Gluten Free and Casein Free Products in Your Local Grocery Store
Gluten Free Casein Free Diets and Product Availability = Not Easy
Recently, my three year old son was diagnosed with autism. My husband and I have been trying various ways to "treat" his autism. Per his pediatrician (a wonderful lady who specializes in treating autistic children) we have started him on a gluten free/casein free diet (GFCF). Also known as the "autism" diet. While there are no real scientific studies indicating that this diet works (as of this writing), we thought why not give it a try. It has not been an easy task. My first line of defense, so to speak, is to encourage our son to eat as many non-processed foods as possible, namely fruits, veggies, legumes. However, I have found that I do need to buy gluten free foods from time to time - cereals, snacks, side dishes etc. GFCF foods are readily available in many gourmet, upscale grocery stores. I live in northeast Florida, and closest such store to me is a good 15 miles away. This is not convenient for a busy mom or dad. So I set about finding GFCF foods that are available in my local grocery stores (mine is a Publix, a southern grocery chain and I also sometimes shop at a Walmart Neighborhood Grocery). I will be adding to this list of products to this lens as I come across them.
I am not a medical doctor, nor do I give out medical advice. The following is just a list from one parent to another in the hopes of helping another parent in the same situation. This lens is in no way to be construed as medical advice.
What is Gluten and Casein?
Elimination Diets at Work
Gluten is a protein found in such things as wheat, barley and rye. Casein is also a protein found in dairy products such as milk, cheese, etc. Researchers have long suspected that there is a correlation between these proteins and autistic children. Parents of autistic kids believe that their children have some sort of sensitivity or intolerance. Researchers believe that autism spectrum kids can't break the proteins down as readily and the undigested proteins leak into the blood stream and travel to the brain inhibiting brain function. Therefore, the objective of the GFCF diet is to eliminate all sources of these proteins, which are often hidden as filler ingredients in others foods. This is what makes this diet particularily difficult.
Gluten Free Products
How to tell if its gluten free
Some products readily advertise that they are gluten free. Chex Cereals are a prime example, as they have been touted the fact that they are gluten free in recent commercials. The words "Gluten Free" appear in large print on the front of the box. Other products you may have to examine the packaging more closely. If you turn the product over you may see in fine print on the back "Gluten Free." Or, you may see this gluten free certification. Also, check the product label on the grocery store shelf. You will see a blue "GF" label along with the product price.
Caveat: Just because a product says its gluten free doesn't mean its dairy/casein free too.
Gluten Free and Casein Free Products Shopping List
Staples, Snacks and Others....
Here is a list of GFCF products you can find in most grocery stores:
Chex Cereals - Gluten Free
Plain White or Brown Rice (not boxed seasoned rice mixes, these have wheat added)
Polenta ( a great side item for a meal)
Fritos Corn Chips
Santa Corn Tortillas
Ortega Whole Grain Taco Shells (marked gluten free)
Earth Balance Margarine
Almond Milk (Almond Breeze and Silk are both good)
Marianni Snack Bars
Bob's Red Mill Products (be sure they are the ones marked "Gluten Free")
Tyson's Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets
Pillsbury Gluten Free Cookie, Pie Crust and Pizza Dough
Mi-Del Royal Vanilla Cookies Gluten Free and Dairy Free
Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds
Prego Spaghetti Sauce
Zatararin's Rice mixes
Autism Related Books
Some gluten free book recommendations.
Casein Free Products
Casein Free are a little more difficult to verify.
A product that is gluten free is necessarily casein free. Case in point: rice cakes. I bought a package of these as a snack item for my son. When I got it home, I read the ingredients over and discovered it had "milk products" in it. Also, there is not the certification logo on products to indicate it is casein free (as there is with gluten free food items). In general, avoid any product that says it contains milk, whey, or milk-derived products such as butter, cheeses, etc.