Do you know that gluten is bothering you and that you really should give it up and start eating gluten free? I knew ever since I was about 6 years old that gluten is not good for me, and yet, I kept eating it until I finally gave it up for good nearly 2 years ago. Learn about my journey to finally go gluten free and why you can do it too, if you have to.
Are you thinking about trying a gluten free diet with your child who has an autism spectrum disorder? A gluten free diet for autism is very popular and for many reasons. There have been several studies done which show that many more children on the autism spectrum are gluten sensitive and or have celiac disease than the average population. See Healing the New Childhood Epidemics Autism, ADHD, Asthma and Allergies: The Groundbreaking Program for the 4-A disorders for one such study which showed that 65% of children on the autism spectrum improve when they eat a gluten free diet. There have also been other books that have been published more recently that talk about the connections between grains and your brain. This has to do with autism but also with other auto-immune diseases and other brain disorders as well.
So how do you actually implement a gluten free diet for autism? This can be challenging but it can be done. I remember when my mom put me on this diet as a child around age 6 and it was hard at first but I did it. Now I regret eating gluten again and I wish I had stayed off it forever.
Here are 7 steps to actually getting your child to follow a gluten free diet for autism without tearing your hair out.
1. Be committed to making it happen. Do what it takes. Get commitment from your spouse if you have one, or from anyone else who lives in your household. If you have other children, you will need to explain to them what is going on to the extent possible.
2. If your child is old enough and has enough understanding to know what is going on, explain it to him or her as well. Make sure you tell your child the reasons why you are doing this gluten free for autism diet.
3. Get prepared. Gather enough gluten free recipes to be able to make a variety of delicious meals that your child will want to eat for at least 2 months. Keep adding to your collection on a regular basis. Avoid recipes that involve a lot of complicated instructions or too many ingredients. This is one of the reasons that my free 30 days of gluten free and dairy free recipes offer that you can opt-in for below or at the top of this page, has the recipes that it does. Yes I do sometimes cook things that are more complicated but the gluten free diet is much easier when you have simple recipes to follow. You also need to stock up on things that you will use a lot of such as gluten free oats, millet, quinoa, olive oil, coconut oil and various spices.
4. Eliminate as many of the foods with gluten in them from your home as possible. Ideally you want to get rid of everything, but depending upon who is in your household and their dietary needs and cooperation, you may have to keep some of it around and out of sight from your child.
5. Take inventory of how much food with gluten your child has been eating. If it is a lot, you may need to transition to this diet gradually by eating for example, one gluten free meal per day rather than doing it all at once. If you already don’t eat a lot of gluten, then you may be able to do it cold turkey. One fairly simple thing that you can do is to replace any pasta and bread you have been eating with the gluten free versions. Over time you will want to eat fewer grains and carbs and eat more fruits and vegetables but in the beginning you may have to focus more on gluten free and less on eating for optimum health.
6. Involve your child in planning your meals. Ask your child to chose what he or she wants to eat from pictures of foods. This helps reduce picky eating and makes it more likely that your child will eat what you have prepared.
7. Keep plenty of snack foods on hand for munching. Great gluten free options include: apple slices, apple sauce, gluten free crackers, fruit snacks (organic ones are better), peanut butter with celery or rice crackers, dates, packs of nuts etc.
Need more detailed help? Check out my Healthy Eating for Children with Autism Online Course
Some people think that a gluten free diet is a fad and while that may be true for a small percentage of people who follow a gluten free diet exclusively because they think it will help them lose weight, a gluten free diet is not a fad for the majority of people.
1. Celiac disease is a very real and serious condition and anyone who has it should absolutely not eat any gluten ever. Period. There is no debating this.
2. Gluten intolerance is a very real condition despite the denial that this condition exists by many doctors. Some people estimate that up to 15% of the U.S. population has a gluten sensitivity. One of these is Dr. Amy Myers with this article on 3 Reasons to Give Up Gluten. She also says that gluten is connected in one way or another to 55 different diseases.
3. Gluten free is a crucial part of many diets that have been proven to work and to improve the health of a lot of people. This includes diets like the paleo diet.
4. Wheat which is the number one source of gluten has been engineered and modified and sprayed with chemicals to the point that it can no longer be considered a health food. This is evidenced by the research and books such as the Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health
5. Many of the most highly processed food and the foods that have the most sugar also have gluten in them. While there are gluten free foods that also are processed and have sugar, if you go gluten free odds are good that you will by default eat less sugar.
Do you think that a gluten free diet is a fad? or have you benefited health wise with a gluten free diet? I’d love to hear in the comments.
If you’re curious to know my personal strategies that have already helped thousands of people improve their health and live a gluten free lifestyle easily and at a lower cost, click here to learn more.