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  • Writer's pictureJayne Avery

Diet, Dyslexia and ADHD

The Hyperactive Children’s Support Group (HACSG)

I am thrilled to have my children’s book

The Secret of the Golden Cauldron

listed as one of the Hyperactive Children’s Support Group’s recommended books.

The hero of the book is TG a nine-year-old boy who has ADHD and is affected by some additives in food and drink. However, the messages in the story are pertinent for all children.

It feels like my life has gone full circle! Here’s why………

My association with the charity HACSG goes back to the early 1990s. I was working as a teacher supporting children with emotional and behavioural difficulties.

The vast majority of the pupils referred to me were in danger of being excluded from school. Many had dyslexia and/or ADHD and had become disillusioned with school in one way or another. My job was to keep them in school by working one to one with the child and liaising with their teachers and parents.

In those days, Sally Bunday and others were pioneering the idea that diet and some food additives could affect a child’s behaviour. I had read about The Hyper Active Children’s Support Group and the work they were doing.

So, I contacted Sally to find out more. She was amazingly helpful and I learnt so much from her, consequently I was able to help a significant number of my pupils by referring their parents to HACSG for advice.

Sally set up HACSG as a charity in 1977 after she had been helped by the late Dr Feingold to manage her son’s hyperactivity by managing his diet. She found that her son was much calmer, slept better and had fewer tantrums.

Research into the effects of diet and behaviour

Not long after this government research found a clear link between some food colourings/additives to hyperactivity and ADHD and the European Food Safety Authority suggested putting a warning label on products containing some food colourings.

Then in the 1980’s Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Institute of Child Health in collaboration with other institutions carried out research in to the possible effect food and food additives had on Hyperactivity and ADHD.

Below is a list of their key findings. It shows the percentage of children with Hyperactivity and ADHD that were affected by different foods in their study.

· Over 70% - artificial flavourings/certain preservatives

· 50-60% - other chemicals, MSG, chocolate, cow’s milk

· 30-50% - oranges, sugar, tomato

· 25% - wheat

As you can see, artificial colouring and preservatives were major culprits but not the only problem foods that affected these children.

The HACSG Surrey University Database showed that 89% of 357 diagnosed Hyperactive children were affected by Artificial Colouring,

Since then, over the past twenty years there have been many people researching the role of diet, additives, nutrition and essential fatty acids (EFAs) in brain development and children’s behaviour.

Some have pinpointed the importance of EFAs especially Omega 3 and 6 in the development of a child’s brain and how the minerals zinc and magnesium along with vitamins C and D help the EFAs to be absorbed into the blood stream and then utilised in the body.

Studies in the USA have found that children with ADHD are deficient in EFAs, and research in the UK is looking into the link between EFAs and dyslexia.

The Secret of the Golden Cauldron and the circle of life!

In 1997 I left teaching and retrained to become a Nutrition Consultant, and during my ten years in private practice I kept in touch with Sally and HACSG.

As I undertook further studies into childhood nutrition, I became aware of how important it is for children to really understand how important diet is to their health now and in the future.

I wrote The Secret of the Golden Cauldron to give parents and teachers a launching pad from which they can discuss healthy eating. It encompasses all the foods and additives mentioned above.

The circle is complete, I started out helping children with ADHD, dyslexia and emotional difficulties. And now I hope my book will help parents and teachers today help their children make good choices that enable them to have a happy, healthy future.

Thank you Sally for being the catalyst

that set me off on my adventure.


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