Eating Gluten-Free and What You Should Avoid
There are a growing number of people taking wheat and its main protein, gluten, out of their diet. Whether you are suffering from celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis, migranes, lyme disease or wheat allergy or intolerance a gluten-free diet can help alleviate your symptoms. A small number of studies have shown that a gluten-free diet can also benefit those with Parkinson’s disease, Multiple sclerosis, Seizures, cognitive problems, Type 2 and Type 1 diabetes, Down syndrome, and Rheumatoid arthritis.
Common symptoms for those with gluten intolerance include depression, irritability, fatigue, numerous gastro intestinal symptoms, and brain fog. A food elimination test can help you determine if a gluten-free diet enables you to feel your best. If you have these symptoms and they lessen or are alleviated when you remove gluten containing grains out of the diet then it’s a good indication that you have insensitivity.
Gluten is a protein that enables grains to have incredible elasticity, it allows the grain to stretch and trap air. It’s what gives wheat products that fluffy, airy and soft quality. Different grains contain a different amount of protein so bread made from different flours has a different texture. Flour which has no gluten, like rice flour, may not rise as high and feel more dense or gummy.
Many grains contain gluten including wheat, bulgur, couscous, kamut, spelt, barley, rye and triticale. Some who are sensitive to gluten are also sensitive to oats which have a similar protein to gluten and are almost always processed in the same facilities, often contaminating the product. The term flour just means pulverized grain and unless it’s stated otherwise it means wheat flour.
Gluten – free grains include quinoa, rice, wild rice, corn, tapioca, teff, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, and sorghum. All vegetables and legumes (beans) are safe to eat and many commercial gluten free flours are made of these products. Be sure to read the label carefully; corn bread is made with more wheat flour than corn. Gram flour is made from chickpeas, Graham flour is made of wheat. Buckwheat flour and buckwheat pasta often contains both wheat and buckwheat.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has classified gluten as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) so it may not be listed on the product ingredient list. The term gluten-free is a voluntary labeling practice and is not regulated. Many gluten free labeled products have been found to contain gluten within “natural flavoring” and other non-descript food ingredients. Medications and supplements, especially those in tablet form, may contain gluten as a binding agent – check with your pharmacist for prescription products and ensure all supplements say that they are allergy free.
If you are on a gluten-free diet ensure you are eating a well balanced intake of fruits, grains and vegetables. Many gluten-free made products are often not fortified or enriched and can be lower in fiber, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, iron, or calcium than their gluten/wheat made counterparts.
Avoid: Malted milk, some commercial chocolate drinks, some non-dairy creamers.
MEAT, FISH, POULTRY
Avoid: breaded meats, Prepared meats (hot dogs, sausages, bologna, liverwurst, luncheon meats, chili con carne, Swiss steak, meat loaf, turkey with hydrolyzed protein injected as part of the basting solution)
Avoid: Any cheese product with oat gum.
Avoid: Creamed vegetables or vegetables in sauce that may contain grain thickeners, commercially processed beans.
Avoid: Thickened or prepared fruits, some pie fillings.
BREAD & CEREALS
Avoid: All cereals containing wheat, rye, oats or barley; bran; graham; wheat germ; malt; bulgar including Bran flakes, corn flakes, cream of wheat, farina, grapenuts, puffed wheat, rice krispies, shredded wheat
FLOURS AND FLOUR BASED PRODUCTS
Avoid: Graham flour, patent flour, rye flour, white flour, whole wheat flour, gluten flour, cakes, cookies, doughnuts, biscuits, crackers, muffins, popovers, pretzels, pasta, dumplings, zwieback, and rolls, and the following kinds of breads: corn, gluten, graham, pumpernickel, soy, wheat, and rye
Avoid: beer, grain derived alcohols
Avoid: Bouillon cubes, chocolate candy, fried battered foods, gravies, ice cream cones, matzos, mayonnaise, sauces, synthetic pepper, some yeast
About our contributor
Erin Williams MS, CN, LMP is the owner of EZBalance in Redmond Washington. She has a masters degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University and a bachelors in Chemistry from Purdue. In addition to writing, Erin lectures on diet and health, teaches yoga and Pilates and is a licensed massage therapist.