When my 8-year-old daughter was diagnosed with ADHD late last year the doctor suggested I read Dr Green’s book, which I did, and she also suggested that I cut out some artificial colours, flavours and salicylates. She told me that salicylates are in cheese. I did this for about a week. Most of the food I had in my home was "no artificial colours" etc and avoiding cheese made no difference. The doctor didn’t tell me that salicylates are mainly in fruit, she didn’t tell me about 282, and she didn’t give me any reference to your work or that of the RPAH diet. Therefore, I thought my child was not a "foodie" (as I call her!) and gave it no further thought. My husband is dead against ADHD medication and basically my daughter got worse over the next six months until I was at breaking point with her behaviour at home, socially, and at school.

About 3 months ago, I went into a bookstore in desperation one day just looking for anything that would help me. I had been in tears for a week not knowing what else to do with her. I bought a copy of "Fed Up With ADHD" and I admit I didn’t place much hope in it because of my previous experience. I read your book in a day and a half. The third page got my attention when you mentioned all the things food intolerance can be responsible for - handwriting, co-ordination, bowel control etc which are all things my daughter has been struggling with for years. She has never finished a task at school and she is in year 3. She is currently having occupational therapy for her co-ordination and she has always had bowel problems which are ongoing.

That week I took all my children off commercial bread and bought Bakers Delight which is the only bread I have bought since. I thought about two days later that my home was slightly calmer, but told myself that I was just looking for something. After three days I started my children on the diet, much to their total disgust! Within another three days I could see a difference in my daughter.

Since then, I have been having daily communication with her teachers and frequently the Principal, and although she is still quite slow and disorganised, her attitude is much better and she is not anywhere near as emotional as she was. She has gone from crying hysterically ten times a day to only having hysterics if she has eaten something wrong. I’ve established, unfortunately, that she is severely sensitive to salicylates, and even pears seem to make her a bit vague. While I am still struggling with this (I mean after all, how can a child not eat any fruit!!), I am learning what I can give her and when.

Basically, it is very hard work (which I realise you of all people know!), and a very big learning curve, but we’re getting there. Everywhere I go now and mention it someone says something along the lines of "Oh yes, my friend has a sister who’s done that and apparently the kid is like a different person". Sue, the word is spreading! I just wanted to say thank you for all the work and time and effort you have put in to this. Without your advice I would probably be on antidepressants by now. - Tracy, NSW

Last year one of my children had a cottage pie from the school tuckshop and when she arrived home she complained of a headache, stomach cramps and had a skin rash. The next day I read the ingredients of the cottage pies in the tuckshop. They contained preservative, MSG and flavour enhancer 635. When I read about 635 on your web site I was stunned that a tuckshop would give this stuff to children, and I realized what had caused a rash on my other daughter. After eating some cooked chicken from a supermarket, she had developed an itchy red rash which covered her whole body and I had to give her an antihistamine tablet. At the time I couldn’t work out what had caused the rash. Another time she got a rash after eating some cooked chicken from the local small food store. I went to the shop to read the ingredients and sure enough the seasoning contained 635. I printed out the information from your website and gave it to the owner of the shop. They have not changed the seasoning and we have never again bought a cooked chicken from any store. - reader, Qld

My daughter Jessie is three and a half now and from the moment she was born we have had nothing but problems.

In the first three months she was always crying, not able to sleep, she was given medicine for reflux and colic and her formula was changed on a weekly basis. At 6 months she threw her first tantrum, I remember it well as it was over a set of car keys. She was chewing on them and then decided to ram them into the back of her mouth, so I took the keys from her. She turned around and grabbed at my face, screaming and trying to bite. That was the start.

As she grew older she stopped her daytime sleeps well before she was one and moved into bed with me. I didn’t mind because she slept so much better. She was never able to amuse herself and would rather sit and scream than do something for herself. She often had ear infections and colds. Before she was two her sister was born, much to her annoyance.

My second daughter was and still is breastfed so both girls were in my bed. Jessie’s night terrors were getting worse, and even though she loved her sister she didn't like her one little bit. Once again, I believed the nurses and doctors putting it down to terrible two's and a new sister. Her behaviour got worse as she got older and it was nothing for her to headbutt the cement from one end of town to the other end till her head was blue, for no reason but a toy put in a plastic
bag so that she could carry it. When she was three she hit the peak period.

A typical day would start off with her wanting the light on in the morning, so I would turn it on. "Get it off", she would say, so I would turn it off, trying so stop the tantrum. "No, turn it back on", so I would turn it on, and then she would start, "Get her away from me, I don’t want her any more" (that’s her sister), then the screaming would start and the kicking and the biting and this was from the moment she opened her eyes! She would scream and yell until she wet herself and then just lie in it and scream some more.

When she was finished in the bedroom she would go and destroy the next room. She was so loud that in the middle of summer with the aircon on and all the doors and windows shut the neighbours three doors up could still hear her. After an hour of morning tantrums then it was time for the next one usually over something stupid. The tantrums could last up two hours with her hitting, screaming and biting herself and me. When she was so angry there was nothing I could
do to help her, timeout didn’t work, smacking made it worse and holding her was pointless. She would be screaming out for me "mummy mummy I need you" but if I dared go near her "get away from me, I don’t want you" and she would hurt me with what ever was closest. Not a day would go by that she was not like that all day, in fact out of a whole 12 hour day I would say that she would be calm for about 3 hours.

I turned to the doctors and nurses for help but all they could say was go to parenting classes. I knew that there was something else wrong. When a friend recommended Fed Up with ADHD, I almost cried.

We started the diet in a month ago and within 3 days her behaviour had changed, no more kicking, hitting and biting and the look of pure hatred that she would give you before she started the tantrum had gone. We removed colourings and preservatives first and then went on the elimination diet. She got better and better. Everyone noticed! When we made a mistake, like kindy giving her chocolate, she would wake the next morning complaining of sore eyes, and then the LOOK would start and I knew we were in trouble!

Suddenly I had my little girl back, the one that I spent three years looking for. She is nice to her sister and even nicer to me! I can not thank you enough. You helped when no one else could. -reader, Qld

* Your book saved my son but it was too late for my marriage, which really suffered from having a child like this.

* We gave up 282 preservatives in bread after reading your book ‘Fed up’ about two years ago – within a week my wife was free of urinary incontinence and over a period of about three months I was able to give up all asthma medications. – readers aged 60 and 56

* We have been weaning ourselves off non-failsafe stuff for over a week and my autistic son and I are already seeing and feeling the benefits.

* It just hit me like a brick that my sons have gone to sleep well since we started the failsafe diet a month ago, instead of getting up every 5 mins for 2 hours every night. A miracle!

* We have bought your book and are noticing FANTASTIC changes in our children (even their teachers are noticing).

* My son is just turning the corner with his severe eczema thanks to a new allergist and your food!

* Our school principal has borrowed my copy of ‘Fed Up’ based solely on seeing the results I am achieving.

* My husband suffers from severe hayfever/rhinitis but not when he eliminates dairy from his diet - quite an incredible change for him -he is very good at avoiding dairy now.

* My failsafe son has gone from distracting others to being named student of the week for great work habits!

* I have just stumbled across your site and I wish to thank you for it and applaud and recognise the effort you have devoted to help so many.

* I have been asthmatic for 34 years and in the first 20 pages of your asthma book I learnt so much.

* we have pretty much cut out preservatives, colours and flavours and cut back on the amount of fruit they were eating - WOW!!! what a difference - my girls still argue but the ‘volcanic activity’ is gone.

* my son has dyslexia but it is increased by stress and food – thanks for the guidance and help that you are giving us all.

* I realise now that it is better to do the hard yards in the first place with the diet than to suffer the tantrums and bad behaviour.

* The website is so useful with all the recipes and stories - people just so resourceful and clever -I really admire the way they adapt and come up with strategies.

* The issue of unlabelled antioxidants in oil ticks me right off - I know the labelling laws have improved things a lot but to have to call the company before you eat a product is crazy.

* Our amine challenge was ‘contaminated’ on the last day of school by well-meaning people feeding all sorts of marvellous stuff (without notice!!!) to the kiddies like fizzy drinks, pizza and chips - I felt like a scientist whose petri dishes had been upset all over the floor by the lab cleaner - it's so frustrating and it's like, bang! all that work down the drain.

* I never knew mince could contain sulphites until I read your asthma book and then I realized
why my asthma got bad the week we lived on our butcher’s cut-price mince.

* I tell everyone I meet about our diet because there are so many kids who could be helped.

* What you have achieved for all of us suffering families is nothing less than amazing, you will certainly be welcomed with open arms at the pearly gates - for the first time I actually feel as if there is some hope for my son to be happy and understood.

I have been using your book like a bible for my four-year-old and have had wonderful success. Without it I don't think our family would have survived. Our little boy has salicylate sensitivity and is also affected by a lot of preservatives and colours. He previously suffered from severe bloating, diarrhoea and stomach cramps which are controlled with this diet. His severe rages and tantrums also went away almost instantly when we started failsafe eating. My son is very grateful because he doesn't like having stomach cramps. He said to me one day when he was only three, 'Mummy what are we going to do about my tummy, it really hurts' and that was when I found your book.

I am a nutritionist and have studied through natural health colleges. I have found that trying to help my son and myself the naturopathic way only makes us much sicker, as you stated in your book. Damien cannot take vitamins or eat lots of fruit and vegetables. - Karen England, NSW.

We were having troubles with our son at school not concentrating and mucking up, but since reading your book and taking things out of his diet he went from reading level 3 to 16 in one school year and came first out of all the boys in his class in a maths test, so I would just like to thank you for giving us the information we needed. - Sherree, NSW.

I am soy intolerant. More specifically I suffer from a legume intolerance which is only now apparent after 13 years of suffering and frustration. My intolerance manifests itself in the form of chronic idiopathic urticaria, meaning never-ending hives of unknown origin. 'These hives are large unbelievably itchy red welts that, in a severe attack can cover almost all of the body. My symptoms got worst and extended to lethargy, aching and swelled joints, sleepless nights and eventually an emotional feeling of hopelessness of ever being able to stop the relentless onslaught.

As many people discover when suffering from a health condition, not a lot of other people know much about it and the medical profession (as good as they are) can only help to a point.

My story began when I was 30 years old and developed a few welts for no apparent reason since I was otherwise healthy. I went to well-known allergy experts and my GP. It was obvious to them that I was suffering a food sensitivity. After I failed a skin test for allergic reactions, they focused on a food intolerance type problem.

I undertook a series of elimination diets starting with a GP 'allergy expert' in order to eliminate the obvious and common culprits. Soy was one such test whereby I had to stop consuming dairy products and 'overdose' on soy milk. No change! And so was the result for every other test. Each common food type was evaluated and the end result was no change.

After a year or two, I was referred to a local leading immunologist (a very nice and knowledgeable man) as no clear cause was becoming evident and the symptoms were worsening. I saw a dietician and with both their help proceeded on the RPA chemical sensitivity elimination diet in order to determine if salicylates or glutamates etc were a problem for me. After months of that there was no change.

Years went by of chopping and changing, trying different things and variations to elimination diets, even getting down to decaf coffee, toast and margarine for breakfast, salad for lunch and fish and steamed vegies or salads with dressings for tea with a packet of twisties or chocolate treat.

I still had no significant change over 5 to 6 weeks. My wife was at her wits end also having to shop for special food and cook different meals. I worked shift work. One thing did stick out - soy sauce caused me an immediate affect. Clearly I shouldn't have soy, but what else was causing the reactions? After all I only had soy sauce with a very occasional Chinese meal or rice.

In the end there was nothing the immunologist could do but maintain my antihistamine intake, and put me on cyclosporine, used in transplant patents, a drug which I could not take for long with bad side effects. Its purpose was to suppress the immunological system and 'shock' it into performing normally. This did not work. I had ultrasounds and blood tests - with no clear result. Everything seemed normal, yet the symptoms persisted.

I utterly refused to accept that I could not stop this thing from happening to me. After eliminating so many food types, the cause of my intolerance had to come from something I was in contact with every day. I even started considering the possibility of 'environmental sensitivity'.

The most important aspect of identifying my problem was keeping a record of what I ate every day for years. Eventually, when the breakthrough came, it was due to improved food labelling on Australian packaging combined with information about food ingredients.

One afternoon, one of my kids left an empty Cheezels packet on the bench in the kitchen. I picked it up to dispose of it and, as I'd been doing habitually for years, read the food ingredients label. To my utter surprise and confusion, it said 'contains milk, dairy and soy products'. I always liked twisties and cheezels, but never read anything in the past that alerted me to soy products within the ingredients. I closely read the ingredients list. No mention of soy. That's odd, I thought.

I then recalled being tested for soy with the 'overdose' of soy milk routine. It didn't make sense. I then went to an article about soy labelling and there it was, 'May be described as lecithin, vegetable gum, vegetable protein, textured vegetable protein or vegetable starch'.

I referred back to the Cheezel labelling and there it was: 'vegetable gum'. I then went to the West Australian Health Department's 'Food Additives Guide'. I looked through and found all the numbers relative to these titles, particularly lecithin (322) used as an antioxidant in many foods and checked out my pantry and fridge. More than half the food I had contained at least one of these soy based ingredients, but not one made mention or reference to them being a derivative of soy.

I stopped eating anything that contained ANY soy based ingredients and within 24 hours there was a major change!

I awoke the next morning to find only 3 small welts on my body and after 13 years, no need for any medication. I could not believe it. I thought I'd made a mistake or it was just luck that I didn't have the welts. I was almost in a state of denial that it was really happening.

I persisted with the elimination of these ingredients and over the following few weeks, lost almost all symptoms. No more lethargy, swollen joints or rashes caused from excessive histamine flowing through my body and virtually no welts.

The more I read labelling, the more products I found containing soy derivatives not called 'soy'. Ingredients that I had read before but never realised were actually soy. For example, regular manufactured bread and margarine with nothing else was filling me with soy and I didn't know it. The bread contained 'soy flour' which in previous years was labelled simply 'contains flour' (which I assumed was wheat flour) and the margarine contained lecithin 322.

I love chocolate. ALL chocolate contains lecithin 322 made from soy.

So there you have it. What doctors thought was a dairy problem was a soy problem. What they thought was a 'chemical' problem was a soy problem and so it went on. All because soy is not called soy on the food labelling of most products.

That situation is improving and I intend to help make that happen. Even when I speak to doctors and dieticians, not to mention workmates, friends and family, no one ever knows that soy is in so much of their diet.

There was a period where 'experts' would tell me I needed to exercise more, or stop stressing or don't work in an office. That advice made a bad situation worse. I did find some relief in researching alternative medicine options and have continued to adhere to some of those findings. At one stage they helped me to focus on the task at hand, providing relief from the worry of 'unending sufferance' and helping to clear my mind. To this day I use a particular liquid soap, aluminium free deodorant and do not apply sprays or scents to my body.

I am aware of the extension of my intolerance to other legumes. I still suffer every 5 days roughly from a few welts or itch, but nothing compared to what I used to get.

It is now easier to identify a 'bean' (legume) type reaction. I've stopped eating beans (obviously), peas, anything with vanilla in it and coffee. Not because of the caffeine, but because it's a bean! Snack foods (all types), all biscuits except pure shortbread (Walker's Glengarry plain), all chocolates and confectionery (except for barley sugar lollies - most brands) are off limits because they contain a soy based additive in them.

As well as 322 (antioxidant) I also avoid additives 476,471,492 (emulsifiers), vegetable gums 410,412,415,416,461 (not all soy but derivatives of various beans), vegetable gums & vegetable protein, TVP (textured vegetable protein) and vegetable starch (even if they do not specifically state soy, I don't take the chance). Soya beans, soya meal, soy flour (very common in breads and cakes), soya sauce, miso, tofu and chickpeas. In fact quite a lot of 'health foods' are grossly unhealthy for me. Packaged health foods early always contain a soy additive.

These other legumes give me a small reaction but soy brings out the worst reaction of all. It may be immediate, it may take 4 hours or it may take 24 hours, depends on what type of soy product it was or how much of it I consumed. I can go up to 10 days easy now without any medication and if I do get a slight reaction after that time, one antihistamine will fix it - and fast.

No, I'm not 100% cured but around 90% cured. I am managing a good 'normal' quality of life, not taking medications and continually improving through self-control and discipline of my dietary intake.

I am happy to provide alternatives that I have found that allow me a 'normal' eating habit and has no affect on the rest of the family. I strongly suggest to anyone who, like me is at a complete loss to identify the cause of their intolerance and suffers from long term 'idiopathic urticaria' to simply look for these ingredients in their shopping and STOP consuming them. Like me it could be the hidden soy components in the various food types that are causing you grief. You'll know within a very short period of time (48 hours I would suggest) if soy is a major culprit that's causing you your poor health.

I recommend alternatives like soyfree bread mixes (some pita and Lebanese breads have only wheat flour), use butter instead of margarine etc. Fresh meats, veges, fruit, salads and cheeses are OK. Check the labels. Jams and some spreads are OK. 'Cafe 26' salad dressing made in Perth is the only dressing I have found without soy additive. Soon I aim to research spices that may be of a legume origin. On goes the quest. I hope this recollection of events may help someone else find relief. - Wayne, WA 

Last year we moved into our new house and within a month I began getting generally weak with extremely weak arms. I had a few episodes of feeling drunk and not even being able to chew. I'm a cyclist and couldn't cycle for most of the year. They tested for everything from MS to motor neurone disease but put it down to a virus. Then I used a nasal spray. My nasal passages swelled up, I became itchy all over and my lips swelled. The same happened with eardrops. The preservative in them is benzalkonium chloride which is in a concentrated form in nearly every household cleaner (from Pine O Clean to spray and wipe type cleaners). I had started using these cleaners when we moved into our new house because the baths etc are plastic these days and they tell us to use spray and wipe instead of Jif. That was when it all started. In retrospect I believe my 'virus' was in fact this chemical. I have now almost completely recovered except for some weakness in my arms.- by email, NSW.

A couple of years ago I discovered through the elimination diet that my son (now 8) can't tolerate gluten. I also suspected that he had a problem with artificial flavours, colours and preservatives, but due to the fact that we pretty much avoid these anyway, I didn't challenge him with them. Well, at Christmas we went for a month's holiday to New Zealand. I got slack on avoiding preservatives so he was eating lots of peanut butter with BHA (320).

The worst thing is that we didn't really think about what was causing his deteriorating behaviour, but just battled through our holiday trying to cope with it. When we returned home I started buying a different brand of gluten free bread but it wasn't until he returned to school and went from an average maths student at the end of 2003 to bottom of the class in a remedial group at the start of 2004, and looking back at the horrendous hour-long tantrums we were experiencing at home, that I seriously started questioning what was going on. Living with him was like treading on eggshells. At the end of one particularly distressing tantrum he said he hated himself and hated the way he felt. His teachers said he has NO concentration. I had noticed this myself at home during the holidays but STILL didn't think of diet! He had also totally lost interest in playing the piano which he was mad keen on before we went on holidays. He said it was too hard.

I phoned Woolworths to double check on the ingredients in their gluten free Kerry Formula bread. They told me they don't put preservatives in their bread. Then when I asked specifically about E320 she said, oh yes, it has that. Anyway, apart from 320 being in the bread he was eating 2-3 times a day, I'm not sure of what other preservatives he's had, but for nearly 2 weeks now he's been off them all and his behaviour has become quite reasonable. He has again become excited about playing the piano, and I have my lovely little boy back. Even my husband who is a bit of a 'disbeliever' until he is thoroughly convinced has noticed a big difference.

I can't believe I let all of this happen. And when it was happening I can't believe I didn't see it earlier. It's scary that chemicals permitted in our foods can have such an extreme effect. My son avoids gluten because he hates being sick. There is no problem there. But preservatives are more difficult. I can keep him off them now, but when he's a teenager will he have to become antisocial and drop to the bottom of the class again and reach rock bottom before he is determined to avoid them, because at the moment he can't, or doesn't want to, understand the connection. It's very hard, but when I feel sorry for myself or him I just remind myself that at least we know what the problem is. Wouldn't it be awful having that sort of behaviour and not knowing why? - reader, NSW.

We are trying the failsafe diet for my 13-year-old nephew, Lachlan, who has come to live with us. Lachlan has ADHD and I believe a huge dose of oppositional defiance as well as Aspergers and I am finding him unmanageable. We noticed a bit of an improvement on the first 3 days of our failsafe diet but he then reverted to absolutely foul - defiant and oppositional!!

Two weeks later… I think that Lachlan's behaviour is better overall but I still get defiance at times. We have been on the diet for 3 weeks now and he has been off his dex for 1 week. He says he doesn't notice any difference, but I do.

Three days later … We had a wonderful day with Lachlan yesterday - so different from our daily experience a couple of weeks ago. I have decided to leave Lachlan off his medication indefinitely at this stage as he seems to be a much nicer person when not taking it. He even seems to be understanding some of the basic maths concepts that were just beyond his grasp in the past. - reader, Qld.

My 3-year-old daughter developed eczema at the age of six months when I introduced solids and by 8 months she needed frequent cortisone cream. The doctor said she would grow out of it, but every time I stopped using the cortisone cream the eczema would start again within 4 days. Now her eczema is so close to being gone that we are just waiting for some healed areas to disappear. Her legs are smooth and so are her arms except for a couple of tiny spots. She would still be covered in eczema if it wasn't for your books and all the heaps of help and reassurance you have given me. I've been close to tears and felt like giving up several times, but I couldn't let her suffer, I had to keep persevering. How do you say thank you for giving a child the opportunity to live a 'normal' life. - reader, NSW.

I tried the failsafe diet several years ago unsuccessfully. I realise now that I was not strict enough with the salicylates and additives. So, once again I've turned to the book, this time with new vigour. After three days, my child who has learning difficulties and is repeating year 1 has been praised by three different teachers and is receiving an honour certificate at school (a positive reinforcement program). My older son (9) received an award on the same day for the 'most improved Mathematician - Years 4-7'. They do a fortnightly maths test (same test each time -they have a copy at home to practice) - he doubled the number of questions answered in the allotted time and got nearly all of them right with only one short trial at home. I am determined to continue this time. Thanks so much - we may have finally found the answers. - email.

My 5 1/2-year-old daughter Claire has been on the elimination diet for 2 months with amazing results. The main reason for doing the elimination was her bed wetting, and after about 5 weeks we saw a marked improvement (but not yet cure), also, she had stopped her ceaseless empty chatter, her cradle cap (she has had it since starting solids!) has pretty much gone, the dermatitis on her back has gone, her drawing has changed from a dark blue or black scribble to colourful age appropriate drawings of recognisable objects, and she has overnight (it seems) learnt to read! - from the failsafe groups.

See illustrations, the blue one was done a few days after the 'normal' one, while she was reacting to too many flavours in too many 'treats'


I believe I had a very real dangerous reaction last year to chips whilst I was in early stages of pregnancy. I was admitted to emergency and due to difficulty breathing a nurse had to stay in with me. They asked me had I taken any unusual drugs etc and were baffled when the only different thing I had eaten was flavoured chips. I even took the packet with me, the reaction started almost immediately. Previously I had only ever eaten plain, but due to a craving I got a flavoured variety. I thought I was going to die. By the time I got to hospital (luckily it wasn't far from home) my mouth and throat was so swollen I couldn't talk or breath properly, of course because of this I was treated as high priority and treated straight away. Thank God I had realised straight away when I got a tingling burning sensation and felt like I had been to the dentist and had a local anaesthetic. My mother had said something about these chemicals recently in our diets (I had actually dismissed this at the time) but thank goodness she did. I think I am lucky to still be here. - reader, SA.

Well it hasn't even been a week yet and I'm feeling better, my rash has cured 80% best ever, the main problem was Maggi 2 minute noodles as I have been eating them at least once a week since I left home (I guess mother's cooking says a lot there) just because they were quick and easy.- from the failsafe groups.

I've kept my 12 year old's asthma at bay for most of his life with dust mite control, no additives etc. Since the Christmas holidays started he's had a virus and then constant asthma. I visited a doctor two weeks ago and he put my son on a wheat free, dairy free, additive free diet (all of which I've done before) as well as salicylate free diet for which he gave me a list of good and bad foods. He also recommended steaming eucalyptus twice a day for mucus control as well as some supplements.

After 10 days there had been no improvement so I sat down and reread your book as well as Friendly Food from RPAH. I found his list had been quite misleading - no talk about cold pressed oils, different rices, raw and roasted cashews, hazelnuts, tamari, additives in margarines etc.

Probably the worst thing has been the twice daily sucking in of eucalyptus oil!! There must be a lot of doctors out there like this who send people off with half-baked lists and advice and consequently end up with very spurious results. Most of the population treat doctors as gods and never question them but, as I have proven on many occasions, they are not infallible and people need to be a lot more aware and questioning. It is has been hard yakka trying to get my son to give up so many different foods and all for nought as now we will need to find somebody who really knows what they are doing and start again.

Had I not had your book, we could have come to the conclusion that the problem is not salicylates, whereas there is a possibility that it is. - by email.

About 18 months ago you helped us put our son Ryan (now nearly 5 years old) on the elimination diet, after we had been to RPA for Ryan's hyperactivity, ADHD and autism. Three months later you helped us find a problem with wholegrain wheat and antioxidants that had pulled us undone. Salicylates turned out to be our main problem although antioxidants are a close second, with amines and other additives a problem too.

Our son is now in his second year at special school, where he has made great leaps and bounds. When Ryan started school he was already on the diet. Months later when we'd allowed bananas to become more frequent than one half every second day, his teachers actually came to me and asked was Ryan eating something he shouldn't be. It took us three weeks to figure it out, and cut back on the bananas. Through this incident, they really came to see what we were talking about.
Interestingly the school has strongly supported us, always keeping us up to date with what's coming up for 'tasting' in cooking classes, and seeking alternatives for Ryan. I'm very grateful for this! - reader, NSW.

My autistic son has been on the diet strictly now for nearly 2 years. He looks terrific and is very healthy with only a very mild sniffle since going failsafe.

He starts pre-primary school this year. It is the school where he went to kindy last year so they are very aware of his requirements such as: no hairspray, aerosol deodorants, perfume etc and are using enjo gloves in the classroom to avoid any chemical being used during the day. Big relief.

We have a five-month wait for the formal disability services assessment to obtain aids for school. I don't know whether to take him off the diet for the period of the assessment. On the diet, although excellent, autistic signs are still evident, for example: no eye contact, no imaginary play, everything is black or white, no flexibility etc. If we take him off the diet we get a severe reduction in speech, tantrums, aggression, argumentative, rashes, red ears, hypersensitivity to noise, dislike of being touched and the list continues.

I am an avid failsafer and can't now imagine life without failsafe (my son has failed all challenges on a number of occasions and is also intolerant to airborne salicylates). Could I have input from other failsafe mothers on what they think would be best during the assessment? - reader, WA.

Even though my asthmatic daughter Kate improved out of sight on the failsafe diet, she never got the fabulous results that other failsafers report, and I always wondered why.

Up until November last year, Kate's peak flow was around 280-300 and although she never needed Ventolin, we couldn't get her off inhaled steroids. Suddenly in November her peak flow shot up to 380-395 consistently and we were about to take her off her Pulmicort. Then after two months she slumped back to a peak flow of 250 and needing Ventolin. Nothing had changed in her diet.

A light bulb moment occurred when I realised that I had been buying our meat from Coles or Woolworths for years but last November I started buying local butcher's meat. I hadn't realised the connection that the butcher's meat was what brought Kate's peak flow up to the 380 range and when I returned to buying Coles meat even though fresh, it slumped down to 250. Why?

It turns out that what I thought was fresh meat from my local supermarket hasn't been fresh at all. Meat is sent to the Bathurst Woolworths and Coles stores not as carcasses, but in vacuum packs. When the vacuum pack is opened, the meat is repacked in trays and sold as fresh meat to the consumer with a use by date 3-5 days from the opening of the cryovac pack. This lasts the supermarket up to 8 weeks so the meat can be up to 60 days old in the vacuum pack before it is opened and sold as fresh meat. By comparison, my local butcher reassures me that his meat is killed on Thursday/Friday and he gets it Monday. I purchase on that Monday for the week and freeze.

I found on the internet that vacuum packaging of meat is not an effective means of retarding the production of amines, and we know that Kate is a sensitive amine responder.

Kate has now been off Coles meat for five days. Her peak flow has risen from 250 to 330 already and she no longer requires Ventolin - so this was obviously the cause of her asthma. This was the hardest food item ever to figure out. I am usually pretty good at finding it but this one had me baffled until I realised the meat connection. It was only because there was a pattern to the asthma. Kate woke up every Monday morning needing Ventolin and the only thing different about Sunday was the roast lamb for dinner!

Coles Customer relations say that this is a fairly new procedure, but some stores have been doing it longer than others. Some Woolworths stores vacuum pack only beef not lamb, but Coles supermarkets vacuum pack both lamb and beef. This may change from supermarket to supermarket. I know that this is my problem and will be a problem for a lot of amine responders. Chicken is not affected, as it is usually 48 hour from slaughter to sale. After my sleepless nights and desperation to track down this offending amine, I hope now to get the word out to other amine responders which I know you will do on your website. - Susan Bragg, NSW.

* If it wasn't for your books, one of us would be dead by now - reader, Qld.

* Going failsafe is the best thing that our family ever did! - reader NT.

* Congratulations on your new book! Another wonderful read (full of tears for me!) - reader NSW. * For the first time since my son was diagnosed with ADHD I was able to relate to someone about what it is like to live with this condition on a daily basis.- email.

* When I was diagnosed with a salicylate intolerance I found your book incredibly helpful and it stopped the usual 3 or 4 hours of runny nose every day! - reader UK.

* Your book with its striking cover jumped off the shelf at me - I couldn't put it down and we have been on the failsafe diet ever since. -email.

* The more I see the effect of this diet, the more I find it incredible to believe that the medical profession and food authorities/manufacturers can deny that additives have any effect. - reader Qld.

Our nearly two year old twin girls are awaiting a psychology assessment to determine whether they have autism. They both have a few symptoms especially lack of language - only use the words Mum, Dad, Nan, Bub, no and hello. Their understanding is slow although we feel this is improving. Although both show a few signs they also have signs that keep us hopeful that the girls do not have autism. They have fairly good eye contact and are very affectionate little girls. After researching for hours on the internet, I started the girls on a gluten free and dairy free diet last week. By the end of the day, one of the twins (who would normally use maybe one word a month) had not stopped using her basic words and was making new sounds. Within days they had both improved very noticeably. At first I thought it couldn't work that fast but whilst reading your books I have a different view and realise it might be lack of the bread preservative. - Reader, Tas

After months of struggling with my 4½ y.o. son's behaviour, I stumbled upon the www.fedup.com.au website. I have refused to believe suggestions (from carers etc) that he has ADD. My son is very bright and intelligent, and I simply did not want him medicated unnecessarily. Now that I have found this website and the information on oppositional defiance (which describes my son to a T!) I have a place to start. I have started to cut foods high in additives from his diet and have already noticed a change in his behaviour after only a couple of weeks. The really good thing is that after I explained to him that his bad behaviour could be caused by these things in food, he has been quite happy to not eat them, and even asks me first to check if there is anything bad in his food. I am so grateful for the website. - Reader, NSW

My 2yr old has had chronic diarrhoea for 5 months. Before that, his stools have always fluctuated. Along with the diarrhoea, he gets a spotty rash on his face, throws things, hits, kicks, screams and is generally unmanageable. When he eats certain things like commercial bread and wheat products, the next day he poos water. I had him back and forth to doctors who treated me like I was an idiot. Finally we were sent to a pediatrician who ordered blood tests and stool analyses. When the results came back, he told me there was nothing wrong with him, he just had toddler diarrhoea and told me to put him on half an immodium tablet a day to fix his diarrhoea. Because I was getting no joy from doctors and my son was getting sicker daily, I took him off wheat, dairy and most sugars. He slowly started to improve, but it wasn't good enough. I now have him on a full elimination diet, no wheat, gluten or lactose, salicylates, amines and glutamates. He started improving straightaway (only one water poo in the first five days which was a miracle).

We're still waiting to see a gastrointestinal pediatrician, but other doctors have told me he wouldn't have an intolerance to things. I know he does because the change is dramatic, and even his behaviour has improved. He seems to react to salicylates, it's amazing to read these things when you've noticed something but didn't understand it. My five-year-old son has improved too and when he breaks the diet he says he feels "like his brain wants to puke". I hope more health professionals will become aware of the damage additives and other food chemicals can cause. - Vicky, Victoria

Last weekend I assaulted my wife and did horrific damage to her face. I have deep regret, humiliation, shame and remorse for my actions. I had been drinking most of the afternoon, then consumed two strawberry sundae tubs of icecream. I did not check the brand so I cannot be certain that the food colours contributed to the way I acted. Although the alcohol is obviously a large contributor, in the past I have never reacted violently after drinking alcohol. However, from the ages 18-25 I experienced panic and violent moods, then I started to look at my diet. Cordials with artificial colours especially red had been a part of my diet and I noticed a link. Since then I have avoided food colours where ever possible, however I simply overlooked the strawberry sundae as I love desserts and was having a good time. I think I have stumbled on to the cause for my actions, but I am not sure. - Graeme, by email

Just updating you on my progress - before starting the elimination diet for my asthma, I was on 500mg of Seretide accuhaler morning and night, I dropped to 250 and was fine so I tried to go off it completely. After a day and a half I was wheezy and tight in my chest so I tried the 100mg dose and have maintained that - which means that I have dropped my asthma medication by 80% on the elimination diet. So far I have passed both the milk and salicylate challenges.

By the way, this has been a great professional development activity that I think will really benefit my future clients. - Dietitian, SA

I just want to thank you for doing what you do. When a friend of mine heard you speak in Launceston and brought me back info, I felt that, at last, someone was speaking my language.

Where none of the health professionals had been of much help, I instantly found answers to my boys' asthma and eczema. I got the cookbook and your asthma book a few weeks ago and am so pleased to have found solid, real, useful guidelines to help our family. We haven't done the full elimination diet yet but with the knowledge I gained from your books I was able to retrace which foods did what. The cause of my 3 year old's asthma became obvious (sulphites) when he would eat something out of the ordinary such as 2 apricot fruit bars (which he had not eaten in ages), come home, run around outside and have an asthma attack, which he has not had in ages. My 9-month-old son obviously reacts to salicylates. He's had eczema from birth and when I introduced solids, pumpkin, carrots and prunes gave him asthma soon after he ate them.

I only wish every hospital, health care clinic and GP had your books! - Elisa Dickinson, Tasmania

I read the story on your website about the soccer player who was eating lots of muesli bars and developed exercise asthma. The same thing happened to my daughter. We thought she had outgrown her asthma but it came back when she started eating muesli bars recommended by her swimming coach. Her asthma got so bad she had to give up swimming with the squad. - Reader, by email

Just reporting in on our 3-year-old - we seem to have got through an attack of asthma without prednisolone. What a break-through! We had another good night's sleep - so rare during asthma bouts in the past, and there is a definite improvement on yesterday. Normally his escalating asthma never turns around without corticosteroids. I guess it is early days yet but I am really getting faith in the possibility of sulphite preservatives aggravating the sensitive airways and adding to the other irritations (virus, allergens, irritating particles) to create asthma. It is great to think that we can have some control over one of the components and lessen the health aggravation. - member of the failsafe3 email group

I am an adult with asthma. I went off milk and sulphite preservatives about 6 months ago, I have not had asthma since (unless I am 'naughty' and have some sulphite). - Elizabeth, ACT

Since we discovered salicylates, my daughter doesn't need preventative medication anymore although I have made a few slip ups with her diet. Every time she has a reaction I look at what she has eaten and it is always salicylates. For example, she had a reaction to rissoles in the early stages of the diet before I had your books to help me. My dietitian said, 'Did you put pepper in the rissoles?" I hadn't realised pepper was high in salicylates and used it automatically. Last year I bought some "Kids Bananas" from Coles because my daughter never ate more than half of the usual big Cavendish bananas. Two days later her eczema had flared up and then she got asthma. By this time she had eaten three of these bananas. They must have been sugar bananas which are high in salicylates but I didn't know that at the time. During that attack she had to go back on her preventer medication as well as Ventolin but she hasn't needed it since. - failsafer, Qld

I was lucky enough to see you speak in Launceston in September. My husband and I have been at a loss regarding our three-year-old son's frequent nosebleeds, lack of sleep, temper outbursts and all of the other problems associated with a 'normal' toddler's wellbeing. When reading in depth Fed Up With Asthma we now realise this was probably caused by Singulair Tablets. When our new doctor took him off these he sleeps!!!! and a lot of the other symptoms have subsided. We have an appointment with a failsafe dietitian next month and have been failsafing the pantry over the last 6 weeks. The temper tantrums have been halved with the severity at least a quarter of what they used to be. Thank you for being the one person to listen to a mother in need. - Toni, Tas

I have always been prone to skin irritations since I was a little girl. During my mid teens in the 60s I contracted quite bad dermatitis on the backs of my hands. This manifested itself on the palms of my hands too, at times, and no-one seemed to be able to discover the cause of the irritation, the resulting blisters and weeping skin. Skin specialists recommended various creams and potions including tar ointments, pure lanolin, various other forms of similar creams and ultimately full strength cortisone ointment which seemed to be the only thing that reduced the itch and the inflammation. I continued to use the cortisone ointment on my hands from that time until only a few years back when I decided to speak to a dermatologist here in Canberra. During the period of those years my hands fluctuated in the severity of irritation, sometimes really bad, and at other times less severe.

The dermatologist did a skin patch test in which I had to leave various substances on my skin for a week without touching or removing the patches. During that week I returned to the dermatologist on the Wednesday and the Friday to check the reactions. On the Wednesday there were two substances that had caused a slight pink spot on my skin. However, by the Friday these two had increased in redness and another one had begun to cause inflammation of the skin.

The three offending chemicals turned out to be:

Formaldehyde - used in large amounts in many plastic industries, building materials, eg paints, glues, varnishes, some pesticides. It is also found in small amounts in cosmetics, eg creams, shampoos, make-up, nailpolish, new fabrics and clothes, high quality paper, house-hold cleaners, disinfectants and in smoke from cigarettes or fires.

Quaternium-15 found in creams, lotions, shampoos, and other cosmetics and skin care products.

Colophony - found in adhesives, sealants, shoe wax, lacquers, gums, varnishes, pine oil cleaners, cosmetics, wart remedies, skiwax, dental floss, modelling clay, paints, resins, athletic rubs, and many industrial products. High quality gloss paper may be coated with colophony.

Well! We came to the conclusion that my chronic dermatitis of the hands (at this stage, and certainly consistently since my late teens) was caused by contact with resin steering wheels. The irritation was particularly obvious during the hot summer months.

During the week following my diagnosis I wore cotton gloves when driving. I have had no recurrence of the problem since then (approximately 7 years now). My car has a pure sheepskin steering wheel cover - my husband can't stand the feel of it, yet I can't stand to drive the car without it. I must admit I was amazed to discover the cause after all those years! - by email, Canberra

Six months ago I changed my son's school as I got sick of bashing my head against a brick wall. Since then, my son has caught up to his own age group and is no longer considered to have any major learning problems. He just has to realise now he is very capable and intelligent, not dumb as he was told at his old school. This new school ensures he is kept away from anything that could trigger him off and that he has his own lunch that is not touched by anyone else. They even send him to another classroom if the teacher needs to use flyspray. The difference has been incredible. - reader, Qld

I read your book because it was recommended by my son's counsellor. Although Mitchell is a bright boy, often selected for gifted programs at school, his behaviour was atrocious (severe temper, disruptive, tearful, moody, silly noises etc).

Since starting failsafe two months ago, he has had a huge turnaround. He is very proud of his new self and is just starting to believe in his own potential - potential we, as his parents, always knew he had.

Last week, Mitchell played his first basketball game as his new self. Usually he would vague off in the middle of the game and would never listen to instructions from his coach. He always wanted to play, but had little attention span. Mitchell was amazed at his ability with his new self (as was Dad). At the end of his training session he came off the court and said 'Wow, Dad, that was FUN!'

Thank you for 'Fed Up' I wish I'd found it sooner! - Michelle by email

Thank you for your four very informative books. They are wonderful and a great support along with the failsafe email groups and newsletters.

We went failsafe for our son when he was born five years ago and both children have been sort of failsafe since then. However, increasing errors and too many salicylates over the last two years (due to lack of support when we moved) resulted in increasing periods of out-of-control, aggressive and defiant behaviour in our son. For the last three months I joined the boys on thediet and we have been strictly failsafe, after finding your website and other books (I only had Fed Up previously). Life has been wonderful - except for catering socially.

I have gained lots already from 'my failsafe bible' (your cookbook). Thank you for your thousands of great useable ideas, we drink a mug of soup a day like suggested in one of your books to keep up our vitamin intake and have all been healthier as well as 'better behaved' people since being strictly failsafe.

If you would like a European contact, or more specifically Sweden ... I am happy to help out. It's great having regular contact and updates, and the email groups to pose questions and ideas to. - Faye (our failsafe contact in Sweden)


I cannot thank you enough for your support and have been very vocal with child care centres and friends about the amazing results you can get with failsafe when you do it PROPERLY. - Michelle, Victoria

My six-year-old daughter has been on the ketogenic diet for three and half years now for uncontrolled epilepsy. In that time I weaned her off of three anti-convulsants and six months after the last wean she became seizure-free. She has now been seizure-free for 2 years and 3 months. Also in that time as well as being on the keto diet, she has been failsafe and dairy free. I re-introduced dairy into her diet about three months ago and she is tolerating it really well. She is now off the keto diet but remains failsafe. I'm certain without the ketogenic diet in conjunction with the failsafe diet my daughter would still be having seizures. - by email, NSW

I have recently discovered an intolerance to food preservatives and MSG which result in bad insomnia. Since I realized what was causing my problem I have mostly had really good nights' sleep but occasionally I get caught out and eat something with preservative or MSG without realising. It was probably easier for me to identify the connection between preservatives and insomnia than for most people as we live on a farm and butcher our own meat, hence sausages and mince with little else added, and additionally my husband has a cholesterol problem so I am very careful with our diet. - Karen O'Connor, Victoria.

My recent attack of ribo rash lead me to your web site. A casserole in which Dad nearly poisoned me with two beef Massel stock cubes and turned me psycho and swollen led me to Safeway. I was furious that the old package from which Dad's cubes came did not list 631 and 627 as they do on the new packaging. - reader, Melbourne

I wanted to let you know about our wonderful experience recently. Imagine my surprise (horror) when my husband organised a trip for our family of five to England and France for eight weeks. Horror, yes, because how do you stay failsafe?

My very first step was to call Qantas and request special meals for our son. I was originally told I could request dairy-free and gluten-free but when I mentioned salicylates, preservatives, colours etc the poor lady got very quiet and asked me to spell salicylates. She told me she would 'pass the request on but couldn't guarantee they could meet it'. They rang me back a day or two later saying they had spoken to their dietician and he would be able to cater for us. Imagine my amazement when almost perfect meals were delivered on all Qantas flights. I say almost because they did include a banana and I know amines would have been a problem but my son got heaps of food that was good for him! We were overjoyed. We couldn't say the same for the British Airways leg of our trip and we certainly struggled to stay failsafe in Singapore and Disneyland in Paris. The rest of our trip we self-catered and survived. The only nasty incident he managed in the whole trip (apart from a few hissy fits) was when he ran down a slipway and slipped (funnily enough) into the freezing cold harbour at Padstow. This was a truly amazing trip. I have written to Qantas to thank them for everything. It was certainly worth one little phone call. - Rhonda (our Lismore contact)

I would like to share a recent discovery which happened because of your checklist. Three years ago I started the RPAH elimination diet, with chronic urticaria, asthma and depression, weighing in at nearly 100kgs and only 26 years old. I had to change to live. Immediately I stopped smoking and drinking and discovered after 2 days of elimination I was suffering dairy intolerance and now stay right away from all dairy products. Within 12 months I had lost 30kgs and never felt better in my life. After six months of dairy-free life, I got married - I recommend love also as a wonderful healer. I took up yoga and greatly increased my exercise. There were a few niggling things, particularly the blocked and running nose, always having my sleeve or back pocket loaded with tissues, ready for the inevitable moment. I had always suffered this morning and evening ritual of a running nose so 'just lived with it'.

Having relaxed my eating and decreased my exercise, I regained a dress size or two over the last 12 months and recently decided enough was enough. I was becoming uncomfortable and depressed again and couldn't fit into my gorgeous new clothes. I could see I was starting to walk down that old path which led to unhappiness. I now hold the knowledge and power to change. There is no need to get sucked into old habits from the past. It was time to return to chemical free
life which I recalled with so much joy ... After a week of full elimination, the runny nose persisted. I read and re-read through your checklist of common mistakes and decided to try plain toothpaste which I never did three years ago as my dietician at the time said, 'oh you don't have to give up toothpaste if you don't want to - everything else though' and I never really considered it caused me such suffering.

Well well well. A truly amazing change has occurred for me. No more nose blowing at breakfast time or when I'm settling into bed at night. The tap has officially been turned off! My teeth actually feel cleaner than when using regular toothpaste and with a chemical free diet I never have a problem with bad breath which needs to be covered up with peppermint. - reader, Sydney

My partner is a teacher and always talks to his kids about the undesirable nature of what is generally in lunchboxes. He has had some interesting instances of saying to a child, 'If you eat that now you will be crazy this afternoon'. His predictions have come true and other children in the classroom have actually pointed it out. - by email, Qld

My mother was advised to have all her teeth out because her fillings might be causing her migraines. She doesn't get migraines any more, but I'm not convinced that fillings were the cause. She is eating a lot less salicylates because she avoids tomatoes (the skins get stuck in her false teeth), strawberries (seeds likewise) and apples (too difficult to bite). - by email

What you say in your book 'Fed Up with Asthma' about food intolerances making the airways sensitive to triggers like viruses is what happened to my daughter. She is intolerant to salicylates, although it took a long time for me to find out. When she was two years old, I had noticed that her eczema seemed to flare up a day or two after eating spaghetti. I mentioned this to a dietitian I was seeing for other health problems. She said that it could be salicylates, so I stopped giving my daughter spaghetti and tomatoes, but she still had eczema. Then when she turned three, she started getting asthma. The doctor always said that the asthma was triggered by a virus but there were times where she would get asthma without having a virus first.

At the Child Care/Kindy Christmas Party, the only thing they had to drink was cordial. My daughter had never had any fruit juice or cordial to drink up to this time, only water or milk, but we gave her half a cup of cordial to drink because she was thirsty and we hadn't brought any drinks with us. That night she had asthma. About a month later her father gave her a Winnie the Pooh Raspberry fruit drink and she also had asthma that night. When I told the doctor about this, she said did I think it was the colour? but didn't do anything, just told me about treatment.

My daughter was now getting asthma every month and needing stronger medication so I went back to the dietitian who prescribed vitamin supplements and took her off dairy foods. My daughter continued to get asthma and her eczema got worse, and this is how I found out about salicylates. The dietitian had told me to mix the powdered supplements in fruit juice and one of the child care centre workers mentioned that oranges can be a problem. It finally 'clicked'. I had been mixing the vitamins in orange juice. I got the dietitian to send me a list of all the foods that were salicylates so I could avoid them. After a few weeks my daughter's skin started clearing up and she has never had asthma again, even when she had a bad flu this winter. Dairy products give her the odd ear infection, less than once a year, but they don't affect her asthma.- reader, Brisbane

A friend of a friend with two young children visited a dietitian who put them on what I can only describe as a Clayton's failsafe diet ... not quite fully failsafe. For example, the dietitian told her that it was perfectly ok for her children to eat McDonalds/Red Rooster chips...

She was introduced to my wife and got into a conversation about real failsafe diets. After 4 days on the real diet, she rang my wife crying with happiness. Her son had settled down to what she considered a 'normal child' to be. His aggression was gone, his tendencies to distraction had disappeared and his sleep had increased by two hours a night. In his first speech therapy session since starting on the real diet, he suddenly managed to recognise 40 words (from picture cards) as well as all primary and secondary colours, where his previous best attempt at word recognition was 8 words. The speech therapist was so amazed that she has already started researching failsafe dieting. The dietitian who put her on the Clayton's diet has now started looking seriously at the failsafe diet instead. It's been two weeks now and our friend is seeing the pediatrician who put her son on Ritalin this week to see about getting him off it completely. She's 100% sure that he doesn't need it at all any more. And remember the sister? She was a chronic asthmatic, but she hasn't needed a puffer since a few days after starting the diet. - from an email discussion group, with permission

After reading your book Fed Up, at last I can put a name to my 10 year old ADHD son's bad behaviour: oppositional defiance. I know that he reacts to preservatives and have tried to avoid obvious food colours but this is not enough to make a difference so I am going to try the failsafe diet.- by email

It seems that everywhere I go I hear of people who have attended one of your talks on food intolerance. It really helps people to understand what I am contending with. Just thought that you would appreciate knowing how your work is making life a little easier in my world! Thank you! - failsafer, by email

We've been trying the diet for four months without a lot of clarity probably because we were not strict enough. With your book and information we hope to get further. - reader, South Australia

Right from the minute she was born my daughter Laura was a nightmare. She screamed and screamed and screamed some more. I went around the twist. I had two children under two and it was hard to be up all night with this child and then carry her around all day. The minute I sat her down she would start screaming. I spoke to clinic sisters, doctors, friends and all gave me various degrees of advice. I kept saying that Laura is reacting to my breastmilk but was laughed at and told that that wasn't possible. I now know that I was right and the bread that I was consuming was giving this poor child a huge bellyache.

Life for the first 13 months was, and I won't lie, pure hell. People started treating me like I had PND but it was just this difficult behaviour in the baby. It had not eased with introducing solids and I by now had changed a million pooey nappies. Still everybody told me this was OK

At 13 months, I weaned Laura and she became a little better at sleeping but we still got a poo every nappy and her temperament was a little better. I continued with trying to cope and did the best I could all the while feeling that something was wrong. By 16 months I was getting worried about the nappies as they were causing her terrible pain in nappy rash. As we had moved towns I consulted a new group of clinic sisters and doctors. I had one clinic sister take notice and suggested that I get an appointment with a stomach and bowel doctor. I went to the local GP and was laughed at that this was so extreme and that it was fast transient time of food. This same doctor was consulted again at 18 months and he said that it was toddler diarrhoea. OK. When Laura's new sister was christened when Laura was 20 months we finally discovered what we think is wrong. We went to my husband's family farm and stayed for two and a half weeks. In that time all meals were cooked. No toast, no bread, no sandwiches, no diarrhoea, no nappy rash, sleeping through the night. I went from a child who had 10 runny burning nappies a day to 1 flushable nappy in a matter of days. Laura was cured.

I have since seen the GP who suggested I stay away from bread but gave me no help in finding out why bread was a problem. I went to the clinic sister and asked but to no avail. Then my sister heard about RPA's allergy unit and I was on the phone to them. Wow!!! Within minutes I had my answers. They explained the link between 282 and stomach upsets and runny nappies. They sent me the suggested shopping list and then made me an appointment. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and now Laura is going great guns. My little girl is happy and sleeping through the night and has yet to react on her diet (day 25). I am lucky because I only did 10 days on no wheat no diary and no soy and have already challenged milk and wheat flour. So far so good.

This is Laura's story and I am so lucky but it is infuriating that nobody listened to me. Doctors were quick to dismiss this problem but our food was affecting her and I was giving it to her thinking I was doing well by feeding her healthy bread. Thank goodness for people like you. My son's preschool teacher recently went to Canberra for your talk and made me aware of your books and website. Thank you thank you thank you. We are now having an afternoon tea information session on food at the preschool and will include all we know about food and the nasties that can be in it. Now we can educate other parents and try and help our community. - Rose, ACT

I have successfully used bi-carb to curb reactions in my 2-year-old. I just add about 1/2 cup of bi-carb to the bath water. I have also given her 1/4 teaspoon of it in water, and that worked really well. - Renee, failsafebaby group

We started the failsafe diet in May 2002 after advice from a friend and it has had many interesting 'side effects', all of them good. We have had the usual wonderful behavioural changes in all members of the family and I don't know if any one else has reported this but if I stay 100% failsafe my acne rosacea goes (the scars don't but makeup covers them). I have taken many drugs for over the last 15 years for this condition and now I find that all forms of dairy give me pimples and cysts while flavour enhancers start up the vein ridden, red and sore rosacea. I am 34 now and don't want to look hideous in public any longer.- Viv, ACT

I have an aspirin intolerance and it took me ages to work out that my chronic mouth ulcers were being caused by beta hydroxy acid in my face cream because it is easily absorbed through the skin.- by email

Our son was bouncing off the walls for days after two doses of Dettol within 3 days (one from preschool, one from Nanny). Of course when I told nanny and the teacher, they both did well to humour me and to contain their disbelief. My sister - a pharmacist - sent me the chemical breakdown and the pharmacists' notes, it read like this:

Ingredients: Active: CHLOROXYLENOL (chlorinated antiseptic) Inactive: ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL (antiseptic) ETHANOL (handwash contains tartrazine). Contra-indications: not recommended to bath infants up to nine months because of the inability of the infant to detoxify chloroxylenol and benzalkonium chloride. Precautions: Can cause skin irritations.

In the individual breakdown of each of the ingredients, there were also references to medical journal cases of poisoning (i.e 'severe Dettol poisoning'); this warning about Isopropyl alcohol 'the lethal dose by mouth is reported to be 250ml, however toxic symptoms may be produced by as little as 20ml'; this one ' Inhalation of isopropyl alcohol vapour has been known to induce coma' and this is my favourite 'Application of Isopropyl alcohol to the skin may cause dryness and irritation; suitable precautions should be taken to prevent absorption through the skin'.

My sister also gave me a word of advice in dealing with those doubting Thomases who think that absorption through the skin is a load of rubbish. Nicotine and hormone replacement patches work! - Kelli from the discussion group

During the holidays we had been watching American settler re-enactments on TV and my eldest daughter said 'we could do that easily'. So we decided to do our own pioneer re-enactment in the week before school went back.

As we live on a family farm, we still had a lot of pioneer stuff about so perhaps we were able to go about it in greater detail than most.

A day's program was: get up at 6.30 am, collect wood and start a fire outside to cook on. Cart water from the rainwater tap to a basin in the bathroom for washing hands and self (with Velvet soap only). Another bucket of water for tea and cooking was carried into the house. While the kids fed the chooks and geese, I cooked scones in a camp oven and boiled the billy. Once the scones were cooked, I dropped eggs in the camp oven to cook in the remaining heat. We used homemade butter and golden syrup on the scones and salt on eggs, because pioneers didn't use flavourings such as pepper, herbs or tomato sauce. After breakfast we washed up with Velvet soap (rinsing well), first dishes, then face and hands. Teeth were brushed with an index finger dipped in seasalt.

During the day we hand-sewed bread flour bags with cotton from the tops of rolled oat sacks into place mats and embroidered them. We spent one whole day washing clothes and sheets with Velvet soap and Lux flakes in a copper heated by a fire outside, hand wrung and hung on a rope line between trees.

We also baked biscuits in the camp oven from a family recipe given to my Grandmother. She would be 110 now if she was still alive.

Mrs. Cattle Biscuits: 8oz SR flour, 1 egg, 4oz sugar, 3oz butter. Mix all ingredients and shape into small balls, put onto tray and bake in a moderate oven for 10 to 15 minutes. For variations, mix in coconut or put an almond or a drop of jam on top or add cocoa to the mixture. This mix was also pressed in trays and covered with golden syrup and crumble mix on top and cut into slices before cool.

For lunch and tea we ate fresh chops or chicken (dressed that day) with Laucke bread baked in the camp oven and vegetables which were growing in the garden at that time (silver beet, parsley, carrots, potatoes, shallots) or poached eggs on toast. I cooked the chicken in golden syrup and water then after the cooked chicken had been removed from the pot, we cooked golden syrup dumplings in the water. They had a fantastic flavour.

We removed all plastics from the kids' rooms (such as Barbie and bits), leaving them with only a chair, desk, beds, four books, paints (not acrylic dry blocks), pencils and a skipping rope. Their clothes were two sets of simple dresses and jumpers made from cotton or wool, leading to a complaint that they were 'dumb things to wear carting water on cold mornings, Mum, give me jeans.'

We ate at night by candlelight and played old board games. We played my daughter's Suzuki violin CD over and over as the pioneers only had one record. We gave the kids a torch for going to bed as they had not lived with candles and we felt it was not safe.

The result was amazing. The kids became more agreeable and instructions didn't have to be repeated until shouted to get a response, which had happened frustratingly too often before our Pioneer Week.

My youngest became less grumpy and the eldest less fragile and teary. Both stopped being picky eaters and ate with relish. The eldest's singing which was usually flat became tuneful because her hearing improved. They anticipated and showed more thought about what they were doing instead of being 'Tigger with Rabbit worries'. Life became gentler at home. The background frustration and noise decreased a lot and they took on new things faster. This change persisted for a while after school started then reverted as we reverted to our original diet.

I was diagnosed with salicylate/amine/additive intolerance 20 years ago, so I have never had a diet full of additives or the rest. But as the kids were getting older, I was bowing down to peer and social pressures, arguing in my head that their bodies were bigger so could handle additives better. I was wrong. We are now doing the elimination diet after two weeks of a take-away, additive binge, to make sure of all our symptoms. The kids are loving it and it is easier than the pioneer week because we use modern conveniences such as electricity and running water. A modified Pioneer Week would be a fun introduction to the elimination diet which sounds ominous and is not the current retro trend. - Rosy Hill, South Australia