My Food Sensitive Life – introduction – from 1946 August 8, 2022 by Joan Breakey Blog It took me twenty-seven years to discover that I was food sensitive. And, incredibly, it wasn’t until I was forty and years after I had my two children, that I realised I could actually be diagnosed with ADHD. I had learned that the eczema that troubled me from birth to adulthood, the distractible thinking and noisy behaviour that was noticeable at school, the tummy aches, headaches, and much more that made life more challenging most of the time are all treatable and part of the big picture of food sensitivity. In these enlightened days, we would hope that an informed doctor would recognise the possibility of a connection between such symptoms and food and make a referral to specialist dietitians. This was not so when I was growing up in the 1950s. When I was young, doctors thought reactions to food were limited to babies with some reaction to milk or perhaps clearly severe allergic reactions to egg. Coeliac disease was later recognised in some who children who did not thrive. To imagine that something as healthy as an apple could cause hyperactivity and many other seemingly unrelated symptoms in a small part of the population, was unthinkable. We have come so far over the last fifty years.Fortunately, early in my dietetic career, I took an interest in a then radical diet: the Feingold Diet. Feingold popularised the idea that artificial colours, flavours, preservatives and a related food chemical, salicylate, caused hyperactivity in children. Working alongside a psychologist who found a copy of this diet in 1975 meant that I cooked the allowed foods for my family in preparation for testing this diet with some of our patients. I was surprised that this new diet actually reduced some of my own symptoms, but did not change all of them.That is when I began my research into this diet for both my own cluster of symptoms, and working with our first group of families with hyperactive children. I had to stop eating many favourite foods, especially those that included tomatoes, most fruit and my much loved mint lollies. Perfumes were excluded so I had to put away the previously enjoyed perfumes in all my cosmetics, my husband’s aftershave, and our small children’s bubble bath. I watched changes in myself at the same time as the psychologist and I were hearing what our patient group of families were finding. I also had a growing group of private patients as word of the Feingold Diet became known. I recorded changes in those families particularly where they reacted to foods, such as chocolate, which were not early diet exclusions. I remember testing eating chocolate over one day and becoming very car-sick that evening, having a bad headache and making many typing errors the day after.In 1975 the very idea that diet could affect children’s behaviour or sleep was controversial. Perhaps that was what made it so interesting for me. Even as a dietitian I presumed additives were inert substances that made little difference. I listened to my patients and watched my own cooking and what happened to my symptoms. I experimented on myself, and collected every bit of information on the research into the Feingold Diet. I learned that the diet itself needed adjusting for my patients and in the background I monitored what foods I reacted to myself. I noted which foods people reported causing reactions and what symptoms diet changed. The story of my research is told in my first book “Are You Food Sensitive?”. Now, for the first time, after over forty years of work specialising in the area of food sensitivity, I will let you all know the story of my own food sensitive life as it developed from my infancy. You can read posts as I put them on my site over the next months.