Tips on GF/CF Diet

Tips on GF/CF Diet


Starting this diet can be a daunting task. First on all, if your child is like mine was, he won’t eat anything except foods containing gluten and casein. It is a parent’s first instinct to feed your child, so, when they won’t eat, it is very anxiety-inducing, which tends to make parents want to give-in and give them what they want.

Starting this diet can be a daunting task. First on all, if your child is like mine was, he won’t eat anything except foods containing gluten and casein. It is a parent’s first instinct to feed your child, so, when they won’t eat, it is very anxiety-inducing, which tends to make parents want to give-in and give them what they want.

This is one of those times when the parents have to be willing to practice “tough love” and not give in. No child has ever willingly starved themselves to death when there was alternative food available.  It sounds simple, but it is hard to do – you must be willing to NOT feed them the other foods. It is best to clean them out of your house completely. I will always remember the day when I went through my kitchen cabinets and had to throw away or give away bags and bags of gluten and casein-containing foods. It was a difficult, emotional, and expensive day! Then, the first time I went grocery shopping at Safeway for GF/CF foods, it took me four hours, as I read every label and had to put almost everything back on the shelf. I remember thinking that there was nothing I could buy to eat. It gets much easier over time, so don’t get discouraged.  Whole Foods has lists of all the GF/CF foods in the entire store at their information desk at the front of the store. Harvest House, Van’s, Valley Health Mill, Trader Joes, and many other health food stores now contain many GF/CF foods. Feel free to ask the manager for help.

Some people recommend the “cold turkey” method of going on the GF/CF diet – which is what we did. However, in extreme cases, you must be aware that the child may go into true drug-withdrawl (which in extreme cases can end up with a child having to go to the hospital with dehydration from refusal of even basic water). Most kids will just get really cranky and irritable for a few days, and go through “drug-seeking” behavior, like trying to sneak foods that contain their drug of choice – usually milk or wheat. It is also acceptable to remove the casein first for about a week, and then work on gradually replacing the gluten-containing foods with alternatives.

Helpful Tips:

It is helpful to know the “Ghee”, or clarified butter, is casein-free. It tastes like butter, because it is butter with the casein (protein) removed – all that is left is the fat. It is best to buy organic Ghee, since animals tend to store toxins in their fat. Ghee is great when used on rice pasta, or spread lightly on GF/CF breads, etc.  A little bit goes a long way.

The two best-tasting pasta alternatives that I have found are the Tink’Yada brand of rice pasta, and the corn/bean pasta from Heartland’s Finest. Both of these taste remarkably like regular pasta if you cook it exactly according to the package instructions.

Whole Foods and Trader Joes both have delicious frozen GF/CF toaster waffles that make an easy breakfast. There are also some good pancake mixes available. Remember, just because the label says Gluten Free, it is not necessarily casein free. And if the label says Wheat Free, it is not necessarily gluten free – gluten is in wheat, oats, barley and rye. It is imperative to read every label of every food you feed your child. This is very time-consuming at first until you learn what foods are “safe”. It is a good idea to have a supply of protease-containing enzymes, such as Kirkman’s Enzyme Complete with DPP4, or Houston’s Peptizyde, for when there are unintentional slip-ups, or occasional intentional “cheats” – such as social events where it is unavoidable.


For class birthday parties and other celebrations, it is a good idea to have on hand a frozen supply of vanilla or chocolate cup-cakes, so that you can send one to class for your child to have. If ice cream is being served, the Rice Dream Ice Cream is a delicious alternative, or you can make your own ice cream from many recipes available on the internet or GF/CF cookbooks, such as Lisa Lewis’s “Special Diets for Special Kids”. You can make GF/CF rice krispie treats with organic rice puffs (actual rice krispies contain gluten), ghee, and GF/CF marshmallows.

The best pre-made chocolate cake that I have ever tasted is made by the Crave bakery in San Francisco. You can order it directly from the bakery, or Whole Foods also carries it, so you can call their bakery department to reserve a cake. The cakes are very small, only about four pieces each, but are delicious. I always keep one in my freezer, cut into individual pieces, for last-minute cake emergencies. Crave also has fantastic individually-packaged cookies, such as a delicious mock Oatmeal cookie.

Whole Foods has dairy-free chocolate chips and chocolate bars from Tropical Source, that are good for baking into GF/CF cookies or brownie mix, or for eating directly out of a baggie during blood-draws, which is what my son always did. We didn’t give him chocolate chips except for blood draws, and he actually got to the point where he looked forward to this so that he could get his favorite treat!

In the GF/CF Recipes section, I include my favorite recipes, including one for Macarroni and Cheese, good soft white bread, and “Connor’s Milkshake” – a great fruit and vegetable smoothie that we make every single day to ensure that the kids “drink” their fruits and veggies, since it is so hard to get them to eat enough.

For kids who won’t eat meat, it is usually a texture problem rather than a taste problem. So we need to “pre-chew” it for them, so the their weak jaw muscles, oral-motor issues, and sensory sensitivities are less of a problem. I have found that the best trick is to thoroughly pre-cook either crumbled hamburger meat, or white chicken meat, or any other meat, and then shred it a little and put it into a food processor with the grinding blade and grind it into a fine powder. This cooked meat powder can be added by the spoonful into almost any food. It is great mixed into pasta or mashed potatoes or rice, but can also be sneaked into pancakes or applesauce, or any other soft food. Always start with just small amounts, and then gradually increase it. This is a great way to get extra protein into the kids who are amino acid deficient.

Make your own “chicken nuggets” with GF/CF breadcrumbs – a great way to use those old bread crusts that your child won’t eat.

Canned turkey or chicken can make a quick meat salad for lunch, either mixed with chopped hard-boiled egg, or plain with mayo. Serve on rice crackers or bread.

Whole Foods frozen rice pizza crust can make a nice pizza alternative. Just add sauce, your favorite meat or vegetables, and you can add dollops of the nacho cheese if you want.

The nacho cheese can also be used to make “quesadillas”. Try frying a corn tortilla in a little ghee to soften it, add the nacho cheese on top, with or without meat and sauted vegetable, fold and serve.

In the end, you just need 10-20 “winner” recipes to be able to get started on the diet, and many family favorite recipes can be modified to make them GF/CF.

Don’t give up, be creative, be willing to think outside the box (pureed peas in pancake batter, anyone?) and eventually you will succeed and your child WILL eat.  Best wishes,

– Dr. Lynne Mielke

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