I was at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne today and was so pleased to see copies of Fed Up just inside the door of the child health information centre in a prominent spot and a book list of recommended reading listed Fed Up and Friendly Food. I wish it had been there when I was back and forth with my son as a baby getting no help at all from the so-called 'specialists'!

After a lot of trying to find someone down here in Melbourne to help me through the diet, my son and I went to the RPA Allergy clinic in Sydney who were really wonderful. We have been on the diet now for 7 weeks and already have had great results. Some foods have been forever banned from this house. The change is remarkable both in behaviour but also how my son himself feels. He now sits quietly, will read for himself, and has stopped the loud and endless chatter. Given the choice now he will not eat or drink anything that is not on the lists and asks if it will make him feel "all upset". Indeed as the amount of planning involved is quite detailed. The whole house now eats from the FAILSAFE lists and all of us feel heaps better.

My family of 6 lives in a particularly small wheatbelt town in Western Australia, and by using your book 'Fed Up' as my bible, I too have seen changes in attitudes and behaviour. So much so, I am now helping other local families with recipes and menu plans that I have found successful. For a township of 350 people, 'Fed Up' has been the most asked after book at our local newsagency! - reader, email

I am an American living in Australia who, by chance, saw a report about the "Elimination Diet" and its positive effect on children with aggressive behavior and ADD. At the end of the report they gave the name of your book "Fed Up", which I bought and have read from cover to cover.

How I wish I had been able to have this information when my children were growing up, specially my son, who was told by teachers constantly that he was lazy and what a shame that was because he was so smart. He was finally tested and diagnosed to have an ADD when he was 18 years old. This test was done only at our insistence and expense because school officials insisted there was nothing wrong with him. He was offered Ritalin, which he refused to take. Needless to say he failed when he decided to go to College. He is now married and his oldest son (now three years old) is already showing some of the behavior my son showed at that age. I could give many examples about family members with allergy, either environmental or food related. In other words, I am convinced that many of us would benefit from this diet. If you think it's difficult to get someone to listen about it in Australia, you have no idea how hard it is to get someone to listen about it in the U.S. - reader, email

I read your book - it's fabulous!! Lots of the symptoms you mentioned in the book sounded all too close to my 5 year old daughter. We have been worried about my daughter's behaviour for some time and her "angel one minute devil the next" behaviour leads us to get professional help for her late last year. Didn't really help much. Can't say the same about your book! Great ! Since a change in her diet as per the suggestions in your book she is absolutely a new child! Happy all the time! Her change in behaviour was almost immediate and we are never going back! Even at 5 years old she can remember how she used to get and how she couldn't stop herself being like that and she hated it. Can't thank you enough and I have been spreading the word around here so I hope you have been selling lots of your books! -reader, Canberra

I've been idling with the diet for a few weeks, just replacing a few things here and there, avoiding the obvious colours preservatives, bread etc .... until the big birthday party on Saturday. My goodness what a hangover the kids have - really notice the difference in my four year old's concentration span when she practices the violin - it is as though she can't hear me! She does not have ADHD, in fact she's been accepted into a program for the gifted. I'm truly disgusted - by the lack of clean food. I reckon the GST is a good thing. - reader, email

I am currently reading your amazing book, Fed Up. I must commend you on a job extremely well done. I honestly never realized that there could be such an emphasis on the food we eat contributing to a range variety of illnesses and behavioural problems. As a mother of two - a girl 6yo and a boy 3yo - I have noticed an extreme difference in the behaviour of my son just by changing the bread which we eat to not include preservative 282. I am sure by the end of your book and after implementing the Elimination Diet there will be many changes - all for the better.

Thanks again for making me more aware and for your great recipes - they are a treat for the whole family - reader, email

"Everyone in our family is doing much better on the diet. We have been able to get our son off Ritalin, and my little one potty trained at last. She is coming along in leaps and bounds. My husband actually can stay awake and has a personality again. And my blood pressure is the lowest it has been in nearly seven years. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou!!!

PS. I think we should send a copy of Fed Up to Oprah! Imagine if she got behind FAILSAFE????

- reader, USA

I bought your book, "Fed Up", yesterday. I read half last night, and am very anxious to start the elimination diet. My daughter is 9mths old. I have not enjoyed one bit of those months. Every night is miserable, and days are small catnaps. I was told she had reflux, but I believe that it is the result of something else. Everything I have read in your book has made sense. I intend to start the eating program asap ... I know there is a beautiful child inside ... - reader, email

I am the mother of a four-year-old boy who we always suspected of being a little too lively. Lately his behaviour has worsened with very loud and frequent tantrum type behaviours, and despite all the tactics employed such as ignoring these outbursts we were having little success. Last week our local G.P who suggested that we should try a diet ... our son's behaviour has noticeably improved even with the few changes we have been able to implement so far and we are thus eager to continue on this successful road. Our son has not been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder as most of the time he is just wonderful with no problems with attention or concentration etc. Yet these outbursts are very acute and sudden in onset and we are obviously concerned to go out too often as when this occurs as other people disapprove of our management as parents. On one occasion when our son threatened to run out onto a busy road in front of ongoing traffic I yelled out to him to get away from the road as I was not close enough to physically remove him. His tantrum continued and the next day we discovered some person had reported us to the child protection agency as being unfit. As you can imagine this has been the most upsetting part of trying to control his behaviour ... as often people ignore our explanations of his outbursts and refuse to believe a child can act this way. I believe we are excellent parents. My partner is a teacher and I am a nurse yet neither of us are feeling very successful in these roles at present in relation to our own child. Educationally he is doing wonderfully ... it's just this aspect of his behaviour we are concerned about. - reader, email

My son, Drew, was always a challenge. He was a difficult baby. I remember a paediatrician smiling at me one day and saying "oh he's advanced". I was quite pleased until I realized this meant "hyperactive"!

He never slept, had colic and frequent ear infections. He also had child hood allergies. At 6 months my milk dried up (probably stress related) so I decided to put him on a bottle and was advised to try Nan formula. He was never a good feeder and it took me hours to get him to take to the bottle. There was no help from the infant nurse unless I wanted to continue breast-feeding. I was basically told I was on my own. Finally, success, he drank from the bottle. I put him down for a snooze (wistful thinking really). About 10 minutes later he was up crying and covered head to toe with hives. He had reacted to the formula!! I could go on but I suspect you can fill in the blanks about his early childhood.

Anyway, trouble really started half way through pre-school. He was constantly in trouble and his teacher held concerns about his ability to cope with school. I decided at this point to go for the head in the sand approach, you know, ignore it and it will go away. Well, that didn't last long. I spent most of his kindergarten year watching my beautiful happy loving boy turn into a resentful angry defensive child. He ran away, hurt the other children, destroyed his work, threw things at the teacher and so forth. Like your daughter (yes I've read your books) he could also be one of the most beautiful charming little people, a real contradiction. The school believed in sending the child home and lecture the mother on her poor parenting whilst making no effort at all to try and help. Every time I tried to enlist their help they hid behind POLICY!! I did many parenting courses, had a hot line to the parent support line (once when I was really upset as he had taken to urinating on his 8-month-old sister they said "hmm sounds like a discipline problem" ) and also enlisted the help of a paediatrician. It got to the stage that I wouldn't put the bin out for fear that the school would call whilst I was out. In his first two years at school I lost count of how many times I had to front up to collect him. A friend of mine (I wouldn't have survived this time with out her ) kept telling me how much Drew reminded her of her son whom at that time had been diagnosed with ADHD. I kept saying "Yes, but he can concentrate when he wants to" and "But he's not always like this".

Year 1 started with promise. He seemed to settle down a bit and for the whole term I didn't get any calls to collect him, that is, until about 2 weeks into term 2 it all started again but this time with a vengeance!! It occurred to me that his worst terms were in autumn and spring. I had thought "Allergy" before but been discouraged by the paediatrician (I didn't understand about allergy and food sensitivity in fact I had never heard of food sensitivity). This time I insisted on allergy testing, Drew lit up like a Christmas tree - all grasses, dust mites, cats, peanuts, in fact just about everything except cockroaches he reacted to! My paediatrician was surprised at the result hence my introduction to the big wide world of food sensitivities. With the aid of a dietician and my paediatrician I embarked on the elimination diet. To sum it up, that term Drew was invited to the principal's lunch - the highest honour - and yes I sent him with his own food. The trials showed
that most of his problems were to do with salicylates (he used to eat a lot of salicylate rich foods) also some food colourings and preservatives his tolerance was reduced during spring and autumn due to the added problem of his environmental sensitivities.

Unfortunately for Drew diet alone wasn't enough. I found whilst I could guarantee bad behaviour if he ate the wrong things I couldn't guarantee good behaviour if he didn't. A week into term 4 and still on a controlled diet he got into trouble. I shan't air all my grievances about that school but after one I believe unfair suspension and yet more calls to collect him I withdrew him from the school. When I told the school that he would not be returning, the deputy head said, "Well, I think we will all feel a lot safer". However hurtful her comments (made I might add in front of my son) it did serve to make what was a difficult decision so much easier. I kept Drew out of school until the following year when he started at a new school.

I fell in love at first interview with his new wonderful head mistress. I had made them aware of his problems behavioural and academic (he was well behind). But I was not prepared for the caring and support that this school offered. Within the first week the counsellor - another gem - had run a WISC test discovering that whilst Drew has no learning difficulties per se he had difficulty with oral instructions (common I now realize among ADHD children).

She also lent me a book soon to become my saviour: "Different Kids". It was through reading this that finally the pieces started to fall into place. I read up on ADHD. It was really quite spooky the number of times I thought, hey, that's just what Drew does. I also attended yet another parenting course, this time however it was "Parenting your ADHD child". It was wonderful to talk to other mothers. The more I learnt the more I realised that Drew did have ADHD.

The new school was not a solution to all Drew's problems by any means. He still had his trouble. The first (and only) time he ran away, he came all the way home. I was speaking to the principal when he turned up she said "well bring him back"... I was stunned but not nearly as gobsmacked as I was when I brought him back and she gave him a pep talk to let him know that she had faith in him and she was going to help him. Within minutes the defiant look was gone and she had him eating out of her hand. I went home with my mouth still hanging open, I was so used to schools telling me to take him away it was bizarre to have one actually tell me to bring him back!

It has taken a long time and a lot of work including sending him to a behavioural center (yes he had food sensitivities and ADHD but he also had years of being the bad kid always in trouble. He used to cry to me that "I try to be a good boy but I don't know how. I'm just not a good boy".) For the first time in years I am starting to see my beautiful happy loving son again.

I recently joined the ADHD support group and I was delighted when I found out that you were going to be speaking. You are an amazing woman who has given so much to so many people. I am sure I am not the first and I know I won't be the last to say THANK YOU!! You helped me to see in language that I could understand (without a Ph.D. that is) what was happening to my son and how to help him. I would like to speak to others about food sensitivities if I can prevent even one child needlessly suffering as my son did. Once again, thank you for all that you do. - Deborah, Canberra

Our 8 year old son has been on the elimination diet for almost 18 months as a result of my wife reading your book and discussing "what the hell are we going to do with the little #@$%^$#" with our doctor. The turnaround was to say the least amazing (I expect more so from his teachers), although nothing surprising as far as you're concerned, I'm sure. Keep up the good work. - reader, email

Thank you for your book "Fed Up". My son is 9. He has been a handful basically all his life. It got to the stage a few months ago where I thought I would lose it altogether. We have two other children. The fighting between him and his brother who is only 4 was incredible. It was non-stop. My husband and I nearly split up over our son's behaviour, not knowing what to do for him. I read an article in our local paper and bought your book. We are now in the third week of the diet and already a big improvement. We knew from an early age that diet was a big part of our son's problems but doctors said no way, he is borderline ADD/ADHD. We just didn't get any answers. We have the booklets from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital but didn't have the support or knowledge on our own to do the diet successfully. Thank you for your book. It has been a big help and our counsellor now thinks we might need a dietician after all this time. Again thank you very much. - reader, NSW

I have just read your book "Fed Up" and it makes a lot of sense. My husband and I have an 8 year old boy and 6 year old daughter. After reading the book, we realise that our son has oppositional defiance. I spoke to his teacher yesterday. She could not understand that he would behave in any sort of aggressive way or be so defiant at home. She said that he only needs to be told once to do something, never has any problems in class or at school ... We took the family to a child psychiatry service because we were so concerned about our son's behaviour and not being able to discipline him, and also because he has many irrational fears. We had help to get him used to new situations and heights but on a number of occasions were told that his behaviour (when seen by the staff) was "normal sibling rivalry" and by adjusting our ways of dealing with situations we could help change the behaviour. It did help a little. Two weeks ago I decided that we would cut out additives. The Sunday night before I gave the children the remaining packets of Twisties ... of course our son was ballistic within a short period of time. (We never have cordial or fizzy drinks in the house and rarely consume icecream or desserts at home). We had a good week, with no incidents worth mentioning. I did not have to ask him to settle down while he was at swimming lessons! On Sunday I was planning to implement the diet the next day so let the children have a sausage with tomato sauce and bought bread (I have been making my own for a number of years now); also had a small piece of iced sponge cake and a small amount of trifle. Our son went ballistic again and was told to go to room and calm down. He was "escorted" to his room, uncooperative, yelling abuse, head butting, punching, screaming, banging walls – uncontrollable. Next morning he was up bright and early and happy as a bird. In fact in the last nearly two weeks he has been up before my husband leaves for work at 7.00 am whereas before I had to wake him at 7.30 am. He is now getting ready quickly and is very happy – he used to be such a grump that you couldn’t look sideways at him. And this is not quite two weeks! However, last night I cooked a casserole and did all the wrong things. I added tomato paste and soy sauce. The children also had orange juice. This morning our son had his breakfast OK but from then on dawdled and fidgeted and played and was only just ready, with my help, in time to leave for the bus. He was surly and sulky at the bus stop and would not join us but kept kicking a signpost. I would once have thought that this was coincidence but after reading your book cannot think that it is anything but food related. Thank you for showing us that there are ways to help our children. We will give it a proper trial. Thank you once again for showing us a light! - reader, NSW

My 8 year old son has been FAILSAFE for nearly two years and recently re-visited the educational psychologist he saw before he started the diet. She couldn't believe what a different boy he was ... he sat through the two hours of testing and tested very high. Spelling was the only one right on his chronological age. Reading was more than four years ahead and comprehension nearly five years ahead. Wow!!! She couldn't believe his concentration and general disposition, so different from the wriggly, difficult to test child two years ago. As she said in her summing up."This young man has made DRAMATIC changes since first being tested." I firmly believe it is the diet and as runner up the hard work he has put in during extra tuition. - reader, NZ

I am thrilled to at last found you on 'the net', the reason being my success thanks to your books. I had always suspected that foods and additives were a contributing factor in my son's behaviour and as I have always had a very additive free diet I was at a loss as to what could be reduced from our diet. Unfortunately we were huge fruit eaters. My children were always given a nice peach or whatever was in season, in preference to lollies etc. During the drought year of 1995 we noticed a remarkable improvement in his behaviour, the reason ( as we now know) was that all those lovely raspberries, boysenberries, peaches etc, just weren't available to us.

Anyway I could go on for pages about the struggle to be believed by doctors and all the other professionals we came in contact with, until my mother found "Different Kids". We knew we were onto something and when finally I'd relented and tried dexamphetamine (against my better judgement, just to give me a break), it was not a success and I was determined to try the diet in a really serious way. Term 3 was our trial period, by week 5 I was beginning to despair, not a lot was changing, enter Efalex, and there was a big improvement, week 8 into the combined trial and I was still not convinced until his teacher came out one afternoon and said "what have you done, he is a changed child!" Bingo!

We've stuck with the diet ever since. Of course we lapse occasionally and we all pay the consequences, but it is a good reminder of how bad things were. He is by no means an angel now, but I no longer hate him. He went from a child in a remedial reading class to one of the top 5 in his year over that term. My main struggle now is convincing other parents and medical 'types' that it is worth trying diet before drugs ... - reader, NSW

I am a mother of two diagnosed ADHD boys, ages 13 and 11. Both are on Ritalin and Catapres. They have been on medication for some time, which is a path both my husband and I didn't and still don't feel comfortable with. I bought your book today and read the introduction and part of chapter one, and my mouth just dropped at what I was reading. I read this back to my husband when he came home from work and his reaction was the same as mine. More to the point, it was the very first page when you were talking about Rebecca and her behaviour. My 13 yr old went into the terrible twos and has never come out! Both my husband and I are as the book is titled "FED UP". We have tried many other avenues but to date nothing has worked. I must admit I am only onto chapter two and I am fascinated by what you are saying ... Thank you for "FED UP".

I have just finished reading "Different Kids" and am halfway through "Fed Up" - what an eye opener! I am amazed and horrified at what we have been feeding our families over the last 30 years or so. Please keep up the good work of letting people know the truth. I have already passed "Different Kids" on to a friend at work whose young son is struggling at school and am planning to pass it on to anyone who will stand still long enough to listen to me!! ... Thank you once again for
a couple of great books and some life-saving information! - reader, Adelaide

Thank you SO much for your amazing eye opening book Fed Up. My husband and I were FED UP with the doctors recommending that we put our wonderful nine year son on Ritalin when a mum from school gave me your book to read. That was a little over a week ago and we are all on the FAILSAFE diet and for the FIRST time this year our son came home with a Mintie (which of course he told his teacher he would have to check with his Mum if he could eat!) and we have had TWO notes from his teacher to tell us how well he is doing at school. All this when since the beginning of the year he has hardly done a bit of school work. He has dreamt his way through the year! I asked him today if he felt the diet was working and he said that he was no different because he always knows the answers except that now they don't disappear into the back of his head!!!!!!! - reader, Qld

We currently have three boys aged from 5 downwards and have been doing the diet for 2 years now. It has given us sanity. We would both like to take this opportunity to thank you for the two books you have written as this has given us a chance to treat our three boys drug free and this means a great deal to us.

Keep up the fantastic work you are doing and I hope that one day the Federal government will pull their heads out of where ever they are and realise that this is a problem and do something about it so other people can receive the same sanity we have received from the knowledge that you have passed on. - FAILSAFE father

My eight year old son was recently diagnosed ADHD and ODD by three different doctors. All three doctors said we would be wasting our time altering his diet and that the only thing to do was to prescribe drugs.

We didn't want to put him on drugs but my wife and I were at our wits end, our son was becoming more and more of a handful, I must admit I was about to give up and take the doctors' advice.

We bought your book "Fed Up" and started the diet. My God, the improvement was almost instant. He changed from an aggressive and argumentative little creep to a loving and caring little boy almost immediately. My wife, myself, our other two children and most of all our son's teacher are amazed. We have stuck to the diet and there have been no hassles in the home or the classroom for several weeks. Although last weekend we took the kids out for the day and bought them each a bottle of Schweppes lemonade. Within half an hour our son was back to his aggressive old self ... learned a lesson there. He now realises that some things make him cranky and steers away from them, after all, he says he doesn't like being his angry self.

Sue, we don't know how to thank you. You have changed the lives of not only our family, but the other kids in our son's classroom, who I'm sure are as grateful as we are. - concerned father, ACT

On Day 2 of the elimination diet, which I forgot about in a moment of sheer flustering, I gave my daughter Laura (aged 4) a ham sandwich on normal bread. Before the ill-fated sandwich she had drawn a picture which we have named "preham sandwich". Then later that afternoon she drew another picture (after spending a horrible bad tempered afternoon together) which we named "postham sandwich". Quite a difference wouldn't you say! and I just thought it was my son who needed the help! - Lynda, NSW

   Post ham

  Pre ham

I would like to let you know that within one day of removing the following from my sons diet, all of which he ate on a daily basis in large quantities, he had started to change noticeably: chocolate flavouring, chicken roll, preserved bread (282), cheese slices, tomato sauce. For a long time people had asked me why my son didn't have constipation when he consumes copious amounts of milk and up to 24 slices of cheese at a time, as well as up to six Fruche in a sitting! I was amazed to find that his motions have changed considerably since removing the above items! He is still having large amounts of milk but I think I may have to exclude this too if his shiners don't disappear. - Reader, by email

I have a family, both maternally and paternally, of very happy, giving people who are easily angered, overreactive, bored, fidgety, highly strung or vague. I also have a history of either myself or a relative with asthma, sinusitis, rhinitis, excess mucous, eczema, hives, itchy crawly skin, headaches, migraines, lethargy, anxiety attacks, depression, colic, reflux, stomach aches, bloating, wind, dyslexia, food reactions, mouth ulcers, bedwetting and growing pains. What chance did I or my son have in missing out on food allergies and intolerances? It is a shame that we didn't know the links between all of these symptoms and food intolerances. There have been two suicides and one diagnosed schizophrenic who tried many times to take his own life. I read your book as soon as I could get my hands on it. If only my family had been aware of these things years ago there may have been a few lives saved as well as a lot of sanity! - Reader, NSW

We have only been on the elimination diet for just over 1 week and already my son is very cooperative, less aggressive, trying very hard, more coordinated, happy on waking all the time, listening and responding, throwing fewer tantrums and his speech has improved dramatically. All this with known mistakes! One of his Kindy Gym instructors (who only sees him for 1 hr/week) asked me last week 'what I had done to him'. He was cooperative, obedient and trying to do things he had refused to try previously. - Reader, by email

I have just started my daughter (4) on the FAILSAFE diet. I didn't really expect to see any change in her behaviour, I was a bit sceptical but I thought it was worth a try. She has been on it for three weeks now. She used to drink up to 15 litres of apple juice cordial a week. She does not have ADD, from my observation, but I think she may come into a category of ODD and a bit hyperactive. We have seen much improvement in both areas ... I have also noticed that I am less tired on the diet. I love my daughter but she has always been difficult to stand up to and her behaviour pushes me away. I have found that we are now getting on better and I feel closer to her as she is not yelling at me and opposing me all the time. I kept waiting for the day when she would grow out of her stages of behaviour, but I think I have finally found the answer. ... Thanks for a terrific book . I have bought it for a couple of my friends I was so impressed with the results - Nurse, by email

Your book has been very informative and helpful for me, my daughter and my grandson. It answers questions that I have been looking for over the past 10 years for allergies and health problems. - Reader, NSW

I have just finished reading "Fed Up" and "Different Kids". You are a very special lady. You and your family have been through so much and have come so far. And you're out there educating and giving support to other families.

We often go through life not letting people know how much a difference they have made in our lives. I wanted to let you know that you have made a difference in my life and many others' lives also. You have truly contributed to the community. I hope you feel the love and appreciation from all the people you have helped. – Beth, Sydney

I have read far and wide on the topic of food intolerances and I must say that your book 'Fed Up' is brilliant. I can't put it down. I feel the love of your family, the wonderful times you have together (especially in the outdoors, something I miss terribly over here), and the incredible drive you have, come through so well in your writing. It is also informative and meticulously researched and referenced. - Reader, Japan

Many thanks to the thousands of people who have written since A Current Affair. As I read your messages I wish that politicians, food regulators, food manufacturers, school tuckshop managers and health professionals could be here with me to see for themselves what foods are doing to our families. I'm sorry we don't have room for all your stories.

Our oldest son attends a Montessori preschool and his teacher had been concerned from day one over a few of his little habits. In November 1999 he was assessed because he has always been an over emotional child and his concentration was not developing like his teacher expected. He was also rolling his eyes when doing work at school and he was starting to fall behind. At no time did anyone (teacher or assessor) think ADD / ADDH was a problem. Needless to say our feet hit the ground running since that assessment.

First stop was diet. The lady who did the assessment recommended getting both our children off additives immediately and reducing dairy and wheat. We were lucky to get into Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Allergy Clinic a few weeks after the assessment. By then we had totally removed additives, dairy and wheat from the children's diet. I'm sure anyone that has gone through this will remember the shock of those early days. Did we really eat that unhealthy? What was left that we could eat?

Within three days after removing additives, wheat and dairy from the children's diet our children transformed into angels. Our son and daughter had always fought. After three days there was no fighting. They were settled and calm within themselves. They slept longer. They ate more. The teachers at school wanted to know who possessed our son. All of a sudden he was focused, able to concentrate and more sociable. Parent's of his friends noticed the change. His 5 year old friends noticed a change. Of course no one believed us it was due to a major diet change. After

all, bread is good for you! The children have done the elimination diet and we have been steadily challenging food chemicals. Judging by the reaction from our dietician our children are not fitting the usual reactions. The children have had no physical reactions. All reactions have been behaviour related. Wheat made both children aggressive, giddy and unfocused. Cow's milk (both with lactose and without lactose) made both children emotional basket cases however they had no reaction to tasty cheese. We think they reacted to cow's milk yogurt but we are going to retest. I know they reacted to ice cream also. Our dietician explained that an emotional reaction to cow's milk has been observed so we weren't imagining things. Currently the children are being tested on additives from unlabeled capsules. Our son’s first test was food colouring. Even without a label the additive was obvious when I broke open the capsule. Within minutes he reacted with hyperactive energy. I believe his teacher had one of the worst days in her teaching career that day! She told me never ever ever give him that again. He was unfocused, talking non-stop and could not concentrate. It took three days to get out of his system.

A few things have amazed me through our food testing experience. Once the chemicals are out of the diet the reactions when the chemical was re-introduced has been over the top. How could the children have ever eaten those chemicals before and we did not see the reactions? Once you start from a clean slate and looking at one chemical at a time the results are amazing. I'm also amazed how many foods contain unsafe chemicals. Has anyone ever tried to buy corn chips with
no anti-oxidants? Not many edible choices out there. Lucky we're not corn chip people! I am also astonished how long it takes for the children to regain their angelic natures after a food challenge. RPA gives approximately three days but we found it takes at least one week for the bad stuff to get out of the children's systems.

I am convinced that our children are not the only children with food intolerances. I think all children have food intolerances but parents are living in denial. I speak to friends and they all agree that their child should cut back on this or that food. No one has the commitment to do this unless they have reached crisis point. We knew our son was a high needs / high returns child from day one but we never thought that food intolerances were part of the equation. We now see that unless your child has a good clean diet then they have no chance to reach their potential.

Our son’s overall problem is neurological. His birth was very bad. It appears that structural damage prevented parts of his brain integrating hence the result is he has problems getting information out. He has seen a cranial chiropractor, a behavioural optometrist and a kinesiologist plus weekly visits to a neurodevelopment therapist. The bottom line is until his diet intolerances have been confirmed and his metabolism rebuilt by the kinesiologist the neurological side will not be totally fixed.

Our daughter has been dragged along on his journey. At one stage blood tests indicated she had coeliac disease. A visit to the specialist concluded she has a strong disposition towards coeliac disease but she is not a coeliac. I was amazed that a specialist dealing with gut problems was skeptical of results from the food challenges. That specialist was recommended because he was one of the open minded ones!

Meanwhile the children are permanently off gluten, dairy (except a little cheese) and additives. We have gone back to the old fashion make it at home cooking and baking. I don't even bother with the instant gluten-free additive-free box foods. Hey, I can make a pizza base that tastes just as good from scratch. We continue with his other therapies. He's making great progress. Still up and down because the diet is still being sorted out. Our daughter is two years younger. Luckily she is young and she has not been under the scrutiny academic wise that our son has. She has had food reactions but shows no neurological problems.  The thing that frightens me most is that we live in a world of children (and adults) who are zombies due to food chemicals. All those beautiful little minds being drugged by legal chemicals in our foods. Parents who have gone through food challenges and have children with food intolerances need to educate their friends. A parent just needs to change their diet for a short time to see the proof that their child is affected by foods. - Mother, Sydney

I have been meaning to write to you for years to thank you for your books. We were on the right track with our then four year old son, Jack (now coming up to 10) when I read "Different Kids". I already suspected ADHD and knew very well that he reacted to food as do I. Jack had his first food reaction at 20 weeks gestation! I ate some of those awful red sugar-coated peanut things and he just went berserk, looping the loop and throwing himself all over the place for about an hour or so. So we were prepared.

I breastfed him for nearly three years - breastfeeding was only time I got to lie down and rest. He was a "windy" but fairly normal baby early on and I did avoid any foods in my diet that seemed to cause problems. He never liked to be left alone and would panic if put down while awake. From three months constant movement and novelty was required to keep him happy. When he was happy he was radiant and when he was not he was grizzly and constantly squirming with this giving way to frantic screaming if the boredom lasted for more than a few minutes. Out shopping, strangers loved him as he responded with such joy to any attention and he was a very attractive baby. I had to carry him on my back in a sling, the stroller was too boring, too far away from me and not social enough. I accepted all this as I had been told I was a very, very difficult baby - colic - and my expectations were therefore "realistic".

At four months I began to introduce solids - rice cereal with breast milk to mix. The novelty seemed to appeal to Jack! Then I began to mix a small amount of orange juice in with the cereal to boost iron absorption. From there I introduced apple, ripe banana, pureed vegies (broccoli, pumpkin, etc.). He wasn't so keen on this but I heard about adding cheese to make the vegies more appealing, so I did this, often using parmesan cheese as well as milder cheeses. Jack loved bolognaise sauce mixed in too. Another favourite was avocado. He loved apricot and yogurt. He had a small amount of mashed prune to counteract a tendency to constipation. I was so pleased that he ate well and proud he had such a good appetite and such an ideal diet. When others asked how he slept (pretty awfully) I could at least say, "But he eats really well".

Meanwhile our little boy was getting more and more grumpy and demanding and more and more miserable when he wasn't amused. I looked frantically for the "ideal toy" the thing that would hold his attention. Each new item was met with delight and then discarded within thirty seconds and the grizzling began again.

Jack woke at least twice a night. He was into everything and seemed to always want more - more - more. He wasn't babbling - ba ba ba & da da da at 10 months. (In retrospect, the first sign of his problems with auditory processing that later resulted in speech delay and difficulty in learning to read.) He never sat and played. He never sat! He went straight from crawling to being dissatisfied because he couldn't yet walk.

From the 4 months we put his "difficult" and unhappy behaviour down to "teething". The first tooth didn't appear until eleven months.

When Jack was four months old I ate a small amount of dark chocolate in an ice-cream and about one hour later breastfed Jack. Within half an hour he was screaming inconsolably and instead of being tense as crying babies are he just lay back in my arms in an almost relaxed way as he screamed (low muscle tone no doubt). I identified the chocolate as the most likely culprit - I'm now sure I was right. After Jack went to sleep I sat up and expressed my other breast out into a

He was still a delightful, smiling, social child as long as he had the undivided attention of someone and a constant stream of novelty.

I've gone into this first year in detail because it really shows most clearly what was going on even if it was not obvious at the time.

My second child, a daughter called Ellen, was born when Jack was nearly 3 and a half. Jack was delighted and adored his little sister. The pregnancy was complicated by my blood pressure going high from 23 weeks. My mother came to look after us all as I was meant to be resting as well as taking anti-hypertensive medication. My mother just couldn't take Jack's behaviour.

I had been avoiding wheat in Jack's diet as I believed I had a problem with it. (My problem was actually with calcium propionate (282), of course, but cutting out all wheat did solve my problems of fatigue and fuzziness and so for years I thought I needed to avoid wheat). For convenience we changed to normal white bread from the supermarket. Jack loved it after the drier rye bread I had used formerly. I had not a clue about the preservative in the bread. Jack's behaviour went from bad to atrocious.

Jack's behaviour was at its all-time worst between the ages of 3 and 4. It was during this time he was eating the preserved bread. He put his hand through a windowpane during a tantrum. He woke with nightmares and screamed madly about and it was impossible to get through to him.

He went to bed late, reappearing often saying he was hungry and wanting (surprise, surprise) another slice of bread. He would wake at 4.30 in the morning wanting to be entertained. The only toy he persistently liked was his ride-on car. His behaviour and manner were almost autistic but for his insatiable sociability. His speech was very delayed and I don't think he really understood a lot of what was said to him. He was however very imaginative and inventive and liked to play pretend games, but always with someone. He had no liking for being read to but preferred to have me act out stories with both of us taking roles.

Needless to say I was exhausted and miserable. We lived half an hour out of town. My husband, Nick, was at that time managing farms. It was a very similar situation to yours, I think.

Jack was going to preschool in town a few days per week. Although they did not complain about Jack's behaviour (he has never been physically aggressive towards other people, even at his very worst and he's never said "I hate you" either - he is a very gentle character) When pressed they would say he was a bit weird, hiding in the playhouse and refusing to come out when the others were sitting on the mat listening to stories and taking off outside at inside time, etc, but he was only three so a lot of immaturity was allowed for.

My mother and my husband, Nick and I discussed Jack and his behaviour and decided that his things had got much worse around the time of the change in bread type. I took Jack of all wheat. The change was astonishing. He could have his socks put on without going berserk. You could talk to him and he would act on what was said. He didn't scream through everyday tasks such as bathing, dressing etc. When he went to preschool that week I dropped him off and didn't say anything about the changes. When I picked him up the teacher approached me and said "What have you done - he's a different child - he's playing with the others and listening to us."

Just before Jack went off wheat he had been assessed by a speech therapist at the preschool. She diagnosed, as best she could -we couldn't really keep Jack in the room much less anything like on-task - a severe expressive language delay and a moderate receptive language delay. Six weeks, later when off the wheat products, was reassessed by the same speech pathologist, using the part of the test that Jack had not done due to being non-cooperative. This time he seemed to have no significant receptive language delay and was only mildly delayed in his expressive language. She said she had never seen a child change so dramatically within such a short period of time.

Of course avoiding wheat meant avoiding a lot of foods, such as sausages. So Jack's diet also became generally blander and so did Jack. He was still difficult but at least he was "on the planet" now. He was only four but used to ask me "Why am I so happy, Mum?"

After a couple of months I screwed up my courage to do a challenge for wheat. I cooked some pikelets so I knew just what had gone into them. No reaction other than a very happy child - yummy pikelets!

I challenged with bread, planning to do two-week-on -- two-week-off challenges to see if any difference was apparent. That challenge lasted for two slices of bread fed to Jack at 4.30 on a Friday afternoon (timed so as to coincide with the weekend when Nick would be about)!! Within forty-five minutes, Jack was off his brain. Screaming, upset by everything - he finally went to bed and woke at 4.30 and was off again. This reaction lasted as a major thing for three days and Jack was unsettled for at least a week afterwards. Nick strapped Jack into his car seat and spent a lot of time driving around checking the property that weekend! We have never rechallenged this one as Jack himself has no desire to repeat that particular experience and neither have we.!!

The clinic sister I went to for Ellen was very supportive of my efforts to unravel the cause of Jack's problems with diet. When I had identified bread as being a huge problem she pointed out that bread did contain a preservative. She did not know anything particular about this preservative and its effects and she only mentioned it because preservatives were believed to be a cause of behaviour problems in children. Unfortunately I didn't take this too seriously at that time - I still believed that they wouldn't put anything this harmful in our "daily bread" and therefore the preservative couldn't be that harmful.

I spent the next year or so thinking our problem was yeast. I also noticed that a lot of Italian food caused major problems and made Jack pale and blobby looking as well as affecting his behaviour.

It was around this time I found and read "Different Kids" and it all began to make sense. What I had been doing as a mixture of the observation that the blander the diet the blander the children, my little clinical-trials-with-one-(or two, three or four) participant(s) and intuition could now be done with structure. I think you saved us another three to four years of misery, money wasting and mucking about.

These days my husband says he feels better and doesn't get headaches any more. I've found I react to many things and I compete with Jack for the most sensitive-in-the-family status. Ellen reacts to salicylates by becoming easily enraged and blaming everyone for everything. She is, by the way, the most un-ADD person I've every met - highly organised, very logical, and a real old head on young shoulders -very knowing and mature and reasonable. She is also extremely bright and academically gifted especially with maths.

Jack becomes hyper and idiotic and unable to learn when he has more than moderate salicylates in his diet. His salicylate reaction is a rapid-onset-rapid- resolution-type reaction. Amines used to make him irritable and as close to aggressive as he got but these days the reaction takes the form of a migraine. Jack still has academic problems related to his ADD and particularly to his auditory processing disorder. He is on Ritalin for school. I liken it to wearing glasses and tell him his sister wears glasses at school to help her eyes focus and he needs Ritalin to help his mind focus. He takes a very small dose (1 tab then 1/2 tab three hours later) and he finds it very effective. He does not take it at weekends usually although he would have a dose if we were going to do something that required good behaviour despite being bored or to help with a task requiring concentration and organisation such as making a model etc. He also asks for a dose if he his anxious to be on his best behaviour.

We also need to apply behaviour modification techniques on a daily basis - I did a Triple P course and this has been immensely helpful in managing Jack.

To put it simply, our approach to Jack's behaviour and other problems three-tiered one: First comes diet and general good health including adequate sleep and food - this is essential as if his diet, in particular, is off then nothing else is really effective.

Second comes the behaviour modification. I believe a lot of poor behaviour in children is caused by not being able to understand their environment. It seems to me that all effective behaviour modification systems provide not only rewards and punishments but more importantly they organise and simplify the social environment for all players. This consistency enables children who have trouble reading those around them to understand what is happening and they are therefore able to comply.

And thirdly, medication is the icing on the cake. It does cause Jack persistent appetite suppression and sleep problems. (The appetite suppression can be a good thing for parties though as he will only pick at plain chips and have a bit of lemonade if on medication!) Once again thank you so much for your books - and for the great website, and please sign us up for your newsletters, discussion group and kids discussion group! - Alison, Queensland

I have a story regarding flavour enhancer 635 from the eight-year old boy next door.

Last year he ate a pie bought from a bakery shop near his mother's workplace. Not only did he get the skin reaction he also suffered a life-threatening anaphylactic-type reaction with swelling of mouth, tongue and throat. The doctor (fortunately a doctor's surgery was just around the corner) who treated him said that he was probably a matter of minutes away from death. He remained on antihistamines for weeks and missed a lot of school. For days his lips protruded four inches or so! The family was unable to find out what was in the pie and so the cause of the reaction remained a mystery.

A little over a month ago this child was given two or three CC's by a friend at school. Within a short time his arms were itching and his chest was covered in red and white wheals. This reaction was not as severe as the pie incident (the dose was no doubt much lower). I think that reaction took a week to subside.

His mother has commented that this boy has had no problems of this kind until last year, although he does have a history of mild asthma. It wasn't until I was looking through your web site that I found the more-than-likely culprit. The family is very grateful. Once again THANK YOU! Surely 635 cannot go on being legal - if it was a drug it would be taken off the market or used, if deemed necessary, with extreme caution under hospital conditions, I'm sure! - Alison, Qld

[See our report of 635-associated skin rashes in Failsafe #10. Anaphylactic shock has previously been considered an IgE mediated allergic response. RPAH researchers now suggest that anaphylactoid reactions may be associated with various food chemicals including additives, see Clarke and others, The dietary management of food allergy and food intolerance in children and adults. Aust J Nutr Diet 1996; 53(3):89-94. Note also that, unlike the National Registration Authority's Adverse Experience Reporting Program for agricultural and veterinary chemicals, there is no mechanism for reporting adverse reactions to food additives. There should be! Our attempts to do this have all been met with reassurances that additives are safe, yet they are not tested for their effects on children.]

I bought your book recently at a dietician's recommendation after being diagnosed to have sensitivity to salicylates and amines. It is really easy to read and contains a wealth of information. The dietician was especially enthused about your recipes - she felt they were easy recipes and it was therefore easier for people to comply with the limitations on food types. I agree totally.  In my case, the initial symptoms included tiredness and lack of concentration, so it took a while for me to even begin to seriously consider looking at recipes - I started with a fairly standard and uninteresting diet that did not require any mental effort (rolled oats, golden syrup on toast, boiled egg sandwiches, stir fried vegetables). Now, after a couple of months, I am much more alert and awake, and interested in things.

In fact, the reaction checklist was a revelation - it revealed that things I regarded as normal were actually symptoms. And having filled out the checklist initially and again after a week on the diet, I was amazed at the difference ...

It seems from your book and website that children are the main sufferers from food intolerance. However, I know a couple of adults who have intolerance problems ... It occurs to me also that this might provide another avenue, possibly more fruitful, to continue the campaign against food additives, or at least having them tested more fully. When adults are ill, there are direct economic costs in terms of lost work time, reduced productivity, possible workers compensation claims or even superannuation costs due to early retirement due to ill health. Certainly in my case, my productivity has been down for some years due to inability to concentrate.

By contrast, children's behaviour can easily be dismissed with responses blaming parents, children or everything else but food additives. Pursuing the economic costs of irritable bowel syndrome alone may well reveal the true cost of having additives in foods. Further, once it becomes an economic issue, it is likely that further research will be done on the subject, revealing even more information. - David, Newcastle

You said you were interested to hear how our challenges went. Well, what can I say - they weren't fun times.

We challenged nitrates and amines and yes, my daughter does become irritable a day or two after eating foods containing these chemicals. Her mood only lasts around 24 - 48 hours and so this isn't too bad. I can tolerate this but as for the 282 bread challenge, I never want to see another slice of bread or crumpet or anything else that contains this preservative.

I felt cruel doing this challenge but as you say, we do need to know if she reacts to this preservative. I could see her mood slowly changing by the fifth day on the challenge and from then on it only got worse.

My food diary reads:

day 5 - cries easily

day 6 - cries easily, slightly cranky

day 7 - cries easily, sour faced (stopped challenge)

day 8 - angry, irritable, fighting with us and sibling

day 9 - foul mood

day 10 - terrible mood, irritable, cranky, easily angered

day 11 - mood still bad but improving

day 12 - bad mood, irritable, angry, stirring siblings

day 13 - irritability improving; still fires up but not as frequently

day 14 - mood much more pleasant

day 15 - pleasant child

The one good thing to come from this challenge was that it opened my husband's eyes up and he has now started reading labels and watches carefully what our children eat. - mother of two

I had to write and tell you how we are getting on. My son will receive a prize at the junior school prizegiving next week...we are just so pleased for him. He deserves it so much! It is hard to believe that this is the boy they wanted to keep back a year ... needed writing tuition and now has beautiful handwriting, wrote short boring stories and now writes amazing near novels. His reading has gone up three years in one year, his spelling four years in one year. He really has worked hard in all areas and has tried to keep within the diet.

I must say we are very proud and so pleased he will receive this trophy. Thanks for your many times of support, we know a lot of these results are because of your books and the diet and the on-going support. It is so very much appreciated. - member of the failsafe email discussion group

I just want to tell you how your book has changed our life in just five days! I had two of my children tested for educational problems as they were both very smart but were doing badly at school - just couldn't get it together and were repeating for their lack of progress. The child psychologist offered me a range of books to read whilst I was waiting for the hours to pass and I picked your book up - as I felt I had four 'different kids' without even knowing that it was aimed at ADD type of behaviour. I read the book in one sitting and then reread parts of it, reluctantly I returned it to the psychologist, who mentioned that she had suspicions that at least one of the children was intolerant to certain food chemicals (amongst other problems she has).

I then visited Dymocks and bought both your books - read 'Fed Up' in less than a day and felt ready to tackle the problem - we went shopping and explored what the chemicals were armed with your books and the code breaker book - not much to choose from but it has increased my awareness of how even though we try to maintain a healthy diet the corporations and food manufacturers are slowly poisoning us!

My children have been preservative and colouring free for about five days - a total change in their behavior and willingness to be obedient and cooperative and just really pleasant to be with, our little girl is a joy to be around with no sore belly and no temper tantrums (I have also tried to take her off as many salicylates as possible) - her sense of humour is really coming through. On Christmas day someone (well meaning of course) gave the kids a small bag of sweets and their behaviour change was reversed ... This behaviour is not just observed through me wanting change - we are currently staying with my parents and they too have noticed a difference in the kids and although scoffed at first, are also converts. - Dianne, Hong Kong

I am 23 years old and I have had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for two years now. I thought I was never going to get better. It seemed the healthier I thought I ate (lots of fruits and veges!) the sicker I became and the more weight I lost, along with many other symptoms including headaches, muscle soreness and weakness, bowel disorders. You name it I experienced it! At my lowest weight I was 32kg which was a total loss of 30kg. After being an elite athlete I can assure you this was very frustrating.

It was only when my fantastic doctor happened to come across another patient who had the same problems as me that he was pointed in the direction of the allergy clinic at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Through a dietitian there I was put on the FAILSAFE diet and dramatically improved within two days. Even though this meant that I only ate fish, rice and chicken for four months I didn't mind because I no longer had stomach pains. I am now able to tolerate most foods on the low list although not dairy or gluten. That may not sound like much but to me I can eat a huge variety compared to what I started out with.

I have managed to put on 12 kg and am almost ready to return to a bit of part time work! I can honestly say that this diet saved my life. - Emma, Sydney

Thank you for writing Fed Up.

A friend of mine showed me your book after I was speaking to her about my daughter and the problems I was having with her.

My daughter was a very short tempered, angry and defiant little 4½ year old. It got to a stage where I was so upset and couldn't understand how my sweet little girl could so easily turn into this nasty little girl.

To cut a long story short, I thought anything was worth a go and so I read your book. We have now been eliminating all the additives and preservatives that you suggest for nearly two weeks and the change in my daughter is just about unbelievable.

We may continue further into the diet as she has a terribly stuffy nose every morning.

Our whole family is now happier and healthier thanks to you.

Thank you so much for being so concerned for other people's health. You have given us our little angel back. - mother, Australia

I have just read your book 'Fed Up'. I suspect my whole family has food intolerances and would like to follow the elimination diet ... I have already had some positive results with my son by excluding preservatives and chemicals from his diet. He is much calmer and happier. Thank you so much for your book. - mother of 2, WA

Thank you so much for your book 'Fed Up'. The title jumped off the bookstore shelf at me for the simple fact I was indeed 'fed up'! The book has been very insightful for me and my family and we are eager to start an elimination diet to hopefully bring more harmony into our lives and our home! ... Thanks again for a truly wonderful, informative book. I have a feeling that we will enjoy some remarkable changes as a consequence of a dietary life change and reading your book! - mother of two, Sydney

My 6 yr old son is to be assessed at the end of this month for ADHD but after reading "Different Kids" (I'm half-way through - it's a GREAT book) I *know* what the answer is going to be.

He is an exceptionally bright child who started school this year. His reading, math and long term memory are exemplary. His teacher wrote in his mid year report that she had never met a child so young with such a broad knowledge base (I'm VERY particular about TV etc... - no mindless drivel in our house :-) . It was she who suggested he be tested as she felt his behaviour could easily impede a great potential. The first time she suggested it I brushed the idea to the back of my mind - defensive about a condition I had no knowledge of. The second time she mentioned it I decided to "look into it". I dug about on the internet first, rang support groups, and got hold of your books. Within 48 hours I was convinced she was acting in my son's best interests and the more I read the clearer it became.

I don't want him to be medicated so I am very interested in the elimination diet (I have "Fed Up" too - I just haven't got that far in my reading yet!).

I've suggested "Different Kids" to numerous people (a lot of them strangers) - some with possible ADHD kids and others with so-called "normal" children - purely for the depth of understanding and dignity you assign to "the problem".

Thanks for giving me an insight into my childhood - now I know why I did (& still do) some of the things that I did (& do) :-). - Kim

I have two children, boys aged six and three. Last year we found the oldest (Christopher) quite difficult to control. He was unable to accept 'no', he was aggressive and his temper was quite short. This behaviour did not extend outside the house. Behaviour at school was marvellous and teachers could not speak highly enough of Christopher's behaviour. It was like there were two Christophers. My husband and I felt it was not going to get any better and to try to get some help before Christopher's behaviour got way out of control.

We spent approximately four months with a psychologist, using the triple p program. Christopher's behaviour turned right around. His behaviour now is so much better, though at times, I do believe there is room for improvement. While working a couple of weeks ago, I was speaking to a lady who has a son with food intolerance, she gave me a full run down. That afternoon I started reading your book (Fed Up). It took me a day and half to read it. It is fabulous. I have contacted a dietican and am seeing her in a week or so. - Mother of 2, QLD

I am writing to thank you very much for your book 'Fed Up', and to say that our family has been on this diet since August 98. By eating 'failsafe' we have experienced great improvements in our family life. During this time my son has ceased using asthma medications, and his eczema, mood swings, behaviour, tiredness, and sinus problems have disappeared. He is now a happy, healthy and settled child. - mother of six year old, Melbourne

I have used your 'Fed Up' book for quite some time, and find it such a help. I have my little boy back, as well as my sanity! - mother of 7 year old

I spent all afternoon yesterday reading your book "Fed Up" and by chance this morning I came across the Failsafe newsletters on the web and have just finished reading them all. At times when reading your book I felt as though you may have been speaking about my family. The sibling squabbles; irritability; difficulties in getting a child to sleep; defiance; a child not helping herself get ready for school; periods of not wanting to sit and concentrate on schoolwork and homework.

I have always realised that my 7 year old daughter reacted badly to some foods, but in the busyness of life (particularly as our family has had a number of crises to deal with in the past two years) it was often easier to give and to avoid the arguments. However this would only deal with the arguments then and there and the behaviours would often kick in later.

My 7 year old has always been very active - she finds it difficult to sit/stand still (although she can sit for long periods and watch TV or read with us) and has never been easy to get to bed. In class I find that she ends up sitting on her own because she "annoys the other children" - although she will say that they annoy her first. I have often put her patches of annoying type behaviours (defiance; reluctance to help herself in terms of dressing etc; fidgeting in class; fighting with her 5 yr old sister) down to periods of unsettled family life. Whilst I think that this has had an impact I'm sure diet is also involved. In the past we have undertaken to watch our diet and have eliminated foods as dictated by a naturopath and I have found the children's behaviour to be calmer with more self control and they certainly had less colds. However, I never had an in-depth understanding of this whole area. I'm an educated women and in hindsight it never ceases to amaze me how in our private lives we do things over and over even though we know the outcomes aren't desirable eg: know the outcome of giving red lollies.

After a particularly heated run in with both my 7 year old and 5 year old and the most wonderful shopping centre tantrums - which came after lollies, iceblocks, chips and fruitjuice, I discovered your book in the book shop. I think fate may have been working at it's best.

I feel your book has provided me with a more in-depth understanding and a desire to pursue an elimination diet to see where it takes us. I have a number of concerns - especially related to the school environment and whole of family participation, especially Dad. For example - how do you get around things like cookie cooker at preschool? As you may know this is where each child takes a turn to bake/buy cookies and take them to preschool for the others to buy. I wouldn't like to isolate my child by not allowing her to participate when the others have cookies to sell.

Part 2

I realise that our issues are extremely mild compared to a lot of the families that have written to your newsletters but it is quite recognisable that the foods that my 7 year old craves are the ones that affect her. I think we will all give the elimination diet a shot. Although it was more the 7 year old that prompted me into action, after a junk food attack my 5 year old displays less than angel-like behaviour. It certainly can't do any harm - in fact it appears to me that what you advocate makes perfect healthy eating sense. You will be pleased to hear that my daughter was the cookie cooker today and all the preschoolers enjoyed failsafe cookies from your book. - Cindy, Qld

Just a short note to let you know that things are going really well and that I am becoming progressively more organised. I have been feeling fantastic lately. At uni I have been doing a lot more work than usual. I am feeling a lot more settled and focused, and I am able to memorise things a lot easier than before the diet.

Two friends whom I hadn't seen for a few months told me last week that I looked well, and one of the girls said that my eyes looked "clear"! I don't know if she meant it literally, or that I just looked more awake! - Ellas, university student

May I take this opportunity to say "THANK YOU". I still feel that I'm just a beginner with all this but I am so very appreciative of your efforts on behalf of us all. I also deeply appreciate the hard path you've trodden with your children. It sounds like a very long one, with more than its fair share of pain and loneliness. I can identify with many of the things you share re your experiences with doctors and the medical system ... the not-being-listened-to, the we-experts-know-best, the they'll-get-over it, the put-this-one-in-the-too-hard-basket and so on. Like you, I find the arrogance and indifference is sometimes utterly staggering.

By contrast, today I met a doctor who was so respectful. I found myself thinking 'where are all the other doctors in the world with a bit of humanity?' Then I felt sad that I even thought like that - but it was true. Too often I feel marginalised or discounted as a caregiver for my kids. - mother of 2, NZ

We have your books - wonderful!, changed our lives, took one of our kids off ADHD dexamphetamine because its what he eats that matters!!! We have five children and two parents on various variations of diets including gluten, dairy and additive free.

- failsafe father of five

Sue, I finally got around to looking at your web page and decided to tell you my story although I magine this sort of thing is all too familiar to you by now.

I am a middle aged male employed in a professional capacity. I have a family. For at least 25 years of my life I suffered migraine headaches. I saw doctors and specialists, I had CAT scans and no physical causes were found. In 1982 I was advised by a specialist to take large doses of aspirin together with ergotamine. I hated ergotamine. I had headaches at least every second day for many years. I took aspirin at rates of up to 2 dozen 300mg tabs a week. At one stage my doctor said I had "mild neutropenia". In the 1990s I took sumatriptin tablets (Imigran) which worked about as well as anything but were very expensive.

In 1995 ... I [found out about food intolerance]. I was ready to try anything and commenced the Elimination Diet. I had a continuous migraine for 6 days but stuck to it. I then started to improve dramatically. I have not taken an aspirin since. I take the occasional Panadol (maybe once a month on average) and this is almost always related to a dietary excursion (usually beer.)

Despite reading all the stuff about how I would improve and be able to reintroduce some foods I have stuck to the elimination diet. I have no wish to undertake challenges and no wish to start eating strongly flavoured but poisonous foods again ... I have learned to appreciate the food I eat and find a lot of enjoyment in subtle flavours.

Now the second part of this message. The more I read about food intolerance the more concerned I am getting. When I read your letter contained in Ministers.html my reaction is one of EXTREME ANGER. How can ANZFA possibly even consider softening of labelling regulations. I have been caught myself by ingredients lists that appear innocuous except for the word flavours or possibly oils with undisclosed antioxidants.

I have never written to a newspaper, never written to a politician and never even spoken to one on a serious matter except through work. However, I now feel very strongly that there must be changes made to stop food pollution.

How can a society where people will chain themselves to construction equipment to stop mining of toxic materials blithely tolerate the addition of things like BHA, BHT and TBHQ to the very food we eat. Sorry, there is no point preaching to the converted.

The point is I would like to HELP ... Of course I am very busy, but I am becoming very passionate about food intolerance issues as I read more and more. Please let me know what I can do.

[Many thanks to the writer of this letter and others like it. See 'FAILSAFE #11 http://fedup.com.au/fedup-newsletters/1999/failsaf11-october-1999  for suggestions about how you can help! ... Sue]

From the minute Daniel was born, he was a very unsettled baby. We went home on day three and I expected he would improve when my milk came in. I work as a midwife, so I had some idea of sleepless nights etc, but nothing had prepared me for a baby who screamed constantly when awake and slept very little. My mum said I had been a very colicky baby and my mother-in-law said my husband David had been an extremely colicky baby - so we presumed Daniel was the same.

After three doses of mastitis, I put Daniel on the bottle at five weeks of age. He was just as unsettled on formula as on breast milk. He continued to have several loose green bowel actions a day. The next day we left for the U.K. - my husband David was transferred over there for what was meant to be five weeks but turned into three months. I think ignorance is bliss, when I look back and see myself taking a screaming six week old baby half way across the world to live in a shoe box hotel room. In the U.K. Daniel continued to be very irritable and unsettled. He posited after every feed and only very occasionally vomited. The only place he was happy was in the bath, so we bathed him four times a day some days to keep him quiet. When I look back on my diary of this time, he began interrupting his feeds at about 8 weeks of age. A normal night out for tea (we had no cooking facilities in our room) would be David that would walk out on the pavement with a screaming Daniel while I ate and then we would swap. I remember feeling physically sick myself some nights, he would scream so much.

We visited a doctor for Daniel's immunisations and I told her of his constant screaming - she told me it was colic and that it would improve by three months of age. I started him on solids early in case he was hungry (rice cereal and tinned pumpkin) and changed to a formula for hungrier babies. He seemed better for a couple of days but then was just as bad.

When we arrived back in Australia I took Daniel to a local GP, the one I had seen as a child myself. Daniel was screaming and it was 11 am. This doctor gave me a lecture about colic (by this stage Daniel was four months old) and said, "how could there be anything wrong with a child that has such good weight gains?" I tried to explain that it was taking 1-2 hours to feed him a bottle, but he just gave me a lecture on midwives not making any better mothers. He threw a referral at me for a paediatrician on the way out the door (I think only to cover himself).

I tried making an appointment with the paediatrician, but. being Christmas, there were none available for another month. So we continued to battle on and tried Daniel on a soy formula which seemed to help for a while, but then he just went back to square one. He got worse with his feeds, arching his back. We would bang toys on his bottle to distract him. At this stage most nights he was sleeping though and I think that was the only way we survived. He continued to scream and whinge all day and I'm sure he was exhausted at night and that is why he slept. Despite all this he continued to gain weight and reach all his milestones. I lost weight rapidly and was lighter than before falling pregnant. We contemplated that he was just an attention-seeking baby because when we played on the floor, or took him somewhere different, with different toys, he was okay.

The feeding continued to get worse so two and a half months after seeing the GP, when Daniel was six months old I took him to a paediatrician He immediately diagnosed reflux and oesophagitis (inflammation and ulceration of the oesophagus) and started Daniel on Ranitidine (Zantac) which reduced the acid in the stomach, to stop the 'heartburn' type pain. I will never forget what a relief it was to get a diagnosis; little did I know that this was only the start.

Daniel's feeds immediately improved on the Zantac but he continued to be very irritable and whiny between feeds. Three weeks later we started him on Prepulsid (Cisapride) which increases the rate of the stomach emptying, but it didn't seem to make a great deal of difference. We tried him on Nutramigen, in case he was cow's milk intolerant. It seems to help for a couple of weeks, but then he just went back to the old irritable Daniel.

I had become suspicious of a few things in his diet. We went camping over Easter and I gave him a Heinz tomato based baby food - it came out the other end looking nearly same as it went in and Daniel was extremely unsettled all weekend. A booklet from a support group for reflux babies mentioned avoiding acidy foods for reflux babies so we presumed that was the reason it was upsetting him. Luckily, for this reason, we didn't give him Kiwi fruit, oranges or fruit juice.

At eight months of age he was still whingeing all day and throwing huge temper tantrums (head banging the dishwasher) so our paediatrician organised a barium swallow. He also started him on Mylanta four times a day. The first week on Mylanta he was wonderful and that week he had the barium swallow, which was normal, much to my disgust. The next week he was worse than ever. I stopped the Prepulsid at 12 months and started Daniel on cow's milk, which made no difference. At this time I went back to work two days a weeks and left my mum to cope with Daniel - there was no way a child care centre would have taken him. I think going back to work was the best thing. I would come home after my two days and feel ready to cope with another week of life with Daniel. My mum says she even dreaded him coming for the two days sometimes.

Around this time I tried a naturopath, masseur and chiropractor, but nothing really helped.

By fifteen months of age he was no better. A normal day was leaving him scream to get him to have his afternoon sleep and to settle at night. I would put him in his room several times a day on a bad day and sit for ten minutes and try to calm myself down. Normal daily talks such as cooking meals and washing were all done while he screamed.

I returned to his paediatrician and he referred us to a gastroenterologist at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne. He told us that he doubted Daniel's behaviour was due to reflux (Daniel smiled at him and played with the toys in his room!) He advised I stop the Zantac and organised for him to have a pH study (monitors acid in the oesophagus over 24 hours) and gastroscopy (tube to look at the stomach and oesophagus). After stopping the Zantac, David actually seemed a little better and stopped his head banging.

The pH study showed 'mild' episodes of reflux. His gastroscopy showed moderate to severe inflammation and ulceration of his oesophagus and suggested that there may be an allergy involved. They suggested we see the allergy department at the Royal Children's Hospital. They put Daniel on the Neocate diet. He was only allowed Neocate formula, rice, zucchini, apple, pear and potato. The doctor at the allergy department also advised me that these children get into such bad behavioural problems that once they're fed and changed you just have to leave them scream! The diet was a disaster to say the least - to try to get an 18-month-old to drink this formula, that you gag on yourself it's so foul tasting, was impossible. Daniel screamed all week and was so bad by the end of the week I had to take time off work. He was constipated from only drinking small amounts of water.

In desperation we were referred to a surgeon about the possibility of surgical correction. He wasn't convinced - so he sent us for a gastric emptying study, which was very distressing for Daniel - they put a large dome over his fact and stomach. This showed he only refluxed once. The surgeon suggested trying Losec (Omeprazol) which stops acid production in the stomach and helps heal the oesophagus. We started Losec - after about a month we noticed a big difference in his behaviour - he was a much happier little boy and he actually sat and played with toys for short periods of time - something he had never done before.

I was suspicious of food colouring and artificial additives at this stage, as some evenings we described Daniel as 'bouncing off the walls' he was so hyperactive. For this reason we only let him drink plain milk and water and filled him full of 'healthy' fruits, vegetables and cheese!

Like everything else the effect of Losec was wearing off. Daniel was starting to complain of his 'tummy burning' and pointing to his oesophagus. He required constant amusement and was general a very unhappy little boy. I was finding him nearly impossible to live with and constantly comparing myself to the other mums in playgroup and wondering why they all got so much enjoyment out of their children.

When Daniel was around two and a half years old I happened to got to a seminar through work on food intolerance and allergy run the team at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. I couldn't believe what I was hearing at the lecture - it was Daniel all over! I immediately sent away for the elimination diet books and got a copy of Friendly Food.

I started off by leaving him on dairy and wheat products. After 1-2 weeks we noticed a difference in his hyperactivity on the diet but he was still having many days of irritability and complaining of his tummy burning. His loose bowel actions were persisting. We stopped dairy products and put him on soy and we starting giving his Losec in pear jam instead of yoghurt. He had watery diarrhoea for two weeks after stopping dairy products as a withdrawal effect. Unfortunately what we didn't know was the Losec is not absorbed properly unless given in something acidic like yoghurt. After one month of giving the Losec in pear jam, Daniel's stomach pain was severe.

After being unwell for three days with a high temperature and complaining of shoulder tip pain, Daniel was finally diagnosed at the Royal Children's Hospital with pneumonia from aspirating on his vomit. (I had seen two other doctors who told me children don't know where their pain is and that he had a viral infection.) The pneumonia was in the back of his lung and was pressing on his diaphragm, which was giving him shoulder tip pain. I have never seen Daniel so sick - we thought he was going to die.

Again in desperation we returned to his gastroenterologist who advise another pH study and returning to the surgeon for fundoplication, which kinks the oesophagus to stop food refluxing back from the stomach. He felt he might have a physical problems as well as an intolerance, which caused hyperactivity. So when he was three, Daniel had fundoplication. We stopped the Losec the night before surgery. The surgery was major - four days in hospital and two days on a morphine infusion. As soon as the morphine stopped Danial started complaining of his stomach burning but now he pointed to his stomach rather than his oesophagus - the surgery had only moved the pain. We recommenced his Losec on leaving hospital. Daniel's weight had dropped from above to below average, as we struggled to maintain his nutrition on vitamised elimination diet. I hit rock bottom. I was waking at night in a sweat over what I had put him through. I rang the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Clinic in Sydney, beside myself, and they suggested that we bring Daniel up to Sydney. I only wish we had done it prior to the surgery.

At the clinic, his behaviour chart revealed that Daniel was very high for hyperactivity and learning problems and we were told we were dealing with severe food intolerance and ADD. We were advised to try Daniel off pears as he is very salicylate sensitive.

Daniel is now nearly four and in the last month he has been consistently much better. He only tolerates rice, potato, cabbage, beans, chicken, lamb, Nuttelex and restricted amounts of sugar. He is still on Losec which we have increased in the last month to combat his stomach pain. We have found he is no longer reacting as badly to perfumes since stopping pears and maple syrup. Since stopping rice bubbles his aggressive behaviour have ceased. He will actually sit and play with toys now, although his concentration is poor at times. We have tried him on Ritalin but if he's having a bad day food wise, Ritalin only makes him worse.

The last four years all seem to blur into one big nightmare but I realise I was becoming very bitter about the whole thing. I have resolved to look ahead only. Daniel is really a beautiful little boy underneath all the problems he has had. I try to make the most of the good days and not dwell on the bad days.

It is in the hope of preventing someone else living our nightmare that I do the telephone counselling for D.I.S.A (Distressed Infants Support Association of Vic) and have agreed to be the Melbourne contact for food intolerance in Sue Dengate's book Fed Up. - Jenny

"We are witnessing immediate results in a 3½ year old grandson as one of our daughters implements a watchful discipline on eating habits as a result of reading Fed Up." - John

(June 1999)

Part one

"You might be interested in part of an article in a newsletter from my son's high school. It is a fact sheet : "Attention Deficit Disorder - The Facts" written by Dr Mark Gibbeson, Behavioural Paedatrician, Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick.

It states as follows:

"MYTH: Drugs are the only treatment given to help these children

FACT : Medication is without a doubt the most effective management tool to help these children concentrate at home and at school. Dietary manipulation is of little help to most ADHD children [yawn]. Long term improvement is best achieved with the help of behaviour programs, family and teacher counselling and, of course, helping the children themselves come to an understanding of their condition as they grow older."

This article alarmed me because there was a contact number for further information and books on ADHD. You can bet your life that "Different Kids" and "Fed Up" are not on their list. I am also alarmed that these fact sheets are given out freely to parents and professionals alike really offering no other choice than to medicate.

I agree that a lot of parents would need to be helped with behaviour programs but I now think diet needs to be looked at first before resorting to medication. If the diet has been adhered to strictly, I am sure that most parents would see an improvement in their childrens' behaviour as I have seen with my son ...

It makes me angry that there are so many experts out there willing to medicate our children without first offering alternatives."

Part two (after 6 weeks on the elimination diet)

Today Jake was the best he has been, but even though I watch what he eats and drinks, I got caught. He sneaked some Sprite lemonade and I didn't know until I arrived to pick him up from after school care. The carers said his behaviour had been "ratty, obnoxious, argumentative and hyped up" all afternoon. He had told them about the Sprite. They said there really must be something in this diet thing as they had seen a rapid change in his behaviour since I had dropped him off. At this stage I hadn't seen him yet. Then Jake bounced through the door and nearly ran up the wall. It took me half an hour to get him into the car. He wouldn't listen to reason, he was totally off the planet. I will have to be so careful in the future. - Dianne

We purchased your book 'Fed Up' and started to use some of your foods mentioned and in a matter of two days we noticed a difference with our two children who are ADHD.

Our six year old was diagnosed ADHD 12 months ago. He was in the top 3% for hyperactivity. Ritalin has never been our answer but seemed to be the better of the two evils. He still finds it hard to fit in with children in his class and is often left standing alone when it comes time for the children to pick a partner. He however interacts very well with older children and all his friends at school are two or three years ahead of him. When you strip away the ADHD he is the most gentle intuitive animal-crazy kid you'd ever meet.

I had felt up until a day or two into your diet we had been robbed of the normal loving caring relationship shared by mother and son and it makes me sick to the stomach that all the so-called top paediatricians and psychiatrists have never mentioned diet, only increasing the amount of Ritalin and disregarding my theory on diet. Our son loves school, even if it comes with a few knocks. He's bright and he wants to learn so I want to do everything in my power to help him succeed and your diet works better and more consistently than Ritalin.

Our younger son is 15 months old and what a handful he is, exactly like his brother but with a temper, again the diet has helped him slow down and become more focused and much calmer to be around.

Thank you so much as it has brought our family closer. - Leesa & Stephen, NZ