How to manage a gluten-free diet
Many people suffer from painful gastrointestinal problems as a result of gluten intolerance. They are typically diagnosed with Celiac disease which is the body’s inability to properly and efficiently process gluten. There are many problems associated with this condition, but there are also some important dietary changes that can make a positive difference for those who endure gluten intolerance.
Adjusting the diet to eliminate gluten can be an alternative to taking medications for the problem. A well-managed gluten free diet is not as difficult to maintain as many people think.
There are many restaurants and grocery marts that cater to people with gluten intolerance. Even delicious cakes, pies, and breads can be gluten free. Learn to find gluten free foods for a healthier life.
Gluten is a sticky, elastic type of food component which is why it is often used in baked goods. It gives them their shape and texture. The most popular example of gluten is how it is used in bread dough where the dough is very elastic and sticky. Gluten is also contained in many other foods such a cakes, power drinks, flavorings, meats, preservatives, and salad dressings.
One of the first and most important steps in managing a gluten free diet is to learn to read food labels. This provides the valuable clues about what is included in foods. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, rye, kamut, and triticale. Avoid all products that contain any of these products on the food label. Others include farina, vital gluten, semolina, and malt vinegar.
Hydrolyzed corn, soy, or vegetable protein may contain gluten since they use wheat in the processing of these proteins. Hydrolyzed vegetable protein is highly suspect to contain gluten so avoid it. Soy sauce is an example of a sauce made with wheat and gluten. Modified food starch may contain gluten so unless it is corn starch, avoid it.
Substitute gluten free flour
Instead of flours filled with gluten, opt for gluten free products such as rice, soy, corn, or potato flour. Although oats are often gluten free, they may be contaminated with wheat so they should be avoided as much as possible.
Search for naturally gluten free foods
There are some foods that are considered naturally gluten free. Read labels and shop for these products, including milk, nonfat dry milk, 100% fruit or vegetable juice, fresh fruits, and vegetables that are not coated with wax that contains gluten. Other foods that are usually naturally gluten free include butter, eggs, beans, peanuts, almonds, corn, clams, honey, and water. It’s important to read the labels to ensure that gluten has not been added to the foods for any purpose such as the resin or wax coating on fruits or vegetables.
Watch for buzz words
In the world of food labeling, there are some buzz words that often mean the same thing as gluten. For an extensive list of foods and additives that include gluten, visit the Celiac Disease website for more information. You can also learn a lot about safe cooking enviornments for gluten intolerance.
Red flag foods
There are some foods that contain gluten which people don’t usually consider. These are red flag foods to people with gluten intolerance. They include dairy which may include starch fillers (yogurt, soft cheese, cottage cheese, and others), cereal, beer which is made with a barley component, whiskey and gin made from wheat, and other alcoholic beverages. Also, starch fillers, soy sauce and hydrolyzed vegetables are usually contained in canned soups and pre-packaged meals. Even soups containing pasta can be a gluten trigger.
Consider these foods red flags and proceed cautiously by reading labels and confirming whether or not they contain gluten.
Shop ethnic foods and health stores
Many ethnic stores offer gluten free products such as corn, rice, and soy substitutes. Try different types of grains and foods that do not contain gluten and experiement with ethnic recipes. Asian menus often avoid gluten.
There are a variety of health stores that also provide gluten substitutes and alternatives. Check with local health stores and find out what’s available. And remember that even vitamins can contain gluten so read labels on everything — even in health stores.