Joan Breakey        

BSc. MAppSc. Cert Diet. DNFS  TTTC.

Dietitian/Nutritionist, Home Economist, Teacher, Clinical researcher  specialising in food chemical intolerance


Joan enjoyed her first job as lecturer at what is now RMIT to students dietitians only two years younger than she. After two years she moved to Queensland, had two children, and began work in private practice. In 1975 she began seeing patients who wished to trial diet for hyperactivity. Adverse reactions to food became her specialist area and she confined her practice to just food sensitive patients. For over 35 years Joan has conducted clinical research, given many presentations, and completed a Masters Degree on the role of diet in behaviour, ADHD and allergic symptoms. She also held the public health position of Adviser in Nutrition and Dietetics to the Department of Health in Queensland from 1979 to 1983 and then part-time Dietitian for Child Mental Health, from 1984 to 1994. She collated her work into a self help book entitled Are you food sensitive? and the companion Dietitians Manual using the Diet Detective Method, then Fussy Baby and the recently published overview: Tolerating Troublesome Foods.  In 2008 she was the National Convenor of the Dietitians Association of Australia Allergy and Food Intolerance Special Interest Group. Currently she is semi-retired and works occasionally in private practice in Ipswich in her specialist area. 

Most of the patients I see now have IBS, but they also include people who seek me out for child behaviour problems, ADHD or ASD, or they are mothers of distressed babies. When you work with diabetes or weight control you learn much about that group. I have had a fascinating career learning about a completely different group; those needing help to investigate suspected food intolerance. Each patient is different in their particular cluster of symptoms, particular family sensitivity history, suspect foods and diet progression.

I became a dietitian because of good fortune. I loved cooking so began a diploma to become a Home Economics teacher. I was able to change to the Diploma of Nutrition & Food Service and then do my dietetic intern year at Royal Perth Hospital before teachers training, so then had both quals. Dietetics is the right mix of learning all about food, all about what happens to food in the body, and all about people where food matters. This mix was very useful when I worked in what was, and still remains, a controversial area in dietetics. The idea that food can affect clear thinking, sleep, mood, restlessness and fatigue, as well as migraine, IBS, tummy aches, colic, and many allergic symptoms, is still a fascinating area to see developing.

I have enjoyed seeing the whole of dietetics develop over the 46 years I have been a dietitian. My tip for new dietitians is to remind them that the present knowledge of dietetics is far from being complete. In any area it is important to see where current ideas have developed from, so you understand their place in the science we know at present, and recognise that this knowledge will change in the future. Food sensitivity is an area where the mechanisms and individual variations make it complex. This makes it challenging, engaging and rewarding. I hope you enjoy seeing how this area of dietetics develops as much as I have enjoyed being part of it up until now. I have provided my books and website Articles so dietitians can come up to the present position in this controversial area. 

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