Practical Gluten & Casein Free Substitutes

I perpetually have the best intentions in trying to eliminate gluten and casein from my child’s diet (to read about why you should consider a GFCF diet for your autistic child, see my previous post). However, I’m a single mom with a grocery budget, so going the extra mile for organic and special brands aren’t always practical! Add to the mix an older child that is one of the pickiest eaters in the universe and sodium and sugar restrictions on my own diet… it is not unusual for me to buy and prepare three separate menus in this house.

I thought I would put together a small list of some common items found at your local grocery store that are gluten and casein free. Some may not be the healthiest, but it is nice to know that there are options to sometimes buy these common brands, saving a trip to the ATM a health food store.





What are some of your experiences? Feel free to head over to the Spirit Of Autism Facebook Fan Page and post some of your successes, strategies, and struggles with the GFCF diet in your home! I’d love to hear from you.

Why Gluten and Casein Free for Autism?

Persons with Autism tend to have food sensitivities more than food allergies. The biggest offenders can be gluten and casein. To most Autistic children especially, gluten and casein are the equivalent of poison.

Gluten and gluten-like proteins are found in wheat and other grains as well as foods made from those grains. They are also found in food starches, semolina, couscous, malt, some vinegars, soy sauce, flavorings, and artificial colors.

Casein is a protein found in milk and foods containing milk, such as cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream, and whey.

Gluten and casein are not properly digested and form peptides, or substances that act like opiates in their bodies. The peptides then alter the child’s behavior, perceptions, and responses to his or her environment.

As they leak into the gut, undigested, they can attach to the opiate receptors of the autistic person’s brain. Essentially, many autistic children are “drugged” on wheat and milk products, as if they were on a morphine drip. This not only aggravates and distorts their already skewed spatial perception, but they also crave these foods, becoming addicted quite rapidly.

Some parents have shared with me that their child’s response to milk removal was quicker and more obvious than when gluten was removed.  Urine tests have shown that casein peptides can leave the system in about three days, but it can take up to eight months on a casein-free, gluten-free diet for all peptide levels to drop.

With the increasing awareness of gluten and casein sensitivities, there are so many viable and delicious substitutes out there for the family to enjoy. Almond milk and gluten-free cereals are two of our favorites. The hardest part is trying to monitor what your child eats while outside of the home.