I often hear parents say their child LOVES carbs or just
absolutely LOVES cheese (translation Mac 'n Cheese, Goldfish
crackers and grilled cheese.) Why is gluten and dairy so addictive?
They contain "opioid peptides," the same family as opium.
Here is a breakdown:
Casomorphin (from milk)
Gluten exorphin (from gluten)
Gliadorphin/gluteomorphin (from gluten)
Rubiscolin (from spinach) Yes, spinach is in the group, but
I have yet to meet a child addicted to spinach.
What happens is these little chains called peptides from both
gluten and casein (a protein molecule found in dairy) react with
opiate receptors in the brain. It has the same effect as if you
were taking opiate-like drugs, such as heroin and morphine. These
receptors interfere with the part of the brain involved with speech
and auditory integration, which means this part of the brain can
cause addiction to foods, spacing out or having foggy brain,
migraines/headaches, sleepiness, chronic fatigue, aggressive
behavior, moodiness, anxiety, depression, and high tolerance to
There is plenty of research to back up how a gluten-free and
casein-free diet can help improve those who suffer from ADHD,
depression, anxiety, OCD, schizophrenia
When a person embarks on a gluten- and casein-free diet, they
experience withdrawal, the same as if coming off drugs. Children
and adults often will feel like they NEED it. Kids will pick
fights, throw extended tantrums. The same goes for adults. They get
snappy, irritable, and while they may not throw a tantrum, it often
becomes all they think about. When they return to eating gluten and
casein, they experience a short-lived sense of pleasure. The cycle
This is where parents fail. When they are transitioning into the
diet, parents will often give in because they cannot take the
behavior. It is just easier than dealing with the five-minute
tantrums. Essentially the parents become the enablers.
How do you know if you should try the GF/CF diet? Here are a few
It can take up to three weeks to fully be rid of gluten and
casein with no reactions, but there is no cheating or you have to
start all over.
If you suspect your child has a potential food allergy to gluten
and casein, it is best to start with an IgG food allergy blood
panel to really see if it is reactive. I often suggest getting
tested for Celiac Disease before embarking the gluten-free diet.
But if you want to avoid the needles, the elimination diet is truly
the best way to determine sensitivity to gluten and dairy. Blood
tests are not 100 percent conclusive, but still a good measure.
The best thing to do is to rid your home of all gluten- and
dairy-based products for one full month. Don't buy it, don't be
tempted to go out to eat and don't give in when out at play dates.
If you feel that stopping both at the same time is too difficult,
my suggestion is to rid dairy first (Check out my Guide to
Dairy Free Milks.) After two weeks, go off of gluten.
After 30 days being free of gluten and dairy, add some dairy
back in and wait three days. Then add your wheat, but don't add
them together. Note any changes after consuming each foods
- these can be physiological (dark or swollen eye circles,
runny nose, fatigue, skin rashes), emotional (whiny, tantrums,
irritable, aggressive behavior) and mental (unfocused, foggy brain,
hyperactive, inability to sit still).
Always make sure you discuss the issue with your doctor or a
qualified nutrition professional.
Jasmine blogs to inspire you to make positive, healthy changes.
See more of Jasmine's stories here.
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