Today I want to share with you some insights about Gluten and Casein Free diets from Jules Shepard. Jules is an internationally renowned expert on gluten free baking, who lives in Maryland, USA. I recently had the good fortune to interview her and here’s what she told me…
Jules began her own quest to develop tasty gluten free cooking in 1999 when she was diagnosed with celiac disease. She had this “mystery” disease for around 10 years – which is an autoimmune disease where the body struggles to cope with the protein in gluten. And the body misperceives gluten as a toxin, so then starts actually attacking itself.
Jules had initially trained to be an attorney in international law and her baking was always a passion that she enjoyed in her spare time. As a student she would bake as a stress reliever and give the produce away to other students in the café. Until she eventually began to bake for the university café on a regular basis.
So her love of baking and her diagnosis of celiac disease led her down the path of becoming involved with gluten free baking. First of all it was the sheer depression of becoming a gluten free eater in the late 1990’s that spurred her on. Because back then there was vastly less choice than there is now. And being a good “Southern gal” she had always experienced food as such an important part of life, and of sharing with friends etc.
So Jules set out to reproduce her favorite foods but in a gluten free way. And by way of basic explanation gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Over the years she has developed tons of recipes and, more importantly, an all purpose flour which means you can bake pretty much whatever you want without the need for gluten.
So what has this got to do with Asperger’s/ASD?
Jules explained to me that some people can’t digest casein (a milk protein) and gluten properly so it builds up in the body like an opiate (drug) that goes to the brain and makes you act differently. There is an inability to process the gluten and casein, which allows the opiates to hit brain. Jules is clear at this stage there is not a lot of research or hard evidence from science. But anecdotally if you ask parents of kids on the spectrum; there are too many people who have seen results (such as improved behaviors, moods etc.) to ignore. And Jules feels that over time science will catch up with more and more research into this area.
I asked her some of the key points that parents ought to know about gluten and casein free diets:
1. You need to label read – as gluten and casein can get into so many products.
2. If you eat out – always talk to the chef about what products they use, and what options they have.
3. Don’t restrict yourself – if you want something then there’s always a way to make it. Just go online and get searching
4. You need to do it 100% for at least 3 months – If you decide to try a gluten and casein free diet then you need to stick with it 100% and not have any gluten or casein in this time. For the simple reason that you’ll never know the true picture, unless you totally remove the substances. And 3 months is the minimum time you should commit to trying it.
5. Record any differences in the diet by using a behavior chart.
6. Always consult your physician first.
You can learn more about Jules and gluten free cooking at her website:
P.S. To listen to my entire 50 minute interview with Jules, and gain $198 worth of other essential Asperger’s resources for just $1. Please go to:
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