Tag Archives: GFCF

Autism Limelight: The GFCF Diet

Autism has no known cure. Over the years, a lot of behavioral treatment and therapies as well as medical prescriptions have been given to children with autism but, still the idea of a cure seems farfetched. Apart from having no known causes, Autism Spectrum Disorders can be as complicated as it gets.

Autism Limelight-The GFCF DietHowever, recent studies and personal observations from parents, family members and caregivers presented the GFCF Diet to be an effective method in managing autism.

GFCF diet stands for gluten-free and casein-free diet wherein children and adults with autism removes two groups of proteins from their diet completely – with no cheat days! Casein is found in all milk and dairy products, while gluten can be found on wheat, rye, barley, and some oats. Some of the most common foods usually consumed by children are milk, yogurt, ice cream, bread, cereal, pasta, hotdogs, and bottled and jarred sauces or salad dressings are known to contain gluten or casein.

The GFCF diet revolves around the idea that children with autism cannot fully digest or break down gluten and casein. With leaky guts, some of these undigested or partially digested proteins can leak through the intestinal walls and passes through the bloodstream into the brain leading to heightened issues with speech, social, and behavioral skills. According to reports, kids with autism on a strict GFCF Diet tend to have less temper tantrums or meltdowns, hyperactivity, speech and eye contact issues, and sometimes, physical diseases like seizures, allergies, and skin rashes. Kids with autism eating gluten-free and casein-free foods are known to be more relaxed and have the tendency to sleep better than those who are not.

Though the fame of the GFCF Diet is rising over the years and half of the kids with ASD suffer some kind of gastrointestinal issues, it is important to note that it does not work for everyone. Working closely with an accredited health practitioner (see LivingAutismNow’s accredited nutritionist and dietitian) and a physician with hands-on experience on the GFCF Diets can be of great help. These two can assess your child’s gastrointestinal condition and current diet, assess if there’s a need for other nutritional supplements, and help prepare meal plans for your child. Be aware that by eliminating both protein groups- casein and gluten to your child’s diet can compromise his other nutritional requirement so delving into this diet requires expert assistance. Not only will this ensure your child’s progress but also to guarantee that he is in tip-top shape.

GFCF Diet: Foods to Eat and Avoid

Following a gluten-free, casein-free diet is one of the most popular methods among parents to children with autism. Though research remains inconclusive, a number of parents have show great support in vouching the effectiveness of the said diets. Not only does this diet treat children-with-autism’s gastrointestinal and allergy issues, it has also been known to result in lower meltdowns, hyperactivity, allergies and skin rashes, and seizures.

The GFCF Diet requires two basic protein eliminations – dairy and wheat—from a child with autism’s diet. This can be somewhat complicated as proteins are essential nutrients needed for children’s development. To some children with autism, however, these two groups of protein can make matters worse. To get you started on your GFCF Diet, here are some food lists to aid in your menu preparation.

What to Buy

  • Milk substitutes like rice milk, soy milk, hemp milk, and almond milk. Be attentive to the label though. It should not only state “dairy-free” but “casein-free.” Some dairy-free milk substitutes contain the casein protein as a thickener.
  • Soy-based dairy-free cheese products; make sure it’s casein-free
  • gluten-free bread usually made from tapioca or rice flour
  • minimally processed or, if possible, fresh meat out of the butcher’s den; if prepackaged, make sure to check label for the list of ingredients.
  • fresh poultry
  • fresh seafoods
  • fresh fruit and vegetables; if frozen, make sure it is not soaked in sauces or flavorings.
  • eggs do not contain gluten or casein but be mindful of the oil used in cooking

You can try shopping at a nearby farmers market or Whole Foods store near you for GFCF food brands. Vancouver has Cambie, Robson, and Kitsilano. Ontario has Oakville, Unionville, and Squage 1 Missisauga. There is also one in West Vancouver and another in Toronto – Yorkville.

What Not to Buy

  • foods containing gluten, such as, wheat, barley, rye, millet and oats
  • foods containing casein, such as, cheese, yogurt, cow/goat/lamb milk, breast milk, ice cream, and other dairy-based foods such as pasta, baked products, and sports drinks
  • prepackaged foods may sometimes be labeled as gluten-free or dairy-free or both, but do check the label closely as casein can be used as an ingredient

Indeed, autism spectrum disorders are complex neurological and developmental condition which still has no cure and no known causes. Though ABA therapies and other forms of treatments have been available, parents cannot help but find ways and means to make life a little easier for their kids on the spectrum. The GFCF Diet continually make waves nowadays but, before you engage your child on this diet, it is imperative that you seek out the advice of an accredited physician or nutrition/diet expert with hands-on experience on autism treatment to guarantee safety and health of your child.