to be better. His teacher has noticed that he has more self control, and is doing his work. Shaun says he feels happier at school. Is it possible to see behaviour improve this quickly? I am really hoping that this will work because our lives have been very stressed. – by email, NZ  [this family was already additive-free, which generally leads to quicker results]

More Articles ...

  1. [406] Eczema from dustmite allergy (March 2006)
  2. [407] My children were on an extremely healthy diet (March 2006)
  3. [408] Hyperactivity, bad mood swings, violent behaviour (March 2006)
  4. [409] One-liners (March 2006)
  5. [383] 160b: “banging his head against a brick wall” (January 2006)
  6. [384] 160b: “rage and headbanging” from annatto (January 2006)
  7. [385] 160b: “anaphylactic reaction” to annatto (January 2006)
  8. [386] Effects of ‘sugar-free” polyols (January 2006)
  9. [476] 635: Even felt suicidal (January 2006)
  10. [477] 635: Itchiest and annoying response I have ever experienced (January 2006)
  11. [478] 635: Roast chicken from Woolworths (January 2006)
  12. [479] 635: Domino’s pizza (January 2006)
  13. [480] 635: “Breaking out in welts all over” (January 2006)
  14. [481] 635: Swollen lips and shocking hives (January 2006)
  15. [482] 635: Safeway marinated chicken “really thinking of offing myself” (January 2006)
  16. [483] 635: “Hell from eating flavour enhancer 635” (January 2006)
  17. [484] 635: Map like raised hives all over his body (January 2006)
  18. [485] 635: Devondale Extra Soft (January 2006)
  19. [486] 635: Rash travels down my legs (January 2006)
  20. [487] 635: I nearly fainted and felt like vomiting at the same time (January 2006)
  21. [488] 635: Raised rash (January 2006)
  22. [489] 635: Absolute hell almost continuously for over 2 months (January 2006)
  23. [490] 635: Went away after about 5 days (January 2006)
  24. [491] 635: Frightening rash (January 2006)
  25. [492] 635: Vomiting for up to 4 days (January 2006)