The gluten-free, casein-free diet, or GFCF, is a special diet that requires careful planning and learning a new way to eat. A GFCF diet removes all sources of gluten or casein from the diet. The University of Virginia Health System suggests meeting with a qualified nutrition professional to learn what foods and additives to avoid for your special diet. Learning to follow the GFCF diet may be overwhelming until you’ve mastered what foods to eat and which to avoid. Eggs are a good source of protein and can be enjoyed by people on this diet.
The gluten-free, casein-free diet is used by parents of children with autism. Benefits of the diet for autism are anecdotal; however, the Children’s Hospital of Minnesota notes that removing gluten and casein from the diet may help autism symptoms. People allergic or sensitive to gluten and casein proteins may also follow the GFCF diet.
Casein and Gluten
Casein and gluten are proteins. Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye. Products made from these grains also contain gluten. Gluten has binding properties and may be found in seasonings and thickening agents used in commercially prepared foods. Casein is a protein found in milk and milk products. Gluten and casein may be difficult to avoid if you rely on commercially processed foods as a major part of your diet. Eggs do not contain gluten or casein, though some dishes that contain eggs may have both, depending on ingredients.
Foods to Avoid
When choosing egg dishes, it is important to be aware of all the ingredients if you are on a GFCF diet.
Foods made with gluten grains or milk must be avoided while on the GFCF diet. Commercially processed foods rely heavily on gluten-based flours. Common foods like bread, pasta, pizza crust, baked goods, crackers, some snacks and chips and packaged seasonings contain gluten. Food additives, like hydrolyzed vegetable protein and modified food starch, may also contain gluten.
Casein is a dairy-based protein. Products made from milk must be avoided, like ice cream, yogurt, butter and cheese. Products made from milk, like pudding, whipped cream and half and half also contain casein. Some food additives also contain casein, like whey, caseinate, and lactate.
Foods to Eat
Whole, natural foods, like eggs, that do not contain milk or gluten-grains, are safe to consume on the GFCF diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables are safe to eat on the GFCF diet. Grains like brown and wild rice, corn, millet, amaranth, quinoa and tapioca are safe choices, along with flours made from these grains. The website Talk About Curing Autism recommends choosing fresh, unprocessed, unseasoned meats like beef, pork and poultry. Processed meats like hot dogs and lunch meat may contain gluten or casein additives. Dairy substitutes are available to replace standard dairy. Milk made from almonds, hemp, potato, rice and coconut is safe for the GFCF diet.
- Talk About Curing Autism: GFCFSF Diet Quick Reference Guide: What Basic Foods are Allowed on the Diet?
- Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota: Gluten-free, casein-Free diet for autism spectrum disorder; March 2008
- University of Virginia Health System: The Gluten-Free Diet: An Update for Health Professionals; Carol Rees Parrish, R.D., September 2006