For many years, learning about the GFCF diet has been like learning about sex. You hear things. Rumors. Whispers. You ask yourself, "Can this be true?" You're excited, intrigued and a little scared too.
One parent tells you that her child is sleeping through the night after removing dairy from the diet. You're at the CVS refilling yet another scrip for Clonidine, the high blood pressure drug your doc prescribed off label for your child because its main side effect is drowsiness. You're an exhausted parent, whose child still drinks 6 glasses of milk a day and eats mac and cheese for lunch and dinner, and sleeps no more than four hours a night. Your ears perk up. "Sleep?" You ask your doctor about this diet. The doctor, who knows next to nothing about the GFCF diet and who thinks the only "treatment" for the sleep disorder is Clonidine says, "Mrs. Smith. There are no studies proving this diet works. Don't waste your time."
I've heard over and over from Moms who say their doc pooh-poohed the diet. Of course! No pharma rep ever walked into a pediatric practice offering a can of Dari-Free milk substitute and a Namaste GF chocolate cake mix as an autism treatment for the dozens of ASD kids the docs see.
For complete information on the GFCF Diet visit the TACA site HERE. You'll find everything you need to get started including a ten week plan. Good Morning America ran a segment today about the diet. We can thank Jenny McCarthy, TACA spokeswoman for the publicity on using diet for treating autism.
HERE is a link to the Good Morning America piece.
Oh, and here's what Autism Speaks offers its website readers on the diet. Not a ringing endorsement, but at least it's on the site. You're on your own though to really learn anything useful. Autism Speaks won't hold your hand unless there's a hundred dollar bill in it.
From the Autism Speaks site:
"Gluten Free, Casein Free Diet (GFCF)
Many families of children with autism spectrum disorders are interested in dietary and nutritional interventions that might help some of their children's symptoms. Removal of gluten (a protein found in barley, rye, oats, and wheat) and casein (a protein found in dairy products), in what is known as a Gluten Free, Casein Free diet, or GFCF, is a popular dietary treatment for symptoms of autism. It is based on the hypothesis that these proteins are absorbed differently in children with autism spectrum disorders and act like false opiate-like chemicals in the brain. The hypothesis is not based on an allergic response. Neither the hypothesis nor the effectiveness of this dietary intervention has been demonstrated in scientific studies to date. Studies are ongoing in a number of centers. However, many families report that dietary elimination of gluten and casein has helped regulate bowel habits, sleep, activity, habitual behaviors and enhance overall progress in their individual child. No specific laboratory tests can predict which children might be observed by their families to have a positive response to dietary intervention. For that reason, many families elect a trial of dietary restriction with careful observation by the family and intervention team.
A trial of dietary restriction requires attention to basic nutritional guidelines. Dairy products are the most common source of calcium and vitamin D in young children in the U.S. Many young children depend on dairy products for a balanced protein intake. Alternative sources of these nutrients require substitution of other food and beverage products with attention to nutritional content rather than solely as a milk substitute beverage. Substitution of gluten free products requires attention to the overall fiber and vitamin content of a child's diet. Vitamin and supplement use may have both positive effects and side effects. Consultation with a dietitian or physician should be considered and can be helpful to families in the determination of healthy application of a GFCF diet. This may be especially true for children who are picky eaters."
Consultation with a physician? Doctors are the last folks who know about this diet and most of them will admit that. Doctors prescribe drugs. Doctors order tests. They consider the diet to be a "fad" treatment. It's just not part of their training.
Don't listen. Give the diet a try. Join a Yahoo group like TACA-USA or GFCFKIDS for support and jump in. Sure, the pharmacist at CVS will miss you if you stop needing that Clonidine. So what? The difference in your child could amaze you.
The first few weeks on the diet can be difficult and awkward, like losing your virginity. But once your child starts feeling better, and like so many kids on the diet begins talking and sleeping? Stops stimming? Like sex, you'll never want to give it up.