A gluten-free diet is mainly for people who suffer from celiac disease. People with this disease must avoid eating foods containing the protein gluten, which is found in barley, wheat, rye, and triticale (a cross between rye and wheat). Eating foods containing gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines. This is not only painful, but also has the potential to be life-threatening.
Some individuals feel avoiding foods with gluten makes them feel better, which is another reason to switch to a gluten-free diet. You don’t have to rush out and purchase the latest and greatest gluten-free items, there are plenty of less costly substitutions. Be forewarned though, some alternate grains are often mixed with wheat or barley, so read the label carefully!
Naturally Gluten-free Foods
There is a large variety of beans available in the grocery store nowadays. Some of them are more expensive than others, but they are all equally good and good for you. They can be mixed with rice for a great source of protein. You can mash them up and spread them on a corn tortilla. Check the label though! Sometimes corn tortillas are mixed with wheat flour.
Seeds & Nuts
Sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds are examples of great fillers to use for your own trail mix. They make excellent snacks.
These are another source of protein that can be eaten any time of day and in a number of ways. You can make them scrambled, fried, baked, poached, over-easy, sunny-side up, or in an omelet with veggies. They take on any flavor you give them; sweet, savory, salty, you name it!
Meat, Poultry & Fish
Fresh meat is the best. You have to watch out for some frozen meat products, because there is a possibility that bread crumbs have been added to it. Frozen meatballs are notorious for having bread crumbs in them. Some frozen meats are flavored with spices, which might have wheat mixed with them. A lot of seasoning packets have wheat flour in them. Even soy sauce contains wheat, so read those labels closely.
Fruits & Vegetables
If you haven’t been a huge fruit and veggie eater, you might want to start. They will add variety, vitamins, and minerals to your diet. I love carrots and apples with peanut butter on them. These snacks are gluten-free and filling too. Don’t forget that fruit makes for a yummy dessert too!
As long as you aren’t also lactose intolerant, dairy can be your friend in a gluten-free diet. Yogurt with some seeds sprinkled on top for breakfast, cottage cheese with diced red pepper and cucumber for a snack, slices of cheese with fresh fruit, or a chocolate shake are all delicious options.
Lots of grains are gluten-free and many are used to create pasta, bread, crackers, chips, and loads of other great foods that don’t contain gluten. These grains include; flax, corn, hominy, amaranth, buckwheat, arrowroot, soy, tapioca, rice, quinoa, teff, and millet. Gluten-free flours can be purchased so you can make your own baked goods. These are generally made from beans, potatoes, rice, corn, or soy.
Words to Look for on Labels
Not all packaged food will be labeled with the words “wheat”, “rye”, or “barley”. There are a number of wheat products to look out for too. These include; spelt, semolina, farina, bulgar, durum flour, kamut, and graham flour. Not all oat-based products are gluten-free either, so double check the fine print. Today, most gluten-free products are labeled as such. If you are ever in doubt, look for the words “gluten-free” on the package before buying, just to be safe.
You can grow your own gluten-free vegetables even in a small space. Find out more in
Some Surprising Foods with Gluten
Any number of items can contain gluten; ones you’ve probably never even considered. Beer was a shocker to me, until I thought about it…oh, yeah, some beer is made from wheat! Watch for the “gluten-free” label for sure on that one. Some candies aren’t gluten-free, because they have a cookie base or crispy wafer inside them. Gravy mixes are generally based on wheat flour, but sometimes they contain corn starch as a thickener instead. Imitation meat or seafood tend to be wheat-based too. I already mentioned soy sauce, but there are others as well, such as Teriyaki sauce, and many Asian sauces. Soup mixes and pre-made bases can be gluten carriers as well. In short, closely read the labels of foods you buy and look for the gluten-free label to be safe.
Do you have any tips on other products to watch out for or ways to monitor what you eat?
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