(Gluten Free- Casein free and Anti Allergy Rotation Diet)
A lot of parents have reported significant changes in the behavior of their children with different types of diets. People say “we are what we eat”, and nowhere is this more applicable than with children with autism. Well we did the GFCF, we did the Rotation diet to eliminate food allergies, We tried the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, and now finally we have finally modified his diet to what seems to suit him and more importantly his gut. All these diets had a significant impact on Sahil.
We first heard about the GFCF(Gluten Free, Casein Free) diet a little after Sahil was diagnosed. To the lay person it seemed a highly improbable theory that common foods like wheat and milk could cause autistic behaviors in our children. Gluten is a protein, mainly found in wheat, and is also found in other grains like barley. To eliminate gluten means essentially cooking using gluten free ingredients from scratch. Casein is found in dairy products. Since a lot of work on listing GFCF foods has already been done by a number of parents this can be accessed from the internet. Guidance can be taken from Yahoo groups such as GFCF recipes, GFCFkids and sites such as GFCFdiet.com
We basically bought the GFCF book by Lisa Lewis called “Special Diets for Special Kids” and started from there. We had just returned to India after a 3 month trip to the UK and had picked up the book there. We started him cold turkey. We just removed all wheat and milk products from his diet. He was a very poor eater so we were quite apprehensive.
The first thing we noticed was that his appetite improved drastically. He no longer avoided food, was not picky and in fact became quite a good eater. This was our experience, and I cant say that every one has seen this with the gfcf diet. He took to GFCF foods like a duck to water. Happily drinking soya milk(home made) eating Jowar parathas, Besan and Dal chilas, etc. His normal food was quite attractive and my mother would bake GFCF cakes, biscuits and bread for him.
The other thing we noticed was that he now seemed to be more aware of his toileting. If we took him to the toilet at intervals he would atleast make an effort to urinate. He couldn’t control it but he seemed to definitely become more aware of this function.
In fact awareness of his environment as a whole did go up. Not a whole lot but a bit. We stuck with the diet for three years, but unfortunately this was the sum total of his improvements on this diet.
When we visited the US he was three. He was tested for food allergies and tested positive for a myriad of food allergies including egg, corn, nuts, gluten, casein, various Dals like Urad and Moong. This was extremely disturbing. What would Sahil eat? But it also explained the fact, that despite being GFCF his stool still persisted as semi liquid and was extremely foul smelling . We consulted a DAN doctor, Dr Jeremy Baptist who was also an allergist and he advised us to go on a Rotation diet.
In simple terms a Rotation diet is a diet where the foods which the child is highly allergic to are removed for a prolonged period of time. Foods that cause a lower level of sensitivity are introduced at regular intervals such as four days in small amounts. A rotation diet is a system of controlling food allergies by eating biologically related foods on the same day and then waiting
Foods that are tolerated well are eaten reasonably regularly. However any food, if eaten repetitively, can cause food allergies in allergy-prone individuals or people with “leaky guts.” The objective is to give the body time to heal and to learn to tolerate the allergenic foods, without a daily onslaught to the immune system.
A rotation diet helps us pick out allergies to foods for which we not have suspected there were problems. If you eat a food on sunday, for example, by thursday, when you eat it again, the “masking” antibodies your body makes specifically for that food will be diminished. Therefore, you will realize a reaction to it, even though you did not have obvious symptoms when you ate it on a daily basis.
On this diet you eat foods to which you have a mild or borderline allergy and which you might not tolerate if you ate them often. Reactions to borderline foods may depend on many factors such as stress level, infection, lack of adequate rest, or the season of the year. (For example, grain allergies tend to be more pronounced when the grass is pollinating).
Small openings can occur in the lining of the intestine, which allow large molecules of undigested or incompletely digested food to enter the bloodstream. If the quantity is too great for the liver to “clear” almost immediately, the immune system has a chance to recognize these molecules as being foreign to the body and produces antibodies against them. When the food is eaten again and again passes into the bloodstream undigested or only partially digested, the antibodies bind with the food. These antibody-food complexes can travel through the bloodstream to any part of the body where they then cause problems. unfriendly” organisms present in the digestive tract can cause increased intestinal permeability. These infections can involve protozoan parasites, yeasts such as Candida albicans, bacteria that are conventionally considered “pathogens,” such as Salmonella, or even an overgrowth of bacteria usually considered nonpathogenic
Sahil was put on a rotation diet for atleast 2 years. It was not very difficult. We just had to set up a scientific planned daily menu and luckily we were able to provide him with a lot of variety. We repeated the food allergy tests every year for three years and were able to reduce his allergies to a minimum. His stool quality did improve over the years and we started seeing solid stools albeit with a lot of undigested food in it, however normal stools did not come until we were on the DAN protocol and giving him enzyme supplements as well as treating Yeast and Clostridia.
When most of Sahils allergies had gone including gluten and casein we decided to take him off the GFCF diet. We did this very gradually and slowly by introducing small amounts of wheat and dairy products in his diet. No behavioral or physical effects were observed and so with a sigh of relief we put the GFCF diet behind us. However I went back on to the diet very strictly atleast on two separate episodes of about a couple of months in length, to recheck the benefits of the diet for Sahil. Both times observing no change on the diet and no regression coming off it- we have now put it behind us permanently. This is despite the fact that he has tested positive for gluten and casein peptides and so should ideally be on such a diet. But if it does not help him clinically then there is little to be achieved.
Sahil was on normal food for a period of four years. However then we switched to a diet specifically designed to starve out the yeast and clostridia, a version of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.
- Sahil enjoying normal food on his birthday