Thursday, May 20, 2010

Yes, I Am Afraid of Wheat

One of the first things I am often asked about when the topic of autism comes up is the gluten-free, casein-free diet.  We started Alanna on a gluten-free diet (we never eliminated casein because we deemed it too restrictive) some time ago.  Now that it's been several months, what are the results?  I'm not sure if it is impacting her behaviour much but a lot of the elimination problems seem to be better.  She still craves gluten though - Alanna likes to steal her brother's bread products.  We try not to eat it around her because, let's face it, that's torture.

Gluten-free products are expensive.  I want to take her off, especially in the light of this recent study out of the University of Rochester, but I'm too chicken.  Bok-bok-bok!  I don't want to lose any gains we've made.  So she's sticking to gluten-free until we can muster the courage to try to re-introduce anything. 


  1. I need more information about the experimental design of that study before I come to any conclusions. (I got my master's degree in operations research and took a whole course on experimental design.)

    Not all children in the spectrum need a gf/cf diet. If they randomly picked autistic children for the study, then, of course, they would find it ineffective. It would be like randomly picking a group of mentally retarded children to see if taking them off phenylalanine would help. It only helps the children who have PKU. I think a good diet study would randomly pick autistic children who were clear candidates for the diet: history of gut issues (nausea, vomiting, loose/green/constipated stools, etc.), rashes, urine tests that find gluteomorphine and casomorphine in the urine, etc.

  2. I have yet to read the study...
    We did try giving her some Cheerios last week and the result was diarrhea :S

  3. I tried infractions and close observation of both behavior and bowel movements, it was always very inconclusive. He would do so well for weeks and he had a slice of pizza once a week after his swimming session. Then I noticed if I gave him some milk or cheese, he would get constipated. (confusing!) After trying this for a year, I can account most of his behavioral "regression" on other things like changes in his environment, changes in weather, daylight hours, or just his development (IMO). EXCEPT when it comes to dairy (or caesin). I am just not sure on that one (he gets more easily agitated, gassy and stinky) his (normal and not DAN) pediatrician has asked me to just keep him off dairy and continue on an organic and balanced diet otherwise.

    I have to say - like you I am also always afraid to give him gluten as well. And I save it for when it is unavoidable. As I have blogged about it before, our regular cultural diet is really gfcf anyway.

    ORganic is no cheaper, and we end up spending a fortune on food anyway.