Food List For Autism: A Complete List

While there is no cure for autism, certain foods can help manage the symptoms and improve the overall quality of life for individuals with ASD. In this article, we will discuss the best foods to include in a diet for autism.

reuben kesherim
Ruben Kesherim
November 18, 2023

Food List For Autism: A Complete List

Understanding the Autism Diet

When it comes to managing autism, many parents and caregivers explore the potential benefits of an autism diet. This section aims to provide a clear understanding of what the autism diet entails and the connection between diet and autism.

What is the Autism Diet?

The autism diet, also known as the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diet, refers to a range of dietary approaches that aim to address the unique needs and challenges faced by individuals with autism. The goal of the autism diet is to optimize overall health and well-being, alleviate certain symptoms associated with autism, and support the individual's development and behavior.

There is no one-size-fits-all autism diet, as different dietary approaches may work better for some individuals than others. Some popular autism diets include the gluten-free diet, casein-free diet, and gut and psychology syndrome (GAPS) diet, among others. These diets typically involve eliminating certain foods or food groups that are believed to contribute to autism symptoms, while also emphasizing the consumption of nutrient-dense foods.

It is important to note that the autism diet should be implemented under the guidance of a healthcare professional or registered dietitian who specializes in autism. They can provide personalized recommendations based on the individual's specific needs, medical history, and dietary preferences.

The Connection Between Diet and Autism

Research has shown that there is a complex relationship between diet and autism. While diet alone cannot cure or treat autism, it can play a role in supporting overall health and potentially improving certain symptoms.

One area of interest is the gut-brain connection. Studies have found a higher prevalence of gastrointestinal (GI) issues in individuals with autism compared to the general population. This has led to the exploration of the impact of gut health on autism symptoms. The gut microbiome, which consists of trillions of bacteria in the digestive tract, is believed to influence brain function and behavior. Research suggests that optimizing gut health through dietary interventions, such as probiotics, may have positive effects on autism symptoms.

Additionally, some individuals with autism may have sensitivities or intolerances to certain foods. For example, gluten and casein, which are proteins found in wheat and dairy products, respectively, are often targeted in the autism diet. It is believed that these proteins may contribute to inflammation and affect neurotransmitter function, potentially influencing behavior and cognitive function in individuals with autism.

Understanding the connection between diet and autism is a complex and evolving field of research. It is important to approach the autism diet with an open mind and consult with healthcare professionals who can guide you through the process of implementing dietary changes for individuals with autism.

bunch of vegetables

Elimination Diets for Autism

When it comes to managing autism, elimination diets have gained attention for their potential benefits. These diets involve the exclusion of certain foods or ingredients that may exacerbate symptoms or negatively impact overall well-being. Here, we will explore three commonly implemented elimination diets for individuals with autism: the gluten-free diet, the casein-free diet, and the exclusion of other commonly eliminated foods.

Gluten-Free Diet

The gluten-free diet is one of the most widely recognized and studied elimination diets for individuals with autism. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Some individuals with autism may experience sensitivities or adverse reactions to gluten, leading to gastrointestinal discomfort and potentially exacerbating behavioral symptoms.

By eliminating gluten-containing foods, such as bread, pasta, and cereals, from the diet, individuals with autism may experience improvements in their overall well-being. However, it is important to note that the effectiveness of a gluten-free diet may vary from person to person. It is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant dietary changes.

Casein-Free Diet

Similar to the gluten-free diet, the casein-free diet involves the elimination of a specific protein, in this case, casein. Casein is found in dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. Some individuals with autism may have sensitivities or intolerances to casein, leading to digestive issues and potential behavioral changes.

By removing casein from the diet, individuals may experience improvements in gastrointestinal symptoms and potentially see changes in their behavior and cognition. It is important to note that not all individuals with autism will benefit from a casein-free diet, and it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before making any dietary modifications.

Other Commonly Eliminated Foods

In addition to gluten and casein, there are other foods that are commonly eliminated from the diets of individuals with autism. Some of these foods include soy, corn, eggs, artificial additives, and certain food colorings. These exclusions are based on anecdotal reports and individual experiences, as research evidence supporting their effectiveness is limited.

It is important to approach the elimination of these foods with caution and consider consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian. They can help determine if there is a need for excluding these foods based on an individual's specific needs and potential sensitivities.

Elimination diets for autism require careful consideration and guidance from healthcare professionals. Before embarking on any dietary changes, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional, conduct proper assessments, and potentially consider food sensitivity testing. With proper guidance, an elimination diet may be a valuable tool in managing the symptoms of autism and improving overall well-being.

Implementing the Autism Diet

Implementing an autism diet requires careful planning and consideration. Here are some important steps to take when incorporating the diet into your or your loved one's routine:

Consultation with a Healthcare Professional

Before embarking on an autism diet, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional who specializes in autism or nutrition. They can provide guidance and tailor the diet to suit individual needs. A healthcare professional can also help address any concerns or questions you may have, ensuring that the diet is safe and beneficial.

During the consultation, discuss the specific goals you have in mind for the diet and any dietary restrictions or allergies that need to be taken into account. The professional can guide you through the process and provide insight on how to implement the diet effectively.

Food Sensitivity Testing

Food sensitivity testing can be a valuable tool when implementing an autism diet. Testing for food sensitivities can help identify specific foods that may trigger negative reactions or symptoms in individuals with autism. This information can guide you in determining which foods to eliminate or limit in the diet.

There are various methods of food sensitivity testing available, including blood tests and elimination diets. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate method for your situation. Identifying and eliminating trigger foods can potentially improve symptoms and overall well-being.

Creating a Meal Plan

Creating a structured meal plan is essential for successfully implementing an autism diet. A well-planned meal plan ensures that your or your loved one's nutritional needs are met while avoiding trigger foods. Consider the following factors when developing the meal plan:

  • Food variety: Include a wide range of nutrient-dense foods to support overall health.
  • Essential nutrients: Ensure the meal plan includes essential nutrients for optimal health. Nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals play a vital role.
  • Meal preparation: Plan ahead to make meal preparation more manageable. Batch cooking, meal prepping, and using slow cookers or instant pots can help save time and ensure that nutritious meals are readily available.
  • Probiotics: Consider incorporating probiotics into the diet to support gut health, as there is evidence suggesting a link between autism and gut health.

Creating a meal plan that suits your or your loved one's preferences and dietary needs can be a collaborative effort with the guidance of a healthcare professional. Regularly review and adjust the meal plan as needed to ensure it remains effective and sustainable.

By following these steps, you can implement an autism diet in a structured and informed manner. Remember to stay patient and allow time for adjustments and experimentation to find the approach that works best for you or your loved one.

Key Nutrients to Consider

When implementing an autism diet, it is essential to consider the key nutrients that support optimal health in individuals with autism. By focusing on these essential nutrients and ensuring a well-rounded diet, parents can provide their loved ones with the necessary building blocks for overall well-being.

Essential Nutrients for Optimal Health

  1. Protein: Protein is crucial for growth, development, and repair of body tissues. Good sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, and dairy products. Incorporating a variety of protein-rich foods into the diet can help meet the daily protein requirements.
  2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines) and walnuts, play a vital role in brain health and cognitive function. Including these foods in the diet can contribute to a well-rounded intake of essential fatty acids.
  3. Fiber: Fiber is important for maintaining a healthy digestive system and regulating bowel movements. Foods rich in fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. These should be incorporated into the diet to promote gut health and overall well-being.
  4. Vitamins and Minerals: A variety of vitamins and minerals are essential for proper functioning of the body. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins are excellent sources of vitamins (A, C, D, E, and the B vitamins) and minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc). A balanced diet that includes a wide array of these foods can help ensure adequate intake of essential vitamins and minerals.

Supplements and Autism

In addition to a well-rounded diet, some individuals with autism may benefit from certain supplements to address specific nutritional needs. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian before introducing any supplements, as individual requirements may vary.

  1. Probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can support gut health. Research has shown a potential link between gut health and autism, and therefore, probiotic supplementation may be considered.
  2. Vitamin and Mineral Supplements: In certain cases, individuals with autism may have specific nutrient deficiencies. A healthcare professional can assess and recommend appropriate supplements to address any deficiencies found.

It is important to keep in mind that supplements should not replace a well-balanced diet. They should be used as a complement to a nutritious eating plan. Regular monitoring and guidance from healthcare professionals are crucial to ensure that the supplements are appropriate and beneficial.

By considering these key nutrients and incorporating them into the diet, parents can play a vital role in supporting the overall health and well-being of individuals with autism.

Remember, every individual is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It's important to work closely with healthcare professionals to tailor the diet and supplementation to meet the specific needs of your loved one with autism.

Tips for Success

When implementing an autism diet for your child, there are several important factors to consider to ensure success. Here are some tips to help you navigate the journey:

Meal Preparation and Planning

Meal preparation and planning play a crucial role in the success of an autism diet. By being organized and proactive, you can ensure that your child's meals are nutritious and aligned with their dietary needs. Consider the following tips:

  • Create a meal schedule: Establish a consistent meal schedule to provide structure and routine for your child. This can help with their compliance and make mealtimes more predictable.
  • Plan meals in advance: Take the time to plan meals ahead of time. Consider using a weekly meal planner to ensure that your child's diet is varied and balanced.
  • Batch cook: Prepare larger quantities of food and freeze individual portions. This will save time and make it easier to provide nutritious meals, especially on busy days.

Managing Food Challenges

Implementing an autism diet may come with its own set of challenges. Here are some strategies to help you navigate these challenges:

  • Involve your child: Encourage your child to participate in meal planning and food preparation. This can help them feel empowered and more willing to try new foods.
  • Introduce new foods gradually: Start by introducing one new food at a time, and gradually increase the variety in your child's diet. This approach allows them to adjust to new flavors and textures without feeling overwhelmed.
  • Be patient: It may take time for your child to adjust to the changes in their diet. Be patient and persistent, and celebrate small victories along the way.

Tracking Progress and Adjustments

Monitoring your child's progress and making necessary adjustments to their diet is essential. Here are some tips to help you track progress and make informed decisions:

  • Keep a food diary: Maintain a food diary to track your child's meals, any symptoms or behaviors, and their responses to specific foods. This can help you identify patterns and make informed decisions about their diet.
  • Work with a healthcare professional: Consult with a healthcare professional who specializes in autism and nutrition. They can provide guidance, monitor your child's progress, and recommend any necessary adjustments to their diet.
  • Regularly reassess: Regularly reassess your child's diet to ensure it continues to meet their nutritional needs. As your child grows and their dietary needs change, it may be necessary to make adjustments to their meal plan.

By following these tips, you can set yourself and your child up for success when implementing an autism diet. Remember, each child is unique, so it's important to tailor the diet to their specific needs.


Is there a specific diet that can cure autism?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for autism. However, certain foods can help manage the symptoms and improve the overall quality of life for individuals with ASD.

Can I still eat out if I follow a diet for autism?

Yes, you can still eat out while following a diet for autism. Many restaurants offer gluten-free and dairy-free options, and you can always ask your server for recommendations.

How long does it take to see improvements in symptoms after changing my diet?

It varies from person to person, but some individuals may see improvements in as little as a few weeks. It's important to be patient and consistent with your dietary changes.

Can supplements be used instead of food to manage symptoms of autism?

While supplements can certainly be beneficial, they should not be used as a replacement for whole foods. It's important to get essential nutrients from a variety of sources.

Are there any other lifestyle changes that can help manage symptoms of autism?

Yes, regular exercise, stress management techniques like meditation or yoga, and getting enough sleep can all help improve symptoms of autism.


In conclusion, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotic foods, gluten-free grains, and lean proteins can help manage symptoms of autism and improve overall health. Avoiding sugar, processed foods, and casein can also be beneficial. Of course, every individual is different, and it's important to work with a healthcare professional to determine the best diet for your specific needs. But by incorporating these foods into your diet, you can take an important step towards managing the symptoms of autism and improving your quality of life.