Are You Really On the Gluten Free Diet?


As a parent of Autism, it’s difficult in itself to adjust to the changes that need to be made. One of the most difficult areas to adjust to are diet changes. Adopting a gluten and casein free diet is something that is commonly practiced amongst parents of autistic children. Parents instantly cut out the obvious foods like bread and milk, and foods that contain bread and/or milk. Is cutting out the obvious enough? What about products that contain hidden gluten? And we’re not just talking food.

There are some foods that don’t necessarily have gluten or wheat in the ingredients, however it is part of the food makeup. Some foods to be sure to avoid are:

  • Salad dressings
  • Maranades
  • Soy Sauce
  • Spices
  • Anything with “Spices” in the ingredient list
  • Gravy
  • Ice Cream / Yogurt
  • Dried Fruit
  • Non-Stick cooking spray
  • Chewing gum
  • Candy Mints
  • Ketchup
  • Infant Formula
  • Processed Meats

It is important to pay special attention in situations in which the GF diet isn’t the only diet practiced in the house, special care should be taken to ensure that cross contamination doesn’t take place. If your Autistic child is on the Gluten Free diet, however, you’ve chosen to not practice it, there’s a good chance that you may be cross contaminating without realizing it. Do you toast your gluten free bread in the same toaster as regular bread?  Do you use the same cutting board for gluten free and non-gluten free food? If so, there’s a high chance for cross-contamination to occur. The little peices of wheat that fall off of the regular bread can easily latch onto the gluten free bread.

It’s not just the foods that we eat that can contain hidden gluten in them. Products that are used every day with no second thought can contain gluten and cause adverse reactions to those who are intolerant of gluten. Where are these hidden sources of Gluten? Here a few that you should certainly be mindful of to ensure that you or your Autistic child are really are on the Gluten Free diet.

Some of the things that you should avoid, or check into are:

  • Any kind of adhesive (including that in band-aids)
  • Lickable stamps/stickers for kids
  • school supplies including glue
  • modeling clay
  • soaps in bar and liquid forms
  • shampoo
  • conditioner
  • any kind of lotion or sunscreen
  • toothpaste
  • dental floss
  • mouthwash
  • play-doh
  • hair gel
  • hair spray

Going Gluten Free is a very big decision with marked health improvements from those who are successful. It’s important that if you or your child are on the gluten free diet, that you’re sure not to just cut out the obvious. Gluten is an ingredient that is included in many foods and products that you might not ever think of.  If you adopt the GF diet, be sure to do your homework and research potential hazards in your food and product habits.

The Link Between Autism and Food Allergies

gluten-freeThough it’s not completely proven, there have been studies that show a strong connection between food allergies and autism symptoms. One of the most frequently heard connections is that between Gluten (wheat) and Casein (milk) products. These food proteins are broken down into smaller proteins, also known as peptides. The two peptides, glutenin and gliadin, and leak into the gut and attach to the opitate receptors of the autistic child’s brain. This is very similar to the body being on a morphine drip. The peptides act as a Narcotic to the autistic body.

One of the primary steps in the Defeat Autism Now! (DAN) Protocol is that the autistic child be placed on a Gluten Free, Casein Free diet for at least three months. Many parents have been reporting a link between Autism and diet for years, but it’s now being found that children who consume gluten and casein regularly have more severe autism symptoms. Some of the research reports that claim to “disprove” this theory, also depend a lot on the idea that this is an allergic reaction that is being claimed to exist. Quite the contrary. In fact, it’s not due to an allergic reaction that the symptoms worsen. It’s because the autistic body cannot break down the proteins properly from gluten and casein.  It’s not necessarily an allergy so much as an intolerance.

When parents make the move to take their children off of Gluten and Casein completely, they’re often worried. One of the main concerns is that their children love gluten and casein products. Many parents have a difficult time getting their children to not eat gluten and casein, as if they’re addicted to it. This is more than just an analogy. It could be completely true. Remember, when gluten and casein break down, they leak into the gut and attach themselves to the opiate receptors of the brain. The same receptors that morphine, codeine and heroin attach themselves to. Your child could literally be addicted to gluten and casein.

Researchers are firm in their statements that “autism is not caused by an allergy.” When some parents read about the effects of gluten and casein, they assume their child is allergic to the foods and that’s the cause of Autism. They take their children off of the foods and expect a cure. Again, as far as we know, autism is not caused by an allergy. However, children with Autism Spectrum Disorders are very sensitive – especially in their immune system in how it reacts to the environment.

One of the primary focuses of the Autism Alternative Medicine field is exploring ways in which we can treat our children’s autism symptoms and getting to the source of the problem. While there have been some reports that go against the connection between food allergies and Autism, there are still researchers who very much believe that there is a valid connection and they’re exploring this intensely.