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.
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
Chicken Nuggets, Corn dogs, Deli Meats, Pepperoni
• 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
• Olive oil
• Rice bran oil
• Sesame oil
For Salad Dressings:
• Avocado oil
• Grapeseed oil
• Olive oil
• 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.