Julie is a police prosecutor and a mother of nearly 4 children. When she saw what food did to her three year old son, she became an enthusiastic supporter of failsafe and a co-founder of the new Brisbane food intolerance support group.

Joseph  gets up from his afternoon tea and goes and whispers to his father Steve. He wants to know if it's okay to eat the marshmallows in his bowl. He's four and he probably can't pronounce food intolerance but he knows how had it makes him feel if he eats things he shouldn't. His mother Julie says if they hadn't found out what was wrong with Joseph when they did he would probably be in jail for murder now.

She says Joe was "broken" from the time he was born and it wasn't until he was diagnosed with food intolerance at three and a half that a solution seemed possible for the little boy. As well as being a mother of three and pregnant with number four, Julie is also a part-time Police Sergeant working as police prosecutor in Court 1 in Brisbane.

She's so concerned about the link between behaviour and food intolerance that she's undertaking independent study on the food effects on juvenile criminality as part of her Masters Degree in Justice/Law at QUT. Steve isn't sure that food turns kids into criminals but he does know what food can do to his son.

"He was like a bear with a sore head - that's how he was. He was aggressive to other kids and defiant to adults. Now he's responsive, his speech has improved, and his concentration span has improved.

"He can sit down and watch something on TV. He can sit down and do a puzzle or colour in."

Joseph's problem lies primarily with food colours and flavouring and reactions range from aggression to asthma. With careful shopping and label reading Joseph can enjoy and happy and normal life without too much imposition on the rest of the family.

There have been slip-ups on the way. The family dyed eggs for Easter not realising that Joseph's sensitivity would extend to touch. Joseph blames his mum for that asthma attack. The solution for Joseph came when a paediatrician suggested that Julie might like to read a book called "Fed Up" by Sue Dengate. She consulted a dietitian and put Joseph on an elimination diet. His life changed.

Julie is urging people who suspect food might affecting their children's behaviour to attend a presentation by Sue Dengate … - Julie's story (above) appeared on page 3 of the September edition of "Kids in Brisbane", resulting in a capacity crowd of nearly 200 for my presentation at Zillmere PCYC.

Ginny was my second child. Her older sister had been a model baby, always smiling, rarely cried but she developed chronic asthma at age 8 months and required frequent hospitalisation. She was 2 ½ when Ginny was born.

From day one Ginny was a very unsettled baby, didn't sleep much and cried a lot. At 2 months of age I had to physically keep her awake between 6pm and 10pm so that I could feed her, put her to bed and (hopefully) get 3 hours straight sleep. By 4 months of age she had developed chronic eczema on her face, scalp, neck and creases of arms and legs.

By 12 months of age she had major ulceration on her bottom and an allergy specialist suggest we try soy milk as it could be a cows milk problem. At that time I had to get the soy milk through the chemist on prescription and it didn't really make a huge amount of difference. We tried the soy milk for 6 months and then went back to cows milk. She was getting more and more restless and would sleep for 1 hour and then wake up screaming. When Ginny was 14 months old I had child number 3. Gareth was the most placid, easy going little boy you could ever imagine. Sardi (the oldest) was still having major asthma attacks and hospitalisation. Ginny was still waking every hour on the hour - this went on day after day, night after night, month after month. Gareth developed croup and would have really bad nights where I would be up with him for hours with the steam running in the bathroom.

By the time Ginny was 2 years old, when she wasn't screaming through the night she was getting into mischief through the day or throwing dreadful tantrums because she couldn't get her own way. Climbing in dangerous places, falling up, through, on or off anything there was in sight to climb on.

A sixth sense woke me early one morning and I went into the kitchen to find her sitting on top of the oven. It was one of those stoves which had the oven and hotplates side by side with the controls for the electric hotplates at the back. She had climbed on to the hotplates and then up on the oven and had reached over and turned on all the hotplates. When I got there she was sitting looking at them glowing red and just laughed at me and said "look at the pretty colours, mummy".

She still woke every hour throughout the night and the only thing I could do to get her back to sleep was to give her a bottle which was usually filled with cordial, as the doctors told me not to give her too much milk and if I used too much fruit juice I had the nappies to contend with!

During our frequent trips to the doctor Ginny was always an angel. When I asked if it could be something she was eating, they just laughed at me and the doctor told me that I was overanxious. I came close to having a breakdown. When I wanted to get another opinion I was sent to the hospital. They wanted to put me in hospital to calm down. When I said "no", they asked me would I like them to put her in hospital to give me a break.

They said that she was just a naughty girl and to just let her scream as "she would stop sooner or later" and that she only screamed because I went into see her. Not very easy to do when she screams for 3 hours in the middle of the night and dad has to go to work the next day and the other two are awake and crying.. The doctors then decided to try Ginny on Vallergan to "quieten her down" because they believed she was just boisterous and I just was not coping with motherhood.

At age 2 ½ I was at the end of my tether and one day I picked her up and held her against the wall and started to shake her and bang her against the wall. I had tears running down my face and thank god something inside me said to me to put her down or I was going to do some dreadful damage.

About 2 months after this I read an article in a magazine which was talking about Dr Ben Feingold's book "Why your child is Hyperactive". It talked about the relationship of food colours and preservatives and children's behaviour. The article gave a list of about 14 symptoms and said that if you could answer 'yes' to any 6 of them, there was a darn good chance that food colours were playing a major part in the child's behaviour. We answered "yes" to 12 of the 14. The book was unavailable in Australia at that time and I had one of the City bookstores order a copy for me.

I read the book and then went to discuss it with my doctor and was told it was a lot of "maybe" and that nothing was proven. I discussed it with my brother (also a doctor) who told me that kids were being unnecessarily labelled hyperactive and it was predominantly a discipline problem. I tried to discuss it with others who just didn't want to know.

We still had Sardi going in and out of hospital with asthma and Gareth up through the night with bouts of croup. Their father was working late into the evenings (I think so that he didn't have to come home to the chaos) and by this stage our marriage was starting to collapse.

My husband and I discussed the diet recommended in the book and decided that it couldn't do any harm as things couldn't be much worse. The only problem was that the book was written in the USA and the diet was designed for the American market, so many of the products were not available here. I took the book one day and started to go through the pantry cupboard. I checked every label on everything in the pantry and filled 2 garbage bags with food. I went to the supermarket and read the labels on everything I bought. What I wasn't sure about I telephoned the manufacturers and asked them what the products contained. We started from scratch. I made everything we ate from scratch, bread, cakes, biscuits, ice-cream, icy poles etc. etc. We all ate the same food.

After 1 week, Ginny had started sleeping for 2-3 hour stretches.

After 2 weeks, she had stopped throwing tantrums

After 3 weeks, she was sleeping right through the night

After 4 weeks I had, for the first time, a normal child in the house.

After 3 months, her eczema had just about totally cleared.

"Coincidentally" (or not) her older sister's asthma had, by this stage, lessened to the stage where she no longer required frequent trips to hospital and was manageable to home and her brothers bouts of croup had stopped.

What really annoyed me was that about 4-5 years later the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne had adapted the diet and were using it as breakthrough treatment for behavioural problems.

As Ginny was able to communicate better and someone (usually a well meaning grandma!) would give her something nice like a red icy pole (and then send her home to me!) she would tell me that she had a "big head". As she got older, she later explained that when she had something off limits, her head felt as though it was going to explode.

Ginny is now 27 and has a 9 month old daughter. She still checks labels and she does all her own baking and cooking and rarely uses pre-packaged goods (although I noticed that the ones she tends to use are the same products I used when I changed our diet all those years ago) I have every confidence that her little girl will not have to go through the hell her mother went through. Even now, as her poor partner found out the hard way, she still reacts badly to Cherry Ripes! He would bring them home and she would occasionally eat them. Until one day when she had too many. He's now banned them from the house.

My message to everyone out there : I wish I'd had the benefit of Sue's book 25 years ago. Diet really does work. Hang in there - it gets better and better.

- Rosemary (Silly Yaks Bakery Café, Melbourne)

I contacted a dietitian through our Base hospital and with their help we managed to get through the Elimination Diet. What an experience that was! My youngest son, Tim, who is three in April, had been given an uncertain diagnosis of "Irritable Bowel???" by the pediatrician. We were told to take him off lactose, sugar and soy and reduce the fruit intake. That has little effect on his symptoms. So, Brandon (5 yo), Tim and I embarked on the Elimination Diet. My husband did not want to be involved in the "witchcraft" as he called it!

I was on the phone to the dietitian after 36 hours because Brandon, who had behaviour problems, had got 10 times worse where behaviour was concerned and had come out in an eczema-type rash on his torso and upper arms. I felt he was reacting to the soy or the cashew paste (but probably the soy) as these were the only new additions to our diet. I was told to "persevere, that reactions usually got worse before they improved". After 5 days I had a great improvement in my mucous volume and felt better than I had in 5 years. After 4 weeks we had seen limited improvement in Brandon's behaviour and no improvement in Tim's symptoms so decided to eliminate wheat as well.

The results were quite amazing. After 2 weeks off wheat I realized my restless legs were no longer worrying me and Brandon's sneaky poos had ceased to be a problem. Tim's symptoms improvement but his bowel motions never really came back to normal. We did the wheat challenge first. Brandon was OK for 5 days but on the 6th day he obviously went over the threshold and took a full week to recover. He reacted with restless legs (which I have since discovered can happen after even a few cracker biscuits) and Tim also had a worsening of his diarrhea.

The dairy challenge was interesting - my mucous symptoms were worse but Brandon improved in behaviour almost overnight and after 3 days the eczema was gone! So I was right about the soy after all.

... Brandon reacted to salicylates as I suspected he would, I didn't. The amine challenge was a disaster! We should never both have done that at the same time. Brandon and I both reacted and our symptoms were the same and severe - aggressive behaviour with a lack of self-control, depression etc. It was like world war three in our house by the end of the week and both of us took at least a week to recover. I have read in a number of places that if we react to amines then
we probably react to other additives so we have not continued with separate challenges for these. We just avoid them.

Initially I was daunted by the difficulties I faced accessing the foods we need but eventually as I learn where in the supermarket, health food store etc to find things life has become much easier ... I remember a quote in "Fed Up" from a lady who said she spent more time in the kitchen but less time disciplining the children and I have found that to be absolutely true. It is now just the way we live. I find the most difficult thing now is other people's reactions to our diet. Some of our
friends though come to our place with 7UP and kettle chips to share. Thankfully my husband is now more supportive and even grudgingly admits that he is probably reacting to some foods himself. So, Sue we have come a long way in these last 6 months. I hope it makes you proud to know that your writing of "Fed Up" has contributed to such an improvement in our lives. - Qld

Around the middle of last year I realised that I was always tired, my workmates commented on my sneezing fits every afternoon, I was very irritable, easily reduced to tears, had rashes on my legs, an ear infection which would not clear up and generally felt unwell. But worst of all was my bloated stomach, which most times looked like I was 7 months pregnant, and the related bowel problems. Looking back I had been gradually getting worse for a couple of years.

I had been to my doctor a couple of times for other things and always mentioned the vague symptoms. I was told not to worry. As the bowel problems persisted I started to worry as my grandfather had died of colon cancer. A Rotary test was negative but I still worried. I went to my doctor again and although she agreed that the bloated stomach was unusual she could find nothing wrong. However, she realised that I was really starting to worry about cancer, so she suggested I have some tests, just to set my mind at rest. I had an abdominal scan and full blood tests. Nothing wrong. But my worry was increasing, so she sent me for a colonoscopy, warning me that it would be unpleasant.

That was my turning point. The specialist could not understand my mixed reactions when he told me there was nothing wrong. However, I had had the colonoscopy on a Monday so had arranged to also have Tuesday off work as I imagined I would still feel pretty awful a day later. I woke up on Tuesday feeling fantastic. I packed so much into that one day it was amazing. I also did not eat, as I so much enjoyed feeling "empty". I wondered whether my symptoms were being caused by something I was eating.

Coincidentally, I had recently read an article in Australian Good Taste, about food intolerance, and your book was recommended. I bought your book and realised that all my symptoms fitted the pattern. I even had belatedly-diagnosed giardia for several weeks a couple of years before. I went back to the doctor, and suggested I go on an elimination diet. She was very lukewarm about the idea but I was determined so I followed your instructions and went on the strict diet for several weeks. I tried the

challenges and narrowed my causes down to dairy and salicylates (both of which I had normally in large quantities). I then got caught up in a round of end of year work functions and lunches, so I was not able to be so strict with myself. I went backwards quickly.

Now I avoid all processed foods, eat failsafe at home, and make informed choices when out. I love wine but have cut down to a couple of glasses per week, have decaf coffee, soy milk etc. The result has been a new zest for life - new role at work, back to studying part time and lots of activities. I'm back to size 12 clothes (have bought lots of new ones). I turn 50 next week and feel like 40.

I'm a bit evangelical when I tell people why I've lost so much weight, so I don't mind you sharing my story if it is of interest to others. Thanks again for providing the tools for me to get my life back. - NSW

"I have a 3½ year old son who was so over the top that I was told of your book. We have been doing diet for the last 3-4 months and he is now a changed boy." - by email

"We saw A Current Affair 12 months ago, and thought, 'Hey that's our boys!' (The eldest in particular.) We bought your book, the best money we ever spent. We have been on the diet now for 12 months and things have improved dramatically." - by email

"I took my 2 boys into Toyworld today which is normally a disaster but they were very well behaved, walking up each aisle with me and looking at the toys rather than touching and grabbing everything in sight!!" [on diet for 10 days] - NT

"Our daughter is now on the failsafe diet after the success we saw with her cousin after he started on failsafe foods, we now have a very happy, mostly well behaved and smart little girl." - by email

"On advice from our paediatrician (believe it or not) we took our 3.5 yo son off salicylates from the beginning. I typed in this unknown word and got your website and cried and contacted you and you recommended a dietitian … we have the most unbelievable son now as long as we stick close to his 'food plan', we don't call it a diet. …I just can't express our gratitude enough - life is completely different within our household and for our son himself." - Qld

"I just want to say thank you! I have my son back, a son who will listen, a son who will respond, a son who will sit quietly for longer and longer periods of time and a son that is happy enough in himself to want cuddles from us and to tell us he loves us!" - by email

"My son is 11 years old, diagnosed with ADHD, and has been on Ritalin for about 6-7 years … we have had him on a Failsafe diet for almost two months now. By the end of the first month he showed remarkable improvement, being able to finish homework more quickly and having a more thoughtful disposition. We were also able to cut his Ritalin dose by half, giving him the medication mainly for school, but not at home." - USA

"Since purchasing your book "Fed Up" and reading through it last week I immediately cut back my 5 yo daughter's intake of fruit to approx. one quarter of what she would normally have. By the weekend we already saw huge changes in our girl. Her behaviour was more evened out (not so many HUGE highs and lows) and just more sensible, obliging, less aggressive and defiant - just a much more pleasant girl altogether." - NZ

"My 3 1/2 year old has been on the elimination diet since March and it has completely changed his life (and ours, thank God)". - NZ

I have a 4 year old granddaughter who has a number of food intolerances and a 6 year old granddaughter who is just starting to show the cumulative effects of 122 [artificial red colour] with rash around mouth, also some asthma symptoms that she has never had before. I would like to receive your newsletter not only to assist me when I have them in my care, but also because I think we could all do without the "garbage" that is added to much of our processed food. - by email

I am sensitive to salicylates as the result of overuse of Ibuprofen (chemically very similar to aspirin). I developed asthma-like respiratory symptoms when eating certain foods but couldn't figure out which foods were responsible. Then I developed paresthesia in my left thigh when I took a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug which was prescribed for back pain. Ironically, all of the muscle pains etc. disappeared once I removed everything from my diet that I was sensitive to. - USA [Commonly called 'pins and needles' paraesthesia is a sensation of numbness, prickling and tingling that is normally felt in a limb or extremity.] - USA

For the past 15 years I have been unable to eat wheat, preservatives or MSG - or suffer the consequences if I do. A life spent suffering headaches, depression, lethargy and other sundry aches and pains is no alternative to avoiding the wrong foods and being able to live life to the full! - by email

I have suffered for years from episodes of fast heart beat. It can be very strong and disturbing, and I have ended up in hospital but it goes away after a few hours and they could never find anything wrong. For a while I was getting it every afternoon. Eventually I worked out it happened on the days I ate bread. A friend suggested it might be the preservative in bread. When I eat Brumbys' bread I have no problems, but when I ate some preserved bread without thinking at my mother's place, I had another episode. - NT

I react to MSG, flavour enhancer 635, metabisulphite preservatives, and yellow colour in cordial. I also have food intolerance to salicylates. From MSG, 635 flavour enhancer and metabisulphite preservatives I get very irregular pulse and atrial fibrillation. The atrial fibrillation settles down after 12-20 hrs depending on how much offending additive I have eaten (in a restaurant it is difficult to tell) - and my pulse settles down faster if I drink lots of water every hour to flush the toxins out of
my system. I've learned to read the labels and carry a reminder in my purse of the numbers to which I react when shopping. I have learned which brands or types of foods are a problem and steer clear of those. - Mary, retired nurse, Brisbane

My cousin has been having horrendous seizures for the past 2 years since she gave birth to her son. I have been trying to convince her to go on the elimination diet, as she's already noticed some foods trigger the attacks. She feels like she is going to die when she has one. She finally read the section in your book about Kerry and has found out that one of her biggest seizures which was triggered by popcorn at the pictures, was probably due to tartrazine (102) - the cinema just changed the company they buy the popcorn from. - WA

My husband has lost weight (he needed to ) and the aching joints he had-post Ross River Fever seem to be improving!! - NT

The biggest thing in my life is that my PMT has gone. I am amazed. I have had this problem for so many years. It was ruling my life and threatening my marriage to the point where earlier this year I started taking Lovan (another name for Prozac) to help me with it. I know you said that PMT disappears on the diet but I must admit mine was so bad I really didn't believe you. Anyway, my PMT has completely gone. I am convinced about this diet now! - NT

I have a 10mth old baby boy who he screamed for the first 3 and half months of his life all day and half of the night until my doc got me onto a dietitian and we tried the elimination diet. Every time I do food tests he reacts by screaming in agony within 24 hours and often gets a nasty red rash on his face and not so severe rash on his back and stomach. Before we tried the diet, we were hospitalised twice because I just couldn't cope. He reacts to most additives but the bread preservative is the worst and he also reacts very badly to amines. - Dani, WA

Restless Legs Syndrome was absolutely driving me crazy. If I forced my legs to be still, they would then jerk with even greater intensity. While I was watching TV, my legs were constantly swinging, because of this urge to move them. They were not itchy - it was just like there was something under the skin driving me crazy. Apparently most sufferers go on to become alcoholics (ref: The Bulletin 2000) which I can understand. American websites about RLS basically fall back onto all sorts of medication, which I do not want to take. Within two weeks of trying the elimination diet, I was able to sit still at night, AND get into bed without fear of tossing and turning all night because of this urge to move my legs. I now know the foods I should not touch - salicylates and additives ... when I eat any of these forbidden foods there is a definite reaction. - NSW

My husband has suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome for 11 years. We have been following the food lists suggested in your 'Fed Up' book for about a month and I have noticed a huge difference already. He sleeps better and is generally having more good days than bad. When he cheated (not on purpose) by having "junk" food, he suffered for it the next few days, not sleeping properly, and with the usual general aching and unwellness. The week after re-commencing failsafe foods, he is again feeling good and positive that eating failsafe is just the beginning of a great new life. - WA

I've read your book "Fed Up" and it certainly helped to plug the holes that my son's dietician leaves every time we talk. - by email

My daughter Rebecca developed the environmental illness Multiple Chemical Sensitivity when she was close to 2 years of age as a result of poisoning from the common sunscreen chemical butyl methoxy dibenzoylmethane, to which she was allergic. The chemical was present in a 50 ml roll-on I bought. The concentration of BMDM in the product was 3/4 of 1%, and I applied it to the lower half of her face and the back of her hands. She passed out. Her teeth turned orange-brown, her skin turned yellow-brown all over. Her urine was the colour of dark tea. Her skin and breath stank like a sewer. She appeared to be brain damaged. Some of the brown hair on the back of her head grew in pure white.

Rebecca's mental and physical function are now profoundly affected by environmental chemicals, in foods, in the air she breathes, and anything that comes in contact with her skin. She cannot have sunscreen with BMDM used by anyone around her, and we have had to have this chemical banned from her kindergarten this year, and her school for next year. The regulatory authority was notified at the time of the injury, as was the sunscreen company. The product that did the damage was Ego Sunsense Face Milk, labelled "hypo-allergenic". The chemical responsible is sometimes called Parsol 1789. In the USA I believe it is known as avobenzone.

I have also developed MCS as a result of handling the product that hurt my child. I am not as sensitive as my daughter but I continue to get worse. Environmental exposures to BMDM (other people's sunscreen) seem to be responsible for this worsening.  We are trying to get BMDM not only banned but classified as a prohibited substance. Please let other people know that this sunscreen chemical is toxic and incompatible with human ecology.

•     Dianne, BSc (Pharmacology, Biochemistry)

I'm letting you know how I got on with the bread preservative. I did get a reaction but not as bad as the amine test. Enough though to avoid eating it unless there is no other option. By the way, my reaction is always itchy hives. - reader, email

I'm a week and a bit further down the track on the failsafe foods and I am noticing changes already. He's really quite a cute kid underneath it all. Going out has been the biggest hurdle as school is extremely supportive. - reader, NT.

Oh Frabjous Day (the quote comes from Lewis Carroll's poem the Jabberwocky)

Some of you have experienced the joy of a child transformed,

an emergent angel,

an unsolicited "I love you" rather than "I hate you",

and a house in peace and harmony.

I too can (now) count myself amongst these fortunates.

To those who have not yet witnessed this miracle,

take heart, your turn will come.

School is in session again, and our kids

are doing things they couldn't possibly have done last semester.

Mary is bringing home perfect math and spelling tests,

with a commensurate improvement in self-esteem.

As I watch her do homework, I can almost see her IQ improve each week.

She no longer engages in covert antisocial behavior,

such as stealing small objects from classmates, which she did all last year.

"I don't feel like I have to yack with my friends all day long." she volunteered.

Meantime, John is spending most of his day in his mainstream classroom.

Last year he spent 40 minutes in class, story time, and then became too hyper,

and had to return to his special ed room.

That, plus a few extras such as gym and music,

was the extent of his mainstreaming.

He could NEVER perform an academic task in the midst of 23 other students,

or participate in a group activity.

In fact he could rarely do anything at all,

and we often had to bring him home before lunch,

because he was too unmanageable even for the special ed teachers.

But this year is different.

He always spends the afternoon in his general ed class,

and sometimes the morning as well.

He is socially appropriate, and is on-track academically.

The improvements at home are comparable;

I don't have time to go into them all.

As the subject suggests, we are elated.

And what's the secret? Eliminating amines --

easier said than done, as many of you know.

 

There are so many discussions of frustrating setbacks, which is right and

appropriate for this group --

but I thought you'd also like to hear about some real progress.

Sometimes we (parents) don't even see it, day to day,

until we step back and remember where we were three months ago,

or even one month ago.

- Karl from the discussion group, see Karl and Alison's hints for super amine responders on the

website.

Thank you so much for the wonderful, supportive and informative book "Fed Up". I had previously tested one of my children under the guidance of an allergy specialist, but I was having problems with another of my children and was lacking motivation. Your book inspired me to begin the elimination diet with my daughter, before I was at the stage of being unable to cope with her any longer. What a difference in her life, my life and the life of the whole family. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou! We now have a daughter who is behaving as her real self - reader, email.

Just thought I would drop you a short note to let you know that everything is going extremely well. My daughter is now at her best EVER, although we still have the occasional hiccup, it is nothing compared to some weeks ago. We challenged Dairy last week for 2 days (only milk) and her nose just gave her too much grief at night so she decided herself to give it the flick for 12 months. She said after not having it for 8 weeks that it tasted YUK anyway. She stated last night that she feels good eating failsafe foods and I must admit that the dark rings under her eyes have completely gone, her eyes themselves are crystal clear and she has no inclination to eat otherwise. We have our second visit with the pediatrician next month. Gee haven't I got lots to tell him. - reader, Queensland

I have a near 7 year old with an intolerance to salicylates. Your book "Fed Up" helped us realise what his problems might be caused by, and since he has been on a low salicylate diet, his behaviour, school work etc have improved dramatically! - reader, email

Parenting courses and books all had wonderful ideas and strategies, but they didn't work for us. However since my son has been on the diet over the past twelve months I have AT LAST been able to enjoy him. The difference that the diet has made to him has been extraordinary. Unfortunately it took much longer than we expected, as we had to eliminate a lot more than the basic elimination diet and his diet is extremely restricted, but it is worth the effort to have a delightful happy boy most of the time. We still have the occasional really bad day, but after six and a half years of trying to parent a terror and feeling that there must have been something wrong with me and my parenting abilities, I finally feel like a more or less normal mum! I can now take him shopping or to visit my friends and be reasonably confident that he will be well behaved and well mannered. Last week I took him to an adult social meeting with me as I needed to meet some new people (we have just moved) and he hadn't started school here yet. He sat fairly quietly, amusing himself with his Lego and allowed me to concentrate and then socialise, without dying of embarrassment over his behaviour, or having to leave early because things became intolerable. The only time he interrupted was to ask where the bathroom was. The other people there would never have guessed what he used to be like..- discussion group member

"I have got into a routine at the moment that I thought I would never get into. Your tastebuds do change and when you go back to something you had in the past you will most likely find that it's not as tantalising as you used to think." - discussion group member, WA

"Three weeks ago I totally spat it with my son as he would only drink milk out of a bottle. So I got tough and threw them away. He won't drink milk now unless he has a bottle - which he doesn't get. After a few miserable days (even though he still asks for a bottle of milk) he has given up milk altogether. He has become a totally different child - a lot more placid, tantrums are very few and far between (from 4 a day to maybe one a week), easily to reason with, a lot more tolerant of waiting for things, less oppositional and a lot more happy (Mum is too). I am not the only one who has noticed as my husband, Mum, Mother-in-law, friends etc have all commented too." - reader, Victoria

"After seeing your book on the TV we bought it. Our 8 year old daughter had been diagnosed with dyslexia and my wife believed that her diet had a lot to do with her behaviour. Your book helped us help our daughter and I am glad I have an opportunity to say thank you." - reader, email

"I haven't been game to write and tell all about how we are going in case it breaks the spell, but I have had my daughter on a FAILSAFE diet now for 6 weeks, and we have been on a high ever since. We never thought we would ever enjoy our family again, but here we are loving every day with her and everything she does. She has slept through since the 2nd week of the diet. She has gradually lost all signs of her rash, she is happy just pottering around without needing to be constantly nursed or consoled, and she is also beginning to 'trust' food again and eat what is offered to her.

I never thought that this diet would ever get easier, or that I would ever just be able to reach into the cupboard and pull out something to eat, but it is getting more and more second nature … I have not yet walked down the challenge road, I am a little scared to give up my darling baby who is for the first time in her life receiving the love and the now obviously more comfortable life she deserves. My family and friends have been extremely supportive, and help me watch her like a hawk at any family or social gathering where there is food present. She is also allergic to a few foods and so this is doubly important, especially for peanuts where she may need an adrenaline injection if she consumes anything with peanut in it, this could be as innocent as any chocolate bar or as obvious as a peanut paste sandwich." - discussion group,

I was at my wits end and about to put my almost 6 year old developmentally delayed son on Ritalin. Fortunately I could not get an appointment until the end of October, so whilst looking up ADHD on the 'net, came across your book, bought it and read it the same day! We started the diet 2 days ago, he said "yes" for the first time in his life today (everything is usually "no"). I haven't seen any tantrums, he has lost his obsession with running water from my kitchen taps (he would spend all day at the sink before, if I let him) and he actually sits down and watches TV and plays with his brothers and sister now. More speech is coming out, his toilet training is going well as he is not urinating so frequently and for the first time in years I can say he's a delightful little boy … As for my other children, I'm half way through the first week of the school holidays, and my household is actually very calm. I'm just so impressed, I can't help telling everyone about the diet. My four year old son, who has had frequent ear infections, grommets, and a severe language delay, actually came up to me this morning and said that his "ear was working now". And we were just on the verge of having to put him through more traumatic surgery plus spend another $1300 to replace his grommets. My other sons were constantly at each other's throats previously, but now act like best buddies! …- reader, email

"I first started reading your book Fed Up a few months ago and was a bit unsure that we could make the changeover to only the foods that you suggest be eaten to start off with. So I put the book away. Then the other day I thought - this is it, we must make the change for our daughter.

I cleaned out my pantry and was shocked to find that I only had 3 things in my cupboard that we were allowed to eat. I went shopping that afternoon with the kids to buy the things that we could eat on the diet, (who incidently thought it was great looking for all of the good food that we were allowed to eat).

I was surprised to find out when I got to the checkout that the bill at the end was actually less then what I normally pay when going shopping, so I thought that that was just great.

At the present time it is going OK although I am finding it difficult to find bread with no preservatives in it and as the kids are big eaters it is tough at lunch times. I would love to be able to talk to other mothers that are on the diet to see how they are coping." [to talk to other mothers on the diet, join our email discussion group, send your request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.] - mother, Queensland

Please add me to your newsletter list … we are up to week 2 of the elimination diet. We slipped up by keeping the pink marshmallows in the house. My son aged 8 found them and ate every one and now I am in day 2 of the violent monster stage !!! Thank you so much, I look forward to getting my son back one day soon. Thanks for your help and for being there when no-one else is - unless they have a drug of some sort that is ! - reader, New Zealand

"You may be pleased to know that I presented your book "Fed Up" to my ADD support group and gave them a complete run down about the diet. … I had to laugh to myself when one mum stated categorically that her son (extremely hyperactive) "is not affected by foods". Yes, I once thought that about my son, only to find how very salicylate sensitive he is!!" - reader, email

"I have gone down the dietary path since 1990, knowing myself to have allergies, but have struck many a blind alley with doctors and paediatricians. I am a science teacher, and a scientist, and consider that I can tell what is obvious with my child - but so many won't listen. I was so pleased to finally read your book only recently …" - reader, email

"I am a new mum, my baby is nearly one year old. I am reading your book Fed Up and it is making a huge impact on my life. My daughter was a challenging child in the early part of her life and this created a lot of stress for me and my husband. I felt strongly that the food I was eating upset her through the breast milk. Could this have been why she was so difficult to get to sleep???? We have finished breast feeding and I plan to follow the FAILSAFE diet as much as I can … Thank you and keep doing what you're doing." - reader, email

"I was recently told about your book Fed Up by my dietician. I have food intolerances to salicylates and amines and I am now going to test for the bread preservative. I am in my 60s and have suffered with itchy hives for over 10 years. At last after reading your book I seem to be getting on top of it. My daughter has put two of her children on the elimination diet with excellent results. Thank you......" - reader, email

"My friend has followed your diet and had only one small reaction (and she admits to "cheating" some that day) in the last 11 months. Before that, she was speeding to the hospital in an ambulance about every 10 -14 days. Now she has not done that in nearly a whole year - THANKS to your book and food lists. She has also reduced the antihistamines that she takes by more than half ... Her own allergy doctor is very impressed with her current health and has sent for "Fed Up" also. It seems weird that she has had to find her own help and that doctors seem to have little knowledge of her allergy to natural aspirin. Thanks again for your help. She is my close friend and lives alone but now I don't fear for her safety because the life threatening reactions have disappeared. Her overall health and energy levels have greatly increased. Without your website, current correct information, and books, coping was so difficult". - reader's friend, USA

Right from the day she was born, my third child was a difficult baby. The sisters at the hospital commented on day one that she was acting like a day three baby - all unsettled because of the milk coming in and hormonal changes. At 6 weeks she was diagnosed as having reflux and was given suitable medicine, not enough, at 8 weeks she was prescribed a herbal medicine to have in between doses (peppermint base), at 9 weeks she was diagnosed with colic as well and we treated her with all three medications to no avail.

By 12 weeks somebody suggested she will be fine once she starts on some solids (she is obviously just one of those really hungry babies). She cried all the time, she would not go to sleep, she would not stay asleep, and she was only happy if she was being nursed, if you could call it happy. I feasted on my saviours, champagne, burritos, curries (well, Indian babies survive!), and treated myself to a strip of licorice just about every day. I knew she did not like me drinking champagne, but I joked about being in denial about it, thinking I deserved it.

Our new baby had a fine rash covering most of her body, we all thought that makes sense, her big sister has eczema. Her irritability was I thought lactose intolerance maybe, I am slightly lactose intolerant. She had 7 ear infections in 5 months and had grommets put in at 8 months, but I had ear problems, sinus problems, and grommets as a child as well. We went to a sleep clinic to try and get her to learn how to go to sleep, we thought that maybe she did not read the book about how third children are supposed to fit in to our routine and lives. FINALLY after many trips to the doctor and an allergic reaction to an antibiotic, my clever doctor suggested a salicylate- free diet for our baby (not me though because the sensitivity was not really the problem just another thing to try).

Things improved, sleep was achieved when she rolled over on to her stomach, and crying was reduced from 50 minutes of controlled crying to now 20 minutes of controlled crying, every night, every sleep, 4 to 6 times a day. Hell hath no fury like a mother of a child who does not sleep, if baby is woken up. She was still waking up at night like a clock-watcher, and was usually unable to be settled without a breastfeed and then not usually under an hour.

12 months old... still having problems. We have now discovered she is allergic to milk, eggs, bananas, peanuts, Keflex, BBQ spices, and is still on her salicylate free diet (well low salicylate anyway, because it's not really a salicylate intolerance it just makes us feel like we are doing something). She is still waking up at night, but getting better to settle. Some nights she actually sleeps through.

After 12 months ( plus the 5mths I suffered with indigestion during pregnancy) of sleep deprivation, the rot had finally set in and I have succumbed to many illnesses that I could not fight off, so, I gave up breastfeeding.

Well you could knock me down with a feather. The child sleeps. Goes to sleep. The rash disappears. Her first plasticine poo ... 14 months old ... where do we go now? It seems that her new food allergies are becoming more frequent and more aggressive since I stopped breastfeeding.

This brings me to you. I found your book!!! I sat down and started reading your book, not in order, and found her symptoms all over the place. I also found my 8 year old, who scored 3s on eczema, growing pains, restlessness, difficulty falling asleep, night wakings, anxious, vague, concentration, unmotivated, disorganised, easily distracted (she scored a 5 here), moody, irritable, and 2's on fidgety, "jumpy" behaviour. … What I have benefited most from so far is the relief that I am not crazy, nor the only person in this situation. Thank you for taking the time to write your book.

P.S. Can you tell me if McVities Hobnobs biscuits are okay? The ingredients are: Rolled oats, wholemeal flour, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil, vegetable oil, partially inverted sugar syrup, raising agents(sodium bicarbonate, ammonium bicarbonate), salt. [There are probably antioxidants (310-321) in the vegetable oil, so you would have to limit the quantity].  - reader, email

Although my child had never been diagnosed as ADD or ADHD, he was just a very active little boy who did not sleep much or very well. He wasn't interest in reading, writing or drawing and I was becoming very concerned about how he was going to cope with going to school next year.

After two weeks of eliminating all fruit (except pears) and preservatives from his and our diets he is a changed person. He writes his own name and started to write other letters and is very happy to sit and draw for at least an hour! (he couldn't sit still for at least 5 mins before the diet). His new favourite word is "preservatives".

I attended your talk in Canberra in June and was considerably impressed. I then purchased "FED UP" and am now proceeding to read through it … I have a 5 year old girl with numerous problems both behavioural and learning without, as yet, having been given a diagnosis by her paediatrician. However, my reading has defined ADHD with learning disabilities. Her paediatrician tends to agree, though is unwilling to diagnose at such a young age. Like you, I've pursued behaviour training, as well as speech therapy, occupational therapy, attended early intervention preschools, obtained 2nd opinions from paediatricians, had blood tests and seen a geneticist. All with little luck. Her extreme hyperactivity saw me retreat from almost all social activities as she was unwelcome and I was always on edge with her unpredictable and extreme behaviour. She is now in kindergarten in a special learning support unit. Her Ritalin medication is reasonably effective, but there are days when it doesn't work. I'd like to explore fully the effect of additives in food and as such, am now intensely interested in what you have to say both in your books and via the internet/email. When I have completed your book I will try the elimination diet. I thank you … you have given me a new area to explore.

I am a 20-year-old mother with a very restless, hard to manage 18-month-old son. He has been hard to manage from the start with colic, chronic wind, constipation, reflux and eczema. He would have us up usually every 2 hours just screaming the house down for no apparent reason and my doctor stressed NOT to put him on soy products as "in his opinion, they were of no help", so my son remained on an AR formula to help his reflux. As he gets older, he is very active, running every where, bouncing off walls and furniture, falling over all the time ... more trips to the doctor, nothing mentioned about diet.

It wasn't until my parents saw the article on A Current Affair that I even thought about diet other then lactose intolerance and they both encouraged us to try it. I was sceptical at first and then one night he had me in tears and, being pregnant with our second child, decided to give it a go anyway.

It has been 8 days now and there has been a noted change in his attitude. He is slowing down enough to smell the roses and his attention span has lengthened a little. although he is still waking up at night, I am a lot more rested from not chasing him around all day! What brands of bread are best for him? I have asked around at small bakeries and they either can't tell me if there are any preservatives or admit that they do ... I am getting a little frustrated at their ignorance. [Brumby's is FAILSAFE. Other than that, can you buy Vogel's? Read the label carefully. In some places they do not add 282].

Thank you once again for your help and for bothering to try to make a difference when no-one else really cares!!! Reader, email

"told my wife yesterday that you have given us more personal attention and assistance than any physician here in our home state, and all without compensation. There is either something wonderful about you, or something terrible about healthcare in the States, or both." - reader, USA

I saw you on A Current Affair recently and started reading your book and couldn't put it down until I had finished it.

What a difference it has made! We are in the process of eliminating all preservatives and additives from our diet. It has been a hard struggle but we are getting there. We knew we had a problem when my four-year-old was given chocolate and within five minutes he would be jumping up and down on the spot while he was talking to you. Also, he would be so wound up before bed time that he couldn't lie still - his arms, legs and body would be jumping all over the place. The diet has certainly helped.

I have been trying out all of your recipes with great success … Once again thank you for writing "Fed Up" . It has been truly inspirational and has certainly answered a lot of questions for me. "Fed Up" is my bible and I never go anywhere without it.

Even though I thought we had pretty much eliminated most additives and preservatives from our diet I was appalled to learn that we could do more. I've always made our meals from scratch, baked my own cakes and bikkies, and for the last year have made my own bread. Then to learn that the tomato-based meals such as spaghetti bolognaise, lasagne, lamb ragout and even the soups I made could be the cause of our 11-year-old son's incredible temper made me feel completely inadequate. Until recently, his ADHD has been fairly well controlled, but for the last year he has been almost unbearable at school, although his behaviour at home has remained fairly constant. In desperation, after searching the internet, I decided to try him on Efalex, and his behaviour at school really improved. We noticed that he reverted to this old behaviour when I ran out of the capsules and he hadn't had them for a week, so quickly decided to keep up that regimen. Then your book was recommended to me by a fellow parent who had been having great success with it for her daughter. What a revelation. Both my husband and I have family histories with asthma, skin rashes, allergies, rhinitis, sinusitus - you name it. My son embraced the program and being the person he is read the book even more thoroughly than I did and was a great help with the shopping and preparation. Tell me, do they sometimes have some kind of withdrawal? [yes] We started the diet on the holidays, so we had a good chance to get everything under way with little distraction, and as always he was off his Ritalin. He almost literally was
bouncing off the walls, woke every day as grumpy as a bear which was unusual for him, and was easily annoyed by everyone around him all the time … I also found that my sinuses were really blocked and I had an almost continual headache from day three to day 7. Just as my patience was stretched to the limit, and I'd come to the conclusion that we may have to scrap this or see what we were doing wrong with the diet, my son woke up the next morning his usual cheerful self and was much calmer and less excitable than he had been the previous week. My sinuses also cleared up. My daughter who is 13 has been having a ball making all the lollies as she has a sweet tooth and they have always been a restricted item in this house. Our biggest drawback came the day of our youngest's birthday. I had all FAILSAFE foods except for the cake … even though I allowed my son the smallest imaginable piece with very little icing on it the effects were catastrophic. He raged and ranted and the tantrum was like nothing I've ever seen with swearing and screaming - well you get the general idea, and this was 5-6 hours after eating the cake!!! I never imagined anything so bad. But the next day he was as sweet as he could be with no other ill effects, other than a father who wanted little to do with him. Luckily all the guests had well and truly gone! … Thanks again …Reader, by email

I am currently reading your book "Fed Up". I have a 3-year-old as well as an 8-month-old whom I'm breast-feeding. Both my children have suffered with severe colic and reflux as well as skin allergies. I have been convinced for a while now that it had something to do with their diet. I did not know where to start in finding out what may be the cause as every doctor that I have been to see just wanted to give me more medication. I have started both my children as well as myself on the elimination diet. It has been three days now and I am noticing a big change in my 3-year-old's behaviour where she is not depressed when she wakes in the morning. My 8-month-old has stopped vomiting. Last night I actually got to sleep six hours straight without having to see to the baby two or three times … I would like to seek help from a dietitian who agrees with the elimination diet … Thank you so much for your book. It makes so much sense to me.

I have a 2 year old son who has had many problems with behaviour (including being kicked out of the local creche at the age of one), until I read your book and did the elimination diet. Even my doctor is amazed at the difference. - reader, email

More Articles ...

  1. [073] General Developmental Delay (September 2000)
  2. [074] Frequent ear infections (September 2000)
  3. [075] "sort of handleable until he started school" - 6 yr old boy (September 2000)
  4. [076] If you don't eliminate enough, the diet will be ineffective (September 2000)
  5. [077] no help at all from the so-called 'specialists'! (September 2000)
  6. [078] stopped the loud and endless chatter (September 2000)
  7. [079] "Changes in attitudes and behaviour" (September 2000)
  8. [055] "If you think it's difficult in Australia .." (July 2000)
  9. [056] "Never going back" (July 2000)
  10. [057] "I'm truly disgusted by the lack of clean food" (July 2000)
  11. [058] 282: "An extreme difference in behaviour" (July 2000)
  12. [059] "Everyone doing better" (July 2000)
  13. [060] "I have not enjoyed one bit of those months ..." (July 2000)
  14. [061] "reported to child protection agency" (July 2000)
  15. [062] Drew's story - sleeping, colic, ear infections, then behaviour problems at school (July 2000)
  16. [063] "what are we going to do with the little #@$%^$# ?" (July 2000)
  17. [064] "My husband and I nearly split up" (July 2000)
  18. [049] "I would once have thought that this was coincidence" - 8 year-old boy with ODD (June 2000)
  19. [050] "Dramatic changes since first being tested " (June 2000)
  20. [051] "My success thanks to your books" (June 2000)
  21. [052] "My 13 yr old went into the terrible twos and has never come out!" (June 2000)
  22. [053] "Amazed and horrified at what we have been feeding our families " (June 2000)
  23. [054] "Answers disappear in back of head" (June 2000)
  24. [038] "one day the government will realise that food chemicals are a problem" (May 2000)
  25. [039] "They said we would be wasting our time" using diet for ADHD and ODD (May 2000)