For Gluten-free eaters, wheat is Enemy Number 1. But gluten is lurking in more places then white-bread sandwiches and dinner rolls. In fact, the Mayo Clinic recommends that gluten-avoiders should stay away from french fries, processed lunch meat, and even certain medications that use gluten as a binding agent.
Why Gluten Free?
For some people, choosing not to eat gluten is a matter of overall health. People suffer from a variety of gluten sensitivity problems, including celiac disease, wheat allergies, and gluten intolerance. Celiac disease is characterized by a permanent intolerance to the weight protein and often causes digestive problems and malabsorption of essential vitamins and minerals. A wheat allergy may present with classic allergy symptoms like rashes, wheezing, and swelling, while gluten intolerance is commonly a more temporary condition that can be marked by indigestion. Depending on the specific ailment, sufferers may or may not be advised to switch to a grain free or gluten free diet.
What Foods to Avoid
Though switching to a gluten-free diet is a big adjustment, there are ways to cope. There are many traditionally gluten-rich foods available without gluten, including bread, pasta, cookies, and even gluten free beer. The essential foods to avoid are barley, rye, triticale, and wheat. Typically, avoiding wheat can be troublesome as it can be labeled as many different things, and tends to pop up in unexpected foods. A full list of foods to avoid or investigate before eating is available through the Celiac Disease Foundation.
What Foods to Eat
While the diet is restrictive, cutting out gluten doesn’t mean the end of delicious cooking. If anything, a diet restriction can lead to creativity in the kitchen. Swap out gluten grains for grains and flours like rice, soy, beans, quinoa, millet, and buckwheat. Pure oats are allowed, but only if they haven’t been processed in a plant that also services wheat products. And of course, all fruit and veggies are gluten free, as are meat, fish, and eggs.
Once the decision is made to go gluten-free, the options are endless. Instead of thinking of a wheat-sensitivity as a buzz-kill restriction, imagine the challenge opening up new, more healthful meal planning ideas.
- “Gluten Free Diet: What’s Allowed, What’s Not”, The Mayo Clinic
- “Gluten Free Diet”, Celiac Disease Foundation
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