Allergies, Autism, and Diet


Gluten-free, Casein-free Diet For Autism

Before the twins, Zion and Hosanna, were born (they turn four in six days) our family went on the gluten-free, casein-free diet to help our oldest son, Elisha, who has autism, with his behavior.

The diet was challenging. The learning curve was steep. I had no idea what was really in some of our foods (and we don’t eat that many “weird” foods), until I started seriously reading labels.

We stayed on the gluten-free, casein-free diet for about two years. We saw great improvements in our son’s behavior and everyone else’s too.

Then along came our twins and…

Allergies and Eczema

We discovered, in the first year of her life, that our daughter, Hosanna, was allergic to dairy, eggs, and nuts. She had severe eczema and other issues related to her allergies. It was an obvious choice to me that we dropped the gluten-free, casein-free diet in favor of a diet free of her allergens.

Side note: Moses is allergic to mushrooms and shellfish, so those are out too.

Okay, so are you with me so far?

We were gluten-free, casein-free, but then we turned dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, shellfish-free, and mushroom-free. Try and come up with some fun (and frugal) breakfast ideas. I dare you!

Outgrowing Allergies?

We were told that if we avoided her allergens as completely as possible for at least two years, we could attempt to bring them back in. My daughter, Hosanna, is nearing four now and we have recently added back in dairy to the whole family. She does okay if we have it in moderation, but lately she has had some strange new eczema patches. And now our oldest son, Elisha, is having behavioral issues again.

Side note: While we have tried adding in the dairy and the egg (in baked goods only), I will NOT attempt this with the peanut/nut allergy. With the nut allergy, I would rather further testing to see if she still reacts.

Gluten-free, Casein-free, Egg-free, Nut-free, Shellfish-free, and Mushroom-free (What’s For Dinner?)

My husband (Jonah) and I have been discussing our options. I am convinced that the food has something to do with Hosanna’s eczema outbreak as well as Elisha’s recent behavior. I was leaning towards going back on the gluten-free, casein-free diet, as well as staying away from all the other allergens, but the thought scares me.

Since we know that dairy (casein) is the biggest culprit for Elisha, we decided to start by eliminating that first and see how we do. The first 3-6 weeks can often be really bad if he goes through a withdrawal from those foods, so we can only pray for grace.

If we have success, we will stop there and just remain dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, mushroom-free, and shellfish-free. That is a mouthful and it’s no wonder we don’t eat out much.

Planning And Preparation

If we don’t have as much success as we would like, we will continue on and remove the gluten as well. This is a much bigger job and will require more planning and preparation on my part.

All of this means that I must be much more on top of planning meals. I must be going back through my recipes and pulling out the ones that I created based on old war recipes and new vegan ones (thank you Google). I am excited, nervous, and ready for change with our food in the hopes that we see benefits for our family.

I have discussed the changes with my husband and the two middle boys, but not Elisha. I wanted to just go ahead and quietly implement the changes at the end of the month and see if we could sneak them in without him noticing. Here’s hoping he is not a frequent reader of my blog.

If you are dealing with food allergies, feeding a large family on a tight budget, or otherwise challenged in the kitchen, I would love to hear your comments.

large family good eats

4 replies
  1. Tabitha
    Tabitha says:


    My two children with autism have to avoid all those foods and more! If they even TOUCH something with gluten we get extreme head banging and other kinds of self injury (the last time my daughter touched play-doh she even had blood pouring out her mouth she freaked so bad).

    Anyway, a book that I found helpful in the beginning was “Finally… Food I Can Eat” by Shirley Plant. It has recipes free of: dairy, wheat, yeast, corn, sugar, eggs, soy, nuts, nightshades, and/or gluten.

    Another thing, if your kids have food sensitivities then you can almost be sure they have candida. As long as we avoid the kids food sensitivities and keep their candida under control, people would never in a million years guess that they have an autism diagnoses. However, if we don’t, then it’s right back to extreme autism (if my son even licks something with sugar in it, including fruit, he loses his speech for about a week!).

    Thank goodness for homeschooling where we know what they are eating!

    Hope this helps,


  2. Kay Fisher
    Kay Fisher says:

    Hi Honey,

    My heart goes out to you. We have at times been GF, dairy-free ,soy-free, egg-free. Although we never cheat on gluten, the others slip back in varying degrees and usually do not result in a good effect. I just finished reading a book titled GAPS Diet written by Natasha Campbell-McBride. I highly recommend it. She cured her autistic son with this diet. We have done the Candida diet in the past as well and I am now working up the strength and courage to do the GAPS Diet. This is, admittedly, not fun!


  3. Victoria
    Victoria says:

    It’s tough, I know. When my autistic daughter was little, she was GFCF, egg-free and nut-free, and we also tried to avoid MSG and other artificial preservatives. Wow. We did all that for 2 years, then started her on digestive enzymes. We were slowly able to take her off the GFCF diet. Now, she can also have eggs baked in foods, but we don’t give them to her on their own. The nuts, we will never give her nuts. Even if a skin-prick test comes back negative, I just don’t trust it. Too risky. So, instead, she enjoys Sunbutter instead of peanut butter. Its made from sunflower seeds and tastes pretty good! My son is also allergic to eggs and nuts. I sure don’t know where they got those allergies from, as no one else in the family has them.

  4. Dawn @ The Momma Knows
    Dawn @ The Momma Knows says:

    I sure don’t envy you all the food allergies! I have been seriously considering taking both of my boys to the allergist for testing, to see if there is anything obvious, and then trying an elimination diet to see if there are other things that might give us some improvement. At this point I’m just not ready to dive into it. :( Did you have allergy testing done or just start eliminating foods?


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>