As the name of the GFCF Diet indicates, it is a diet free of gluten
, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, bulgar, durum, spelt, and kamut, and casein
a milk protein found in all milk based products (cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream, etc.). Putting your child on a GFCF Diet can significantly improve his or her symptoms of autism spectrum disorders
Many doctors in the "Defeat Autism Now!" movement are promoting this diet heavily since parents and researchers are saying that significant and even dramatic improvements in behavior and speech are being seen in them after gluten and casein are removed from their diet.
MealMixer's GFCF Diet Planner
helps you get gluten and casein, and other substances suspected of playing a role in Autism, out of your childs diet, such as food dyes
This link between gluten a, casein and autism stems in part from a study by the University of California Davis Health System that found children with autism that were born during the 1990s had a great incidence of gastrointestinal problems like constipation, diarrhea and vomiting, than autistic children born in the early 1980s. Regardless of the behaviour improvements, many parents put their children on the GFCF diet to avoid this GI problems, which may be related to food allergies, sensitivities or intolerance
. Their have also been many reports by parents that their children have experienced fewer bouts of diarrhea, for example. Others have not seen this affect.
If your child has autism, you should talk to your doctor (or alternative medical practitioner) about putting them on the GFCF diet to see if any of these physical symptoms (as well as the behavioral/developmental issues) can be lessened. You might consider eliminating one food from their diet at a time to see which one, if any, is the offending protein or substance. Do this for a few weeks each. The GFCF Diet Planner
will help you do this. Also, ask those around your child about any improvement they may have seen, just to get some objectivity in your search for improvement.
If you go this route, you should try casein first, since it clears from the gut faster (in about a month some say), than gluten (up to six months).
Theories about the GFCF Diet and Autism
One prevalent theory about why gluten and casein have these effects on autistic children is that they are improperly digested and effectively become peptides that act like opiates in their bodies, causing the aberrant behavior. Research in Europe and the United States has found significant occurrences of peptides in the urine of a number of autistic children. One step then is to have your doctor test your child's urine for peptides.
This is a big change, so using a planner
is essential for success. There are simply too many foods that contain gluten and casein in hidden form. (See for example the Gluten Free Diet
Getting Replacement Food on the GFCF Diet
More and more you'll find your regular grocer will have the foods you need for the GFCF diet. If not, most health food stores stock alternative flours, breads, cookies, crackers, cereals, and pasta. These are made from rice, potato, amaranth or other flours that do not contain gluten. The planner has integrated into it the planning of brand that are gluten-free and casein-free, as well as well tested recipes that use them.
Other Foods to Consider Eliminating for Autistic Children
Some parents see even greater improvements in their children when they remove corn and soy. This is not a wide-held belief, but it may be worth experimenting with these too. The GFCF Diet Planner
handles removal of these foods as well.