printer-friendly version   Printer-Friendly Version  

Dairy-Free Foods for ADHD Children

You may already be familiar with the idea that gluten (a protein from wheat) and casein (a protein from milk) can trigger ADHD and autism in children.  Although gluten and casein have been part of the human diet for several hundred years, the human body has not yet evolved to a point where it can digest these proteins with ease. Most of us are intolerant or sensitive to these substances; in children, this intolerance manifests itself through behavioral problems, inattention, and lack of focus.  If your child has tested positive for a gluten or casein intolerance, going on a gluten-free casein-free diet is essential to overcoming ADHD. In this article, we will talk about how to eliminate casein from your child's diet by pointing out its food sources.

Casein can be found in all forms of animal milk and their by-products – cow's milk, goat's milk, butter, cheese, cream, curd, custard, sour cream, whey, lactose, yogurt, ice cream, pudding, casein, and caseinates. It's not easy to be 100% sure that a food is free from casein, especially if you're new to the diet.   Sometimes, milk is an ingredient in chocolate, caramel, baked goods, luncheon meat, artificial butter flavor, margarine, sausages, hot dogs, breaded chicken nuggets, and nougat. So even if a burger seems perfectly safe, the buns are not. Eliminating casein is always frustrating for kids because it means having to give up some of their favorite foods for weeks.

One easy way to do the grocery shopping is to look for items with the label Parve, the kosher symbol for dairy-free.  Jews who observe a strict Kosher diet cannot mix meat products and milk products, which is why they need to know if their food has dairy in it or not.  The Parve system has been implemented for many years and should make it easy for you to start your child's gluten-free casein-free diet.

You can also use almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, and rice milk as alternatives to animal milk.  These products can be found in specialty food sections or the refrigerated section.  Chocolate flavored soy milk is popular among kids, and comes in small boxes they can bring to school.

Since cereal and pancakes are out of the question (unless almond milk is used as a substitute for cow's milk), try serving high-protein foods for breakfast.  Hash browns, eggs, breakfast meats (bacon, ham, etc.), or breakfast cereals with soy protein should do the trick.

Eating at restaurants is a little more challenging and requires some vigilance. At the very start, make it clear to your server that your child has a casein intolerance and cannot eat food with dairy in it. This includes breaded food, food cooked in butter, or food with cheese and other dairy products. Your server should make suggestions on what foods are free from dairy.

Finally, a casein intolerance does not mean your child has to be deprived of cakes and baked treats.  Organic supermarkets like Trader Joe's carry dairy-free brownie mixes and cake mixes – just make sure you read the ingredients on the box. There are also many dairy-free cupcake and brownie recipes on the internet.  You'd be surprised at how many casein-free options there are for pastries and baked goodies.

With time, your child will get used to a dairy-free lifestyle.  It's all just a matter of finding delicious dairy-free alternatives and teaching your child to make smart decisions about what he or she eats.