This month is Autism Awareness Month, and because I have a child with autism, I will take these next weeks to touch on the topic of autism – and food – here and there.
My son was first diagnosed when he was 2 years old. He was in a phase where he didn’t eat anything that wasn’t beige and didn’t have a soft texture.
This is common in children with autism: food tastes, smells and especially textures are problem areas for people who have sensory issues (and everyone with autism does, to some degree).
But in addition to those trigger points, many people with autism are helped by maintaining a gluten-free, casein-free diet. What’s that, you ask? Basically no wheat or wheat products and no dairy or dairy products. I’m not going to get into the science of leaky gut, autism, and gluten-free/casein-free diets, but I will tell you that I have friends who have children with autism who will swear by it, including a highly-educated neuroscientist.
When my son went to kindergarten, we decided we’d tried a GFCF diet. Because when you’re the parent of a child with autism, you’ll try anything that doesn’t require you to surrender an eyeball or mortgage your fifth grandchild (and even then you might consider it, just sayin’.)
When my son was first diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, following a GFCF diet was hard. We didn’t live near a Brookshire’s, which now has lots and lots of these products on their shelves. When we did this diet, bread looked like, well, particle board and forget the pizza on Friday night. I’m sorry, there was just no making it taste the same. Now, the options are limitless.
A lot of people follow gluten-free diets these days. There’s even gluten-free baking mix (and it’s yummy). Gluten-free, casein-free is a bit more challenging, but you can still make a lot of healthy choices and avoid these food groups altogether.
This was one of my son’s favorites.
Banana Nut Bread
1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup soy flour
1 cup potato starch
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup corn oil
2 Tbs water
3 large or 4 small bananas, mashed
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Mix flours, starch and baking powder. Blend together eggs, sugar, salt, oil and water. Blend in the mashed bananas. Stir in the dry ingredients. Add the nuts. Pour into an 8 1/2 x 4-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350° F for 1 hour.
Nutritional Information: Calories per Serving: 425 g, Calories from Fat: 184 g, Fat: 21 g, Cholesterol: 61 mg, Sodium: 232 mg, Carbohydrates: 55 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugars: 20 g, Protein: 8 g