Doctors warn against food fad dangers - a clarification

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The Independent Online

I write in response to the article “Doctors warn against food fad dangers” in your edition of 7 January.

Catherine Collins claims that the autistic child “suffered sleep problems and her weight dropped as a result of the advice Mr Holford gave’ and that ‘her parents were told to remove soya milk and cow's milk from her diet”. In fact, before we even started this project, the child had been diagnosed by her doctors as milk allergic and was already on a dairy-free diet, additionally refusing to have soya milk. She was also a very poor and fussy eater and was sleeping very little, waking up throughout the night.

Since the project started we have expanded the foods she’ll eat, improved her diet and given her supplements. As a result of our intervention she is now less hyperactive, sleeping much better, has reduced her asthma and consequently her need for asthma medication.

Behaviour-wise she has, on independent behavioural tests, made significant improvements in her attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, social difficulties, shyness and anxiety. Her mother is extremely pleased with the results. “Before she woke up a lot in the night. Now she sleeps the whole night without waking,” she says. “She is behaving better and has calmed down a lot.”

Her psychiatrist actually called us to find out what we had been doing to bring about these obvious improvements.

The temporary weight loss may have occurred when we put her on a gluten-free diet following a food intolerance test which identified that she was gluten sensitive. Unfortunately she wouldn’t eat the gluten-free options so we put her back on pasta, for example, which she would eat. Wheat gluten and dairy allergy is quite common in autistic children. She has since regained the weight she lost.

The results of the project, which is proving highly successful, can be found on our website.

Patrick Holford – Food for the Brain Foundation

London SW18