For those suffering from celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, items containing wheat or gluten are problematic, even dangerous. To complicate matters, gluten (the expandable or sticky protein found in barley, rye, spelt, and wheat) is used in a vast array of products and ingredients. It’s one thing to consciously avoid bread and other items containing gluten-producing grains, however, “hidden” gluten shows up in some very unlikely places.
Though checking labels and ingredients is important, sometimes this is not sufficient. Gluten may be present but listed as “natural flavors” or “natural ingredients.”
Gluten is popular as a binding agent and filler. The elastic quality of gluten binds and expands so food manufacturers get more from their product. When shopping, look specifically for “gluten-free” labels on food packaging. Fortunately, the gluten-free symbol is showing up on more and more products.
You must be aware that gluten may be hiding is such ordinary items as: gravy, salad dressing, teriyaki or soy sauce, and barbeque sauce. Furthermore, gluten might be found in processed cheese, ice cream, whip cream, and flavored yogurt.
Obviously, grain products are a major category to carefully examine. Besides wheat, barley, and rye, you might want to avoid grits, cornbread mix, desert mixes, or flavored, instant rice. Although oats naturally do not contain gluten, oats may not be safe due to cross-contamination during the food processing process.
If you are a fan of canned or flavored nuts, lentils, beans, soups, or pre-packaged meats, pre-formed burger, chicken, or veggie patties; breaded fish, hot dogs, or deli-meats – beware. This is not to say that you can never enjoy those items again, you must simply double check that the item is labeled as free from gluten or does not contain gluten-based products in the ingredients.
Even some frozen or canned fruits and vegetables, if they are seasoned, might cause harm to someone with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
Sadly, chocolate, carob chips, licorice, and many candies contain gluten or are wholly wheat based.
Lastly, gluten is sometimes used as a binding agent in many popular, over-the-counter cough syrups. Whether foods or medicine, carefully monitor ingredients or processing procedures.
Always read the product label of the various items that are purchased. Gluten is used as filler, thickener, “natural or artificial flavorings”. These foods may be using malt, barley or rye derivatives for flavoring.
So what can you eat?
• Maize (corn)
• Almond or other nut meal
• Potato starch
• Rice (brown rice is best)
• Tapioca starch
You can also use lesser-known products like:
There are also types of beans, soybeans and nut flours that are acceptable in a diet free from gluten.
Despite its name, buckwheat is also perfectly acceptable as long as it is pure buckwheat and not a mixture of wheat and buckwheat.
Fresh and “organic” fruits, vegetables, and meat, nuts and other healthful, gluten-free snacks make a gluten-free diet healthy and enjoyable. Numerous gluten-free cookbooks offer thousands of tasty dishes and treats. There are event gluten-free restaurants guides available online.
You do need to be aware that many products contain gluten. Under some circumstances, gluten does not even need to be listed in the ingredients. Careful consideration, the purchase of gluten-free items, and the use of gluten-free cookbooks and guides will make your gluten-free diet more successful and enjoyable.