For many years, focusing on diet in regards to autism was considered an “alternative” form of therapy, but nowadays it’s becoming clearer that diet can have a noticeably positive effect on those who are on the spectrum.
Currently, there is a lot of focus on a gluten-free, casein-free diet (GFCF)—meaning the elimination of wheat and casein, a protein found in milk and milk by-products. This follows the theory that children with autism have difficulty or are unable to break down gluten or casein, thus resulting in the partially digested proteins to seep through the intestinal walls and leak into the blood stream. Studies show that this “leaky gut” syndrome can be linked to problems with hyperactivity, speech and social skills, and behavior. With a diet free of gluten and casein, that’s also low in sugar and additives, there have been recorded benefits, as noted by the Autism Research Institute, such as better sleep, and general alertness and attentiveness, allowing kids on the spectrum to get more from therapy and continue to make progress. More research is still needed (since there’s an insufficient amount of scientific evidence at this point), but feel free to read about the GFCF diet on WebMD to better acquaint yourself with the material that’s available.
Below, we’ve compiled some of our favorite recipes that are made up of gluten-free, vegan, or low-sugar dishes, and all of which are great for our kids and making sure their health remains a top priority!
Note: To make this dish completely dairy-free, swap in cheddar-style shreds for the cheddar cheese