Patricia Goeldner Honorary Secretary
The Queensland Allergy & Hyperactivity Association,
PO Box 107 Yeronga 4104 Brisbane Queensland Australia. Phone / Fax (07) 3848 2321.
I have been involved as Honorary Secretary to the Queensland Allergy and Hyperactivity Association for twenty two years. I have spoken to many thousands of mothers when they phone and seek help or advice, usually for a child who is not doing well at school, fights with family members and other children, and seem unable to respond to discipline or any advice offered. The child is unhappy, has few friends, can't learn at school or play, and causes great unhappiness and stress in the family, particularly between Mum and Dad. The mothers I speak to desperately want to help their child because they love him. They ask "Could my child be food sensitive?" "Will diet help to control his behaviour and constant ill-health, like his sore throats and runny nose?" "Is he allergic? If so, to what. . . and what foods could he be allergic to?" My advice to any Mother is to try an elimination diet first to see if there is a change in the child. There is nothing to be lost and everything to be gained. Mothers have wept with relief and gratitude when describing the change in the child after investigating food sensitivity and identifying what the problem foods are. Results can be so positive. Many, many thousands of families have had this wonderful experience, and had a turn-around for the better in the development and maturity of their child. Many families who have passed through the Association over the last twenty two years, have learned how to stay healthy by using a preventative health nutrition program, after identifying just what foods they are sensitive to. Joan Breakey's book - ARE YOU FOOD SENSITIVE - is a wonderful compilation on the "how to look" for food sensitivity . Joan has worked in an advisory capacity with many of our families in the Association since 1976 and is a most competent, professional and highly skilled dietitian, with expertise specialising in the field of diet therapy for allergy, behaviour, mood, learning and activity problems. I recommend ARE YOU FOOD SENSITIVE to learn how to help your child and to have good health, also for adults.
Catherine Saxelby, Dietitian and Consultant Nutritionist.
"Are you food sensitive?" contains a wealth of information for both dietitians and people who wonder if they are food sensitive. It has detailed diet information as well as all the explanations that only an experienced dietitian can provide. It provides an update on what to minimise or exclude, and how to incorporate the family sensitivity history. Here under one cover is a wealth of information from a dietitian whose long experience in this complex area of diet therapy shows.
Karen McVilly. The Hyperactive
Children's Association of Victoria [ACTIVE Inc].
Ross House 247 Flinders Lane Melbourne Victoria 3000. Ph 03 9650 2570.
Website - http://avoca.vicnet.au/~active
Dietitian Joan Breakey spent most of her professional life studying behaviour and food sensitivity at a clinical level, and this book is the culmination of twenty years of researching, publishing, and presenting in this area. Using studies of her patients and world-wide research findings in this area, Joan gained a Master of Applied Science for her research in this field.
Joan's research into the relationship between diet and hyperactivity showed that diet could have a role in ADHD, ADD, mood changes, difficult behaviour and sleep problems. Joan's work with hundreds of families as a dietitian led her to investigate the link between diet and behaviour as well as physical symptoms such as eczema, migraine, irritable bowel, stomach pains, hay fever and other "allergic type" symptoms.
All too often, books in ADD and ADHD note that research has indicated only a small percentage of ADD or ADHD children may be affected by diet. Early research investigating the diet for hyperactivity, popularised by Dr Ben Feingold generally disproved a diet-behaviour connection, but Joan points out that there were problems with the research methods used. Research since 1985 has shown a significant diet-behaviour connection. There is a most useful and readable summary of the most important research articles in the first chapter of the book, with detailed references in the Appendix.
Food sensitivity can be a mixture of food allergy and food chemical intolerance. Joan discovered that very few food sensitive people are sensitive to only one food or food chemical, and so she has developed the "diet detective" process to track down offending foods. The process explores the usual suspects; additives and naturally occurring food chemicals. Foods that cause reactions in family members are clues to the problem, and the first stage of the trial diet is to eliminate these.
In her foreword to the book, psychiatrist Helen M. Connell endorses the view of the National Health and Medical Research Council  that diet should only be used under the supervision of a qualified dietitian.
The book includes valuable information on the use of commercial foods, and on eating out. There are commercial food guidelines for the "easy detective diet," and the '`finer points detective diet" for those who are very food sensitive. Food sensitivity in babies is covered as well as suggestions for handling fussy eaters.
This is a very well researched book containing important scientific and practical information. Readers will find Joan's story of her research and clinical experience interesting. If they have explored diet previously they will find that some of their own discoveries will be confirmed by her findings. Those exploring diet for the first time will have a comprehensive and practical resource to guide them.
Kathryn Fergusson, recently qualified
As a student dietitian I would firmly recommend reading "Are you food sensitive?" It would be an invaluable addition to all new graduate dietitians' resource library. I found this book to be very comprehensive in its ability to guide the reader with ease, through the complexity of the dietetic management of food sensitivity. Food Sensitivity is an important area in dietetics and it pays to be well prepared. This book will help you achieve that.
Foreward to "Are you food sensitive?"
Whether an association exists between diet and human behaviour is still a matter of controversy. Research in this subject has focussed chiefly on 'hyperactive' [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - ADHD] children since Feingold  claimed that certain food additives aggravated hyperactive behaviour and such behaviour could be controlled by their elimination from the diet. He offered no scientific evidence for this and the numerous studies which followed encountered difficulties by way of matching groups of children and ensuring that a given diet was strictly adhered to. Clinical evidence provided by recent carefully planned and placebo-controlled studies finds limited support for the influence of diet on behaviour. It may be that food additives influence a limited and as yet undefined subpopulation of ADHD children (Lewis 1996).
Recent follow-up studies have shown that ADHD may be carried over from childhood into adult life. If this is the case then presumably diet sensitivities may also persist. This is an area which has been minimally explored.
The National Health &Medical Research Council  in an overview of the subject recommends that, should dietary manipulation be instituted in children with behaviour disorders, then it is imperative that it is carried out under the careful supervision of a qualified dietitian, preferably with experience in this area.
Mrs Breakey certainly meets both these criteria. She is an experienced dietitian who has spent most of her professional life studying behaviour and food sensitivity at the clinical level and has recently proceeded to Master of Applied Science with a thesis based on wide research coverage and studies of her patients. Her approach is clinically oriented and essentially pragmatic. Having worked for years with groups of mothers of hyperactive children she is the first to admit that factors other than diet may be also be operative when improvement occurs but describes her growing realisation that psychological factors [children living up to mother's expectations when given a diet and the special attention that goes with it] are not the only operative ones.
Her book is well organised, the style of writing clear and, most importantly, easy to understand. She writes in a 'detective' mode - starting which children may have problems with diet -what symptoms can they show and what substances are, or can be suspect? Then follows a very comprehensive coverage of how to detect offending substances, how to confirm that they are still operative as a child grows older and how dietary modification can be combined with medication and cognitive-behaviour therapy - both currently used in the management of ADHD. This is a practical book telling sufferers and parents of sufferers what to do if food sensitivity is suspected. Most importantly Mrs Breakey stresses the importance of ensuring adequate nutrition when a diet is under trial by substituting one substance for an offending one if necessary for health [hence the need for skilled professional advice] and how to cope with eventualities such as 'eating out' or fussy eating habits.
This book offers sound practical advice to anyone concerned with food sensitivity and grappling with the complex problem of diet and behaviour.
Dr Helen M. Connell AM. M.B., B.S., FRANZCP., FRCPsych., D.C.H. Child Psychiatrist.
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This site was last updated on: 25 April 2001