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Gluten Free Oats question for ASD GF/DF/SF diet

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hi there,

My son isn't "allergic" to gluten but he has a mild ASD and a gluten free, dairy free, soy free diet has really made a world of difference in his symptomatic behaviours. 


I bought some GF oats recently but then read somewhere that oats have a similar protein to gluten that has a comparable affect on people sensitive to it. Does anyone know about this or have they experienced sensitivities or reactions to GF oats? 


Any time we have a slip up with DS's diet he backslides a bit for a while and it's difficult for everyone so I'd hate for that to happen since he is doing so incredibly well. But I'd really like to find out if he can tolerate these GF oats because I'd like to make some nut-butter honey oat snacks to give him something calorie dense and healthy as he has dropped some weight lately due to really finicky eating and recurring colds.


Any input on this will be appreciated!!!


(x-posted in Allergies forum) 

post #2 of 12

I've done a HUGE amount of reading over the years, and what I understand from it, is that oats are often cross contaminated with wheat as they are grown side to side.  This is why those on gf/cf diets are wary of oats and those with celiac won't eat them.


My son who is also on gf/cf diet (and does not eat soy either) can tolerate trace amounts so we don't need our gluten free products certified.  I just read the label carefully.  And, to be on the safe side, you can buy oats which are grown for those with celiac and are tested prior to packaging as completely gluten free.


I have never read that oats have a similar protein makeup to gluten and it certainly hasn't been true in our experience with the diet over the years.  But, just as a helpful aside, if you're looking for a calorie dense and nutritious flour to bake treats with you can try Quinou flour and almond flour.

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Yeah, I'm aware of the cross-contamination common with oats, so the ones I bought are tested thoroughly and are supposed to be gluten free.


The recipe I'm hoping to make is for whole oats and wouldn't really work with a flour substitute but I will look into some recipes with almond flour as that sounds yummy.

post #4 of 12

It IS totally yummy.  Almond flour makes great pancakes for a high protein breakfast.

post #5 of 12

They do say that 80% of the oats in the US are contaminated with wheat since they are usually grown in rotating fields and processed in the same plant. There is a second issue and that is the protein in the oat has much the same makeup as found in gluten.  Because it is so close, some people cannot tolerate the oat because it has the same effect on the body as wheat. Since it is not exactly alike, some can tolerate it a little which is where 1/2 cup a day or something is suggested after the healing has happened. So, both are an issue, depending on the person. :) 

post #6 of 12

Interesting...I had never read that information in regard to the gf/cf diet for children with behavioral problems so I did a little google research (google is my friend ;) and found similar information that you described as important to know for those with Celiac. 


"A small number of people with celiac disease, however, could not tolerate even pure, uncontaminated oats. In these individuals, a protein in oats called avenin triggered an immune response similar to gluten. There was no way to tell in advance which patients would be sensitive to avenins." 


The above information came from about.com


However, children on GF/CF diets do not avoid these foods to avoid an immune mediated response such as those who have Celiac.  There are a small number of hypothesis' about why avoiding these food help ameliorate behavioral, sensory and learning problems in childhood.  One is that they are glutamate producing foods and children who are experiencing these issues have a glutamate/gaba imbalance maybe due to a metabolics problem or vitamin deficiencies.  That is why children who are on this diet are often advised to supplement with B12.  Another theory is the notion of leaky gut syndrome and that these foods act as a mild opiate in the blood stream effecting the Central nervous system and clouding thinking.


Maybe someone has other information that is different.  However, it is important not to confuse celiac with the gluten/casein free diet.  I think it's important to be clear about what you are doing and why.....

Edited by livinglife - 1/16/13 at 9:49am
post #7 of 12

This is all very useful information to me too :-)

post #8 of 12

This question is a big problem for me too. I am currently doing a gf elimination for my DD1. The doctor and allergist told us we had to include oats in that. I specifically asked about "gluten-free oats" with regard to the contamination and the doctor said no oats at all. I too read about a related protein but I am also confused. I think there is more to it than the contamination. 


I think if you wanted, you could eliminate them for 2 weeks, then add in the non-contaminated oats as their own category, if you want. God knows, if you're going gf, oats make a big difference. I do wish someone could clear this up for me.

post #9 of 12
DS is on a GF diet -- pretty strict but he occasionally has trace amounts and has either a delayed reaction or none at all, I think it is a cumulative thing for him.

I do not let him have oats, which is rough because he's been asking & asking lately to have oatmeal. I keep going back & forth about whether to let him try it. It's hard to tell with him what kind of effect something is having, and often it takes weeks or even months to realize he *is* reacting and by then there is a lot of damage to undo! So I guess we are erring on the side of caution & saying no to oats. I do remember as a baby some of his worst nights followed bowls of oatmeal too. ~sigh~

As far as oat bars... could you use rough-chopped or slivered nuts in place of the oats? I've had some luck with that. Also google paleo or grain-free snacks and you might get some recipes that have already been tried & tested.

You could always just try the oats & see how it goes, but if you're hesitant, there are so many other yummy options out there, so don't do it *just* for the oat bars! smile.gif
post #10 of 12

I too have read about the protien created from oats, We are two years into our diet, and I too scared to try at oats, trying to work up the courage!


What about using buckwheat or quinoa?


Here is a recipie we like, bu I know you could probably make cooked buckwheat and us it in place of the oats, it kind of stil has that chewy texture.



post #11 of 12

I'm a Celiac and personally I stay away from oats completely. I tried the certified gluten free oats for oatmeal and cookies and found that they do bother me a bit. Not as much as wheat but enough that I don't consider them safe, so if you're really trying to avoid a setback I probably wouldn't. You could probably make something with crisp rice cereal, chopped nuts and/or unsweetened coconut flakes though. Just make sure the rice krispies don't have barley malt extract because some brands do.

post #12 of 12

I am officially diagnosed "gluten sensitive" (not celiac per se) going on two years now. If wheat dust even lands on my food, I can tell because I will feel ill almost immediately - nausea, GI issues...the next few days I'll be irritable, feel like I am starving, and then the "brain fog" or inability to concentrate sets in. When I first tried reintroducing oats I tried some brand that were not GF explicitly but rumored to have essentially no cross contamination > I felt ill. Then I tried some certified GF oats. If I zapped some in the microwave for a quick oatmeal, I did pretty well but felt some ingestion, so I will have oatmeal only rarely. Then I tried them baked in oatmeal cookies, and those didn't seem to bother me at all (and I eat a LOT of those cookies in one sitting). I think baking them might mitigate damage by the proteins similar to with regular food allergies, but that is more anecdotal on my part. So I'd eliminate the oatmeal for a while, then reintroduce them in baked form, see if there are any noticeable reactions, repeat, repeat, then go from there. Good luck, trying to pinpoint things with elimination diets is tedious and can drive you crazy, but the results are so worthwhile if you can figure out what has been bothering you or your kids all this time.

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