Foods to avoid with Autism - What every parent must know

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder. People with autism have impaired social and communication skills and may suffer from problems related to behaviour and self-control. Their families are often concerned about dietary intake and its effects on the condition. As the famous saying goes “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Having said this, here’s a detailed parenting guide on the foods to avoid with autism. 


Correlation between dietary products and autism 


From a decade of research, it has become evident that there is an interdependence between certain dietary products and the symptoms of autism. Avoiding certain food products does appear to produce noticeable changes in the behaviour of a proportion of autistic children.


Gluten-free Casein-free diet (GFCF)

Gluten and casein are proteins found in various foods. Gluten is found in wheat and barley, while casein is present in milk and other dairy products. There is a significant impact on the symptoms of autism when a GFCF diet is consumed. The effects were validated, looking into the results of peptide absorption. It was observed that autistic individuals showed a higher titer of antibodies - like IgG and IgA - with gluten and casein respectively. This means that the presence of these proteins evoke an immune response. Moreover, gluten proteins induce ‘opioid effects’ that weaken concentration and affect brain functioning. Implementing the GFCF diet has shown significant improvements in the behaviour, cognitive skills, communication and response to the surroundings of autistic children.


List of foods to avoid with autism


There have been reports on the adverse effects of food additives, artificial flavouring agents and salicylates on autistic children. These foods have a negative impact on learning disabilities and result in hyperactive behaviour. Sugars trigger hyperactivity and aggression. Reducing sugars could be a way to control the symptoms. Other food products to be avoided include dairy products, wheat, corn, yeast, soy, citrus, eggs, chocolate and nuts. Thus, removing or reducing the amount of these foods in your child’s diet will help to improve their overall mental health. It is also advisable to control foods that are associated with allergic reactions in children.




Remember that reducing the sugar and carbohydrates consumption means there needs to be an increase in proteins in the diet. This, in turn, will help in improving concentration and reducing impulsive reactions.  


Effects of fatty acids


Controlling the imbalances in fatty acid oxidation is known to resolve abnormal behavioural changes in children. Essential fatty acids are required for the structural and functional development of neuronal membranes. Supplementing your child’s diet with necessary fatty acids like EPA and DHA improves their neurological condition. Furthermore, deficiencies like hyperactivity, reduced cognitive skills and decreased attention span can also be corrected by incorporating these fatty acids.


Challenges in incorporating dietary treatment


Enforcing dietary restrictions arises questions about nutrient inadequacy. Replacement for important nutrients is a vital aspect to consider before starting any dietary treatment. Moreover, adhering to a strict diet is a challenge posed to the parents of autistic children. Parents need to be cautious in their expectations regarding the dietary intervention and its effects.    


Reach out to us as the Buddhi Clinic for more guidance and direction on dealing with this condition. 

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