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Going Casein Free“Casein, one of the proteins in milk and dairy products, is particularly difficult to digest. These molecules are known to stimulate opiate receptors in the brain thus producing “brain fog” and quite literally an addiction to casein containing foods.

A child who craves dairy products and who largely limits his diet to dairy has a high likelihood of being sensitive to them and has high potential to benefit from a casein free diet.

I have seen many children show dramatic improvement within several weeks of having casein removed from their diet. Sometimes it takes longer so a minimum trial of three months is considered adequate to assess the efficacy of the diet.” (1)

Many people ask if they have to go “cold turkey” when removing casein from their diet. My suggestion is to not do that for several reasons.  First, it makes it harder on the child to get used to the new tastes.  Second, they might have mild or even severe regression, reactions or withdrawal symptoms.  Reducing casein from the diet slowly will avoid or decrease the adjustment and potential withdrawal reactions.

Milk Alternatives & Steps
Although many remove casein along with gluten, I always suggest going casein free (CF) first.  Dairy products can be depleted from the body MUCH faster and with quicker results, than going gluten free.

Start with the milk your child drinks. There are many great alternatives to animal’s milk, many tasting pretty darn good.  There is a wide variety of alternatives to try made from:

Once you decide which alternative you are going to try, start off by adding ¼ of the new milk with ¾ of the previously enjoyed milk. Give it a day or two to see how your child adjusts. If your child adjusts well, on day 3, gradually transition to ½ and ½.  On day 5, boost the casein free milk to ¾ new milk with ¼ prior milk.  On day 7, your child could be drinking 100% of the new milk.  If your child is slow to adjust, stretch the time frame out for each transition.

Most Kids Love their Ice Cream 
There is a wonderful variety of gluten and casein free ice creams.  I suggest that you choose gluten free as well, because if your child likes this new brand, you don’t want to have to take it away again.  If you are creative in the kitchen, consider making your own ice cream and frozen desserts.

Cheese can be a bit  trickier. Some kids will simply do without. Others enjoy some of the vegan brands out on the market.  These options are particularly desired if they are melted with other foods, rather than consumed all by themselves.  Honestly, these options alone generally do not excite the taste buds.

Has your child gone casein free?  Do you have tips that worked for your child?  Please share below in the comments section.


(1) Baker, Linda, M.D. “What Does Digestive Health Have To Do With Autism?” Web blog post. Special-Ism. Special-Ism, n.d. Web. 03 Jan. 2014.