The gluten free, casein free (GFCF) diet is an elimination diet designed to alleviate the symptoms and improve the behavior and general well-being of children with a wide range of special needs. Children following the GFCF diet eat no gluten or dairy, not even for a treat on their birthday. Occasionally other foods – most commonly soy and corn – prove problematic and must also be eliminated.
When getting started on the GFCF diet, parents need to familiarize themselves with which foods contain gluten and dairy and therefore require elimination, but should also keep in mind there are many foods that their child can still eat. For example, meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, rice and potatoes are allowed so long as they are not cooked in dairy or coated in breadcrumbs. Ice cream is not allowed but sorbet is. Many delicious and healthy foods are naturally gluten and dairy free. There are a vast number of resources available on the internet to help parents implement the diet, for example at http://www.tacanow.org/tag/gfcf/.
The GFCF diet has helped children with a variety of special needs including poor concentration, difficult behavior, sensory disorders, ADHD and autism. However, because the diet was first developed for children on the autistic spectrum, and remains today a popular intervention for children with ASD, the research on how and why the diet works has tended to focus on children with autism.