L-Glutamine for Healing the Gut

L-glutamine is an essential amino acid necessary for the repair and healing of leaky gut.

This essential amino acid is also commonly used to lose weight, burn fat and build muscle.

  Research shows that this abundant nutrient is especially helpful in repairing the gut lining and improving overall health.  

L-glutamine promotes digestive health, brain health and is essential for muscle growth.

L-glutamine helps to balance mucous production in the gastrointestinal tract, making it very beneficial for IBS and improving diarrhea. Research has also show L-glutamine to be an important neurotransmitter in the brain, stimulating memory, focus and concentration. Another great benefit seen with L-glutamine supplementation is the curbing of sugar and alcohol cravings. It has also been found to be very important in fighting cancer and combating high blood sugar.

Some foods that are highest in L-glutamine are bone broth, wild caught salmon, broccoli raab, asparagus, spirulina and cabbage. It is recommended that a variety of these foods be eaten up to 3 times a day for benefits to be seen.

Supplementing with L-glutamine has been proven to be beneficial with healing leaky gut (intestinal permeability) in amounts from 2-5 grams for adults. Starting at a lower dose is recommended and increasing as needed.

L- Glutamine and Autism

The decreased level of l-glutamine has been frequently reported in autism. Plasma screening of l-glutamine levels has even been suggested for detecting autism in children. Current research reports that many children with autism have difficulty metabolizing amino acids properly which may account for the increased need. L-Glutamine has shown promise in improving speech and language, and concentration and focus,  as well as overall health in those with autism. Glutamine is very helpful in managing inflammation and it crosses the blood-brain barrier to stimulate focus, calming erratic behaviors, and assisting in memory recall. A 30 day glutamine supplementation trial is recommended to notice improvements in children with autism. 1,000mg for children up to age 9 is sufficient and older children can supplement up to 1500mg daily.                    


Van der Hulst, R.R.W.J., et.al, Glutamine and the preservation of gut integrity, The Lancet, Volume 341, No. 8857, p1363–1365, 29 May 1993 

Ahmad Ghanizadeh, Increased Glutamate and Homocysteine and Decreased Glutamine Levels in Autism: A Review and Strategies for Future Studies of Amino Acids in Autism,Dis Markers. 2013; 35(5): 281–286.

Albrecht J, et.al, Roles of Glutamine in Neurotransmission, Neuron Glia Biol. 2010 Nov;6(4):263-76.





Zinc--a critical element for autism

Zinc is detrimental in the nutritional healing process of autism, ADHD or other behavioral condition.

It is known to play a vital role in neonatal development and is involved in countless metabolic and signaling pathways within the body.

One of the many critical roles of zinc is in gastrointestinal function and gut-brain interaction. There is indication in some research that zinc deficiency among mothers during pregnancy can play a role in the development of gastrointestinal functions of infants/children.

Zinc is critically important for neurotransmitter production, thyroid function and hormone balancing.

Zinc has been found to improve cognition in children with autism and ADHD as well as lessen hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Zinc has also been found to play an important role in sensory integration as well as taste and smells with food. Because of this, zinc supplementation can sometimes be very beneficial in getting extremely picky eaters to try new foods.

Having zinc and copper serum levels checked are proving to be very helpful in knowing the right amount of supplementation to acquire. Zinc and copper ratios have shown in research to be a major indicator of severity of autism.

Studies indicate that zinc and copper have a huge impact on GABA neurotransmitters as well as mercury accumulation in bodily tissues.

The highest amounts of zinc are found most abundantly in oysters, lentils, and green peas. Absorption from food is typically only about 33% in healthy adults, which makes supplementation necessary in many individuals.

Zinc supplementation is also typically necessary to pull someone out of a deficient state. The recommended daily dose is 12-15mg for healthy individuals but may need more depending on signs, symptoms and nutritional status.

Speak to your healthcare provider or Clinical Nutritionist to have a better understanding of yours or your child’s individual needs.



Shawna Kunselman, MSACN

Contact me for more information






Bjourklund, G. , The role of zinc and copper in autism spectrum disorders,Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars). 2013;73(2):225-36.,https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23823984

 Guillermo Vela, Zinc in Gut-Brain Interaction in Autism and Neurological Disorders, Neural Plasticity
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 972791, 15 pages

Babaknejad N, The Relationship between Zinc Levels and Autism: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis., Iran J Child Neurol. 2016 Fall;10(4):1-9.



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Vitamin D and Behaviors

Vitamin D and Autism

New research is showing that up to 75% of children on the autism spectrum show significant improvement with high dose Vitamin D supplementation.

Vitamin D levels are very often significantly lower in children with autism and ADHD.

Vitamin D has many vital roles in our body, including enhancing intestinal absorption of other critical nutrients such as Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Phosphate and Zinc. Vitamin D is also very involved with immune function and regulating the inflammatory response within the body.

Vitamin D deficiency has been proven to play a role in many conditions such as autoimmune and behavioral disorders.

Unfortunately, very few foods contain Vitamin D. It is pretty limited to Wild Caught fish (salmon), mushrooms and some shellfish as well as fortified milk. Most of our Vitamin D supply is meant to come from the sun.

Recommended intakes for infants and children vary from 400IU to 1000IU per day depending on specific needs of the child.

However, higher doses are many times warranted for certain conditions and when deficiency is known.

Serum (blood) Vitamin D levels are very important to know prior to supplementing and should be checked again after about 6 months of supplementing. Ask your doctor or healthcare provider for the 25(OH)D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D. According to research, ideally levels should be at least 45ng/ml.

Reports and research shows that there appears to be better cognition, focus, and eye contact in autism spectrum disorders and ADHD as vitamin D levels are normalized.




Mohommad, R, et.al, The Relationship between Serum Vitamin D Level and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Iran J Child Neurol. 2015 Autumn; 9(4): 48–53.
Cannell, J, Vitamin D and Autism, What’s New? Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2017 Feb 20.

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little girl sleeping

How Do I Get My Child To Sleep?!?

Sleeping Tips for the Child with Autism

I am going to be completely honest, we are 7 years in to this journey, and we still sometimes have struggles with my son who is on the autism spectrum sleeping all night, every night.

However, it has improved so very much over the years. He now sleeps an average of 7-8 hours a night; sometimes he prefers the couch rather than his bed, but at least he is sleeping, right?

On those nights he doesn’t sleep, the next day is a struggle for him. It is hard for him to concentrate. He is definitely more moody. And he has some anxiety which is usually pretty well controlled. I can relate. The same happens to me when I don't sleep well.

I easily remember the days in which I completely dreaded nighttime. I knew it was going to be miserable. There would be screams and tantrums and crying. That led in to the years of high anxiety and which led to him being scared to be in his bed or in his room.
I have tried many things over the years and I am going to share the ones I feel were the most beneficial.


Thankfully, my son is very active and it is not hard to get him to exercise; he currently loves Tae Kwon Do, basketball and jumping in his trampoline. By the way, I cannot say enough good things about martial arts for kids on the spectrum or kids with ADHD! It offers so many benefits from confidence, to coordination, to strength building, to teaching life skills, respect and discipline. It has been amazing for him!

Another side note, trampolines are amazing for kids overall health as well. Aside from just being an amazing form of exercise, it has an official name of rebound therapy which has been proven to assist in detoxifying the body (through stimulating the lymphatic system) and improving the immune system. Additionally, trampolines are an amazing therapy for our sensory kiddos!
Exercise releases many “feel good” endorphins which help them concentrate better, have more energy and reduces inflammation in the body ( the chronic inflammation leads to pain, lack of concentration, lack of sleep, negative behaviors, and even speech impairments).

Limit Screen Time

The more time my son spends on his phone or tablet, the more behaviors we have and the less sleep he has. I don’t need anything scientific to know how negatively it can affect my child—but there is science behind it 😉

Relaxing music

I am a big believer in music being healing. Now I know this in itself is not a cure all for those sleepless nights, but it is certainly a great addition to other modalities you are using. Specifically, 432 HZ music (google it:)) for deep sleep.

Food Sensitivities

Once we had my son tested for food sensitivities and removed the foods he was highly intolerant to, sleep and anxiety improved significantly. He was eating eggs almost daily for breakfast and is IgG food sensitivity test came back very high for egg whites. You can read more about food sensitivities here.


Supplements can be very beneficial and sometimes necessary. Our kids are lacking in many vitamins/minerals due to inability to absorb nutrients sufficiently. Making sure they are supplementing with the needed nutrients specific to them is very helpful.

Here is a list of some additional supplements which may be helpful for sleep.


This article sums up the benefits and possibly necessity for melatonin in some kids on the autism spectrum. Melatonin is a necessary hormone necessary for sleep that is deficient more often than not in our kids on the spectrum. My son used melatonin effectively for a while, but recently it seems to cause more night waking. This is a great one to start with, though.

Herbal help

I like to use Herb Pharm tinctures. They are high quality, safe and effective. Herb Pharm has a blend specially formulated for kids called Fast Asleep. Others which are safe for children and can be found in a tincture or used as tea are:



GABA is an amino acid that promotes relaxation. It is especially beneficial for those with anxiety.


This is one of the most beneficial supplements for our kids for so many reasons but is especially effective for relaxation and sleep. An Epsom salt bath with a few drops of lavender oil right before bed is a great way to absorb this much needed mineral.


I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, so comment below or message me privately.











Mullington, J., et.al, Sleep loss and inflammation, Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Oct; 24(5): 775–784.

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probiotics for optimal health


Probiotics for Autism, Autoimmune and More

Probiotics (good, healthy bacteria needed for gut and digestive health) are being recognized for helping in many conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), depression, anxiety, autism, ADHD, and many autoimmune conditions.


Front and center, gut health plays an important role in overall health and immune function. And now researchers are realizing that gut health is very important for brain health and function as well.


It is known that 70-80% of our immune system lies within the digestive tract, and up to 90% of serotonin levels are produced there. Serotonin is the “feel-good” neurotransmitter which is derived from tryptophan and Vitamin B6 is also needed to produce this. Serotonin is what most medications for depression, ADHD and anxiety work on. So keeping our gut health as healthy as possible is crucial to keep this neurotransmitter producing!


Many kids on the autism spectrum have problems related to gut health ranging from acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal bloating and pain. These physical symptoms are another area in which probiotics have been found to be very beneficial.
Many of these kids also have immunologic and metabolic problems which effect their behaviors and emotional health.


Taking care of some of these underlying issues can many times lead to improvements in behaviors and symptoms associated with autism, ADHD and sensory conditions.

In a small study published in Nature medical journal, results showed that when infants were given a specific strain of probiotic (lactobacillus rhamnosus strain), there were zero cases of autism and ADHD, whereas, in the placebo group, 17.1 percent had developed autism or ADHD.

Refer to the list of additional references below which show connection between autism, ADHD and probiotic need.
Additionally, probiotics and the gut microbiome (balance of good/bad bacteria) have been found to play a role in allergies and specifically food allergies. One particular study looked at lactobacillus rhamnosus  given to children with a positive IgE (skin prick allergy test) to peanuts. There was an 82% reversal of the peanut allergy from continued use of this probiotic (tested under close medical supervision). Digestive health matters!


There is even new implication in regards to gut health and childhood Type 1 diabetes and indication that new treatments for this condition may lie within gut function and probiotics.

Every one’s probiotic needs and dosages are different; feel free to contact me with any questions.














  • Custom Probiotics, Autism and Probiotics, http://www.customprobiotics.com/autism.htm
  • The Gut:  Our Second Brain, Documentary, Amazon Video, 2016
  • Wu H-J, Wu E. The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity. Gut Microbes. 2012;3(1):4-14. doi:10.4161/gmic.19320.
  • Grossi, E., et. al,Unexpected improvement in core autism spectrum disorder symptoms after long-term treatment with probiotics, SAGE Open Med Case Rep. 2016 Aug 26;4:2050313X16666231., March 2017
  • Navarro, F. Can Probiotics benefit children with autism spectrum disorders?, World J Gastroenterol. 2016 Dec 14;22(46):10093-10102. March, 2017
  • Partty, A,a possible link between early probiotic intervention and the risk of neuropsychiatric disorders later in childhood: a randomized trial, Nature, Vol 7:6, June 2015
  • Mimi, LK, Administration of a probiotic with peanut oral immunotherapy: A randomized trial, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Vol 135:3. pg, 737-744, March 2015
  • Gareau, MG, Cognitive Function and the Microbiome, Int Rev Neurobiol. 2016;131:227-246, March, 2017
  • Aleksandar, D.,The Dynamics of the Human Infant Gut Microbiome in Development and in Progression toward Type 1 Diabetes, Cell Host & Microbe, Vol. 20, Issue 1, p121



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digestive enzymes, nutrition

Digestive Enzymes

Digestive Enzymes (Autism)

Digestive enzymes are a crucial part of optimal health and healing many symptoms associated with autism.

If there were only one supplement to add to your protocol…this would be it!

Digestive enzymes are naturally occurring in our digestive tracts and help on several levels. For one, they break down the foods and nutrients in to a form that is easily absorbed. As I have mentioned in previous articles, the Standard American Diet (SAD) has led to damage to many of our gut lining’s (where these enzymes are produced). (Refer back to the “Leaky Gut” series for more info on this.)

Additionally, this breakdown of foods is necessary so the bad bacteria or yeast don’t have more food to eat and grow on.

Enzymes are proteins made by cells in all living organisms including our bodies. They exist in all raw food, so the more raw food you consume, the less your body need’s to produce them. Any type of cooking or processing of food destroys these necessary enzymes, which is one reason supplementing is necessary.

Science is showing more and more that Gluten and Casein ( the proteins found in grains such as wheat and a protein found in dairy) greatly affect GI health as well as brain health and can lead to many neurological or neuropsychiatric symptoms. Gluten and casein produce opioid peptides creating a “drug-like” effect. These peptides are commonly found in the urine of those with autism and schizophrenia.

When the gut is damaged or hyperpermiable (leaky gut), these peptides called gluteomorphin (gluten) and caseomorphin (casein) can pass into the blood, provoking an immune response which leads to chronic inflammation. They can also mimic endorphins which can lead to changes in perception, mood, and behavior.

This is one reason why the gf/cf (gluten free/casein free) diet is so effective in reducing behaviors in kids with autism—it eliminates these peptides from the diet.

I absolutely believe a Gluten free and Casein free diet is eminent and should be used for GI healing and restoration.

However, enzymes are the next best thing to removing these foods!

Enzymes can actually break down these peptides!

So they are perfect for transitioning the “picky-eater”! It is essential to have a very high quality digestive enzyme with DPP-IV (dipeptidyl peptidase-IV). This is the only enzyme that effectively breaks down gluten and casein.

Here is a list of additional enzymes which are important and the functions they serve:

Amylase – breaks down carbohydrates, starches, and sugars

Protease – breaks down proteins (found in meats, eggs, cheese, and nuts)

Lipase – breaks down fats (found in most dairy products, meats, oils, and nuts

Cellulase – breaks down cellulose, plant fiber (will also breakdown time-release medications that use a form of cellulose in their outer coating)

As previously mentioned, these enzymes are naturally produced in our bodies, however, due to many conditions such as medications we take, foods we eat and other environmental factors, many of us have become deficient in these enzymes.

Additionally, damage to our gut linings have been done from these very reasons. Enzymes are an essential part of repairing the gut.

Enzymes must be taken with every meal to reap the benefits. The dose of enzymes taken depends on the amount of food being consumed. It is best to start with half a capsule (which can be mixed in liquid) and work up to at least 2 capsules with every meal.

Digestive enzymes can be beneficial for so many conditions. Let me know how they work for you!

Contact me with any questions you may have.








Gahlichi, F, et.al, Effect of gluten free diet on gastrointestinal and behavioral indices for children with autism spectrum disorders: a randomized clinical trial. World J Pediatr. 2016 Nov;12(4):436-442. Epub 2016 Jun 10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/27286693

Fukudome, S., et.al, "Release of Opioid Peptides, Gluten Exorphins by the action of pancreatic Elastase", FEBS Letters 412, no. 3 ( Aug. 4, 1997): 475-79

Buie, T., et.al, "Evaluation, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders in Individuals with ASDs: A consensus report", supplement, Pediatrics 125, no. 1 (Jan. 2010): S1-18




Methyl B12

Methyl B12 for Autism

Many of those on the autism spectrum and with ADHD have been found to be lacking in Methyl B12 when evaluated through lab work.

Methylcobalamin (Methyl) B12 is an active form of B12 that supports metabolism and is needed for almost every cell in our body. It is critical for the function of the nervous system, gastrointestinal system and several biochemical pathways.

Methyl B12 also works as a cofactor, or coenzyme, and is needed to activate the methionine/homocysteine biochemical pathway.

Methyl B12 is also responsible for the formation of S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), the universal methyl donor from homocysteine. Too much homocysteine in the blood has been shown to have an impact on many inflammatory conditions such autism, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

This formation of SAMe is also critical for the formation of glutathione which is the body’s primary antioxidant and is responsible for many detoxification reactions including the removal of heavy metals and other toxins from our body.

So to sum it up, if this biochemical pathway is dysfunctional, detoxification becomes impaired. Toxins build up and wreak havoc on the neurological functioning of children.

Additionally, if the gastrointestinal system is not properly functioning, it is very hard for the body to breakdown and absorb B12 properly. For this reason, sublingual B12 or B12 injections may be more effective.

Methyl B12 is water soluble, meaning your body will dispose of excess B12 through urine.

While Methyl B12 has been shown to be very effective, it should be used in addition to other protocols such as dietary factors and additional vitamin supplementation.

Clinical trials have shown Methyl B12 injections to be effective in improving many autism symptoms including improvements in speech and language, socialization and improved sleep. B12 injections seem to be more effective than other forms of B12, however, sublingual is the next best form. 50 mcg of Methyl B12 is a good dose to start with for children on the autism spectrum.



Feel free to contact me with any questions.




Zhang, Y., et.al, Decreased Brain Levels of Vitamin B12 in Aging, Autism and Schizophrenia., PLoS One. 2016 Jan 22;11(1):e0146797, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26799654
Hendren, RL, et.al., Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Methyl B12 for Children with Autism., J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2016 Nov;26(9):774-783 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26889605
Autism Doctor, B12 for treatment of Autism, http://www.theautismdoctor.com/vitamin-b12-for-the-treatment-of-autism/

watermelon, potassium

8 Food Sources High in Potassium

As published on Zhou Nutrition

By Shawna Kunselman, MSACN


Studies show that a diet high in potassium can reduce muscle cramping, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of stroke and increase protection against osteoporosis.

Potassium is a mineral critical for many functions in the body. It is essential for maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance as well as providing functions for many of our body’s organs.

Some additional bodily functions dependent on potassium are:

  • Building protein
  • Maintain normal body growth and build muscles
  • Break down and utilization of carbohydrates
  • Control electrical activity in the heart

When our potassium levels drop (known as hypokalemia), we can experience varied symptoms. Some of these symptoms can include:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Dehydration
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Weight gain
  • Increased Blood pressure

Some common causes of hypokalemia are excessive sweating, diarrhea or vomiting, overusing diuretics, magnesium deficiency, kidney disease, use of certain antibiotics.

Overdose of potassium from food sources is very rare unless one is on dialysis or has another special condition, however be cautious with supplementing and only do so under the supervision of a healthcare provider. Too much potassium in the blood is known as hyperkalemia and it may cause abnormal and dangerous heart rhythms.

Some common causes of hyperkalemia are poor kidney function, certain heart medications known as angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin 2 receptor blockers (ARBs), potassium-sparing diuretics or severe infections.

The RDA for potassium in adults is 4700 mg/day.

Here Are Some of the Top Food Choices for Natural and Safe Potassium Sources:

1) Avocado

1 whole: 1068 mg

2) Spinach

1 cup: 839 mg

3) Dried apricots

½ cup: 755 mg

4) Coconut Water

1 cup 600 mg

5) Tomato Sauce

1 cup: 728 mg

6) Acorn squash

1 cup: 899 mg

7) Sweet potato

1 medium: 952 mg

8) Watermelon

1 cup: 641 mg

Cogswell ME, Zhang Z, Carriquiry AL, et al. Sodium and potassium intakes among US adults: NHANES 2003-2008. Am J Clin Nutr 2012;96:647-57.
Drewnowski A, Maillot M, Rehm C. Reducing the sodium-potassium ratio in the US diet: a challenge for public health. Am J Clin Nutr 2012; 96:439-44.

vegetables pizza

Gluten Free/Casein Free Food Substitutions for Autism Kids

Transitioning to a new way of eating doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might imagine. Let’s look specifically at Gluten free/Casein free food substitutions for the extremely picky eater.

Many children with autism have food aversions and will not try anything new. I get it. My son was the same way.

There finally came a point that I knew we had to try the nutritional approach because his behaviors were very difficult to manage, he was not making progress with his therapies, and he was literally sick all the time. Even before I was a Clinical Nutritionist, I knew that he was not able to get adequate nutrition from the 4 or 5 things he was eating.

With autism and sensory processing disorders, this can be a slow transition. Do what you can, when you can.

As I talked about in the article, What about my picky eating child, I talked about taking the approach of substituting their favorite foods with gluten free, casein free (GFCF) alternatives. Typically, a child on the spectrum is going to be “addicted” to foods in this category.

Pizza, chicken nuggets, mac n cheese, grilled cheese. It all comes down to cheese and bread. Gluten is the protein found in many grains including wheat and casein is a protein found in dairy products.  Read more about how these proteins affect autism here.

The first step is many times to simply replace these with a GFCF version.

Below, I will list some of the best substitutions for many of these products. I would like to add, that many of these products are not “ideal”, but it is a great place to start.


*Transitioning off grains and off most processed is the most ideal for speedy healing of the gut and as a result, improved behaviors.


Barlean’s Butter Flavored Organic Coconut Oil


UDI’s (also has hamburger buns, hotdog buns, dinner rolls, etc)
Food for Life Organic Rice Bread


Pizzas and Pizza Crusts

UDI’s—Gluten free/casein free crusts but the fully made frozen pizzas have real cheese (casein)—You can just buy the crust and make your own pizza with Daiya cheese and Hormel Naturals Pepperoni.

Amy’s Organic (frozen)—They do provide a fully prepared Gluten Free, Casein Free Pizza. Try to get soy free as well.


Daiya ( highly processed and not the best ingredients)

A better choice is finding a recipe for Cashew "cheese" such as this

Mac N Cheese

Amy’s Organic (frozen)—The only brand I know of that has a Gluten free and Casein free option.

Better Choice>>> Or easily make your own with Brown Rice or Quinoa Noodles with some Cashew Cheese

Snack Bars

Lara Bars

Chicken Nuggets, Corn dogs, Deli Meats, Pepperoni

Applegate Farms
Hormel Naturals


For Baking:

• Coconut oil/butter
• Flax seed oil
• Macadamia nut oil
• Palm oil/palm kernel oil shortening like Nutiva Organic Shortening or Spectrum Organic Shortening
• Safflower oil
• Sunflower oil
• Walnut oil

For Sauteing:

• Olive oil
• Rice bran oil
• Sesame oil

For Salad Dressings:

• Avocado oil
• Grapeseed oil
• Olive oil

Egg Substitutes

• While not gluten or casein, many people have a sensitivity to eggs. These are my favorite egg substitutes for baking

• 2 tbsp. arrowroot flour = 1 egg
• 1 tbsp. chia seeds + 3 tbsp water=one egg
• 2 tbsp. potato starch = 1 egg
• 1 banana = 1 egg in cake recipes
• 1 tbsp. ground flax seeds plus 3 tbsp. water = one egg


I also highly recommend getting vegetables in as much and as soon as possible. One way I did this was to chop bell peppers, carrots, garlic, onions, etc with a food chopper as small as possible and mix it in to their pizza or spaghetti sauce or meatloaf.

 Avocado is an extremely good, nutrient dense food for getting healthy fats in. Here is a good recipe for Chocolate Pudding that hides the avocado.


**If you have a question regarding a gluten free/casein free substitution for a specific food, please Contact Me.  or comment below. I will also be adding to this list as I get more questions.



oranges, healthy eating, autism

How Diet Change Helped My Son’s Autism

When my son first started showing signs of autism, I was determined to give it my all and find out how to help him.

I was so excited to have this little guy; I followed every guideline to a “T” and I watched all of his milestones so carefully.  All of his developmental milestones were met on time or even early. He crawled at 6 months, walked at 12 months, played ball, laughed, smiled, had eye contact and said first words, “mama”, “dada”, “ball”.

At 18 months he stopped saying new words and quit saying the few words he had been saying. At this time, he also started showing obsessive compulsive tendencies with lining his cars up. He would get down on the floor and study the wheels. The wheels of the car had to be perfectly aligned with the edge of the carpet.

He was no longer interested in play and only wanted to walk up and down stairs…nonstop. He would go up and down, up and down with no interest in anything else around him. He would stare at his cars for hours, open and close all the doors in the house numerous times, turn door knobs repeatedly, and stare at door hinges while inspecting exactly the way they were working.

He became obsessed with specific objects, such as a placemat and a cup he drank from. They had to be placed just right and he would stare at them without distraction incessantly. Some doors in our house had to be open and others had to be closed; the sunroof in the car had to be just as he wanted it or he would scream the whole way home.

He would have severe laughing fits followed by screaming and crying. Additionally, he was very sensitive to sounds and bright lights. Crowded stores would cause high anxiety for him and he would cover his ears any time we were driving down the highway. The sound of blenders and vacuum cleaners would sending him into screaming tantrums.

His OCD and meltdowns completely ruled our life for a while--the places we could go was very limited due to his behaviors. He had no interest in other kids and did not want to play.

I became concerned of him having autism and began to research. My research kept leading me to gluten free/casein free diets as a way to improve symptoms associated with this disorder. My initial reaction was, “oh he could never do that! That’s all he eats! Macaroni and cheese, pizza, breakfast cereal and grilled cheese.”

However, after many months of researching, I continued to be led to this same idea and I felt this was exactly the way to go. After all, what could it hurt? Maybe we would see some benefit and even get a little healthier in the process.

By this time, he had been diagnosed with multiple ear infections, viruses, colds and stomach bugs. My son seemed to be sick...all. the. time. He had even landed in the hospital from dehydration due to severe stomach virus and double ear infection at the same time.

He was very behind in language development as well as gross and fine motor skills by this point.

We found a few highly recommended integrative medicine doctors and clinical nutritionists and we began our journey of healing. We learned what was occurring on a biochemical basis to cause certain behaviors and make him not be able to effectively communicate with us.

We had our son tested for food allergies, food sensitivities, bacteria, yeast, viruses, and even parasites. He tested intolerances to gluten, dairy, eggs, and citrus. The gluten and casein were reacting like drugs in his body which is why that was the only thing he would eat. His gut was low in good bacteria, and high in bad bacteria and yeast. He tested low in several critical nutrients such as B12, Vitamin E, and Chromium--all very important in neurological function. The bacteria, yeast and food intolerances were preventing him from absorbing important nutrients and due to his very self-limiting diet, he was not getting adequate nutrients from foods.

The diet change began very simple. We substituted all of his favorite things with gluten free versions. Within three days he was trying new foods! We were able to progress the diet from there, eventually getting to a whole foods diet with even vegetables.

Once we started addressing these underlying issues, we started seeing much improvement in his ability to focus and concentrate and even started to hear new words from him. His ability to focus helped him learn new skills from his therapies. Within a few months, his OCD was greatly improved and his screaming tantrums had significantly decreased. His daily anxiety levels were dramatically reduced and our happy, playful boy was returning to us. We continued improving his diet over the years and we added supplements needed based on blood work for nutritional deficiencies.

Today, my son is 11 years old and he no longer has obsessive compulsive behaviors. His once very uncontrollable anxiety is now very well managed. He has excellent gross and fine motor skills, imaginative play and is very social. He is in a mainstream classroom and has several friends. I wasn’t sure at one time if I would ever hear him say “mama” again, or hear him say “I love you”. It was very hard to foresee any type of conversation with him. Now, we have full conversations and he is curious about everything. It is often sometimes challenging to get him to STOP talking, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The more I continued to research, the more interested I became in the biochemistry of our bodies and the impact they have to heal themselves in so many ways. There are many chronic conditions on the rise; it is not just autism.

Genetic components mixed with environmental triggers make for a very chaotic cascade of  health conditions. While this is not about "treating" autism, it is about making the child healthier.

Many times, a child's "autism-like" behavior can result from specific medical issues, food sensitivities or nutrient depletion. Once treating these specific issues, the child is healthier and feels better which results in better behaviors and communication.