Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and other cereals, while casein is the protein found in dairy.

Gluten and casein, when not tolerated, can cause an inflammatory response that can create digestive disturbances, poor nutrient absorption, moodiness, as well as pain and many other physical, mental, and behavioral challenges.

These proteins can be problematic for children with autism, as often their digestive system is impaired and unable to deal with these proteins.

Research shows gluten intolerance is a factor in depression, anxiety, ADHD, and schizophrenia. And there are a number of studies on the opiates in autism, a decrease in GI symptoms on a GFCF diet, and a reduction in autistic symptoms with a GFCF diet.

If the proteins are not properly digested, they can become opiate compounds, fit in the opiate receptor of the brain, and mimic other opiates like morphine. This opiate effect can directly influence the brain and result in symptoms similar to morphine—foggy thinking, insensitivity to pain, opiate addiction and withdrawal, and irritability. inattentiveness, constipation, and more. This can not only have an effect on your child’s moods and cognitive function, but are very addictive, often causing an intense food preference – or cravings – for wheat and dairy foods like bread, milk, and cheese, This can make meal times challenging and picky eating habits a real struggle for any parent.

Soy has the same properties and challenges as gluten and casein, including the difficult-to-digest protein and opiates, so soy is removed on a GFCF diet as well.

Gluten-Free, Casein-Free, Soy-Free (GFCFSF) Diet

A gluten-free, casein-free, and soy-free  diet, can help reduce:

  • ADHD symptoms
  • Autism symptoms
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Tummy aches
  • Diarrhea and constipation
  • Congestion and sleep apnea
  • Headaches
  • Picky eating

A gluten-free diet is also used with Down Syndrome as a larger percentage of people with this condition, also have Celiac disease (as well as non-celiac gluten intolerance).

Parents typically begin dietary intervention with the GFCFSF diet. I’ve found it one of the most effective ways to begin.

The GFCF diet avoids all foods containing gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, and commercial oats, and casein, the protein found in dairy.

There are many new commercially available products and recipes, making it easier than ever to go GFCF.

Some of the foods to avoid (sources containing offending proteins) are obvious. You’ll need to avoid any breads, crackers, pasta, or bakery items made with wheat and other gluten grains, and any dairy foods such as milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, and cream from any animals. But some sources can be sneaky and/or may contain undisclosed (gluten or casein-containing) ingredients, i.e:

  • Soy sauce (except gluten-free)
  • Potato chips and fries (often dusted with gluten during processing, may not be listed)
  • Malt (derived from barley)

Use my GFCF Success Guide to plan and implement the GFCF diet for your child:

  • Gluten and casein-foods to avoid
  • GFCF alternatives
  • Meal ideas
  • Further GFCF tips (avoiding cross-contamination, using supplementation)

Your child is unique and so are their diet and nutritional needs. Learn how personalized nutrition can help your child today. Download our guide: “12 Nutrition Steps to Better Health, Learning, and Behavior.”

Explore our GFCFSF recipes below. Be sure to read all of the instructions before beginning in case diet-compliant substitutions are described in the introduction.

Gluten-Free, Casein-Free and Soy-Free Recipes

Pumpkin Pie Filling
Pumpkin Pie Filling

GFCF/SCD/GAPS/Paleo/LOD This recipe is a dairy-free pumpkin pie filling. You can bake the filling without a crust (for SCD/GAPS, Paleo), or add any diet-compliant crust you’d like for a delicious pumpkin pie. For the low oxalate diet, avoid high oxalate spices such as...

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Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry Sauce

GFCF/SCD/GAPS/Paleo/LOD/FG For low oxalate, use all apples instead of half pears. Ingredients: 3 apples, peeled, cored and chopped 3 pears, peeled, cored and chopped 2 packages of frozen or fresh cranberries (12 oz) Splash of...

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Mashed Cauliflower Potatoes
Mashed Cauliflower Potatoes

GFCF/SCD/GAPS/Paleo/LOD/FG This recipe is SCD compliant.  For those on GFCF and not SCD, you can use half potatoes—this way you have mashed potatoes with hidden cauliflower. For low oxalate, use coconut milk. For nut-free,...

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Cocoa Mints
Cocoa Mints

GFCF/Paleo, Egg-Free/Nut-Free To make Keto diet friendly, avoid honey and replace it with add your own compliant sugar-free sweetener. Ingredients 1½ cup coconut butter ½ teaspoon raw coconut oil 5-­8 drops peppermint oil 1-­2 Tablespoons raw honey Unsweetened cocoa...

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Chocolate Bark
Chocolate Bark

GFCF/Paleo, Nut-Free, Egg-Free This is Paleo and Primal but not SCD/GAPS because of the chocolate. It’s delicious and low in sugar. A square 1/12 of the recipe has only 1gram of sugar plus whatever is in any dried fruit added. To make soy-free, confirm your chocolate...

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Kale, Beet and Pomegranate Salad
Kale, Beet and Pomegranate Salad

GFCF/SCD/GAPS/Paleo/FG 1 bunch of kale 3 medium beets Seeds from one pomegranate 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves Juice from one lemon juice 1/4 cup olive oil ½ teaspoon sea salt Scrub and cut beets in half or quarters. Boil beets...

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