It has become increasingly acceptable to treat Autism and other related issues with a Gluten Free and Casein Free diet. Many families have seen a reduction of Autism related symptoms with the implementation of this diet. The basic premise being that once the toxic proteins like gluten are eliminated from the diet, the symptoms of Leaky Gut are able to recede and the brain and gut operate in less inflamed, more productive state.
Our philosophy when treating Charlotte’s issues in a Food Based Intervention was to go with the most natural, holistic approach. As we began our research into interventions for Autism we stumbled into a political, highly controversial debate that only fueled our confusion and anxiety. We do not have strong opinions about other environmental causes for our child’s Autism. We can only speak to the condition and improvement of the mother and child’s digestive systems that are due to the Paleo Diet.
Why we chose Paleo over GFCF….
A GFCF diet will allow processed foods that eliminate gluten. These foods are often filled with sugars and preservatives that are still foreign invaders to a delicate system.
A GFCF diet will allow soy milk and soy alternatives. In terms of ancestral health, soy is considered a non food. Just like wheat and grain products, it takes processing to make this a safe food to eat. More science on soy here.
A GFCF diet will allow legumes like beans and rice that are free of gluten, but contain other inflammatory ingredients like lectins that can promote irritation of the stomach lining and ultimately affect brain and nervous system functioning.
In our experience, a GFCF diet may be the first step toward the Paleo Diet. Many families may find that eliminating gluten (wheat) and casein (dairy) products is a temporary change that feels easier and more manageable than clearing out the pantry of all processed foods and family favorites. If you must feed your child something processed, begin to read ingredient labels to understand the level of processing that real food must undergo to make it appealing to our children.
Chad and I shake our heads in disbelief and exchange private glances when we see our kids gobbling up vegetables like brussel sprouts, swiss chard, and avocados. We made so many attempts to get our kids to enjoy these foods when we served them with sides of garlic bread, pasta, rice, or other starches. It is amazing to see the transformation of their taste buds and development of their little pallets to delicious, whole, real food.
In order for this to happen to our kids, we had to eliminate the starchy, sugary, processed ingredients that even gluten-free foods contain. It seems as if these foods block the delicious flavors and textures foods like vegetables contain. To the child, the real food begins to feel and taste foreign to them. When we see other families struggling to get their kids to eat more vegetables, we say to each other, “They just can’t taste it”.
Having an awareness that big food companies do not have our health as their top priority helps when making a transition away from processed foods. These companies will label and modify their products to make us feel less guilty about buying them, but the bottom line is what is driving them. The health of our children is in our hands, and knowing the effects of processed foods on the body can sometimes only be felt and seen after those foods are fully eliminated.
For our family, eliminating the gut and brain altering foods was crucial. Reading labels and avoiding processed foods led us to Paleo foods which nourish the body with healthy and natural vitamins in the form of meat, vegetables, and natural fats and was our next step in the journey of overall wellness.
For more information and insight on introducing the Paleo Diet to your family see Recommendations & Advice.