If you have gluten allergy, it’s important to know what foods contain gluten.
Part 1 of 6: Overview
A gluten allergy is the body’s inability to digest or break down the gluten protein found in wheat and certain other grains. Gluten intolerance (also known as a gluten sensitivity) can range from a mild sensitivity to gluten to full-blown celiac disease. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, about one out of every 133 Americans has celiac disease. This is a severe autoimmune disorder in which a person’s immune system attacks gluten, if consumed, in the small intestine.
Part 2 of 6: Causes of Gluten Allergy
For those with celiac disease, gluten intolerance is not just an inconvenience — it can be debilitating. In such cases, you must not eat any foods containing gluten. Gluten can cause long-term damage to your small intestine, and may result in nutritional deficiencies. Currently there are no known cures or effective treatments for celiac disease. Diet is still the most effective “cure” and preventative measure.
A simple blood test that measures levels of antibodies associated with celiac disease can reveal if you have the condition.
Part 3 of 6: What to Avoid
Wheat is one of the main staples of a Western diet and is public enemy number one for those with a gluten allergy.
In addition to pure wheat, all of its forms are also off-limits. The most common examples include:
> wheat – starch, bran, germ
> graham flour
Part 4 of 6: What to Eat
The list of off-limit items may seem daunting at first. Thankfully, there are plenty of replacements on the menu. Lots of foods are naturally gluten-free, including:
> fruits and vegetables
> beans and legumes
> seeds and nuts
> grains like rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and tapioca etc.
It may seem daunting to go gluten-free at first. But for many, the advantages far outweigh the inconvenience. The first step is to get rid of all the gluten-containing products in your kitchen and stock it with alternatives such as gluten-free breads, pasta, crackers, and cereals. For baking, use substitute flours. These can include:
> buckwheat / corn / millet / rice / sorghum /quinoa
You’ll need xanthan gum or guar gum as a substitute for gluten when baking. Stick to unprocessed, fresh, whole foods to naturally stay gluten-free.
Part 5 of 6: Eating Out
Foods to avoid in restaurants include fried foods, certain sauces, or anything that has been fried in the same pan with a gluten-containing food.
Celiac disease requires extra caution when eating out. Make sure that dietary restrictions are communicated to the chef in advance. Certain restaurants are almost certainly out of question for those on a gluten-free diet, including fast food restaurants, buffets, salad bars, and most bakeries.
Part 6 of 6: Outlook
If you have celiac disease, being gluten-free is essential for your health. A gluten-free diet may seem too challenging to deal with, but with time — and a bit of effort — it can become second nature. Also, a gluten-free diet is easier if you shop at stores and eat at restaurants that cater to your dietary needs. If you want complete control (and guarantee that your food is gluten-free), cooking from scratch is the easiest way to avoid gluten. Discuss any specific dietary considerations with a doctor or nutritionist.