In a small Danish study in 2010 of children ages 4 to 11, some kids showed significant improvements after 8, 12, and 24 months on a GFCF diet.

Researchers at Penn State surveyed the parents of nearly 400 kids with autism and found evidence that a GFCF diet improved symptoms such as hyperactivity, temper tantrums, problems with eye contact and speech skills, and physical aliments such as skin rashes and seizures for certain groups of children. Those that showed the most improvement either followed the diet closely, stayed on it for at least six months, or had a history of food allergies or digestive issues, like chronic constipation and diarrhea. 

Source: 8 Facts About the Autism Diet, as seen in Parent.com magazine.

One in 45 children in Katy has been identified with
an autism spectrum disorder;

share the hope.

GFCF Diet:

Parent Surveys completed by The Autism Research Institute (ARI) list the GFCF diet as one of the most successful treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders.


Why Go GFCF?


Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and sometimes oats.  Casein is the protein found in Milk and all dairy containing products.  In some children who have Autism, these proteins cannot be broken down properly and  they escape the gut lining through tiny holes.  Once the proteins leave the gut they become gluteomorphin and casomorphin and they react with the opiate receptors in the brain much like a narcotic drug.  Children not on a GFCF diet, who often have a glazed over, spacey look and the inability to focus may be reacting to morphine in their bodies. It is possible to see that affect substantially or even completely disappear by simply changing the diet.  Children who can think more clearly, learn faster and communicate better.  Also, medical treatments might not be as effective if the diet is not sound, so overcoming these challenges is a crucial first step in meaningful intervention. The only way you to learn if this is an effective intervention is to give it an honest trial. Most experts agree that a strict trial of at least six months is needed to determine if a special diet will help. If there are no improvements after this trial, reintroducing wheat and milk can be done.  A word of caution:  After cessation of GFCF diets many parents report a quick improvement of skills followed by a steady decline or regression.  The diet could be helping steadily and subtlety instead of dramatically as narrated by so many books available these days. 

Another thing to consider is that milk is being identified as a serious problem for most children with autism.  Recent studies suggest that over 60% of children with autism have a co-morbid condition known as Cerebral Folate Deficiency (CFD).  In CFD, an antigen in milk is known to stimulate blocking and or binding autoantibodies which inhibit Folic Acid from entering the cerebral spinal fluid.  This can cause many problems such as autistic symptoms, and gait abnormalities.  A simple blood test can be done to determine if a child has the autoantibodies.  As a precaution, if you are not able to obtain a Folate Receptor Autoimmunity test, a milk free (not casein free) diet is a good idea.

Getting Started


In order to find foods that are appropriate for you child's new diet, you first need to understand all the sources of gluten and casein.  Becoming proficient at reading labels will make shopping a lot easier.  Remember that just because a product says it is wheat free it does not necessarily mean gluten free, and gluten free does not mean casein free, or the other way around.  A good tool to take with you is the Cecelia's Market Place Gluten/Casein Free Grocery Shopping Guide. They both contain lists of products and brands available in grocery stores.  When using these books, it is important to continue to read labels.  Food manufactures change the ingredients in food frequently.
 
A good place to start with your child's diet is by replacing favorite foods.  Perhaps your child is a chicken nugget and french fry lover.  Start with the french fries.  They are very easy to switch to GF/CF.  Once the fries are conquered tackle the nuggets... they are not as easily replaced, but when no other alternative is given, your child will eventually eat what is there.  Normally, even the most willful child will not starve:   they eat eventually.  However, in extreme cases of food aversion, use your judgement and if needed, consult a feeding specialist to help introduce new foods.

Milk is sometimes a big challenge for parents to conquer.  As parents we have been told that milk is an important part of childhood nutrition because it contains "calcium for strong bones and healthy teeth".    While that is true, there are many fruits, vegetables and calcium enriched foods available to get calcium in your child's diet.  High quality supplements are great to fill in the gaps.  Replacing milk is easy to achieve for cooking and baking, but for drinking, it is really a personal taste issue.  There are many tasty alternatives, including coconut, rice, almond or hemp milk.  Consider staying away from soy because many children react to it like they do to casein and gluten.  The number one biggest hurdle in taking milk out of you child's diet is availability.  Don't buy it, because if it is not there, they cannot drink it.

Lets go shopping!
Gluten or Casein containing foods that are NOT appropriate for a GF/CF Diet

Any Food Additive that says Casein
Any Food Additive that says Gluten
Any Food additive that says Wheat
Artificial Butter Flavoring
Barley
Barley Malt
Beer
Bleached All-Purpose Flour
Bouillon cubes or powder
Bran
Bread
Butter
Butter Fat
Butter Flavored Oil
Buttermilk Butter Solids
Bulgur
Carmel Color
Casein (all forms)
Caseinate (all forms)
Cereal Extract
Cereal Binding
Cheese (all types and even some dairy free cheese)
Cheese Food
Cheese Flavor
Goat Cheese
Chilton
Chorizo (read label some may be OK)
Natural Chocolate Flavoring
Cottage Cheese
Couscous
Cream
Curds
Custard
Cracker meal
Cream Cheese
Croutons
Dairy Products
Dextrin
Dextrimaltose
Durum (all forms)
Edible Starch
Einkorn
Emmer
Farina
Farina Graham
Filler
Flour (all kinds unless labeled GF Certified)
Food Starch (unless the label states corn derivative)
Frozen Yogurt
Fu (Dried Wheat Gluten)
Gelatinized Starch
Germ
Glutamate (all forms)
Goats Milk
Graham (all forms)
Gravy Mixes
Ground Spices (check labels some are OK)
Groats (barley, wheat)
Half & Half
Horeum Hydrolysates
Hydrolyzed Vegetable or Plant Protein (HVP, HPP)
Ice Cream
Ice Milk
Job's Tears (Pearl Barley)
Kamut
Lactic Acid (unless stated not from dairy source)
Lactoglobulin
Lactose (all forms)
Lactalbumin (all forms)
Lactalose
Macha  Wheat
Malt (flavoring, extract, syrup and vinegar)
Margarine (unless stated gluten free and vegan)
Milk that is dairy, all percenages of milk fat and lactose free milk(some nut, coconut, rice and soy milks, are OK)
Milk Products
Matzo Semolina
Mir
Miso (unless stated GF Certified)
Modified Foodstarch (unless stated from corn)
Natural Flavoring (unless label reads no gluten)
Non Dairy Creamer
Oats (unless GF Certified)
Pasta (nless GF Certified)
Rice Malt
Rye (all forms)
Rice Syrup (unless GF certified)
Sauce Mixes (read labels carefully some contain wheat)
Semolina (all kinds)
Spelt (all kinds)
Sherbet
Spices and Herbs (some say GF use those)
Starch (unless stated from corn)
Stativa
Stock cubes or powder (unless GF certified)
Suet in Packets
Sulfites
Surimi (may be wheat source)
Tabbouleh
Terriyaki Sauce
Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
Tritical/Triticum (all kinds)
Tuna (some canned tuna contains Casein, all tuna is high in mercury and not advisable for children)
Udon
Vegetable Starch (unless states GF Certified)
Vegetable gum (unless states GF Certified)
Vital Gluten
Vitamins (unless states GF)
Wheat (all kinds)
Whey (all kinds)
Whipping Cream
White Grain
Yogurt
Food Additives that ARE acceptable
for a GF/CF Diet

Acacia Gum
Adenosine
Almond Flour
Annato Color
Arabic Gum
Arrowroot
Ascorbic Acid
Baking Soda
Bicarbonate of Soda
Beta Carotene
Biotin
Buckwheat Flour
Calcium Chloride
Calcium Disodium EDTA
Calcium Phospohate
Canola Oil
Carob Bean Gum
Carrageenan
Carnauba Wax
Carob Flour
Carob Bean
Carub Bean Gum
Cassava
Cellulose Gum
Chestnut Flour
Chickpea Flour (Gram Flour)
Citric Acid
Cocoa Butter
Corn Flour
Corn Sweetener
Corn Meal (and polenta)
Corn Syrup Solids
Corn Oil
Cornstarch
Cotton Seed Oil
Dextrose
Dioctyl Sodium
Eggs
Ester Gum
Folic Acid-Folacin
Fructose (corn based)
Fumaric Acid
Flax seeds
Fruit (if dried check for gluten)
Garbanzo Bean Flour
Garfava Flour
Glutamine (amino acid)
Glyceryl Nono-Oleate
Glycerol Monooleate
Guar Gum
Grits (check for gluten in instant and flavored)
Herbs (fresh and dried with no additional ingredients)
Honey
Invert Sugar
Jowar Flour (sweet white sorghum)
Lecithin
Lentels
Locust Bean Gum
Nuts (check for gluten in flavored nuts)
Peanut Oil
Magnesium Hydroxide
Malic acid
Microcrystallin Cellulose
Millit (Millet Pilaf and Millet Flour)
Niacin-Niacinamind
Poha
Potato Flour
Potato Starch
Polyglycerol
Polysorbate 60 (80 not recommended)
Potassium Citrate
Potassium Iodide
Potato Flour
Propylene Gycol Monostearete
Propylgallate
Pyridoxine Hydrochloride
Quinoa
Quinoa Flour
Rape Seed
Rice
Rice Flour (Brown, Sweet Brown or White)
Spices (pure, no additional fillers)
Safflower Oil
Sago Flour
Seaweed
Sesame Seeds
Sodium Acid Pyraphosphate
Sodium Ascorbate
Sodium Citrate
Sodium Haxametaphosphate
Sodium Nitrate
Sodium Silaco Aluminate
Sorbitol-Mannitol
Sorghum Flour
Soy (Soy is GF/CF however, many DAN! Doctors will ask your to eliminate Soy protein as well)
Sphingolipids
Sucrose
Soba (must be pure buckwheat)
Soy Lecithin
Sorghum
Sulfosuccinate
Sunflower Oil
Sunflower seeds
Sweet Potato Flour
Tapioca Flour
Tapioca Starch
Tea
Tea Tree Oil
Teff Flour
Tartaric acid
Teff
Tofu
Tolu Balsam
Tri Calcium Phosphate
White Bean Folur
Wild Rice
Xanthan Gum
Yam Flour
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