Going Gluten-FreeJanuary 15, 2014

A Parent’s Tool Kit

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Posted by Living Without contributor Sueson Vess

Implementing the gluten-free, casein-free diet is more than simply replacing gluten and dairy with substitute ingredients. It also means switching to nutritious whole foods and eliminating items that are toxic.

Here’s a quick guide to rehabbing your child’s diet.

Dietary Do’s

Consume nutrient-dense foods. Whole foods (versus processed, premade products) offer the most nutrients. These include vegetables, fruits, meats, eggs (if tolerated), homemade broths, gluten-free grains and flours, seeds, nuts (if tolerated) and soaked beans.

Choose organic foods. Whenever possible, buy produce that is locally grown and free of pesticides and herbicides. Choose wholesome foods that have not been genetically modified (i.e., non-GMO foods).

Select grass-fed, pasture-raised animal protein and eggs.  Animals raised entirely on grass have much less fat and the meat is higher in omega 3 fatty acids. Grass-fed, pasture-raised (free-range) animals are not given added hormones and unnecessary antibiotics, which means healthier animals and uncontaminated meat.

Consume quality fats. The right fats are important for healthy cells and proper nutrient absorption. They support growth and provide energy, especially for brain development and function. Plus, they aid in hormone balance and in reducing inflammation. Beneficial polyunsaturated fats are found in chia/salba seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, fatty, cold-water fish and grass-fed meats. Quality monounsaturated fats are available in avocadoes, olive oil, grape seed oil and nut oils. A few types of saturated fats are also beneficial, such as tropical coconut and palm oils, which are rich in short- and medium-chain fatty acids and high in antiviral lauric acid. Ghee (clarified butter with lactose and casein removed) is advantageous and considered casein-free; however, it may be off limits for those who are allergic to dairy.

Eat probiotic-rich foods. These include dairy-free yogurts and kefir, kombucha, and fermented raw foods, such as homemade sauerkraut.

Use the right cookware. Avoid aluminum pans and those with Teflon-like coatings. Instead, use stainless steel, cast iron, enameled cast iron, ovenproof glass and clay bakeware. Store foods in glass containers, not plastic. (When freezing foods in glass, allow room for expansion as glass will break.)

Dietary Don’ts 

Avoid all trans fats. These are hydrogenated oils developed to increase the shelf life of packaged and processed foods. Known to cause harmful inflammation, trans fats are found in many store-bought margarines, processed baked and frozen items and restaurant fried foods.

Eliminate toxins. Check labels for artificial ingredients, colors, preservatives and additives. Steer clear of these products.

Reduce or remove refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup (also called corn sugar/sweetener). Instead, use small amounts of dried fruit, honey, date or coconut sugar, pure maple syrup/sugar, tapioca or brown rice syrup, and stevia to sweeten.

Chef Sueson Vess (specialeats.com), author of Special Eats, is a food coach and cooking instructor who specializes in helping families of children on the autistic spectrum. Click here to purchase.


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