Gluten-Free/Casein-Free Diet for Autism

 The gluten-free/casein-free diet for autism has become very popular as an alternative treatment for autism. Although there are many anecdotal reports about the gluten-free/casein-free diet helping children with autism, there is little evidence this diet works in improving the behaviors and functioning of these children.

While it is understandable why you would want to try anything and everything that may cure your child, before implementing this diet it is important to consider the pros and cons of putting them on such a restrictive diet. If, after evaluating the diet and how it will affect your child and your family's lifestyle, you have decided this is the best option for you, carefully plan and execute the diet for autism with as much precision as possible. Although it is not recommended to stop eating gluten and casein cold turkey, as the diet progresses it is going to be very important your child does not cheat, and the adults in his life need to understand this as well.

Many great websites and cookbooks exist to help the parent who is trying the gfcf diet.  Hear from a mom who tried the diet with her child.


You may want to try the diet for Autism if...

If your child is not a picky eater, is at a healthy weight and likes a wide variety of foods, eliminating casein and gluten from your child’s diet for the recommended three month trial period probably will not cause a problem. Your child may be a good candidate for the diet for autism if they regularly suffer from constipation, diarrhea are bloated or complain of nausea. If you feel your child fits the profile and may improve from the gluten-free/casein-free autism diet, it is certainly worth a try.

To figure out what to make your child while he's following a gluten free, casein free diet, you may want to look at a meal planner. Here is a good one to look into: Click here to view more details.

For ideas on high calorie gluten-free/casein-free diet, click here.

Proceed with Caution if...

Before going to the health food store and stocking your shelves with gluten-free bread and pasta, many factors should be considered. The diet for autism is a difficult one to follow and is going to put an added stress on the family.

Although gluten-free/casein-free foods are more available and of better quality then years ago, it is still difficult to find foods that have the same flavor and consistency of the food it is trying to replace. These foods are often three times more expensive than their wheat based counterparts, and putting one member of the family on a special diet is difficult on the child and the rest of the family. Furthermore, autistic children often have sensory issues, making them very selective eaters in regards to texture, consistency , flavor and even color. If your child’s main source of nutrition is macaroni and cheese and milk with an occasional cookie, it may be better to hold off on implementing the diet until he is eating a wider variety.

In other words, if your child eats very few foods and the foods that he will eat contain wheat and casein, the diet will be quite a challenge and may not have a large payoff in the end. It also may be a good idea to hold off on the diet if your child is not well nourished or has been diagnosed with Failure to Thrive. 

austism awareness puzzle ribbonhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/walkadog/3446100697/

Once the Decision is Made...

The gluten-free/casein-free diet for autism has become very popular as an alternative treatment for autism. Every family must consider the pros and cons before putting a child on the gluten-free/casein-free diet. When done correctly in children that are already well nourished, the intervention can be very effective.

If you live in an area where it is difficult to find gluten-free/casein-free foods, the internet can be an invaluable resource. There are many good websites that sell gluten-free products, including gluten free mall and gluten free.com. Both of these sites have a wide variety of popular brands of foods. For recipes and information on the gluten free diet, www.the-gluten-free-diet.com website is recommended.A simple Google search will help you come up with other sites to order products as well.

If you are considering a gluten-free/casein-free diet a pediatric dietician can help you evaluate your child’s diet. She can help you come up with creative solutions that do not contain wheat or milk and give you advice as to how to implement the diet without causing nutrient deficiencies.

The first few weeks on the diet will be full of experimentation as you find the best gluten-free/casein-free products and learn to adapt your child’s favorite foods to make them ones he can eat. It’s also important for you to discuss these options with your child’s pediatrician.

Click here to make an appointment to discuss trying a casein-free, gluten-free diet with your child.  Whatever alternative treatments you decide to pursue, do it in conjunction with traditional treatment. Applied Behavior Analysis is currently the gold standard of treatment for autism. While it’s probably worth a shot to change your child’s diet, while you do this continue with early intervention services.

For behavioral ideas on how to treat autism written by a behavioral therapist, click here.

Share your experience with the gluten free, casein free diet!

Have you tried the gluten free, casein free diet with your child? Share your story with other parents to help them decide if they should try it with thier child!

Share your experience with the gluten free, casein free diet!

Have you tried the gluten free, casein free diet with your child? Share your story with other parents to help them decide if they should try it with thier child!

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