Last updated on March 29th, 2023 at 02:20 pm
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How to put your toddler on a gluten-free diet?
Are you thinking of starting a gluten-free diet for toddlers with autism
Chances are you have heard or read the benefits of putting your child on this diet but don’t know where to even start.
Removing gluten from a toddler’s diet is an important step in helping manage the symptoms of autism.
Gluten intolerance is common among individuals with autism, and research suggests that removing the offending food can have a positive effect on both physical and mental health.
Symptoms such as digestive discomfort, fatigue, cognitive deficits, sleep disturbances, anxiety, and depression can be improved when gluten is removed.
Kids definitely benefit from the removal of gluten but it is very important to take the time to learn more about what it means to be gluten-free.
In this blog, I am going to give you a few tips as you get started implementing a gluten-free diet for your child.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, and is responsible for the elasticity of dough.
Gluten is commonly found in foods such as cereals, bread, pasta, and pizza.
One thing to remember is that gluten finds its way into a lot of different foods.
Some foods that you wouldn’t think should have gluten actually does.
An example of this is soy sauce. Many soy sauces contain wheat which is where you will find gluten.
In some kids, gluten can cause an immune reaction that triggers an inflammatory response in the body resulting in discomfort and even serious health problems.
For those children with autism, symptoms such as digestive issues, fatigue, cognitive deficits, and sleep disturbances can all be problematic.
I want to caution you on one thing, everything that is gluten-free with the label is not healthy.
One thing to keep in mind is that just because something is gluten-free doesn’t mean that it is free of sugar, preservative, and artificial ingredients.
It is also important to note that simply removing gluten isn’t enough in many cases; you must also take steps to reduce the overall inflammation in a child’s body.
This can include improving gut health with probiotics or prebiotics and lowering your child’s overall body burden which I go more in-depth in The Nutritional Approach Program TM
With strategies in place, children on a gluten-free diet can enjoy the benefits of improved symptoms while maintaining balanced nutrition for healthy growth and development.
Why is it important to remove gluten?
Gluten is very inflammatory to children on the autism spectrum.
It is very disruptive to their guts and brains and is very hard for them to digest.
Removing gluten is an important first step to helping your child have a better quality of life.
I want to talk a little bit about the products that you will find gluten in the most. I know many of you might struggle at the beginning because you might not be familiar with what gluten is in.
Here are a few products that commonly contain gluten:
It is important to just read your labels when you switch to a gluten-free diet because gluten can sneak into a lot of different products without you being aware.
How can you get started on a gluten-free diet for your child?
Making the decision to put your toddler on a gluten-free diet can be daunting, but with the right information and planning it can be a relatively straightforward process.
Before you get started, it is important to understand what gluten is and why your child may need to go on a gluten-free diet.
You also want to ensure that your child is getting all of the necessary nutrients while avoiding foods containing gluten.
With this knowledge in hand, you will be well prepared to make sure that your child’s dietary needs are met without compromising their health or quality of life.
The first thing I normally recommend is that you evaluate what your child is currently eating and see if those products already have gluten in them.
Start with breakfast.
If your child is eating cereal, check to see if it is a cereal with gluten.
If so, then you know you need to start refining and finding another alternative to breakfast cereal.
Same with bread, crackers, or any other products that might contain gluten in which you are feeding your child.
After you evaluate, then you will know which products you can substitute for a gluten-free product.
If you are new to implementing dietary changes for your child then you might benefit from my previous blog post Autism Diet:6-Tips to make your transition easier.
Key points that you should be aware of
I want to remind you that this diet can take some time to see the actual benefit.
Don’t expect to see benefits in one day; one week, it takes time for the gluten to work its way out of your child’s body.
Get your child on the diet and stay on it for long enough to see the benefits.
Also, make sure you are not purchasing gluten-free processed foods full of artificial ingredients, genetically modified, and other harmful ingredients.
This will only cause your child more problems and you will not be able to see the full benefit of implementing a gluten-free diet.
I use Thrive Market to find most of my gluten-free pantry staples that are shipped directly to my doorstep.
It can be hard to find gluten-free pantry staples at some stores; therefore, I have started to order items to save me time and money.
I believe implementing a gluten-free diet for your child on the autism spectrum is a great first step to helping them gain a better quality of life.
The gluten-free diet is not the only thing that you should be implementing into your child’s protocol but it is a good first step.
Many parents start here with the gluten-free diet but stop because it becomes overwhelming for them and they give up on everything.
I want to caution you not to do that. If you are feeling overwhelmed, consider joining The Nutritional Approach Program.
I created this program to help parents that are truly ready for a change and need a program that is set to take out the overwhelm.
I know this diet has benefited a lot of kids including my own and it can do the same for your child. Get started and make sure you stay on this diet long enough for your child to reap the benefits.