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The GFCF Diet Intervention - Autism Diet  

Gluten Free/Casein Free Food List
| Wheat Free Dairy Free | Shopping Guide Dietary Intervention for ASD - Celiac

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Beginning The Diet

Stages of Diet

All  information on this website is not to be construed as MEDICAL ADVICE.

Consult with your physician about any dietary changes.  

Not all BUT some products listed on this website contain additives / ingredients that are not considered a healthy food choice. Artificial colors, flavors and preservatives can be found in many GFCF candy and GFCF chewing gum products.

Try to avoid the following unhealthy ingredients in the GFCF Foods you serve your children:

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)/ Hydrolyzed Protein
Artificial Sweeteners (Aspartame, etc.)
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Excessive Refined Sugar
Trans Fat (Partially Hydrogenated Oil)

Artificial Food Coloring





Some children may be allergic or intolerant to soy
, corn or other food.  

Artificial/Synthetic coloring
Artificial/Synthetic flavoring
Aspertame (nutrasweet, an artificial sweetener)
Artificial (synthetic preservatives BHA, BHT

For more information contact:

The Feingold Assocation
554 East Main Street Suite 301
Riverhead, NY   11901
1-800-321-3287 (U.S. only)



"The GFCF Diet is one of the very first recommendations made by the Autism Research Institute.  It is considered to be a cornerstone of the DAN! Approach. The reasons are many: first, many of the children lack the [dpp4] enzyme that allows them to break down the peptides from gluten and casein. As a result, a subset of autistic individuals have these improperly digested proteins which cross the intestinal membrane, travel in the blood, pass through the blood-brain barrier and interfere with neurotransmission. When this happens, Dr. Karl Reichelt, M.D., Ph.D., and other researchers have shown that these opioid-like substances can be responsible for poor attention, odd behavior, a deficit in socialization skills and poor speech.

Conversely, when gluten- and casein-based foods are removed, there can be an initial drug-withdrawal phase [when symptoms can worsen], followed by improved behavior, better attention, at times improved speech and an increase in socialization skills."
Maureen H. McDonnell, R.N., DAN! Conference Coordinator and former DAN! clinician

For autistic children, their bodies do not process gluten (wheat) and casein (dairy) correctly and cause an opioid reaction and like all opioids (heroin, etc.) they need to feed their habit with more of the same.  They come out of their fogged state with their senses emerging.  They reduce their dangerous climbing, can feel pain and are clearer and more compliant.  DO NOT GO COLD TURKEY, as you will have an ugly withdrawal reaction as any addict would.   

We cannot stress enough the importance of reading labels on all of your food purchases.  While we strive to have our lists of foods as accurate as possible, some food manufacturers are known to change their ingredients without warning.  Some of these foods may still be included on our list without our knowledge of ingredient changes.  If you come across any changes, please contact us by email as soon as possible

Laboratory Testing

We feel that because of the successful improvements seen after strict adherence to the diet, a test for allergies is not always necessary to prompt parents to start using Dietary Therapy.  Many parents see dramatic changes the first few weeks.  It has been reported that this diet has helped children who have NOT tested positive for gluten and/or casein allergy. However, keep in mind that lab testing may help some parents make the decision to try the diet and stick with the GFCF Diet. 

An ELISA blood test measuring IgE and IgG anti-bodies will help you determine your child’s food sensitivities. 

Important Suggestions
Start the diet gradually, one meal or one food at a time.  That is, for a week , just make dinner gluten free and casein free.  Then once you've got that figured out, add in breakfast.  Then after that's done, add in lunch and snacks.  

Add more foods to your child's diet that are acceptable BEFORE you start the diet.  Start introducing rice and potatoes if your child only eats noodles.  Add fruits and vegetables to every meal so that you child may eventually try the new foods.  The reason this is suggested is  the gluten free and casein free substitutes don't really taste like the "real things" they know and love.  Rather than having them starve during a a hunger strike, you will have backups in case they reject the gluten-free and casein free substitutes.


Understanding How To Read Labels
This food listed on this website must be used with caution due to the fact that manufacturers change their ingredients without warning.   This may be due to changes in the recipe, changes in the  ingredients supplied to the manufacturer,  or changes in the production & manufacturing methods.  Parents and individuals with food allergies and intolerances are responsible for reading the label of all products they intend to use regardless of how the product  is represented on this site. Certain unacceptable ingredients may be hidden under the name of natural flavorings.  Modified food starch is also a vague term which does not indicate the source of the starch (wheat or corn). Any and all questions and/or concerns about a product should be directed to the manufacturer. This website cannot guarantee that the list of foods are gluten and casein free.  This is a guide to calling and verifying that products are gluten and casein free. If anyone has reason to believe that the  manufacturing  process and or ingredients  have changed in the following products and should be either included or deleted,  please write to us at

Read all labels, verify that they are gluten and casein free.  When in doubt call the company.  Toll free numbers have been provided for most of the food listed on this website.

Cross Contamination
Gluten and casein cross contamination  is a legitimate concern.  Some manufacturers produce food on machinery that is also used to make many different products. The rinsing process on manufacturing lines may well vary between different companies. There are some companies that are not concerned with rinsing their lines but most companies are committed about thorough rinsing.   Some manufacturing companies sterilize and clean machinery between each item, using much higher water temperatures than water used in most households. Some of these manufacturing companies insist there is more chance of contamination in a consumer's kitchen due to improper washing of counter tops,  plates and utensils or pots and pans.

Gluten contamination from products which use flour ingredients is harder to control due to airborne flour dust. Dairy cross contamination may be easier to control when lines are washed between manufacturing products since airborne contamination at most times does not exist unless a powdered form is used.  It is important for you as consumers to contact companies and tell them these issues are important to you.  If you do not tell them, they will not know. Avoiding cross contamination  is a personal choice but one that should be based on being informed. 

Some other cross contamination considerations are listed below and recommended by the Celiac Organization (They restrict gluten from their diet).

*Use separate baking pans that have never been used with gluten-containing foods.  These baking pans should be used only when baking GFCF foods.

*A separate toaster or toaster oven should be used for GFCF breads, waffles, bagels, rolls, etc.

*A separate Waffle iron should be  used strictly for cooking regular waffles.

*Cross contamination can  also occur when a knife is used for spreading jelly, jams, peanut butter, etc. on breads. The knife can collect crumbs which remain on the utensil  after used on  regular breads and also gluten free breads. Keep two of the same product, labeling the products which are used for your gluten free family member(s).

*Also keep in mind that purchasing products from bins creates a high risk of cross contamination. Frequently scoops are used in multiple products, hence contamination is likely to occur.

Artificial Food Dyes

Behavior Disorders/Synthetic Food Dyes

More Studies on Artificial Food Dyes (Medline via

J Pediatr. 1994 Nov;125(5 Pt 1):691-8.

Synthetic food coloring and behavior: a dose response effect in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, repeated-measures study.

Rowe KS, Rowe KJ.

Department of Pediatrics, University of Melbourne, Royal Children's Hospital, Victoria, Australia.


OBJECTIVE: To establish whether there is an association between the ingestion of synthetic food colorings and behavioral change in children referred for assessment of "hyperactivity."

PARTICIPANTS: From approximately 800 children referred to the Royal Children's Hospital (Melbourne) for assessment of suspected hyperactivity, 200 were included in a 6-week open trial of a diet free of synthetic food coloring. The parents of 150 children reported behavioral improvement with the diet, and deterioration on the introduction of foods noted to contain synthetic coloring. A 30-item behavioral rating inventory was devised from an examination of the clinical histories of 50 suspected reactors. Thirty-four other children (23 suspected reactors, 11 uncertain reactors) and 20 control subjects, aged 2 to 14 years, were studied.

DESIGN: A 21-day, double-blind, placebo-controlled, repeated-measures study used each child as his or her own control. Placebo, or one of six dose levels of tartrazine (1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 mg), was administered randomly each morning, and behavioral ratings were recorded by parents at the end of each 24 hours.

RESULTS: The study identified 24 children as clear reactors (19 of 23 "suspected reactors," 3 of 11 "uncertain reactors," and 2 of 20 "control subjects"). They were irritable and restless and had sleep disturbance. Significant reactions were observed at all six dose levels. A dose response effect was obtained. With a dose increase greater than 10 mg, the duration of effect was prolonged.

CONCLUSION: Behavioral changes in irritability, restlessness, and sleep disturbance are associated with the ingestion of tartrazine in some children. A dose response effect was observed.


[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Hidden Ingredients

New Food Labeling Laws
Effective 1/1/2006

Although packaged food products made after Jan. 1, 2006, will reflect the label changes; they may not hit your grocer's shelves for several months when foods with longer shelf lives are restocked.

The top allergens that must be listed on all labels are as follows:


Tree Nuts (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts)
Fish (such as bass, cod, flounder)

Shellfish (such as crab, lobster, shrimp)


If you are sensitive to gluten, you must avoid ALL grains that contain gluten, not just wheat. While the new law will be helpful to people allergic/intolerant to the top 8 allergens, it only requires manufacturers to list sources of wheat, not other gluten grains those on a GFCF Diet must avoid such as barley, rye, oats, and triticale.

See Unacceptable List: 

Before this law was enacted, “non-dairy” printed on the label, (example: Powdered dairy creamer), most people were mislead into believing that the product was dairy free when in fact, they contained milk byproducts.  After 1/1/06 if a product contains casein, a protein found in milk, the label will indicate “milk” in parenthesis after the term “casein”. Or, the label will simply state, "Contains milk."

Keep in mind, for the highly sensitive individual,
that cross contamination issues are not applicable with this new change.  There are some manufacturers who share the same lines with making foods, which contain known allergens.  Most manufacturers insist that thorough washing in between batches keeps cross contamination less likely than most household kitchens, but this is something to keep in mind if any adverse reactions occur after consuming this type of manufactured product.

Important Note:
Fresh produce and fresh meats are not required to list any of the top 8 food allergens on the labels.

Luncheon Meats, Sausage & Frankfurters
Note: Check labels on luncheon meat, hot dogs and sausages as they may contain milk protein. Several of the luncheon meats, sausages and frankfurters may contain a grain as an excipient or as a part of a gluten stabilizer.  Turkey with HVP injected as part of basting (avoid self-basting fowl) is to be avoided.

Cocoa Butter
This  is the fat extracted from the seed of the Theobroma cacao tree. Cocoa butter with no added ingredients is GFCF.  It becomes unacceptable on the GFCF Diet if casein or gluten are added.
(Note: When mixed with other ingredients such as sugar, milk solids and flavorings, it becomes WHITE CHOCOLATE, which is NOT acceptable).

Calcium Disodium EDTA 
This additive does NOT contain any gluten or casein.  However, although the body absorbs only about 5 percent of the calcium disodium EDTA swallowed, many believe that this additive is overdue for testing to resolve any questions about its safety. When heated, it gives off toxic nitrous oxide fumes

Artificial Flavoring
According to 21 C.F.R. S101,11(a)(3): "the terms "natural flavor" or "natural flavoring" means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof.  Whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional."
Lactic Acid
Lactic acid is found naturally in sour milk but also commercially produced from whey,  potatoes, molasses, sugar beet, cane, grape sugars, corn and alfalfa.  U.S. labeling laws (effective 1/06)  require the top known eight allergens to be printed along with all ingredients. If lactic acid is listed as an ingredient and the source is whey (dairy), the label must indicate "dairy".  Whey contains some of the offending milk proteins.

The problem with caramel color is it may or may not contain gluten depending on how it is manufactured. In the U.S.A. caramel color must conform with the FDA  standard of identity from 21CFR CH.1. This statute says: "the color additive caramel  is the dark-brown liquid or solid material resulting from the carefully controlled heat treatment of the following food-grade carbohydrates: Dextrose (corn sugar),  Invert sugar, Lactose (milk sugar), Malt syrup (usually from barley malt), Molasses  (from cane), Starch Hydrolysates and fractions thereof (can include wheat), Sucrose (cane or beet)." Also, acids, alkalis and salts are listed as additives which may be  employed to assist the caramelization  process.

Ingredient Labeling
Ingredient labeling is required on all foods that have more than one ingredient.  Because people may be allergic/intolerant  to certain additives and to help them better avoid them, the ingredient list must include, when appropriate, sources of protein hydrolysates, which are used in many foods as flavors and flavors enhancers, declaration of caseinate as a milk derivative in the ingredient list of foods that claim to be non-dairy, such as coffee whiteners must be included in the labeling of products. 

Modified Food Starch
Modified food starch is also a vague term which does not indicate the source of the starch (wheat or corn).  By law if any food product contains modified food starch the source MUST be listed if it is wheat. If you have any questions and/or concerns about a product ingredient label which contains "modified food starch" contact the manufacturer. 

While food labels don't need to list every possible allergen, they do list the top eight, which account for 90 percent of all documented food allergies.

The Food Allergens:
Tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts
Fish (such as bass, cod, flounder)
fish (such as crab, lobster, shrimp
Wheat (wheat is only one source of  gluten.  Please see
unacceptable list for other ingredients which are not acceptable while maintaining a gluten free casein free diet. The other unacceptable ingredients may or may not be listed on every product label if used in an ingredient listed such as  "natural flavors". )


NOTE:  Scientific tests show that all harmful peptides (from wheat) are removed during the distillation process of  Distilled Vinegar.  But, if you use a distilled  vinegar and you notice any indication that your child may have an intolerance discontinue using it.

Distilled Vinegars can be from wheat, corn, potatoes, beets, wood, apples and many other things.  

Acceptable Vinegar
corn vinegar 
rice vinegar
potato vinegar
beet vinegar
apple/cider vinegar
Red Wine Vinegar  
White Wine Vinegar 
Balsamic Vinegar 
distilled wood vinegar  (wood-based vinegar is often the vinegar 
used in processed foods - verify with manufacturer) 
distilled vinegar

Unacceptable Vinegar
NO malted vinegar 
Verify ingredients of all flavored vinegar 

Many parents using dietary intervention and especially "advanced GFCF Dieters" begin to notice other emerging food intolerances. One such group of foods that many of our children show adverse reactions to are called  phenols.    They are impossible to avoid in ones diet because they are found everywhere.  However, phenolic foods which are high in salicylates are the ones most likely  needed to be avoided.   Not all children react the same after digesting particular foods in this category. Just like in any intervention, it is addressing the specific individual child's needs which will vary from one child to the next.  Some salicylates may be tolerated while others show an obvious adverse reaction. 
More Information

Some parents express concern about nitrates/nitrites added to meat. They are preservatives that are specially added to meats like lunchmeats, bacon, ham, sausage, etc.  In particular they help prevent the growth of botulism bacteria.  They also help keep the meat red, instead of gray, which it would soon become without nitrites. Sodium Nitrate is additive number E250. Nitrates can easily be converted to nitrites by bacteria in the stomach. They have been shown in an animal study to cause distractibility, and they can also cause headaches. Some parents report their children become hyperactive after eating foods which contain these additives. Decision to eliminate these from your child's diet is a personal decision based on how your child reacts after eating food which contain nitrates/nitrites.

General Information

Many Health Food products can be purchased over the internet.  Most manages of grocery stores will accommodate customers by stocking some requested foods.  Provide the store manager with a toll free list of numbers and products from individual manufacturers. There are many different GFCF foods that provide substitutions for the  food lists on this website.  Health Food Stores also carry gluten and casein free products. 

Information Directory for Toll Free Telephone number of companies throughout the U.S. #1-800-5551212 Not all companies have a toll free telephone number but many do.

Support Groups
E-mail Community Support of GFCF Diet
The email community  is a large group of families using the GFCF diet. (over 12,000 families!) The list is provided for parents to support each other with questions that are directly related to gluten and casein free foods. Membership (no fee) is necessary and is very easy. Click onto the address below and follow the prompts to join.

"" Facebook Page

Kosher Labels 
NOTE: according to the "Food Allergy Network" newsletter, parve products are not milk-free for the purposes of avoidance due to severe milk allergy. The FDA allows casein (a milk protein) to be used in foods that can legally be labeled "non-dairy".  However,  in recent years, even trace amounts of dairy  makes a product NOT parve by Kosher inspectors. Kosher inspectors follow strict guidelines before the stamp of  parve is allowed to be placed on any food item.

Please visit  which gives news on kosher parve product changes from nondairy to dairy status and also the reverse, and also information on products which are mislabeled.

The Kosher marking U inside of a circle by itself (no D appearing) is considered parve/pareve.  If the U inside of a circle appears with a D beside it, the product is considered to either contain dairy or is processed on a line that produces other  food batches that contain dairy (not a dairy free dedicated line.)  Remember the  U inside of a circle is only the Kosher inspectors stamp, the appearance of the D or not is what gives you the additional information.  There is also a K Kosher marking instead of a U, just a different Kosher inspector organization.  There are several product lines on our GFCF diet list that have the Kosher markings U-D, but they have been checked out through the manufacturer to be free of any dairy ingredients, including unknowns such as natural flavoring, spices, caramel coloring, etc.  They are produced on lines not dedicated to dairy free products, but the lines usually washed between batches. 
by Janice Cupples

The Kosher mark has two parts.  The first tells who inspected, showing markings  with a U, K, or other usually printed inside the circle.  The second part is located just outside of the circle designating the status of  the product:

D = dairy - contains dairy or has been processed on  equipment that
processes dairy
D.E. = dairy equipment - possibly dairy-contaminated
Parve - neither dairy or meat per Jewish law
Pareve - neither dairy or meat per Jewish law
MEAT - meat that is free of dairy
P = passover - not pareve

Gluten Intolerance/Celiac Disease

The following is not medical advice
People with celiac disease are not autistic but many  individuals who are in the autistic spectrum  may have celiac disease.  Those who have celiac disease are unable to eat foods that contain gluten.
What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is a genetic disorder affecting children and adults. People with celiac disease are unable to eat foods that contain gluten, which is found in wheat and other grains. In people with celiac disease, gluten sets off an autoimmune reaction that causes the destruction of the villi in the small intestine, causing damage and illness. 
What are the symptoms of celiac disease?
Symptoms of celiac disease include diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal pain, chronic fatigue, weakness, malnutrition, and other gastrointestinal problems. In children, the symptoms may include failure to thrive (an inability to grow and put on weight, irritability, and inability to concentrate, diarrhea and bloating. Further, people affected by celiac disease may experience extra intestinal symptoms that involve many systems and organs including bones (osteoporosis, arthritis, and joint pain), blood (anemia and bleeding), reproductive system (infertility and reoccurring abortion), nervous system (chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, dementia), and behavioral changes.
How common is celiac disease?
Nearly one out of every 150 Americans suffer from celiac disease, according to a new study by the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research in Baltimore. The research indicates that celiac is twice as common as Crohn's disease, ulcer. colitis and cystic fibrosis combined. First degree relatives of celiacs (parents, children, siblings) and those with other autoimmune disorders, such as Type I Diabetes and Rheumatoid Arthritis have a much higher prevalence of celiac disease.
How is celiac diagnosed? 

A blood test is now available to screen for the presence of specific antibodies. A biopsy of the intestine (before beginning a gluten free diet) is needed to make a final diagnosis.
What are the long-term effects of celiac disease?

Untreated celiac disease can be life threatening. Celiacs are more likely to be afflicted with problems relating to malabsorption, including osteoporosis, tooth enamel defects, central and peripheral nervous system disease, pancreatic disease, internal hemorrhaging, organ disorders (gall bladder, liver, and spleen), and gynecological disorders. Untreated celiac disease has also been linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer, especially intestinal lymphoma.
What is the treatment for celiac disease?

There are no drugs to treat celiac disease and there is no cure. But celiacs can lead normal, healthy lives by following a gluten free diet. This means avoiding all products derived from wheat, rye, barley, oats, and a few other lesser-known grains. * 

Recommended Books

Special Diets for Special Kids by Lisa Lewis PhD 
Special Diets for Special Kids II by Lisa Lewis PhD 
Special Diets for Special Kids, Vols. 1 and 2 Combined by Lisa Lewis PhD
Order information:

The Encyclopedia of Dietary Interventions by Lisa Lewis, PhD & Karyn Seroussi
In 1995, Lisa Lewis and Karyn Seroussi created ANDI, an international parent network that has educated thousands about dietary and biomedical interventions for autism.  Thirteen years, three books, countless conferences, and over 50,000 emails later, they have put it all together. The sum of their knowledge is here, in one easy-to-use reference guide.
Order information:

Special Eats (Simple Delicious Solutions for Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Cooking) 
by Sueson Louise Vess 

The Gluten-Free Vegan 
150 Delicious Gluten-Free, Animal-Free Recipes written by Susan O'Brien

Louder Than Words by Jenny McCarthy

Unraveling The Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder A Mother's Story of Research & Recovery by Karyn Seroussi 

Cooking Free 
200 Flavorful Recipes for People with Food Allergies and Multiple Food Sensitivities
author Carol Fenster

Biological Treatments for Autism and PDD  by Dr.William Shaw 

Biomedical Assessment Options for Children with Autism and Related Problems

by S.M. Baker, M.D. and Joh Pangborn, Ph.D 


Raising Our Celiac Kids  (R.O.C.K.) by Danna Korn (Excellent book containing valuable information for support raising children with celiac disease (intolerant of gluten.)
(Note: Proceeds from sale of book are donated by the author, Danna Korn to Celiac research.

Let's Eat Out "Your Passport to Living Gluten and Allergy Free
by Kim Koeller & Rober La France

Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide by Shelley Case, B.Sc.H.Ec. (Nutrition & Dietetics), P.Dt., Registered Professional Dietitian  

Wheat-free Gluten-free Reduced Calorie Cookbook by Connie Sarros
All recipes are gluten-free, and each is labeled if it is low fat, low cholesterol, low sodium, and/or dairy-free. 

The "Uncheese Cookbook" by Joanne Stepaniak
(Not all recipes are gluten free!)

The Official Autism 101 Manual  By Karen L. Simmons


Cooking Healthy Gluten and Casein-Free Food for Children DVD 
Cooking/Baking Instructions by Betsy Prohaska

GF Cooking from Scratch DVD - DVD1 
Baking Instructions by Helen Sanders 
Gluten Free Cooking from Scratch is an easy to follow DVD. With tips and tricks for setting up a gluten free kitchen, GF Baking Mix recipe and 8 gluten free, casein free recipes like mini coffee cakes, chicken nuggets, flourless chocolate cake and more. 

Cooking With The Season
Featuring chef and authors Sueson Vess and Betsy Hicks. 
The first in a series of instructional cooking DVDs. Think Food TV only gluten and dairy free (also corn and soy free with with options for cooking egg-free too)! Over two-hours of easy-to-follow detailed instruction. Five full menus.

Alternative Cook, LLC DVD
Cooking Instructions by  Jean Duane
Kids' Meals DVD

Do your GFCF children long to eat foods their friends are eating? The meals taught how to prepare on this DVD are sure to make your kids jump for joy and you will learn cooking techniques that will empower you in the kitchen.













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