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Thread: Can food, diet change, nutrition help diminish Autism, ADD symptoms in children? If so, please help! Reply to Thread
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  Topic Review (Newest First)
09-26-2012 08:29 AM

Oh, the author also had an autistic child that she healed through nutrition, so that is amazing.

09-26-2012 08:28 AM

I'm reading the GAPS book, and it is amazing. I have learned so much. Please read this book first. I don't have an autistic child, but she did have eczema and I have some other mild issues that might be helped by the diet. I am considering doing it, but want to read the whole book first.

09-26-2012 06:47 AM

Autism Diets: Not Rocket Science


Both scientific research and extensive anecdotal parent reports (also science!) overwhelming support using Food and Nutrition choices to help affect the health, cognition, and behavior of children with ASD, ADHD, and other developmental disorders.


While there are varied dietary approaches, it's important to understand the no "autism diets" were created for autism - all are being adapted to specific healing applications. Thus, it's quite important to understand the bigger picture of why to follow a specialized diet, how to discern which approach your child will best benefit from, and how to ensure good nutrition and make it work for you.


Don't let anyone convince you that random/haphazard food choices are better for your child than strategic/calculated. Because they just don't know, or are inadvertently rewarded for your NOT succeeding, too many practitioners are telling parents to deny their instincts and not care what they feed their children (even when the child overly exhibits a food related symptom). Use your intuition.


Here are two FREE resources on this - Parents Guide to Using Food and Nutrition to Help Children with Autism, by Julie Matthews, author of Nourishing Hope for Autism.  and...


Scientifically referenced and straightforward published article... "Autism Diets: Not Rocket Science"


No matter what your position regarding the causation of this epidemic, it is indisputable that some positive and healthful trajectory exists for every child. Step 1 is understanding that mind/body/behavior are connected, then...take charge of inputs (i.e. food), and continue your education on how to affect healing for these children. Parents, physicians, and therapists around the world are discovering this and making tremendous strides.


May you make the most of this approach...



09-24-2012 08:31 PM

We most definitely see a difference with my daughter's activity level and emotional regulation when she eats sugar-- especially high fructose corn syrup but also white sugar, honey, maple syrup, some sweet fruit (especially juices) etc-- as well as artificial colors and some preservatives. We try to stick with "real food" as much as possible. Today she had a chocolatey treat at school for someone's birthday and she had crazy uncontrollable energy and was a bit of an emotional wreck for the rest of the evening. She can also have an issue with simple carbs (white bread, plain crackers, etc)-- she responds just like to sugar unless she is eating it with something else, like cheese or peanut butter. 

09-24-2012 02:02 PM

Ha, sorry, total brain fart.  Just for the record, I do know that full GAPS is not casein free (although the intro is, and you are supposed to test for sensitivity before reintroducing).  *I* do casein-free GAPS so I sometimes forget that the diet itself isn't CF.  Still, GF/CF can get you part of the way there but if the underlying damage to the gut isn't addressed, it can only have a limited degree of benefit.  Healing the issue is as much about what *to* eat than what not to eat.  GF/CF pretzels, crackers, etc, are not going to do much good.  

09-24-2012 01:48 PM
pek64 One hidden place for dairy and soy is the wax on apples and pears(?). Definately apples. So if avoiding either of those (dairy or soy) make sure your fruit is not waxed.
09-24-2012 11:21 AM

That's so true for casein. It is in a lot of products that one would never expect. While the Feingold diet doesn't eliminate casein or gluten, the product research center does research the two and lists which products in the foodlist are GFCF.

09-23-2012 09:22 PM
pek64 GAPS is *not* casein free. Ghee would have minute traces, and yogurt would *definately* have casein.

I think that's the biggest problem with casein free -- folks don't always know what has casein and what doesn't. Better to be completely dairy free, and that's hard, too! Tuna (canned) can have hydrolized casein added. Still, dairy free, at least to start, would be a better test to see if that is going to help.
09-23-2012 09:11 PM

I just wanted to pipe in and mention that the GAPS diet includes some of the other suggestions that were mentioned - GAPS is also GF/CF and grain- and legume-free (wheat, corn, soy, etc).  


The reason that some dietary changes like GF/CF or just gluten-free or just sugar free make an impact on some kids and not on others is that it really isn't addressing the whole underlying issue, which is poor gut health.  If their gut is damaged and opportunistic bacteria crowd out beneficial bacteria, all kinds of mayhem ensues across all systems in the body.  Neurological disorders like ASD and schizophrenia and OCD are extreme manifestations of an unhealthy gut.  There are lots of contributing factors that are affecting gut health (antibiotics, sterile lifestyle, standard American diet (sugar and carb-based, additives and fillers, nutrient deficient, pesticide and antibiotic-laden), vaccines, medications), for some a big factor might be the casomorphins and gluteomorphins and a GF/CF diet will make a big difference, for others it might be a lessor factor and that diet might not make as much of a difference.  The GAPS and SCD diets (they're very similar) are aimed at healing the gut, and thereby healing the root cause of these illnesses.  


The diet looks similar to things like paleo and traditional foods diets.  It includes lots of bone broth and fermented foods, good fats, and asks you to take a high quality probiotic.  There are some lifestyle changes suggested as well, like limiting exposure to chemicals in grooming products, household cleaners, etc, and also getting plenty of sunscreen-free sunshine.  


Here is a video of the author of the GAPS book at a conference - it's 90 minutes long and gives an overview of her research.


Also, GAPS is not just a diet for folks with ASD or extreme conditions - it has helped with food allergies, asthma, mood and behavioral problems, any autoimmunity, migraines, IBS, ulcers, picky eaters (self-limiting food to starches and carbs and refusing savory foods is an indicator that opportunistic bacteria have overgrown) and pretty much anything else you can think of.

09-22-2012 11:18 PM

Good places to check out are and  The Feingold diet is the answer for many, many and the beginning for others and this support group really helps figure out the missing pieces. Lots that don't get the success they want either don't have all the info necessary (Feingold materials) OR need to go further because they have additional sensitivities such as corn syrup, gluten, casein, etc. I do realize that diet isn't the only answer for ADHD symptoms.

09-22-2012 05:19 PM

Dietary modifications seem to work for some people, but not for others.  Sometimes the difference is subtle, and sometimes it's dramatic.


I think, in the case of autism, it seems to help keep kids more calm/stable once you find the right combo.  The catch of course, is making it work around all the food aversions/issues you tend to get with autism (these guys are notoriously picky about food). It doesn't cure the autism by any means, but sometimes by eliminating gluten or dairy, or both, you get less tantruming/stimming/self-injury, which make daily life a lot smoother and more manageable.  Thinking of students I've had, some became completely different people if they got their hands on "forbidden foods" and it became very clear why their families went to such lengths to maintain GF/CF diets.  A couple pieces of candy could equal a VERY BAD DAY.


With ADHD, I've never had a student who was on a restrictive diet (like people do with autism), but I've had a few students who came to school with home packed lunches  (to help them avoid choosing foods that contained sugar/additives), and they seemed to do better that way (which became very evident during parties or other times when they'd have access to novel foods at school).  When they were acting out of character, it would often turn out that they had been eating junk food, or had been drinking Mt. Dew or something along those lines.  I remember working at an after school program where they had been providing the kids with pizza and fruit punch (sugar water), and the next year started serving healthier foods (sandwiches, salads, fruit) and the behavior of the kids was WAAAAAY better, and they were able to focus a lot better...and many of the kids participating in the program were known to have ADHD or LDs, so after spending a whole day in school, their behavior was often nightmarish!  Was the effect so dramatic that they could stop taking their meds?  No, but it definitely took the edge off, and our time together was more productive.


If you want to try it, it probably can't hurt anything.  Anecdotally, people often say they feel better after reducing or eliminating certain foods, if nothing else.  You can tell it's working if you notice certain behaviors taper off or disappear entirely after a few days.   


If you discover it works, and want to continue, you'll have to make sure everyone your child spends time with is aware that he or she is on a special diet (in SPED speak:  has food protocols)  so that as much as possible there's continuity between different settings. Provide something in writing to school personnel so they will know what your preferences are.

09-22-2012 01:45 PM
philomom Not to be a Debby Downer but my son who has ADD and is "quirky" in many ways.... I have tried various diets and gotten great improvements for a short time and then the effects seem to "wear off". That doesn't mean they aren't worth trying.

Currently, I'm trying coconut oil which is high fat for the rest of us but has had some good reviews on helping folks with memory issues.
09-22-2012 01:35 PM

I tried the gfcf diet with my two bouncy babies, it did not change anything. But than, we don't live in the u.s. and artificial colouring is not as common, and a lot of sweet packings say: no artificial coloring as by law - which makes me think it might be banned here ?! I won't buy anything with artificial flavouring or coloring anyway. But the no-sugar no gluten no casein did not change anything, just made my life miserable. 


That does not mean that it wouldn't work for anybody else though

09-22-2012 09:55 AM
Originally Posted by catnip View Post

 a broken volume knob

Lol, I'm going to use this saying. So creative!


Now, I am strictly no-soda, but DH drinks it every day (despite my efforts to change him lol!!)  One night several years ago, he gave DS a small cup of soda. At first I was upset, but then I decided to show DH the reason why I don't like soda. Within minutes, my son was bouncing around like a ping pong ball. He would jump from my bed, onto the floor, back on the bed, onto the floor, etc. He did this for almost 10 minutes!! After DH witnessed the crazy behavior, he understood why I have a no soda rule!

09-22-2012 09:19 AM
Originally Posted by catnip View Post

I'm more likely to frame the statement like this: the wrong foods can make things worse. 



This.  If my kids have red dye PLUS HFCS, look out, they're bouncing off the walls for hours.  Either one in small doses by itself is "ok" (but ew), but together they're a disaster.   They're *always* energetic and a little frenetic, but with the wrong foods things just devolve into physical or emotional chaos.


They seem to handle a serving or two of dairy a week with a few days in between, but if they get more than that in them one turns into a sobbing mess and the other turns into a raging mess.   Same with preservatives and fast/junk food.  In strict moderation (oxymoron?)  they are OK, but there is a NOTICEABLE change in them if they get a "buildup" of any of it by having those things a few days in a row...or even like, every other day.  They need 3-4 days in between servings.  We have tried lots of variations on this.  Of course, one could argue that staying completely away from all of it would make them even better and more optimal and why on earth wouldn't I do that?  But alas, I am flawed and weak.  sulkoff.gif

09-22-2012 09:07 AM
catnip I'm more likely to frame the statement like this: the wrong foods can make things worse. If my friend's son gets gluten, he goes from being a bright, happy boy with a broken volume knob and a bit of trouble with social cues, to a miserable, non-verbal one who just sits there rocking. My daughter is always distractible or hyper-focused, give her red food dye, though, and she is miserable, out of control, and bouncing off the walls. Both of these happen quick, within about 30 minutes of exposure. We tried the Feingold diet for me when I was a kid. It helped, but not enough for me to be able to function in a classroom unmedicated.

My daughter and I both still -have- ADHD on a good diet, but it is more manageable. Same with my friend's Asperger's.
09-21-2012 01:34 PM

I got great results for myself when I cut out corn, wheat and soy. Also no preservities or 'fake' foods.


I feel fantastic! I cheated a couple times recently and really felt the effects... so yes, diet does make a difference :)

09-20-2012 10:34 AM
pek64 Well, now you have two diet suggestions. If you want more info for the gluten ans dairy free diet, here's a link.

I hope you find something that helps.
09-20-2012 09:05 AM

This is not about nutrition, but I just read this article today, from the Blog, Thinking Mom's Revolution, and thought it might be of interest in helping anyone trying to find their way through the healing of autism maze.


Another Piece of the Puzzle

09-20-2012 08:27 AM

I believe that nutrition can help with these conditions also. But every child is an individual, so what works for one might not work for another. The GAPS diet that Becky linked info to is a great starting place. Check out the Nutrition/Immunology 101 thread in the vaccines forum and Healing the Gut Tribe! from this forum. These thread contain a book load of information, so settle down for a long read!


Do you believe that your child's condition was caused by something? 

09-19-2012 09:25 PM
pek64 I've read that gluten free and dairy free do wonders for autism.

Also, I've read that many ADD/ADHD symptoms improve when artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners are removed.
09-19-2012 09:07 PM

From the "GAPS" website, on Dr.Campbell-McBride:


Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride holds a degree in Medicine and Postgraduate degrees in both Neurology and Human Nutrition.  In her clinic in Cambridge she specializes in nutrition for children and adults with behavioral and learning disabilities, and adults with digestive and immune system disorders.

09-19-2012 09:05 PM

I believe nutrition can help with your child's issues.  (ADHD is included in this. Maybe it could be useful) Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet. Please read this. This is also similar to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Please look up both "GAPS" and "SCD" diets.

Videos to watch:


I've been linking to these videos a lot lately, but I've heard all of them and I think the info is amazing. These diets are NOT vegan or vegetarian, but please look at why the diets are recommended. I read "Breaking the Vicious Cycle", which is about the SCD diet, and there is evidence that neurological issues can improve when the gut is repaired and healed.

09-19-2012 08:35 PM




If you have any links, details, please list them here.


Have you been able to improve your childs Autism & ADD with different foods,

diet change, etc,?


Please provide examples of what to eat or avoid. What to do?


Thanks :)

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