Teens with ASD: How to Start the GFCFSF Diet with an Older Child

November 9th, 2015

The future depends on what we do in the present. - Mahatma Gandhi

How to start the GFCFSF diet with an older child

I asked my 17-year-old daughter what it would take to convince an older child who may need to start the gfcfsf diet to accept even a 6-month trial. As an alpha parent, my first instinct is to use the old standby, “Because I said so!” That may work inside your house, but your teen is going to be out of your sight and will have to make good decisions about food when you are not there. Full diet compliance will probably require reasoning and understanding, not just a rule. My daughter gave a list of things that helped her learn how to make good choices about food, which you will see below.

Teaching your child about good food choices:

  • Forget the food pyramid. It’s great if you can tolerate the foods in it. Most ASD kids cannot.
  • Make the food appealing and taste good. When we first started the diet back in 1998, the options for GFCFSF foods were horrible and no one, kids or parents, wanted to eat it. Over the years, many new terrific products have arrived that are just as good as their non-GFCFSF counterparts. We’ve also learned to cook a new way: organic, whole foods with as little messing around with them as possible. Good food needs very little work to showcase its flavor. A nice grilled steak with rice and asparagus is a perfect meal on its own, and is perfectly GFCFSF unless you do something unnecessary to it. Meal plans and recipes are on our site
  • Prove the benefits of the diet. Use this article to outline the need for the diet.
  • Prove the bad effects of not complying with the diet. If you cannot tolerate a food, your body lets you know. Ever get heartburn? You are eating something your body doesn't like, and wants you to stop! This is the same.
  • You may love ice cream, but it probably doesn't love you and lets you know in the form of constipation or diarrhea, stomach or skin issues. Non-organic dairy also contains many antibiotics and hormones that can kick your child into early puberty (as if you don't want to wait as long as possible for that darling phase to start?!). Dairy can also cause or exacerbate asthma.
  • Gluten can have terrible effects on those who cannot tolerate it (not just people with celiac disease), including exhaustion, obesity, digestive problems, headaches, depression, and even seizures in some cases.
  • Soy is GMO and toxic - enough said!
  • Food colorings, nitrates and preservatives cause hyperactivity and distractedness as well as headaches.
  • Movies like "Food, Inc" or "Fast Food Nation," show how bad the growing and manufacturing processes can be. Horrifying things are done to food in the manufacturing process, as this story shows on processed chicken nuggets.
  • Find good substitutes for your child's favorite foods before beginning the diet.
  • No matter where you live, you can start a garden, even if it’s just in a few planter boxes. Knowing where food comes from, and helping to nurture its growth, helps your child value it.

When your child understands and experiences the benefits of the GFCFSF diet, and you provide good, tasty food, your teen will be more willing and able to stay on the diet long term.

If your child is new to the diet, find a copy of What Is My Mother Doing To Me?: A Teenager's Journey To Recovered Health Through Biomedical Interventions by Andrew Luke Zimmerman. This great, short book written by a very funny teenager helps explain dietary intervention. My 17-yo-daughter read this book and laughed, yelling “OMG, this kid is ME!!!” the whole way through it.

More resources on GFCFSF Diet

10 Weeks to GFCFSF

GFCFSF on a Budget

GFCFSF on Food Stamps

How to Read Food Labels

GFCFSF Recipe Database

Related Teenagers with ASD Articles

Teens - Introduction and Article Links

Teens - Social Skills

Teens - Life Skills

Teens - Puberty: What to Expect, Seizures, Anxiety, Sexuality

Teens - Medical Treatments with an Older Child

Teens - How to Start the GFCFSF Diet with an Older Child

Teens - Self-Advocacy and Self-Esteem

Teens - Keeping Your Teen Safe

Teens - Transition IEPs

Teens - Testing for Adolescents

Teens - Extracurricular Activities

Teens - Driving

Teens - Siblings

Teens - Preparing for College

Teens - Been There, Done That: Advice from Parents

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