GFCF Diet in a child with mulitple allergies?

LeeAnn - posted on 12/22/2009 ( 8 moms have responded )




Hello! I have a very picky 3 year old daughter with Autism. She is allergic to milk, eggs, soy, tree and mold mixes. We are currently using DariFree milk, and try our best to keep dairy products out of her diet. This is very hard, since her younger sister uses cow's milk, and she will take sissy's cup away, and drink her milk. We are currently not on the GFCF diet, and are on a VERY limited budget. Soy seems to be the "go to" product on most of the foods I have read about on this diet. Can anyone help me find some very affordable alternatives that my picky daughter will eat? She LOVES chips, cereal, and other crunchy things, and especially things like Cheetos, and Doritos. Are there any affordable products out there with the same flavor, without these ingredients? It might be helpful to mention that she also has DiGeorge Syndrome. When we met with the Geneticist, he told us "those diets are crap, and don't make any difference, Autism isn't caused from foods, it's a nuerological disorder" so my husband and I are skeptical. Please also share some of your stories, and help me help my duaghter! Thanks and God Bless!


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Karen - posted on 01/08/2010




I think everyone on here has posted something great!!!! It still blows my mind, how everyone seems to think the diet is crap or "no scientific data has proven it" !!!!!! WHO CARES! i think the only reason they say this is vecause they dont benefit in the pocket....My thought was if all i have to do is change his diet than I owe this too him!!!! Its amazing the changes you see! Yes, its time consuming and costly, but hes worth every penny!!!! Its tight spending the money on the products, but like the previous posts, you can find regualr store brands that are gf and cf.
Do note that sooooo many prodcuts that you find gf are not cf!! So many products contain milk, like the cheetoos and dortiotos.
We use UTZ chips which are based on the east coast, lays plian chips. That replaced his goldfish, fruit snacks and fruit strips by floridas natural are gf. I shop at wegmans I live in maryland and they have a lot to offer, what I do love is that their store brands are labled gf, vegan, lactose etc etc. So i can buy store brands and be confident! He snacks on the gorilla munch peanut butter flavor and plain as cereal and a snack, and they also make cereal bars and envior kids makes a rice krispy style fruit bar as well

I must say I am glad I joined this group, there is deft a lot of support on here, and you need we ladies need all the support we can get !!!!!!!! Thanks

Diane - posted on 01/03/2010




Our son was not nearly as open to trying new foods. When we started the diet, we found replacements for his few foods he would eat. Experimented with recipes until we had the winning version. He ate homemade chicken nuggets two meals a day for over a year. All I cared about is that he was GF/CF. But slowly but surely, we expanded his diet by making his nuggets with turkey, pork, beef, and even lamb. Found ways to bake them so everything wasn't fried, and added finely shredded veggies and protein powders. We incorporated a New Foods Drill in his home ABA program, targetting foods we knew he would like if he would just take one bite. By the end of the first week in this program, he had added 4-5 new foods, including hot dogs, scrambled eggs, veggie chips, and later on, muffins (which is huge, because they are an awesome way to hide shredded veggies and protein).

Here is a document I put together awhile back - a dump of some of our tricks to get protein into our picky eater:
Some tricks that worked for us to get our son to try new foods:

Bribery: Offer a highly-preferred food for taking one bite of a new one, and immediately make a huge deal if that bite is taken. (We never targeted a food that we didn’t think he would like if he did take a bite, and always offered a food that did taste good, knowing it would probably be thrown away once he refused it. We threw away hotdogs for months before he finally took a bite, and when it did, it became an instant favorite when he realized they really tasted good. The same thing happened with sausage, meatballs, rice with melted margarine (ultimately adding pasta sauce and cut up meat and shredded veggies or green beans), etc. (If there are no preferred GF/CF foods, try allowing 20 minutes to watch a favorite video or play with a preferred toy, given immediately once the food was tried.) One trick that worked several times was taking him to the grocery store just before lunch when he was getting hungry, and opening up a bag a GF/CF chips and eating it in front of him while shopping. Just ignored him, while I crunched on the chips and made “Mmmmm – these are good” sounds. He would grab the bag and start eating some too, and ½ a bag later, we’d be checking out with a new food option on our list. May not be the healthiest, but adding snack options really helps expand food choices. His snacks now include veggie chips, pea crisps, yam chips, plantain chips, beet and root chips, fritos dipped in hummus, sweet potato tortilla chips, crackers, dry cereal, raisins, fruit leathers, dried fruit, fruit sauce and much more. (I buy the Healthy Harvest fruit sauces, that do not contain added sugar or corn syrup – same with juices – we try to eliminate unnecessary added sugars, dyes, flavorings, and other additives that provide no nutritional benefit or food value).

Bathtime fun: Offer a small bowl of chips or crackers during bath time as a special treat, or ½ of a juice popsicle in the tub. They feel special that they got a treat in the tub, and you’ve turned a fairly new food into a reinforcer.

Secret Weapons = Smoothies and Muffins – The best secret weapons for moms of picky eaters. May take awhile to get them to accept muffins and/or smoothies due to texture and color issues, but once these are part of the foods that will be eaten, they offer up a whole new world of opportunities for getting “good stuff” into your picky eater. This includes shredded veggies and fruits like zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, apples, pears, berries, etc. They can also hide protein powders (Nutribiotic Rice Protein, JRobb's Egg Protein, or Kirkman’s Pea Protein powder), and Flaxseed meal or EFA powder from Kirkman Labs to add omega threes. We’ve even measured out a daily dosage of Calcium powder per cookie or muffin (Kirkman’s chocolate flavored calcium powder has no ill after-taste). But if you use muffins or cookies for calcium, you need to monitor intake, and reserve them for the daily dosage only. Recently I made a batch of banana muffins, and added about ½ cup of GFCFSF (soy free too) chocolate chips from Enjoy Life Foods – a huge hit, and they also contained flaxseed meal and soy-free margarine.

Meatballs or meatloaf can also be a great way to sneak in finely grated squash, carrots, or protein powders. Make a huge batch and keep them in the freezer for easy meal prep as needed.

Recently we added another success to our arsenal of food options: Cooked and pureed butternut squash was used as a sauce over pasta, and our son was none the wiser. Ate it up just like spaghetti sauce, and got a healthy serving of squash instead. He also loves mashed potatoes, and a recent instant hit: mashed sweet potatoes. Or julienne some potatoes and/or sweet potatoes and make oven fries. The yam fries taste even better dipped in warm applesauce with cinnamon sugar.

We also always have a bag of Ore-Ida Tater tots on hand in the freezer to serve with hamburgers, hotdogs, etc.

Another idea: If your child will eat rice, try steaming some cauliflower (do not over cook – keep it al dente – then coarsely chop it up and it can be used instead of rice, or mix rice with it and add veggies, meat, margarine, or pasta sauce.

Once our son would eat hot dogs, we also added “pigs in a blanket” (hot dog cooked in a GF/CF biscuit), and corn dogs (made our own GF/CF Corn dogs on a stick).

French Toast can be a fun breakfast treat. I would make up about ½ a loaf of GF/CF bread into French Toast, and keep in the freezer for easy prep later. Slice up into fingers, and serve with a small glass custard cup of maple syrup for dipping.

Chicken Nuggets became a preferred food fairly quickly. We bought a fryer and would make large batches of GF/CF nuggets to keep in the freezer for easy reheating. While he was leery to try them, serving them in McDonald’s Chicken Nugget boxes helped at first. We also made a game of me leaving them on cooling racks in the kitchen, our son sneaking up and stealing a nugget and running off to eat. I’d make a big deal about him not taking any of my nuggets, using a playful tone, and more playful banter when he was caught stealing nuggets. He would eat at least a dozen this way.. I also made these meat nuggets with turkey and pork, to broaden his meat protein sources. Eventually they were also baked, including beef, and even lamb. Our son became quite the carnivore. Once we moved to the South, smoked ribs became an instant favorite, and our little carnivore could polish off a rack of grilled pork ribs all by himself if we would let him.

The approach that has always worked best for our picky eater was ways to make it fun. It can throw him off a bit so that he doesn’t realize that I’m really just trying to get him to eat something new. Once he eats it and likes it, we’re over the hump and have added another new food. Rotating foods often help him to not forget that he likes a new food. BUT I WILL ADMIT RIGHT NOW – if he does not like a food given to him, he does not have to eat it. Period. There may be foods that he eats that are not preferred, but he at least can tolerate them, and will eat them in order to be able to have dessert or another preferred food. But if he tries something and doesn’t like it, no problem. I hate lima beans, peas and cream corn. You couldn’t pay me to eat them. Now that he has a very wide range of foods he will eat, he rarely rejects food given to him, and I don’t push veggies because they are so easy to hide in his favorite foods.

Recently my husband (the chef in our home – he loves to cook and makes amazing meals), decided that we were spending too much money on frozen sausage, so we pulled out his cookbooks and searched for the ideal sausage recipe. Did some experimenting until he found several variations that are to die for….lots of different spices to add amazing flavor, and while at first he just smashed the sausage meat into rows of medallions on waxed paper and kept them in the fridge, he eventually got courageous and bought sausage casings and an attachment to our Mix Master that fills sausage casings to make really professional looking (and tasting) sausages. Personally I would never go to that trouble – parenting autism takes so much of my energy and patience as it is, but the frozen sausage rounds are quite simple to batch make, and they are much better for our kids, without the preservatives and chemical additives found in store-bought sausage.

If these ideas sound daunting, believe me….they were impossible to me early on. Ryan ate only a few things – extremely picky, and it took much time over years for his options to grow to where he is today. But progress did happen gradually over time, with much determination, trickery, bribery….what ever it took. We implemented drills to target new foods in his home ABA program, and experienced many successes with very little coercion. Once he understood cause and effect, and that he would get instant gratification, we added several new foods per week. It was all SO WORTH IT. He eats better than any kid at school, and laughs when his friends think his meal looks gross. He tells me “Mom, they don’t know what they’re missing!” Other times, they are salivating, wishing that they, too could have ribs or leftover fried chicken for lunch. Anything made for dinner always has at least one or two lunch servings left over to help keep our lunch menu stocked.

Ideas for Picky Kids:

Danielle - posted on 01/02/2010




Quoting Sarah:

Our son completely craved anything with cheese and wheat, he lived on yogurt, mac and cheese and milk, even though they were organic. His diet is much healthier, varied and he will actually try new things now.

Like your son, my daughter has started trying new things, without a lot of prompting from me.  The other night we had tacos and she actually munched on the lettuce!  I could never, ever have gotten her to try lettuce before starting this diet.  It's almost like her guard has been let down and she is willing to experiment.  Just today, she tried salsa for the first time and found that she liked it! Amazing!!

Sarah - posted on 01/02/2010




My son is GFCFSF as well as egg free and a bunch of other things. I highly recommend diet as an intervention. Our son turned out to be allergic to milk and eggs and even though he never had a lab test pop positive for soy, it was after we removed it that we saw his first solid BM, at 25 months. The diet has made a huge difference and we notice infractions and other allergies almost immediately now.

TACA is a great resource and there are plenty of ways to implement it without spending a fortune. We've found that it's easiest to not try and replace some foods, we just do without. He eats a diet that has lots of protein (he especially likes salmon and chicken), lots of fruit and veggies (mostly smuggled in - applesauce conceals a lot!) and rice, potatoes and corn as the gluten replacements. His diet is clean and healthy, he has grown tons, is bright, interactive, now verbal, has eye contact, in short, he's a different kid.

Our son also loves Gorilla Munch and many grocery stores stock it, but many Chex cereals are also GF now and a bit cheaper.

Our son completely craved anything with cheese and wheat, he lived on yogurt, mac and cheese and milk, even though they were organic. His diet is much healthier, varied and he will actually try new things now. Give it a go, what can it hurt? Man lived for many many years without processed foods, maybe it's time we all got back to real food... Good luck!!

Diane - posted on 01/02/2010




Sorry, if I saw your Geneticist, I would have a few choice words. My 11 yr old son has been GF/CF since 2001. It has been amazing for him, and he stays on the diet because it is an integral part of his autism intervention plan. When we put him on the diet, it pretty much set the stage for everything else to work.....helped him calm down so that he could sit and attend in his newly-implemented home ABA program, helped him sleep through the night, helped clear the fog in his brain so that he was much more alert, and aware of those around him....the list goes on and on. When he started the diet in 2001 at age 3, he was non-verbal, significantly delayed in every area of development, and tantrummed on average of 4-6 hours per day in combined episodes. He gave me three black eyes before he turned three. The diet made a huge impact on his behaviors and overall health. Huge. Not immediately, but gradually over several months, once he was 100% on the diet with no chance of stealing wrong foods, we saw great progress. He was nonverbal at age three (we had just started the diet.) By age 4, he had 300 words, which is huge because he could communicate his basic wants and desires. Fast forward to now and he is VERY verbal, a strong student in 5th grade, typical Public School setting, with minimal supports from Special Ed, doing the same curriculum of his normal peers. Most people dont know about his DX, (and we don't tell).

As for the diet, lots of recipes and food ideas in the GF/CF Diet section of the TACA website There are many good replacement foods. Besides Darifree, there is Almond Breeze (plain or vanilla flavored), rice milk (watery, but acceptable for cooking or on cereal), hemp milk (my son does not like this, but I know many moms who swear by it because it adds protein)....many replacement options on the TACA website. I DO NOT recommend using soy milk as the replacement, because there are many other options available, and soy is the third most common food that can cause negative reactions to our kids (after gluten and dairy). About 25% or more parents report that the diet did not help, only to admit that soy was used as the substitution. Others report that soy made their child even worse, or gave them chronic diarrhea where previously they were fine. Again, not recommended as a first resort, and most DAN Doctors (Defeat Autism Now) recommend a diet free of Gluten, Casein (dairy) AND soy.

Again, check the food list on the TACA website - pretty comprehensive, to give ideas for other options. If you have a Trader Joe's locally, they have lots of good snack foods and GF/CF other fare that you can try with your daughter, including Gorilla Munch Cereal, which is a sweet crunchy cereal (good for snacking too).

diane in TN

Danielle - posted on 12/31/2009




No offense to your doctor, but he needs to look at the statistics on how many autistic kids are on the GFCF diet and how well it works for most. I have an eleven year old daughter with Asperger's. We have started and stopped and started again :) the GFCF diet. Her moods are more stable, she is able to make conversation (her anxiety level is way down) and she is just all around happier. She is even beginning to make decisions for herself as to what foods she can and cannot have, major improvement for her! She had the opportunity tonight to have a GFCF homemade cookie and she grabbed a banana instead! If your daughter is allergic to milk, she shouldn't be eating Cheetos or Doritos. She can, however, have Lays, Fritos, and Tostitos. Unfortunately, buying the other GFCF snack items can be expensive. I pay over $6 for a bag of pretzels for my daughter at Wal-Mart. Check out the Talk About Curing Autism website. They do help out families in need. I have also ordered from the Gluten Free Mall. I ordered quite a bit and the total was around $60. You also get money off of future orders. I don't know where you're from, but here in Wisconsin, we have Woodman's. They carry a ton of GFCF items at a decent price. Our local Wal-Mart started carrying quite a bit of GF items, but no bread. Remember, any grocery store you go to, you can request certain items to be carried in that store. Good luck!!

Stacey - posted on 12/31/2009




My son is 2 yrs and 9 months, has just been diagnosed with Autism, we have had him on the gluten-free, casein-free diet for about 6 months and have noticed moderate improvements. We also took him off all soy for a little while there, but then I let him have it again because I wasn't sure if it made much difference and there were so many more foods I could give him that have soy in them, but after about 2 weeks we had to take it out again because we started to notice him going backwards, his stimming increased, he wouldn't listen, he stopped doing little things that he had been doing before etc. He loves his fruit which is a blessing on this diet, he also loves potato chips, he loves the natural flavour popcorn by uncle tobys, Nice and natural fruit strings, go natural fruity bites, there are some iceblocks and gelato that he can have and we use rice milk but we have to flavour it with Cadbury drinking choc. I also contacted McCain, their frozen fries, straightcut chips and hashbrowns are processed in a facility with gluten etc but are gluten and dairy-free. It is well worth investing in a waffle maker, I make waffles for my son for breakfast some mornings, I also bought a dougnut maker, the dougnuts are not the same as normal ones but are still quite nice. I also have made gfcfsf cupcakes, banana bread, biscuits etc that have all turned out quite nice, with a few failures of course. I have found the best and easiest way is to buy the flour mixes from the supermarket and substitute the ingredients for gfcfsf where possible and I search online for recipes that I can adapt easily and most have turned out nice. The Orgran brand has quite a good range and is mostly free of every allergen you can think of, they have itsy bitsy bear biscuits that are similar to tiny teddys that my kids like and another brand has a tea biscuit which is nice.

Kelsey - posted on 12/23/2009




My 3 year old son has been on the gluten free diet for almost 9 months now. It has helped him emensly!! I highly recommend talking to a DAN( defeat autism now) doctor. They can explain thoroughly how your child digestive system has everything to do with her autism. My son is a completely different child than when we started this 9 months ago. He's gone from having "dada" as his only word to singing entire songs and speaking in sentences. His stimming is almost gone and he's gone from sleeping 6 hours a night to 10 hours a night. I completely stand by the biomedical treatments.

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