Over the past few years you have probably heard more about gluten. I didn’t pay attention to it until I had to become gluten free due to a medical condition. The first thing I asked my doctor was, “What is gluten and why do I have to stay away from it?”
Although I don’t have Celiac Disease my gluten sensitivity was high based off of a saliva test I took. Also because I have Lyme Disease I had to stay away from any foods that would cause inflammation in my body.
The easiest explanation I found was on the Mayo Clinic and it states, “A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).” In other words a lot of what I liked to eat (pasta, cookies/cakes, wheat bread, certain candy, certain packaged meat and rice, oatmeal, etc…anything with enriched wheat flour).
Gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines of people with Celiac Disease and other chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia, Type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and Lyme Disease. I even lessened the amount of gluten that my young son intakes and it assisted with his inflamed adenoids. The inflammation went down when I switched his diet to no dairy and less gluten.
Depending on how severe your case is, medical professionals would recommend that you wean off of it so your body won’t go into shock. There are grocery stores that have a list of items that are all gluten free and now food that is gluten free has a symbol on the package or will just list GLUTEN FREE on the package. Also buy whole foods like organic fresh fruits and vegetables.
Can you instantly lose weight when going gluten free? The answer is no! For example, let’s say you stopped eating cereal, waffles, ice cream, pasta, etc with gluten but substituted it for food that was gluten free. The only thing missing is the gluten; you still have the carbs and sometimes the high sugar. Losing weight is more than going gluten free, it all depends on the foods you buy. If you simply eat more veggies and fruits, beans, nuts, etc. Work out and even watch what kind of gluten free foods you purchase then you will lose weight.
A good list to start off with when going gluten free is the following:
- Beans, seeds, nuts in their natural, unprocessed form
- Fresh eggs
- Fresh meats, fish and poultry (not breaded, batter-coated or marinated)
- Fruits and vegetables
- Most dairy products
Make sure that they are not processed or mixed with gluten-containing grains, additives or preservatives. Many grains and starches can be part of a gluten-free diet as well:
- Corn and cornmeal
- Gluten-free flours (rice, soy, corn, potato, bean)
- Hominy (corn)
- Rice (some rice has gluten so be careful and read the label)
Now the list you probably dread to read:
Avoid unless labeled ‘gluten-free’ In general, avoid the following foods unless they’re labeled as gluten-free or made with corn, rice, soy or other gluten-free grain:
- Cakes and pies
- Cookies and crackers
- French fries
- Imitation meat or seafood
- Processed luncheon meats
- Salad dressings
- Sauces, including soy sauce
- Seasoned rice mixes
- Seasoned snack foods, such as potato and tortilla chips
- Self-basting poultry
- Soups and soup bases
- Vegetables in sauce
Also be aware of food additives, such as malt flavoring, modified food starch and others, medications and vitamins that use gluten as a binding agent.
There are restaurants that have portions of their menus that are gluten free but be careful and ask if they make the gluten free food in a different pan and that they clean off the surface well. Cross contamination can occur and that can make you very ill if you can’t digest gluten. This can also happen at home as well. Clean the surface and pots very well. Cross-contamination can also occur during the manufacturing process, for example, if the same equipment is used to make a variety of products. Some food labels include a “may contain” statement if this is the case. But be aware that this type of statement is voluntary.
Check the actual ingredient list and if you’re not sure whether a food contains gluten, don’t buy it or check with the manufacturer first to ask what it contains. You can still eat a healthy and hearty diet without gluten. If you need further assistance consult with your doctor, dietician or nutritionist. Stay well and be healthy!