If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, then you might be interested in knowing what a gluten-free diet is all about. What is gluten? Gluten is the major protein found in the kernels of rye, wheat, and barley grains. If you are suffering from celiac disease, then gluten can trigger the immune system to harm the lining of the small intestine.

Gluten is found in most foods, including those which you don’t expect. That is why it is difficult to avoid, especially if you want to manage the symptoms. In order to succeed with your gluten-free diet, you should learn more about ingredient names and food labeling. Although it might take some time and you could commit a few mistakes along the way.

Here, we are going to help you in understanding more about the foods that consist of gluten and why you must avoid them. This can guide you as you are getting started with your gluten-free diet.

Why Choose Gluten-Free?

People who are practicing a gluten-free diet are doing so since they are trying to treat a particular health condition. Celiac disease is one of the well-known health conditions that respond effectively to a gluten-free diet. Approximately 1% of the world’s population is affected by celiac disease. The symptoms of this disease occur when you consume gluten. As a result, the immune system will harm the small intestine.  Some of the symptoms of this disease are fatigue, weight loss, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

Celiac disease can likely result in anemia and malnutrition. There are also chances that it could result in osteoporosis, as well as any other potentially serious health conditions. That is why if you have some concerns, then it would be ideal to have a celiac diagnosis.

Keep in mind that celiac is sometimes misdiagnosed. In some instances, it is possible that you may have a serious condition such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis that requires treatment. Nevertheless, healthcare providers suggest that people should not avoid eating gluten-free before they are diagnosed with celiac disease. The reason behind this is that gluten must be consumed to ensure that the celiac test results are accurate.

If you have celiac disease, then it is essential that you avoid gluten so you can manage the symptoms. It is also important that you are aware if you have a celiac diagnosis. In this way, you will know if there are any health-related issues.

Foods That Include Gluten

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It is important to remember that if the food includes barley, wheat, or rye, then definitely it has gluten. Another source of gluten is triticale which is a hybrid of rye and wheat. Most often, manufacturers add gluten to their foods for added texture and other features. At the same time, they add some additional costs to their products.

For instance, the unique texture of wheat bread is due to gluten. On the other hand, gluten protein is responsible for making pasta and cakes stick together. This means that if you have celiac disease, then you should avoid eating conventional pasta, bread, cookies, cakes, and most types of cereal. Other food categories that are rich in gluten are croutons and crackers, breakfast foods such as waffles, crepes, and pancakes, breading, biscuits, and flour tortillas as well as beer.

But it does not stop there since most processed foods also include gluten. In most soups, gluten grains are used as thickeners. Cookies and candies often use barley malt as a sweetener. Beer and other types of liquor also use gluten grains for making alcoholic brews.

Food Labels

Most often gluten is hidden in different ingredient names. That is why when checking food labels, you must determine where it is hidden so you can avoid it. Manufacturers are not required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to disclose gluten on their food labels. However, manufacturers can choose to disclose it if they want to as long as it follows the rules of FDA’s gluten-free labeling.

FDA’s gluten-free label can only be used if the food does not include any type of rye, wheat, barley, or any combination of these grains. The food should not contain any ingredient that originates from these grains except if the gluten has been reduced to less than 20 parts per million (ppm).

Most manufacturers would use bold labeling that says “gluten-free.” In this way, it will be easier for people to recognize the products even if they do not look at the ingredients. Although some companies such as Kraft Foods always make sure that they disclose the ingredients that include gluten.

Also, it is important to understand that even if the foods do not include gluten ingredients, it does not necessarily mean that they are gluten-free since they could be exposed to gluten cross-contamination during their processing. Due to the high demand for gluten-free products, they are usually found in most grocery stores. You can also buy gluten-free products that are specifically certified by independent organizations.

How To Get Started with Your Gluten-Free Diet

Sometimes it can be very challenging to make some changes to your diet, especially if you have to avoid your favorite foods or start preparing your meals in different ways. However, as you are getting used to what you can eat, you can easily adapt to new foods while avoiding foods that can cause symptoms. Following a gluten-free diet also means that you can consume more essential nutrients. Fresh, whole foods have more vitamins and minerals compared to packaged goods.

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What Foods Should You Choose?

Ultimately, there are a lot of safe gluten-free foods out there. One of the best approaches for a gluten-free diet is to choose whole foods. In other words, it is safe to consume fresh fruits and vegetables if you are on a gluten-free diet. However, you need to remember that if they are prepackaged, then they might not be gluten-free.

When it comes to seafood, pork, poultry, and beef, choose the ones that do not include marinades or any other added ingredients. Generally, if it is plain, then it is safe. You can add quinoa and rice to your diet. However, be sure that you are buying the plain ones without any added ingredients. Another excellent option is potatoes; however, you have to be aware of how they are prepared.

Although you can easily apply these tips when you are at home, sometimes it can be difficult when you are dining out. You will have to ask some questions, or you have to choose dishes that are labeled gluten-free. Fortunately, these days, gluten-free menu labeling has become more and more popular.

Additionally, most restaurants are now offering gluten-free options for popular dishes such as pasta. When going to gatherings, it is best to bring your own food, especially, if you think that the food is not gluten-free enough for you. Nevertheless, there are some ways that you can do so that the process of going gluten-free can be easier.

For instance, you can use a smartphone app to help you in finding products and restaurants that offer gluten-free dishes. When going to grocery stores, be sure to check if they have a list of gluten-free products or if the products on their shelves have appropriate labels.

Avoid Any Trace Amounts of Gluten

Once you have started consuming gluten-free, you might discover that your body will quickly react to traces of gluten with the reappearance of old symptoms or the presence of new ones that you were not anticipating. This is quite common once you have been exposed to gluten.

Sometimes these trace amounts of gluten can be caused by cross-contamination in the kitchen or during food processing or perhaps the product has some hidden gluten ingredients. Most often, there are some people who are too sensitive to traces of gluten, and they should be very careful. Regardless of how sensitive you are, you might want to prevent the chance of any accidental gluten exposure. There are ways that can help you in achieving this.

Determine if you want to share a kitchen with those who consume gluten. If this is the case, then you have to set this up in such a way that you can avoid getting sick. Eliminate any gluten foods and ingredients from your house, specifically in your kitchen. Purchase new kitchen tools and replace the old ones.

It is possible that they could gather gluten grain residue, even if you have scrubbed them several times. You should consider the possibility that there could be airborne gluten and other sources around your surroundings. For instance, this could come from your shampoos and any other products stored in your bathroom, your craft supplies, or pet foods. You should always be careful when dining out or eating foods prepared by your friends.

If you are suffering from celiac disease, then it is very important that you should follow a gluten-free diet. This can help you in preventing intestinal symptoms which are caused by the response of your immune system to gluten. In addition, it can also help in reducing the risk of experiencing any health-related condition.

Wave the Grain offers different varieties of gluten-free products such as bread, cakes, cupcakes, pastries, pies, meals, etc. For more information, you can call us at (303) 721-7547 or send us an email at kristin@wavethegrain.com.