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Why Gluten and Dairy Free?

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“On our fourth dairy-free day I woke up to silence at 8 a.m. Usually Jay awakened me by 5 a.m., hooting and howling for 30 minutes or more (until the Ritalin took effect). On that day, I walked into our living room to discover all Jay’s Legos® disassembled and reassembled into a four foot long space ship with fifteen men sitting in a row. I was stunned and said, ‘Jay, look what you did!’ He answered, ‘Mom, I remember how to play this way.’

We immediately eliminated wheat and gluten products. It’s been a year since that wonderful day, and everyone who knows our son is awed by his progress. In the past, a simple request to read or write evoked instant rage and aggression; now it is an activity that he chooses to do in his spare time.”

Why do people on the autism spectrum disorders improve on a gluten free, dairy free diet?

A gluten and casein free diet is, quite simply, a diet without gluten or casein. Because these two proteins have shown to be the most problematic for people with autism spectrum and other chronic disorders, removing them is the basis for all of the diets mentioned in this resource. Most of the people using a gluten and casein free diet have other food restrictions, based on individual intolerances or additional dietary principles.

Gluten and casein free diets have been used for people with autism and related disorders for many years, with numerous anecdotal reports of physical and behavioral improvements in autism spectrum children avoiding these foods. Gluten and casein free diets began to gain widespread popularity in the 1990s, when the Internet made it possible for a large number of parents to compare notes and share information.

Overview of a Gluten and Casein Free Diet

Gluten-containing grains (wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, and possibly oats)

Not allowed

Milk Products (milk, butter, cream, yogurt, cheese, casein, whey, etc. ) and ingredients

Not allowed

Corn, Soy

May be problematic

Rice, Potatoes, Starches


Millet, Quinoa, Amaranth, Buckwheat, Teff


Eggs and Meat (incl. beef, lamb, fish, chicken, turkey)




Fruit, Juice








Beans, Nuts, Seeds


Alcoholic Beverages

Beer not allowed

Coffee and Tea


Note: Certain brands of foods or ingredients are not allowed if they contain any amount of gluten or casein (see GLUTEN, DAIRY).


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