A gluten-free diet is comprised of foods that do not contain the protein gluten. Gluten is found in wheat such as wheat, rye, and barley. It is also found in a wheat and rye combination called triticale.
People diagnosed with celiac disease are on a gluten-free diet. Gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines of people who have been diagnoses with celiac disease. Adhering to a gluten-free diet helps people suffering from celiac disease to control their symptoms.
It’s not always easy following a gluten-free diet. Given time and patience, you will come to know what foods are acceptable to eat and which foods to avoid. You will also become adept at finding acceptable substitutes for those food that you love.
Even though a gluten-free diet is a treatment for celiac disease, some people not diagnosed with the disease may find relief from similar symptoms by eating a gluten-free diet. This is referred to as people are referred as having non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Moving to a gluten-free diet is a big change. It will take some getting used to. At first, you may feel deprived as you are learning what you can and cannot eat. Don’t give up! You’re just retraining your mind and body to what is appropriate and acceptable to eat on a gluten-free diet.
It’s helpful to focus on all the foods that are acceptable to eat. You’ll be surprised at how many gluten-free foods are available in grocery stores. Breads and pastas are readily available. Many grocery stores now have dedicated gluten-free sections of food items. There are also many gluten-free items available for purchase online.
It’s also helpful to search for celiac support groups in your area or online. These groups can provide a wealth of information, especially if you’re just starting to make the switch to gluten-free. It’s always a good idea to consult a dietitian who can answer your questions and offer advice about how to avoid gluten while still eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Naturally gluten-free foods:
Beans, seeds and nuts in their natural, unprocessed form
Most dairy products
Fresh meats, fish and poultry (not breaded, batter-coated or marinated)
Fruits and vegetables
Read labels to ensure that products and foods are not processed or mixed with gluten-containing grains, additives or preservatives.
Many grains and starches can be part of a gluten-free diet, such as:
Corn and cornmeal
Gluten-free flours (rice, soy, corn, potato, bean)
Always avoid all food and drinks containing:
Barley (malt, malt flavoring and malt vinegar are usually made from barley)
Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
This can be challenging because wheat products go by numerous names. Consider the many types of wheat flour on supermarket shelves — bromated, enriched, phosphated, plain and self-rising.
Here are other wheat products to avoid:
Avoid the following unless specifically labeled as ‘gluten-free’:
Cakes and pies
Cookies and crackers
Imitation meat or seafood
Processed luncheon meats
Sauces, including soy sauce
Seasoned rice mixes
Seasoned snack foods, such as potato and tortilla chips
Soups and soup bases
Vegetables in sauce
You should also be alert for other products that you eat or that could come in contact with your mouth that may contain gluten.
Other products that may include gluten:
Food additives, such as malt flavoring, modified food starch and others
Medications and vitamins that use gluten as a binding agent
Remember, it’s always the most challenging when you start something new. Learning what foods are naturally gluten-free is a great starting place. It’s also helpful to seek support from gluten-free groups, both online and off.