Celiac disease is a disorder of the small intestine. It stops the small intestine absorbing the nutrients in food which are essential for staying healthy. People diagnosed with the condition generally have to follow a diet free from gluten, which essentially means they have to avoid foods containing the grains wheat, rye and barley. If eaten, these foodstuffs can cause a range of symptoms which vary from person to person. Some people may experience abdominal cramps and bloating while others may suffer from vomiting, weight loss and fatigue or weakness. Skin rashes or blisters are also a common sign of celiac disease.
If you have recently been diagnosed with the disease, you may be struggling to get to grips with what kinds of foods you should be avoiding. Below are a few tips – these are definitely not an exhaustive list.
Breads and starchy foods:
Unfortunately, a celiac disease diet means you must avoid almost all breads and pasta which contain barley, wheat flours and gluten flour. This includes breakfast cereals, especially muesli and cereals with oats. “Pure oats” are a definite gluten-free food, however, these are difficult to come across as oats come into contact with wheat in most foods. Foodstuffs containing rye, as well as pretzels and couscous are also ruled out. When it comes to rice, most forms of rice cakes and crackers are off your shopping list, although there are now some good varieties of gluten free packaged rice available in supermarkets. Always check the ingredients on the packaging if you are unsure.
Meat and protein:
Meats are generally suitable for people following gluten free diets. However, any meat dishes containing the flours mentioned above such as meatballs, or any meat in breadcrumbs should, of course, be avoided. Also to be avoided are processed meats such as sausages, frozen meats etc. as these usually contain some form of gluten.
Fruit and vegetables:
Like meat, fresh fruit and vegetables are also naturally gluten free. However, if you buy ready prepared vegetables for example, many will contain sauces or thickeners containing starches. Frozen fruit and vegetables are also suitable for a gluten free diet.
When starting to integrate this diet into your lifestyle, many people overlook the care required to avoid contaminating gluten-free foods. Remember to clean worktops regularly to remove any traces of gluten and you may even want to purchase a separate toaster for your own gluten-free bread.