Gluten Free / Dairy Free Diet for Autism : My Experience
Gluten Free Dairy Free Diet for chiAutism. Child girl drinking milk at the kitchen

Gluten Free / Dairy Free Diet for Autism : My Experience

Those of us who have children with autism normally try many things in our journey to help our kids. In the past 15 years, diet has been explored more and more with excellent outcomes for many children. Children with autism often experience symptoms like chronic diarrhea, headaches, stomach cramps, poor sleeping patterns, and irritable behavior. My son experienced all of these symptoms. After spending a year working with a gastro-intestinal specialist and finding no concrete answers, I finally turned to a dietician for help. She held the key to a better life for my son, Marc.

Start by keeping a food diary for your child

I started keeping a daily food diary recording everything Marc ate and what symptoms occurred. A pattern began to emerge of reoccurring symptoms after he eat anything that was a dairy, soy, citrus, or gluten product.  I had read a possible theory that the reason why foods containing gluten and casein, found in dairy products, are hard to digest for autistic children is because they are often functioning in an over-stimulated state. This over-stimulated state directs the blood flow out to the limbs for the “flight or fright” mode away from the digestive track making hard to digest foods like gluten and casein even more difficult to break down.  Even though this is a theory, it made sense to me because my son was tested for allergies and all of the foods that bothered him did not show as an allergy. Is it just simple food intolerance? Marc seemed to have too much in common with other autistic children to dismiss his eating difficulties with just a blanket statement like, “He has food intolerances”.

What to eat on a gluten free / dairy free diet?

Marc has had great success on his limited diet. The question most parents ask me is, “So what does he eat?” That was the scariest part of eliminating so many foods from his diet. My dietician helped a great deal in making the dietary switch and where to find these new foods.

Marc eats rice products in place of gluten products. Some of the rice products I use are rice pasta, rice bread, rice noodles, rice crackers, rice cakes, puffed rice cereal and I bake with rice flour. Corn products also agree with Marc so he is able to eat puffed corn cereal, corn itself, corn chips and corn pasta.

For the substitution of dairy products, I use rice milk. One must be careful about buying any type of processed food as it may contain milk. Some examples of foods that may contain milk but you might not think they do are soup mixes, batter-fried foods, margarine, baked goods, instant mashed potatoes, cakes and cookies. I tend to stay away from all processed foods unless I see a label that states “gluten and dairy free”. Read all labels carefully even if you know that food to be free of problem ingredients. Many food ingredients change with no warning to the consumer.

Where do you find all of these foods? Most large grocery store chains now have gluten free, dairy free or organic products. Health food stores will carry a variety of these products but the price tends to be higher than a larger grocery store chain. In my city, we have an allergy/organic bakery that makes rice flour based baked goods daily. Many of the rice products that I mentioned are also available in Asian supermarkets or in the ethnic aisle of your grocery store. Rarely in a larger center have I had any trouble finding any of these specialty products.

Buy the Feeding Challenges with ASD E-Book

Limited diets can work well for children with autism

The gluten free / dairy free diet has really agreed with Marc. His weight is much better now and he gains at a good rate. When his blood work is done, he is not deficient in any nutrients. His diarrhea problem is a thing of the past. Marc sleeps ten hours a night whereas before the diet he was waking up crying five times a night and not wanting to be held because he was in pain. I also have a daughter with autism and put her on this diet when she was a year old as she was beginning to exhibit some of the same symptoms Marc had when he was her age. Our family has followed this diet successfully for 19 years now.

Has eliminating gluten and dairy from my children’s diet improved our family life? The answer is yes. In the last 15 years, specialized diets have become much more mainstream, and restaurants often have gluten free or dairy free options. Altering your child’s diet may not be the answer to the problems your child is experiencing, but it is a non-invasive way to try and improve the life of your child. They are also other dietary options other than gluten free or dairy free – check out the links in the Medical Links section of our website.

For further information on eating challenges, have a look at these 2 excellent books – Just Take A Bite and Improving Speech and Eating Skills in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

For information on starting a GF/CF diet, read Autism: Exploring the Benefits of a Gluten-and Casein-Free Diet – A practical guide for families and professionals or Diet Intervention and Autism – Implementing the Gluten Free and Casein Free Diet for Autistic Children and Adults – A Practical Guide for Parents .

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  1. Kerri says:

    This is very interesting to read. My now 6 year old was born with a severe CMP alergy which we discovered at 6 weeks old after seeking the help of a herbalist. At the time of weaning into proper meals (about 18 months) she started experiencing classic episodes of CVS. She was ultimately diagnosed with GORD after a barium meal showed she was refluxing, but I still believe it was CVS (cyclic vomiting syndrome). She’s always been hyperactive, a tiptoe walker, a daydreamer, not responsive to her name, hates the feeling of socks, but recently shes become quite OCD, struggles with decision making amongst other things. She’s very clever and has no social interaction problems, but both myself and the school are in agreeance that she most likely has high functioning autism and I have just started the process of seeking a medical diagnosis. Obviously she is dairy free, but I’m wondering if I should try cutting out gluten also.
    I’m dairy intolerant and have been since childhood. I also had chronic gastrointestinal problems. My dad also is dairy intolerant and suffered with stomach migraines as a child and debilitating migraines in Adulthood. Makes you think it’s all connected.

  2. Karen says:

    My daughter thriving until 15 months then showed regression into autism which was diagnosed just before 2. I was told there was nothing to be done about this condition. Jo just became worse and worse and it was heartbreaking…so I decided to do some independent research. Embarked upon Behavoural Intervention full-time from just over 2 and then a Gluten and dairyfree diet, (which was hard as she ate quite a lot of both). Made fresh whole foods AND introduced Essential Fatty Acids in the form of liquid Evening Primrose Oil in her diluted juice. SIGNIFICANT improvement within 3 weeks: behaviour improvements, sleep, better bowel control/normal movements. I believe the diet was the major factor and so continued for years on this diet. Jo is now 24 and has a job, partner and a child of her own.

  3. K .Ali says:

    Hi my grandson autism he 3 year old we are living in uk here they don’t  diagnose till child 5 or 6 but we can see all  things like he is not looking when we call he’s name he is not talking ,eye contact is very poor and he don’t like go out like park or some one house and some time he crying and scared and he very constipated he did start narassery  but he is crying to much not mix with other children we are worried because we haven’t got much spots in uk they says we not do anything till he is 5,6 and   Corona verse no speach tarpyes I m so worried don’t no what we do 

  4. Selamawit says:

    I have a daughter who is 2years and 10 months. I already started a GF/CF diet plus no sugar and sour things . I used to cook myself. No processed food. Now is almost 2 months and i can’t see any changes she has more anger , sleeping becomes big problem and she don’t won’t it all the time crying. The poo thing becomes better. Before she had like a small small stone and after two or three days. But now every day or every two days and it is normal poo. She don’t like to eat fruit but she like to drink fruit juice . So i make for her mango banana avocado papaya and orange together and it tastes so sweet. And she like spicy like pasta with spicy sous. I don’t known what I have to do. Shall stop it the diet thing or should I do something else?

  5. Jennifer Ward says:

    No gluten intolerance symptoms with him. I was just doing some research & saw that it might help his moods if I were to eliminate gluten. He has major meltdowns often throughout the day, & I realize that his diet is majority carbs, so I just wasn’t sure if cutting it out as much as possible, if that would help ?

  6. Jennifer Ward says:

    I’ve been researching cutting out gluten for my child with sensory processing disorder. Is it possible to just cut back on the amount of gluten he consumes, or would I need to cut it out completely to see any possible changes? He LIVES off of bread & pasta, so it makes me nervous to completely cut it out of his diet… I’m scared he won’t eat. Any tips would be helpful! Thanks so much!

    • You would have to cut it out completely to see if it makes any difference to eliminate gluten. Some ancient grains like spelt or kamut cause less digestive problems. I have also had success with Tipo Double 00 flour from Italy which is not as glutinous as regular white flour. You can get gluten free rice pasta and the texture is quite good. There are also corn and quinoa types so you can try those too. There are gluten free breads available but the taste is quite different from regular bread. You may have to experiment with brands to see if your son will try an alternative.

      If your child has a high carbohydrate diet, that may cause energy spikes and decreases as those are turned into simple sugars. I am not sure what issues your son is experiencing with SPD. Why do you think getting rid of gluten will make a difference? Are you seeing digestive problems, headaches, rashes or other symptoms of gluten intolerance?

  7. Yani says:

    We recently started a dairy/soy/gluten free diet and I seen some improvement specially in bowels but I been concerned about her weight she has always been at the lower percentage for her age what can we do to help gain weight on this diet? Also can she continue to breastfeed? 

    • Yes- you can continue to breastfeed. You can try adding some fat to her diet in the form of flax or sunflower oil. Just put some on rice, potatoes or vegetables to increase caloric intake.

  8. SABA BUKHARI says:

    My son is 2.4 years old i live in joint family. There are 4 children at house they all play normal except my son as his from birth very cranky he cried too much even his starting days i mean 40 days now he grew i found him annoying doesn’t like to play with his cousins in the family he push them or doesn’t share his things he lives his own world just like tv cartoon for long period he took 5 to 6 feeder of formula milk a day he bang his head on the floor some time he slaps on his face when things not happened like he desire to be. I went to dr he told me that ur son is getting autistic behavior u reached at good time u can save ur kid from this desease he told me instruction that u should zero screen time
    Take him outside for 2 hrs
    No aggressive behavior from u
    And he gave us risp syrup for him
    Asked to give 2 feedrr of milk a day
    He recognized us and look when we call depending on mood
    He is toe walking also
    Plz help me to save my kid

    • Saba, your son is experiencing some difficulties in the area of social skills, communication and sensory integration. He is under the age of 3 so he should be interacting directly with his environment, not screens. No child learns the properties of objects and how to interact in their world through the use of screens. Here are some things you can do while waiting for an assessment – .

      The outcomes are better for children the younger they are diagnosed. Please seek an assessment and don’t delay with this. Your son needs additional support.

  9. Anna H. says:

    I was reading all of the comments about stomach/constipation and thought this might be helpful. My son has suffered from awful constipation for many years. The best solution I have found is celery juice. If you have a juicer you can make it yourself. He is 18 years old and drinks 6 to 8 ounces of it 4 to 5 times a week. It really helps him.

  10. Manasa Veena Vanga says:

    Hi, how do I know if GFCF diet is really working for my child?
    He dont have any GI issues, but diagnosed with autism. Wanted to see if this helps and started a week ago, not seeing any major gains. Should I try for a month or so?

    • If there are to be any improvements, you should see those in 6 weeks’ time. The GF/CF diet is only effective for about 20% of the autism population. If your son was not having any symptoms previously, this diet may make no difference.

  11. Gwendolyn says:

    Thank you for this article. My son suffers from Chronic constipation, hurts so bad that I feel helpless. The GP prescribed Paediatric Movicol but it doesn’t make a difference at all. We are currently seeing a dietitian for his eating – it’s a struggle to get him to eat most times. Do you think GFCF diet could help? How long will it take for me to see a difference if I put him on the diet? Would you recommend I get him tested for Gluten allergy before we change to GF? I’m worried that he doesn’t do well with food and might get worse if I change his diet.

  12. Shely says:

    Hi. My 27 month old son got diagnosed with autism. We want to know if GFCF diet can be tried for him without any side effects? He doesnt have any GI issues at present. Thanks

    • Yes – you can try the GF/CF diet but you will want to consult your doctor to make sure your son is getting enough nutrients. Rice milk, for example, does not have the same calcium levels as cow’s milk. You also want to make sure his diet remains high in fiber to avoid constipation. If you don’t see any GI issues such digestive problems or chronic diarrhea, no headaches or rashes, it may not be necessary to try this diet. It is only effective in about 20% of the diagnosed population. For my children, it was necessary for their health.

      Please also be advised that I am not a doctor or dietician so if you have further questions about your son’s nutritional health, please consult one of those professionals.

  13. Sandy Knott says:

    Thank you for sharing my son is 9and I think he as autism any way I try to make everything I give to him from start I know he is not fully gulden and casein free  but we are getting there he is not potty train and that is the hardest part of it so if you can give me a idea how to potty train him I will be great full I use the almond milk and I give him a lot of rice omarga3 .is sinus is not too bad since I start give him natural food and also auger free thank you for herein my story the lord bless you 

    • Sandy, have a look at my article about toilet training as I give lots of tips and list several resources to help. I can only give toileting advice on very specific questions because every person has a different process and style of toileting. Some use different positions such a squatting, some are fearful of the flushing sound, some will only defecate on the floor and so forth. Toileting is a very complex skill and people with autism have more difficulties due to many factors such as diet, low fluid intake, impaired bowel motility, etc.

      A natural food diet is the best one if you can provide it with high fiber, fruits and vegetables. If your child does not eat a broad diet, consider adding supplements but do this with the guidance of a doctor or dietician so that you can make sure all nutrients are being given.

  14. Amina says:

    Hi . My son 7 year old igg food allergy test report shows high intolerance with casein and gluten. (Near 8) i dont seeing constipation diarea or any other issues except restless behaviour,cranky (he cant wait or sit ,stand without gazets and run in malls ) I dont know  is gluten is the cause of such behaviour.

    • Amina, if your son is testing for an intolerance for gluten and casein and is having restless and cranky behavior, I would try removing both gluten and dairy from his diet. Keep a food diary and make a note or symptoms or changes that you see. Food intolerances often cause gut inflammation which can affect behavior. It’s worth trying this diet for at least two months and see if there are any changes.

  15. […] are no stopping parents from taking chances and trying new therapies on how they can help their children with autism. There is nothing wrong […]

  16. Synthia Pugmire says:

    Interesting..thank you!!i was pretty exited to hear about how eliminating certain fooda like gluten and dairy can son is struggling and. Testing at his school from a lot of testers and a universityperson who was called in to test are agreeing high functional autism is likely. Whats going on so im new in my research ..i heard today that. Takeing dairy alone. Out of a particular childs diet eliminated his symptoms..i haven’t evan tried yet besides today ..i didn’t realise its only 20%success ..i love your diary information i will definitely try that..i wonder how long it takes to see a significant difference..m o ne loves tacos pizza..and generally food that im. Leary of and i haven’t enforced any strict food rules yet..but realizing now the actual impact of diet..i will..gradually..ive allso heard sugar..for some cirn i haven’t gotten that far in researching yet but the illimination diet maybe testing 1 thing at a time like 1rst eliminating dairy or reduceing occasionally would be better than dairy..ive alkso read adding omega 3 s for some people worjs just that alone so its very individual based what is causing a reaction or lacking in the diet be it minerals..omegas3 fatty acids or idk..but bc he doese have. With constipation..allways theres likely a connection..thank you for shareing your information!

  17. […] In Defense of the GFCFSF Diet for Children with Autism Gluten Free / Dairy Free Diet for Autism : My Experience […]

  18. […] don’t see improvement. Many autism sufferers have seen improvement with diet changes (such as a gluten and dairy-free diet) and the addition of certain vitamins and minerals into their […]

  19. Sushi says:

    HI thanks for your fruitful words. My 2 yr old son is diagnosed with ASD, he is non verbal but very good in IQ. He love to eat any kind of food and we didnt see any issue in his tolerance of Gluten and casein diet. but the only thing i just noticed when he has a dine out food he show some disturbance at night while sleeping. others wise with home made food, milk, wheat etc he show normal tolerance with no diarrhea, constipation etc.
    so can we switch him to GF/CF diet pls advise?

    • When you eat out, those foods may contain additives such as MSG to improve flavor and color. If your son is doing well on the diet and food you prepare for him at home, there is no reason to switch to the GF/CF diet. It is only effective for about 20% of the ASD population.

  20. Akash says:

    Hi – My son is 3.5 years and diagnosed as autism, he is not having any headache, stomach , diarrhea and digestion problems..He eats almost everything and he sleeps well (8-9 hours) and he poops normally but still he has speech delay/aggression often during day/rocking his body often/running/communication/social behaviors/attention/pinpointing I am worried what diet should be followed for him which can help him to improve..

    • Dear Akash,

      Not every child with autism needs to follow any special diet. It sounds like your son is eating a well balanced diet so unless your doctor has any nutritional concerns, it wounds like things are going very well for you in the dietary department. A GF/CF diet is not a cure for autism and it doesn’t work for every child. If you find your son is hyperactive, you may want to talk to your doctor about a more specialized diet which can help with some behaviors.

  21. B.A.O says:

    Hi ! I have a newly diagnosed autistic 4 year old with sensory processing disorder. His entire diet consists with very bland in color foods and pretty much only pasta and chicken nuggets. I want to try a GF diet. He seems to hate everything that I have tried to fix for him. Do you have sample diet plans that you could share that worked for your child ?

    • I don’t have sample diet plans. You will have to experiment with your child. Both of my children follow GF/CF and don’t eat hardly any of the same foods within the diet. My daughter likes rice pasta with freshly grated parmesan Reggiano on it (naturally lactose free). My son loves potatoes, rice, all fruits and veggies, and meat. I bake GF/CF treats using Bob’s Red Mill GF flour and add in the xanthium gum t make it rise. You can also get GF baking powder. Here is a list of GF foods – . There are many good cookbooks out there too for GF/CF diets. Check them out of your local library first to see what works best for you. BTW – my son’s diet only expanded to include a huge variety of foods at the age of 16. Before that, he ate few than 15 different foods. Repeated exposure, eating out, and working at a Farmer’s Market for the past 8 years are the reasons why I think his diet has expanded. There is hope down the road!

  22. Carol says:

    I have just read your article and I am excited to try a GF diet with a 65 year old gentleman with autism.  I am an administrator at a home for adults with developmental disabilities and he is one of the residents.  This fellow is also blind and has limited communication skills.  I have worked with and known this sweet man for many years but I never thought about how his diet could affect his behaviors. He goes through difficult times when he acts out with childish behaviors like pinching or stomping on the toes of others, or screaming and blurting out ‘word salads’ that are usually not  understandable.   My daughter discovered that she needs to be GF for her health and she is going to help us establish some easy meals for our resident.  Thanks for your article; I have been reading everything I could find on the subject and am looking forward to seeing if this helps.  I’ll let you know

    • Carol, thank you for writing such a beautiful comment. What you have really said here is you can never give up hope for improving a person’s life. Trying a dietary change may help this man. He needs your willingness to try as he can’t advocate for himself. Please let me know how it goes!

  23. Rizia Martin says:

    Hi.. my son is 4 and a half and was diagnosed with Autism a year ago. I’ve just changed his diet but have decided to limit the gluten and dairy as much as I can as I feel that completely cutting it out won’t be a practical option for us (right now anyway). My question is, will limiting the gluten and dairy still have an effect on him? 
    Also, my son doesn’t have any digestive problems.. no constipation or dihorrea, no stomach cramps or bad moods.. so I’m wondering if the gluten and dairy even matter in his diet..? I’m going to keep at it anyway and see if I can see improvements in his speech and language (his main issue). Just wondering your thoughts on this.. 

    • Rizia, not every child with autism is intolerant to gluten and/or dairy. If you have not seen any adverse affects having gluten and dairy in his diet, you should be fine. That diet only works in about 20% of autism cases. Not overloading his system with gluten and dairy can be helpful (as it can for anyone). My husband has eliminated gluten from his diet and feels much better. Just keep an eye out for any symptoms such as a change in bowel movements, sleeping patterns, headaches or GI issues. If these signs emerge, you may want to cut out gluten and/or dairy until symptoms improve. When my daughter has dairy such as ice-cream, she breaks out in eczema around her eyes and ears. Everyone is different.

  24. Dacral Lee says:

    Hi Maureen,

    Thank you for sharing your experience. We do not have many concerns in relation to diet since my 5 year old son eats mostly anything that we cook in our home (yes, we try hard to stay away from processed food). He loves milk and fruit yogurt but would not come even close to cheeses or plain yogurt. He loves any home-cooked meat (pork, beef, poultry and fish). He would take any thing as a side dish: home-made fries, mashed potatoes, rice, but he refuses pasta of any sort. He loves simple corn-flakes and almost all fruits: apples, pears, cherries, grapes, bananas, peaches, apricots, but would stay away from melon or pineapple. He loves snacking on cookies and dry stuff like veggie sticks or pita chips. He does not seem to have abdominal cramps or other digestive problems, although most days he has more than one BM. He sleeps on average 9 hours (9:00 PM to 6:00 PM) sometimes more sometimes less, with infrequent wake-ups during the night and if so, he normally gets back to sleep without much fuss. He is in IBI 24 hours a week for 8 months now and will continue likely another 6-8 months. He runs, jumps and climbs on things ALL the time (unless Steve Harvey’s Family Feud is on). He is verbal but does not communicate effectively by words (instead he imitates a lot and started requesting things like certain foods or certain actions/plays, i.e. he would name what he wants by one word: apple, juice, bubbles, bye-bye, etc). Although we are trying hard we could not get him toilet trained by now. He also has 2-3 tantrum-like episodes a day of acting angry and screaming (lasting 30-60 seconds) especially when we deny him something that he wants (like when he’s had too much fruits we would not give him more). Did your kids have these kind of behaviors or similar? Did the CF and GF diet help them? I mean were you able to bring them towards a normal behavior (toilet training, communication, etc) with this special diet’s help? Thank you.

    • Dacral, both of my children showed signs of gluten and dairy intolerance. My daughter still has flare ups around her eyes if she eats dairy. As children get older, you can’t control everything in their lives (mine are 19 and 21). The GF/CF diet has helped both maintain the best health they can. Both can have a bit of gluten now and then, but just not on a regular basis. Your son is young to be toilet trained at 5 so don’t panic about that. People with autism do have developmental delays so you can’t go by age for skill acquisition.

      The diet is not a cure but can help with symptoms like discomfort, pain, headache etc.

      Autism looks differently as a person ages. What my kids looked like at 5 is completely different from 21. Your son will grown, mature, develop self-regulation skills, acquire more language etc. It all takes time and you can’t rush the process.

  25. ThomasWilson says:

    You’ll be stuck with rice, corn and millet for bread substitutes. So no toast, sandwiches, pastries, pasta, cookies, or pretty much anything else that tastes good. Just check the labels, most everything has to specify if it has wheat in it. Even soy sauce has wheat so while Asian foods are pretty good about being wheat free, you gotta watch out for that.

    Well that’s good then if you have an intolerance for it and especially if you have Celiac Disease. Hope you’re getting tested for that or will eventually.

    Some supermarkets sell special gluten free products like wheat free bread. It takes a while to get used to the taste of the stuff cause it’s a weird blend of all the other grains. You can ask stores if they carry anything like that. Otherwise get used to corn tortillas.

  26. LW says:

    I’d really like to hear more about your day-to-day functioning with the diet since you’ve stuck with it so long term. I know enough about it now to give it a try and we have, but we’re only in month-2 of the diet and getting ready to go back to school. I’d love to hear how school, playdates, family parties, holidays, outings, and restaurant trips go with the special diet. Those are the things I think I’ll find most challenging. Also, did your whole family go ahead and jump in? I have two kiddos, only one has autism. I’m fine with going along with it, and just for simplicity (and cross contamination) sake, I’ve also put my younger son on the diet. Any advice??? Thanks.

    • My husband and two children are GF/CF, I am the only one who doesn’t adhere to this diet. I haven’t found the change difficult. It was a hard diet to implement 20 years ago when we started because there were very little GF products available. Most restaurants now have GF options for both bread and pasta. I make baked goods with buckwheat flour, GF flour, quinoa flour or almond meal. Both kids can have gluten if need be but I just limit the amount. A little here and there does no harm as they are not Celiacs. Changing to this diet has not been difficult at all. I make most things from scratch to avoid additives. I am not a stay at home mom either – I am organized and know how to whip up food fast. Stir fries are great options, stews, chili, soups – all can be made GF/CF free. There are also many recipe books that give great ideas for this diet as well.

  27. J says:

    hi, example if the autistic child has improved alot and as they grow up accidentally ate food that aren’t gluten or diary free. Will there be any major causes to them? 

    • If the child is not having issues with their gut or other symptoms like bloating, persistent headaches, etc, the child was probably not gluten or dairy intolerant. The GF/CF diet is only effective in 20% of autism diagnoses. Many children eat a wide variety of foods and are just fine.

  28. Bindi says:

    Diet is an important concern for children with autism as some food creates some gastrointestinal tract related problems after having some food. The diet containing gluten and dairy products should be avoided in diet to avoid symptoms like stomach cramps, diarrhea, irritation etc. Note the symptoms after taking different food is very helpful strategies to figure out which food is suitable for children. Thank you for providing your good information about diet for people with autism.

  29. Ellen says:

    This is definitely true when I started a gluten and dairy free lifestyle my daughter has ADHD and she has lesser tantrums and no stomach upset like recently we tried this and she love the macaron so much

  30. Ann Hoopsick says:

    A “fresh food, freshly prepared” gluten free diet is worth trying for everyone, but it must be done long term. It is not just the food you are eating but the damage that has been done internally and this must be healed to see the greater benefits the “real” GF diet offers and this can take some time. The reason many people do not see a change is because they have no willpower to stay “true” to the diet and also get away from the processed “GF” foods. People think it’s a game, they eat this GF and that GF but then sit down to a meal full of it the next day. It does not work like that and most people do not understand that it is like a peanut allergy. We do tell a child with a peanut allergy, “Oh, you can have a little today, it wont’ hurt you.” People don’t take the Gluten problem that serious, but I do. About the cost of GF; that’s a joke. People waste money at coffee shops for $5 cups of coffee but GF is expensive. People take vacations. Skip the vacation and put the money in to getting your family’s health. What is you and your family’s health worth? Most people are paying ridiculous amounts for health insurance that most of the time does little to “cure” health issues, but the GF diet completely cured the problems I was having and three years later I’m still good.

  31. SEAN BOULET says:

    Nice sharing of your thoughts and experience! I am definitely pragmatic when it comes to specialized diets. If parents that I work with are trying them out and are having positive results, that’s great! As I sometimes say when I do presentations (e.g. on topics such as Anxiety or Sleep) – “I’m not anti-anti-gluten”. That said, I do work with a lot of kids that are on specialized diets for seemingly a long time with no benefits (at least none that seem measurable) – and then these kids are not able to eat more “regular” (no moral judgment here!) foods with their friends (and these diets can cost a fair bit of money). I think it is always worth trying something, though. Sometimes I am surprised, however, when some people will jump into a gluten-free (or other) diet that involves mainly omissions and substitutions, but aren’t simultaneously trying to actually increase health-supporting fruits, veggies, foods high in Omega 3s, etc., etc…
    I think your article really tries to strike a balance – try things out and see what works, but always keep an eye on whether it actually works for your child and your family. Keep up your great work – your organization is awesome. : )

    • Sean, thank you for such a detailed comment to this article. I will tell you something quite exciting that has happened for my son – he now eats almost every fruit and vegetable under the sun! He just turned 20 last week. This was a long process but I attribute part of this success to exposure to those foods through his volunteer work at a local Farmer’s Market. He came into contact with growers and the fruits/veggies so a relationship developed, so to speak. Marc now eats red peppers, green beans, squash, zucchini, all berries, pineapple, corn, and peas to name a few things. He loves trying new things. While I agree that this diet can start out as limiting, we had to improve our son’s GI health first and get him stabilized.

      The GF/CF diet is only effective for about 20% of the ASD population, but it really can help if a child has these intolerances. It’s important to stay away from processed foods and even within the GF/CF diet, I still try and make most things rather than buying commercially prepared foods.

      Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed response to the article. Your kind words are appreciated!

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