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.