I am including this page because people with ASD conditions tend to be very selective eaters; it can be very difficult to get children with ASD conditions to eat certain foods.
I have also included other paragraphs because shortly before I set up this website first, (in 2004), I came across an article that some people, especially those with ASD conditions are allergic to certain food types, for example, gluten, and casein, as well as MSG and other artificial sweeteners and colourings (the infamous E-Numbers).
I am including this section because I remember as a child being notoriously selective when it comes to eating certain foods. The most glaring example of such type of food is red meat, for example, beef, lamb or pork. The reason for this is because more often than not, it was very difficult to separate the lean from the fat; I just hated the idea of chewing fat, because, unlike lean, it can take an extremely long time to break fatty parts down in your mouth before you can swallow.
Nowadays, the main factor influencing my choice of meat/poultry/fish is the amount of preparation required, for example, simply take the food out of the packaging, and put it onto a dish, and into the oven for a duration indicated on the instructions.
Other factors influencing whether or not I would eat certain foods are:
- How will the food taste in my mouth?
- What will the food feel like while I am chewing it, stirring it around my mouth?
- Will it be easy or difficult to chew the food before I can swallow it?
- Am I prepared to eat any more than a few morsels of the food?
- Is there much biting force required to break down the food in my mouth (e.g. like hard toffee)?
- Will there be an aftertaste from the food after swallowing it?
The Opioid Excess Theory
It was only in the last 20 years or so, that a Norwegian professor, by the name of Dr. Karl Reichelt, came up with this theory.
It works like this.
When we eat food, we first chew it in the mouth, to break it down into smaller particles, that can then be swallowed, and driven down the oesophagus (gullet) running from the mouth down to the stomach. In the stomach, the food is broken down further into smaller particles, and the components are separated (fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins etc.). Between 1 and 5 hours later, the food goes into the small intestine, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream. When all of the goodness is extracted from the food, what is left is taken to the large intestine, where the water is extracted, and what is left from that, is removed as waste.
For people with ASDs, two proteins, namely gluten and casein, are not broken down properly in the stomach. What results from the incomplete breakdown of gluten and casein, are called peptides, and these are small enough to pass through the wall of the small intestine and into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, these peptides make their way up into the nervous system, causing their mayhem, before eventually being flushed out of the body through the urinary system.
The peptides into which gluten and casein are broken down are called gluteomorphine and caseomorphine respectively. These peptides, as the names suggest, are similar to morphine, which is a very powerful and addictive drug (e.g. heroin) which extinguishes pain. If an autistic child screams for no apparent reason, often for prolonged periods, this may be the possible cause – withdrawal symptoms from the two peptides described above. When the morphines wear off, then the child is going through “pain” once again.
If you give your autistic child, say, a glass of milk and a slice of bread, the next time he has one of his screaming fits, and a short while later, he calms down, it is possible that the child is “addicted” to the peptides formed from the incomplete breakdown of gluten and casein.
There is a possibility that someone with profound autism stands to reap major benefits from excluding gluten and casein from their diet.
Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, oats, rye and barley.
The flour from any other grain can be used safely by someone on a gluten-free diet, and there are many of these available in good health-food shops.
And if baking is not your thing, fear not! There are many ready-to-eat foods available in health-stores, and also in the supermarkets. Many of these supermarket chains have a section in the stores where they have all of the gluten- and milk-free foods together.
There are some foods, whose labelling indicates that they are gluten free, to Codex Alimentarius. This means that the gluten has been extracted from the gluten-containing ingredients, down to minute quantities. If you do not want to compromise on gluten-free, and you shouldn’t in this case, then there are alternatives that are naturally gluten-free, for example rice flour.
I know that the people who cannot tolerate gluten (for reasons other than the coeliac disease) are in a minority, but not as few people as you may think. Gluten is avoided by several thousand people in Ireland, and millions more across the world.
Casein is another type of protein, this time found in all animal milks. So there is no point just changing from cow’s milk to goat’s milk.
However, there are many non-animal milks available, including rice milk, almond milk, soya milk, and potato milk – and many of these are available in health-stores and the supermarkets.
One good way of determining if something is casein-free, is if there is a label indicating “Suitable for Vegans”. Vegans are a group of people that want to avoid any food that is made up of components whose production involves exploitation of animals. That includes dairy milk, meat and eggs – for conscience reasons.
MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)
MSG is a flavour enhancer that has been introduced into food on a widespread level in the last 50 years. This is the only purpose of MSG – to make food taste better. To amplify the good tastes and to mask the bad ones. Therefore, without this “magic potion”, most foods would taste absolutely abominable.
In a nutshell, MSG is just another artificial additive, like the “E-numbers”.
Unlike for gluten and casein, there have been no major studies to link ASDs to MSG. That does not mean that there is no reason to exclude MSG-containing ingredients from your child, and watching out for any behavioural changes.
Like MSG, aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is found in many soft drinks. It has the same taste-enhancing characteristics of MSG, and like other artificial flavourings etc., there is no need for this to be in our food, as they have only been around for the past 50 years, and humanity has managed quite well before they were invented, and I am sure that if any governments have the courage to outlaw these artificial flavourings (although they could well be accused of creating a “nanny state” if they did go down that road), then humanity will mange just as well without them.
In fact, Aspartame (E951) is one sweetener you could do worse than avoid at all costs. It is a very sweet chemical, responsible for a host of health problems such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, brain diseases, migraines, ADHD, etc. It breaks down into three toxic components: methanol, phenylalanine and aspartic acid. You’re probably wondering how the hell the FDA made it legal for human consumption. Very likely “Big Pharma” had a hand in all of this. Many claim that aspartame is designed to make people sick, obese, and all the rest of it, and end up needing expensive medicine to “cure” them from what made them sick in the first place.
If you go onto YouTube, put “aspartame” in the search box, numerous video clips come up explaining why aspartame is so dangerous.
These have been around since the 1950s, some of them make the food more visually appealing, others to enhance the taste of the food, and others to increase the shelf-life of the food, i.e. push back its “sell-by” date.
The E- stands for EC (European Community) and these numbers have been tested for safety and been passed for use in the EC. Numbers without an E in front are allowed in the UK but may have not been passed for use in all EC countries.
To regulate these additives, and inform consumers, each additive is assigned a unique number. Initially these were the “E numbers” used in Europe for all approved additives. This numbering scheme has now been adopted and extended to internationally identify all additives, regardless of whether they are approved for use.
Although some of these additives are dangerous, many of them are harmless.
When I was in secondary school, in particular, there were many sweets that contain additives that were claimed to cause hyperactivity in children; at the time, there were no studies to scientifically link some additives to increased levels of hyperactivity, the claims were based on accounts of parents, regarding their childrens’ behaviour normally, and how this allegedly changes after consuming food with certain additives.