Being gluten free has become a popular fad diet in recent years, which has led to increasing confusion among those who must follow such a diet. Not that there is anything wrong with giving up gluten to lose weight or better your health, but while these people can “cheat,” people with Celiac, wheat allergy, or gluten intolerance can not cheat without dire consequences.
Avoid Basic Glutens
To follow a gluten free diet means to avoid all forms of gluten, as well as any cross contamination with gluten-containing items. This includes all forms of wheat, rye, hops, barely, and most oats. In general, all grass-type grains are off limits, since these are the primary carriers of gluten proteins.
Common foods containing gluten include bread, pastries, pasta, cereal, gravies, processed foods (like premade meals), soups, and stews.
Another item which must be avoided are oats which do not specifically state they are gluten free. While oats do not naturally contain gluten, many of them are contaminated with it. This is because of manufacturing and harvesting practices. Some companies have taken extra precautions and set up dedicated facilities to ensure their oats are gluten free. If it does not specifically state it, however, it’s best to assume the product has been cross-contaminated.
While many sources are obvious, others are known as “hidden” gluten items because it is not immediately apparent. This includes, among others: cosmetics, personal care products, and soy sauce. Foods which list the following are NOT safe for a gluten free diet:
· Malt or malt flavoring
· Cereal binding
This is not all inclusive, so be sure to do additional research prior to making any processed food purchases.
What to Eat Instead
In many aspects, a gluten free diet has people eating the foods they should be anyways. Much of the diet is made up of lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. There are gluten-free alternatives to many foods, like bread, donuts, etc. These tend to be expensive but are worth keeping on hand. Then there are a few naturally gluten-free grains or grain-like foods. These include white rice, brown rice, quinoa, grits (but read label to ensure no cross-contamination), and polenta.