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The effects of food chemicals can be very dramatic and be expressed commonly in a number of behavioural issues as well as many physical symptoms (see below).

Naturally occurring food chemicals such as salicylates, amines, glutamates and also food additives can have a strong effect on babies as well as food allergies.


Many food allergies such as dairy can reduce over the first 3 years although food allergies such as peanut allergy can persist.


Food chemical sensitivity will often still have dramatic effects for toddlers and pre-schoolers but luckily recovery is often fast. However, it can be more difficult to see relationships between foods eaten and symptoms as the child is eating much more food variety.

By school age, there can seem to be a better tolerance but recovery from food chemical symptoms now takes longer which increases risk of  more problem foods being eaten before the symptoms of the previous foods have calmed down. This can result in symptoms continuously occurring, and the food chemicals constantly topping up an already overloaded system. The 'bucket' remains full and does not get a chance to empty.

There is a wide range of symptoms that food chemical sensitive kids can exhibit but probably the most pressing symptom for which parents seek help  are the behavioural issues.

  • A child who is angry and defiant and very argumentative although you get the sense that this is not his/her true self- that he/she does does not want to be like this but cannot help it.

  • A child who is very silly and over the top- with behaviour that is just too much. 

Read on to see the other common salicylate | amine | glutamate | food additive  symptoms in kids.


Note that there is often a variety of symptoms that can affect very different systems in the body. Although single symptoms may occur, a variety is more common.


  • Stomach pain | Bloating | Excess wind/ trapped gas | Constipation or diarrhoea

  • Reflux

  • Recurrent mouth ulcers

  • Vomiting

  • Encopresis

  • Sneaky poos



  • Congestion | Sinus | Runny or blocked nose

  • Asthma

  • Hoarse voice

  • Frequent nose bleeds

  • Frequent ear infections | Frequent tonsillitis | Frequent colds & flu


  • Eczema

  • Rash | Itchy rash

  • Hives

  • Super sensitive skin

  • Allergic shiners (dark circles under eyes) + pale skin


  • Disturbed sleep

  • Wakefulness

  • Difficult to get asleep

  • Frequent night waking

  • Night terrors


  • ADHD | Hyperactive | Unable to concentrate

  • Impulsive

  • Angry out bursts | Tantrums

  • Destructive | Disruptive

  • Demanding

  • Uncooperative | Unreasonable

  • Seems to be going out of their way to be annoying to others

  • Defies rules | Defiant

  • Grizzly or unhappy | Cries easily

  • Silly behaviour (silly salicylates)

  • Vague | Forgetful


  • Bedwetting

  • Day time incontinence

  • Recurrent cystitis



  • No volume control with voice: loud

  • Speech delay

  • Speech hard to understand

  • Stuttering

  • Talks too much


  • Easily bored, unable to entertain self

  • Unmotivated | Inattentive

  • Head banging

  • Tics

  • Poor coordination | Frequent accidents

  • Sensitive to smells | Scents

Have a think about whether you or your partner or immediate family have any food issues or issues with additives such as MSG. Usually these things run in families, they are just more evident in babies and kids.

Only through taking out the salicylates, amines, glutamates and certain food additives and doing specialised food challenges can you truly find out if food chemicals are affecting your child.

If this resonates with you, ring up for a chat to see if food chemical sensitivity may be worth considering for your kids.



1. Joy Anderson. Food-sensitive babies: dietary investigation for breastfed babies. Specialist Dietetics and Lactation services, 2016.

2. Joan Breakey. Tolerating Troublesome Foods, 2012. 

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