What is the mystery behind the selection of gluten-free foods? While a gluten-free diet is a choice for some, it is an absolute necessity for others.
However, regardless of the reasons for adopting this diet, the thought of eliminating wheat from the diet may feel overwhelming and challenging. Especially in the initial stages, as wheat is the most common ingredient used in the preparation of commercial baked foods, cereals, and pasta.
The assumption for anyone starting to take a gluten-free diet is that you are about to go through a very daunting process. Most people get stuck or even frustrated when it comes to identifying what they should and should not avoid in their diet.
To relieve you the stress of identifying foods to stay away from, here are 5 foods you need to avoid and everything you need to know about gluten-free foods.
Understanding Gluten and the People at Risk
Gluten is a general reference made to proteins present in wheat, triticale ( the hybrid of wheat and rye), barley, and rye. Gluten serves to maintain the shape of these foods by working as the glue, which binds the food together. Gluten is a hot topic because the celiac disease affects about three million Americans and about 95% of celiacs go undiagnosed. For adults, symptoms of celiac disease can occur at any point in their lives but are most common in their 20s-40s. Some people who have celiac disease may not have any symptoms but may still damage their small intestine by consuming gluten.
Celiac Disease in Children
Celiac disease for children can be very serious as their bodies may not absorb crucial nutrients they need for growth if gluten is eaten regularly over prolonged periods of time. This can also cause an imbalance of vitamins, minerals, and chemicals. Children with celiac disease are at higher risk of getting cancer as well.
Celiac Disease Symptoms
General celiac disease symptoms are diarrhea, gas, fatigue, low blood count, osteoporosis, pain in abdomen or joints, malnutrition, delayed puberty, slow growth. Cramping, lactose intolerance, skin rash, weight loss, and itching are also common symptoms. However, many people don’t experience any symptoms.
You should speak to your doctor to determine if you have celiac disease or suffer from gluten sensitivity. You can also try eliminating gluten from your diet, to see if your symptoms go away and if you generally feel better. Here are the 5 gluten foods where gluten may be secretly lurking.
The Top 5 Gluten Foods to Eliminate
The “Golden Rule” in achieving a gluten-free diet is avoiding three main grains – wheat, barley, and rye. Cakes, cookies, bagels, muffins, cereals, pasta, and bread are common foods with grain content.
While these might be easily identifiable, you need to be cautious with pastries, waffles, spaghetti, pretzels, buns, doughnuts, vermicelli, cornbread, rye and pumpernickel bread, pies, pancake mixes, dumplings, wheat germ, bran, ice cream cones, tortillas, noodles, batter-fried foods, pita, rolls, biscuits, bread crumbs, croutons, and gravies as a move towards a healthier diet for you.
Note that most manufacturers have adopted the production of gluten-free versions of such foods. However, their foods might not be entirely gluten-free. It is recommended that you take grains such as rice and corn as safe alternative substitutes instead.
11 Grains That Contain Gluten
12 Gluten-Free Grains
2. Processed Meats
For gluten free diets, you should eliminate all processed meat types as echoed by Celiac Disease (Sprue) studies.
Sprue is rated as a debilitating type of arthritis, which comes along with digestive symptoms due to excessive gluten intake. Processed meats are discouraged because of their dangerous preservatives and which have even been linked to various cancers. Meats as salami, pepperoni, bologna, sausages, hot dogs, liverwurst, and cold cuts should be avoided as lower quality meat may use gluten flour as a binding agent.
Alternative gluten-free protein sources recommended include unprocessed meats turkey and chicken.
3. Sweets and Treats
If you have a sweet tooth, you may want to listen up. The majority of sweet treats in the store contain gluten. Be aware of all chocolate, root beer, commercial cake frosting, sherbets, cereal extract candies, ice cream, and malt-containing chocolate candy food products. And as far as bakeries go, unless it’s a gluten-free one, forget it.
Before purchasing any of these food products, it is recommended that you check on the labels and ascertain that they are particularly labeled gluten-free.
However, don’t fear, there are still healthy and gluten-free desserts out there that you can have. There are gluten-free waffles, apple crisps, brownies, cakes and generally anything you can think of. Now you’ll have an excuse to reduce your sugar intake and eat a bit healthier.
4. Seasonings and Condiments
Several seasonings and condiments contain gluten, thereby triggering gluten-intolerance related problems. Healthy eating demands that you eliminate soy sauce, barley malt, bouillon, malt products, modified starch foods, MSG, and Worcestershire sauce.
Also, it is noteworthy that most salad dressings and gravies use gluten grains and flours for thickening. You may opt for brown rice pasta, tomato sauces, or homemade sauce using gluten-free butter, salt, and olive oil. Liquid amino and tamari are effective replacements as well.
You can use potato starch, arrowroot, or cornflour for homemade condiments.
5. Alcoholic Beverages
With the knowledge that most alcoholic drinks are made from grains, malted beverages including wine coolers and beer ought to be on top of your list. It is recommended that if you have to drink alcoholic beverages, proceed with caution in your consumption of alternative grain-based alcoholic beverages like gin, specific vodkas, whiskey, cider, tequila, and rum.
Healthy Eating Tips for Gluten Effects Prevention
If you master the recommended healthy tips given herein, then you can significantly prevent the undesirable health effects of gluten.
✓ Beware that gluten-free foods might come into contact with gluten-containing foods thereby causing cross-contamination. Cross-contamination is common in manufacturing industries, which utilize similar machinery in the processing of gluten-free and regular products. In domestic kitchens, one may use the same surfaces and tools when preparing meals. You should be extremely careful and be in possession of a backup chopping board and tools for gluten-free foods as a healthy tip towards avoiding cross-contamination. ✓ Further, research has revealed that over 40% of processed items with gluten-free labels contain significant amounts of gluten, which can trigger reactions among gluten-intolerant individuals. It is recommended that one scrutinizes the product before purchase and consumption, and identify specific gluten-free items for consumption. Extreme caution is advised if you have to eat out. Most restaurants have the tendency to lack adequate measures to ensure minimal cross-contamination as they prepare and serve foods. ✓ The last tip entails the consumption of alcoholic beverages. While it is recommended that you can proceed cautiously in your consumption of grain-based liquor like gin, distinct vodkas, and whiskey, especially if you have been newly diagnosed with gluten intolerance since such beverages undergo distillation, clinical observations hold that you could experience reactive responses to grain-based drinks. For this reason, we recommend that if you have to adopt a gluten-free diet as a result of sickness and intolerance, consumption of alcohol will be detrimental to the recovery, as it slows down the healing process and encourages health-related conditions.
Going gluten-free is much easier than you think, so don’t get discouraged. Your health depends on it. As we have stressed, natural and unprocessed foods are likely to be gluten-free. Using the guide above and just using common sense, you can easily restructure your diet into something more healthy and delicious!
Just remember to never assume that a product is gluten-free. You need to go through the ingredients of a product or seek help from store guides in identifying gluten-free foods. Gluten-free foods can equally be as delicious if you follow these helpful tips. Finally, just because something is labeled gluten-free, it does not mean the product is healthy. It simply means it doesn’t contain those specific grains.