Why does eating these foods cause problems?
In the early 1980s, a number of researchers, studied urine samples from groups of autistic children. The urine of some of these children was found to contain two peptides, formed from incompletely broken-down proteins in gluten (found in wheat, barley, rye, and cross-contaminated oats) and casein (found in milk). In essence these children were behaving like morphine addicts.
Many ASD children are suspected to suffer from a permeable intestinal tract, more commonly called a “leaky gut.” When these children ingest foods containing gluten and casein, their intestines leak toxins that are absorbed into the bloodstream. These toxins work their way to the child’s brain and bind to the opiate receptors. The gluten and dairy products that have been ingested, therefore, drug the child. The children react as if they are on morphine or heroin, creating behavioural disturbances.
These children are not having an allergic reaction, as much as showing intolerance to these foods. They usually crave foods with wheat and milk, often exclusively. Their bodies require these foods like an addict requires his or her drug of choice, By almost exclusively consuming products containing gluten and milk, they also miss out on proper nutrition, because their diets exclude fruits, vegetables, and other important nutrients that the body requires.
How expensive is this diet going to be?
This is often the main reason parents are hesitant to begin the GFCF Diet. They are so worried about the cost. I often respond, “What if your child needed medications or medical devices? Wouldn’t you come up with the money to help him or her?” Changing your child’s diet should not be treated any differently. In fact, this diet is easier (even if it does not seem like it now) and possibly healthier than the way your children are eating now.
Remember, you can make many typical family meals that are naturally gluten free and casein free. Here are some examples of foods you can use: Chicken/Turkey/Other poultry/Beef/Fish/Shellfish/Eggs/Corn/Potatoes/Yams/Sweet potatoes/Rice/Millet/Amarath/Buckwheat/Beans/Lentils/Fruits/Vegetables.
Just make sure that any added sauces, condiments, toppings, spices, or other ingredients are also gluten free and casein free. That said, the price you pay would be no different than for your regular purchases. You may think that your child will not eat these foods. But in time, you will be surprised. After being on the diet for a while, you and your child will want to expend the repertoire of foods and he or she will be willing to try many new foods.
Encourage your children to try foods several times before completely ruling them out. Some experts say that you must taste a food as many as four times before you decide that you like it. Sometimes an enjoyable taste takes time to acquire. What can be costly at first is having to purchase extra cooking items-for example, cookie sheets, a toaster, a bagel cutter, pots and pans, a grill or griddle, colanders, and cutting boards-to be sure you are not cross-contaminating the GFCF foods from other foods that family members eat. When you are preparing GFCF foods, you will want to use only cooking items that you have labelled “GFCF” Labelling also will keep family members from accidentally using these items for foods containing gluten or dairy.
If you plan to use the same utensils to prepare GFCF foods and foods containing gluten and dairy, you must wash the GFCF items in the dishwasher to sterilize them and remove all proteins. If you do not own a dishwasher, use very thick dishwashing gloves, extremely hot water, and a clean dishrag used only for GFCF items. Having separate cookware and cooking items for GFCF foods is the smartest way to go. The risk of cross-contamination is too high and not worth it.
Where can I find GFCF foods?
Health-food stores and specialty grocery stores. More and more grocery stores are stocking GFCF foods. Many foods can also be purchased online. (Make sure that the foods you purchase are both gluten free and casein free.)
Will my whole family have to change the way they eat?
No! As long as you take care to avoid cross-contamination, you can still have gluten and casein in your home. The most important thing to remember is that you must keep the foods separate. You will need separate shelves in the pantry and separate sections in the freezer or refrigerator.
Why should we try this diet?
In September 2007, a study was done at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, concluding that certain compounds produced in the digestive system are linked to autistic-type behaviours in laboratory settings, possibly demonstrating that what autistic children eat can alter their brain function. What fascinated these scientists most was the fact that many of children on the autism spectrum craved breads and dairy products, causing many non-typical behaviours.
Many sources have shown that dairy and gluten cause opiate reactions in the brain. Thus ASD children have gastric abnormalities, severe issues, and difficulty with change of routine and cognitive functioning problems. These children also show immaturity; difficulty in communication skills, especially when it comes to crying fits; and many other traits not found in typical children, especially all at once.
The best reason to try this diet is that it might actually work. Your child might actually be on the path to greatly improving his or her condition. Your family, your child, his or her friends, his or her teachers, and others involved in your child’s life may be able to see the real child hidden under the autistic umbrella, once this diet starts to work.
How long will it take to work?
Most people suggest following the diet for at least three months, with six months being optimum, to see if it works. This means three to six months of sticking to the diet 100 percent of the time. That comes after the trial and error involved in moving slowly onto the diet.
Why so long?
The body needs quite some time to rid itself of the toxic effects that gluten and casein have caused. Also, you will need time to understand how this diet works, how it is to be implemented, and how to avoid cross- contamination. You’ll also need to find ways to have your child accept the diet 100 percent of the time, especially when he or she is away from you.
You have to start gradually and work your way up to bring 100 percent GFCF all of the time. (For those with celiac disease, you need to go 100 percent GF right away!) You will need a lot of time, knowledge, skill, and experience to achieve the most favourable results that everyone is seeking. Some children respond so well to the diet that their parents can see changes during the first week. However, this is not common for most children. Do not expect this outcome, but rejoice if you see changes quickly.
Does it always work?
The GFCF Diet can and does work for many families who follow the details completely and fully. Succeeding with this diet takes guidance, patience, stamina, and the desire to do everything possible to make a difference.
If your child has been addicted to dairy and gluten products and you follow the GFCF Diet correctly, the changes will quickly become evident. The diet will work sooner, and you should see success.
If it does work, what changes can I expect to see?
If it works, you should start to see a new child emerge, like a butterfly hatching from a cocoon or chrysalis. Hopefully you will see a totally different, calmer, happier, and better adjusted child. You should see tantrums vanish or diminish. You should see most of your child’s sensory issues improve or disappear.
Behaviours should improve. Fears, anxieties, depression, and meltdowns should improve or fade away completely. Stools should regulate to normalcy. The diet also should help in eliminating any gastric upset.
Won’t my child starve?
No, your child will not starve. In fact, not only will he or she learn to enjoy this new repertoire of foods, but he or she also will begin to try new foods and actually like some! This may take years, but you can slowly incorporate new foods weekly or monthly, whatever works best for your child.
What special arrangements should we make?
Talk to everyone who comes in contact with your child-family members and friends; school personnel; day care providers and nannies; and anyone else who will spend even five minutes with your child. Explain that your child should never consume anything other than what you provide for him or her. Explain that the items you provide must be kept in the baggie or container until your child removes them himself. If any of these people take the food out of the bag for your child, they may have something on their hands to cross-contaminate it.
When to consult a physician regarding medications?
Many physicians just want to prescribe medication. Unfortunately medicines have many side effects and often just mask the problem. If you have followed the GFCF Diet strictly, imposed all other interventions, given everything enough time, and clearly still not had success, you might want to discuss medication with your physician, if absolutely necessary. Medications should never be the first thing you try.
Where do I begin?
This is the pressing question. How do we start this new adventure? You undoubtedly are confused, perhaps angry, a bit anxious, clearly overwhelmed, concerned, and worried about starting this new endeavour. These are normal feelings.
Visit us @ Pebbles n Pearls for step to step guidance on how to start GFCG diet and follow up.