If you are one of those people who have been diagnosed with celiac disease, then your doctor will likely tell you to follow a gluten-free diet. In other words, you need to avoid foods that include barley, wheat, or rye ingredients.
But there is no need to panic. While it may take some time to adjust to a gluten-free diet, it does not mean that you won’t be able to eat some pasta, bread, and any other foods that you love. Fortunately, there are now a lot of gluten-free recipes and products that are available. This means that following a gluten-free diet can now be possible, at the same time, you can still enjoy eating most of your favorite foods. All it requires is some additional effort and care.
If you have celiac disease, then you should always avoid gluten. Consuming even a small amount of gluten can quickly trigger the autoimmune system of your body, damaging your intestinal lining. This damage can result in various symptoms that can impact your overall health. Hence, it is significant that you must know how to practice a gluten-free diet. A registered dietitian can also provide you with some tips about a celiac disease diet.
What Should You Eat?
First, it is important to understand that all vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, meat, oils, eggs, seafood, dairy products, and poultry are gluten-free if they are in their natural forms. However, when these foods are processed and flavors, additives, and other ingredients are being added to them, then they might not be safe to eat anymore for someone on a gluten-free diet.
Most grains are free from gluten except for barley, wheat, and rye. Starches and grains are the best options when it comes to a celiac disease diet. This includes arrowroot, amaranth, corn, buckwheat, potatoes, millet, rice, quinoa, sorghum, sago flour, teff, tapioca, and wild rice.
Oats are naturally gluten-free, at the same time, they are the best source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which may not be found in a gluten-free diet. But they often are processed, grown, or stored in areas close to wheat or any other products that include wheat. That is why when purchasing oats, it is important to make sure that it is a brand that is certified gluten-free.
What Should You Avoid?
Grains That Contain Gluten
When you are on a celiac disease diet, you should stay away from grains that include gluten. This includes barley malt/extract, barley, couscous, einkorn, farina, graham flour, bulgur, durum, emmer, faro, kamut, orzo, rye, semolina, triticale, wheat, matzo flour/meal, panko, seitan, spelt, udon, wheat bran, wheat starch, and wheat germ.
With regards to gluten, keep in mind that not all foods are simple and easy. There are some foods and ingredients that might or might not include gluten. This will depend on how they are being produced. It is advisable that you stay away from these products unless you are sure that they don’t have gluten or are not derived from grains that include gluten.
This includes cereal or flour products, brown rice syrup, hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP), hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), textured vegetable protein (TVP), modified food starch, malt vinegar, seasonings or natural flavors, rice malt, and soy sauce or teriyaki sauce.
Foods Where Gluten is Not Expected
While most products are advertised as gluten-free on their packaging, you may run into products that are not completely gluten-free despite seeming like they would be gluten-free. The best thing to do is to check the food labels carefully and try to scrutinize each ingredient.
Be extra careful with products that might include unexpected gluten. For instance, brewer’s yeast, brown rice syrup, croutons, breading, broth/bouillon, communion wafers, drugs or any over-the-counter medications, salad dressings, herbal or any other nutritional supplements, energy bars, imitation bacon and seafood, ice cream or gelato, marinades, licorice, playdough, medication or supplements, roux, processed meats, thickeners, sauces and gravies, and veggie burgers are some of the most common types of food that don’t seem like they would contain gluten, but they do.
How to Shop for Gluten-Free Foods
In most grocery chains, you can find stocks of gluten-free packaged foods. They are often placed in a special section, but sometimes they are placed along with the other foods. Typically, you can also find different varieties of gluten-free items in health food stores.
According to the safety standards of the Food and Drug Administration, any food packaged products advertised as without gluten, no gluten, gluten-free, or free of gluten must have less than 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten. This is considered as the lowest measurable level in foods. However, it would still be a good idea if you make it a habit to check every ingredient in the product, no matter what the claims on the package are. Also, be aware of products that are advertised as wheat-free since this is not the same as gluten-free! In addition, do not hesitate to ask the staff or the store managers if a particular product is gluten-free.
An important reminder when shopping for groceries — gluten-free is not equivalent to healthy. There are processed gluten-free foods such as sweets and bread that are low in fiber but high in sugar, fat, and sodium.
If you want to make the healthiest decisions when grocery shopping, you can follow the following tips:
- When shopping, be sure to stay within the perimeter of nutritious foods such as vegetables, fish, dairy products, fruits, meat, and poultry.
- Keep in mind that the first ingredient on the label has the most quantity in the product, hence be sure that it is a gluten-free ingredient such as whole grain.
- Select gluten-free packaged products that primarily include whole grains such as quinoa or brown rice, rather than cornflour or white rice.
- Be careful when choosing gluten-free frozen meals since they might be rich in sodium.
- If you want to make gluten-free pasta or pizza, then you must load it with lean protein and vegetables.
- Save some gluten-free desserts and snacks for special occasions.
Helpful Tips When Dining Out
If you want to avoid gluten when dining out, then the best thing to do is to prepare in advance. You can start by asking the restaurant that you want to visit if they can safely prepare gluten-free foods without any risk of cross-contamination. Afterward, verify their menu online and remember the dishes that are appropriate for you.
Once you arrive in the restaurant, inform the server that you must not be exposed to gluten. Be sure that you are firm. You could say that you have celiac disease, so you can’t eat foods that include or are exposed to barley, wheat, rye, or oats (except if oats are certified to be completely gluten-free), or you could get very ill.
They might be able to offer you a gluten-free menu or give you some suggestions on what item to prepare that is gluten-free. Do not hesitate to ask any questions. Even a small amount of gluten contamination could likely make you sick, hence, be safe rather than sorry.
The following are some of the things to consider when choosing items from the menu:
- Soups are often filled with flour to thicken them, so it’s best to ask the server.
- Salads should not contain croutons, so be sure that your server is aware of this. Some salad dressings use flour as a thickener; hence, you should inquire about the ingredients.
- Fried foods such as onion rings, French fries, or tortilla chips, must be always avoided. Except if the restaurant has a dedicated fryer for gluten-free foods.
- For meats, choose grilled meats rather than fried ones. And be sure to ask what is used for the marinate.
- Be careful when choosing meat substitutes such as veggie burgers since they might include fillers that have gluten. Try to verify this with your server.
- When you are on a gluten-free diet, it is safe to drink wine and distilled alcoholic beverages such as rum, gin, and vodka. However, most beers, lagers, wine coolers, and ales contain gluten since the fermentation is done in gluten-containing grains, except if they are specifically labeled as gluten-free.
- When choosing dishes, be sure that their name or description does not contain words that indicate they contain wheat. This includes Bechamel, Au gratin, Encrusted, Cordon bleu, Fricassee, Farfel, Gnocchi, Fritter, Pan gravy, Meuniere, Roux, Raspings, Tempura, soy sauce or teriyaki sauce, Scallopini, and Veloute.
If you are having difficulty exploring a gluten-free diet, then seek the help of a dietitian in your area. They can help you in identifying healthy gluten-free foods, create meal plans and ensure that all your nutritional needs are satisfied.
Is a Gluten-free Diet Beneficial to Your Health?
For people with celiac disease, the primary treatment is a gluten-free diet. However, there are some people who choose to go gluten-free even if they do not have this condition because of its supposed health benefits.
Gluten is a type of protein that can be found in barley, wheat, and rye. Most foods such as bread, cereals, and pasta include gluten. Gluten can help foods in keeping their shape. According to a survey conducted by a market research company, at least 30% of American adults want to reduce or get rid of gluten from their diet. And most of these people are not suffering from celiac disease.
At Wave the Grain, you can find a variety of gluten-free foods such as cakes and cupcakes, bread, pastries, and other desserts. We also offer breakfast, lunch, and even coffee. For your inquiries, you can call us at (303) 721-7547 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.