A Quick Guide to Gluten-Free Eating

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This post is part of our series focusing on restricted diets from Beth of Tasty Yummies.

Maybe you are new to a strictly gluten-free diet (due to Celiac disease, a gluten intolerance or another medical/health reason), or perhaps you are looking to simply cut back or eliminate some gluten from your diet. Maybe you are being a really good pal, looking to learn more and find options for a friend or family member that is gluten-free. No matter what the reason, this simple overview of a gluten-free diet is meant to be used as a safe and quick tool while you are doing your own research on specific products and what you can and cannot tolerate (even within these “allowed” foods). Gluten is the generic term for specific proteins found in common cereal grains wheat, barley, rye, commercial oats* and things that derive from them.  It isn’t necessarily as definitive as this list, as everyone’s intolerance is a bit different and gluten can always be hiding places. There are some very detailed and comprehensive lists available online that I urge you to check out, like this one from Celiac.com that lists specific unsafe ingredients that can be found in various forms, that contain gluten. Celiac.org also has many great resources in the form of lists, printable brochures, guides and more.

At the start, a gluten-free diet may be challenging and quite frustrating. With some research, time, patience and creativity, you’ll discover there are many foods you have already been eating that are gluten-free and you will find substitutes for gluten-containing foods that you can enjoy. Check out my post Restricted Diets: Focus On What You CAN Eat, Not What You Can’t and be sure to browse my many recipes here on the Free People blog or over on my website Tasty-Yummies.com, all of which are gluten-free.

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ALWAYS AVOID ON A GLUTEN-FREE DIET:

Wheat (einkorn, durum, farro, graham, kamut, semolina, spelt)
Rye
Barley (malt, malt flavoring and malt vinegar are usually made from barley)
Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
Commercial oats contain gluten due to cross contamination in processing, only eat certified GF oats

Wheat goes by many names – other wheat products to avoid:

Bulgur
Durum flour
Farina
Graham flour
Kamut
Semolina
Spelt

SAFE FOODS ON A GLUTEN-FREE DIET:

Alternative flours, grains, starches and thickeners that are inherently safe for celiac, gluten intolerance and wheat allergies include:

Rice (white, brown, basmatic, jasmine, wild, risotto, sticky rice, rice cereal)
Corn (maize) (grits, polenta, cornmeal)
Potato, potato starch, potato flour
Tapioca and tapioca starch
Bean flours (chickpea, garbanzo, soy, fava, garfava)
Sorghum
Quinoa, quinoa flour and cereal flakes
Millet and millet flour
Rice flour
Buckwheat
Arrowroot starch
Amaranth
Certified gluten-free oats and oatmeal*
Teff
Montina
Cornstarch (corn flour)
Flax
Nut flours (almond, chestnut, pecan, cashew, macadamia)
Coconut flour

*Oats are naturally gluten-free and might be OK but please note when purchasing your oats, please make sure to choose packages that say “gluten-free”, as most commercial oats are contaminated with wheat when they are grown in the fields or from cross contamination in the processing plant. Some folks that are gluten-free don’t eat any oats, as they cannot tolerate them. Research indicates that pure, uncontaminated oats consumed in moderation (up to 1/2 cup dry oats daily) are tolerated by most celiacs. Everyone is different so please only eat them if you know you can tolerate then and consult with your physician or specialist before including in your regular diet.

Labels that clearly declare a complete list of ingredients are usually safest. You must read labels each and every time foods are purchased, as manufacturers can change ingredients at any time. As of 2006, wheat used in products will be identified on the label. Additionally, you may verify ingredients by calling or writing a food manufacturer and specifying the ingredients and the lot number of the food in question. State your needs clearly – be patient, persistent and polite.

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WHAT ABOUT ALCOHOL?

Distilled alcoholic beverages and vinegars are gluten-free. Distilled products do not contain any harmful gluten peptides. Research indicates that the gluten peptide is too large to carry over in the distillation process. This process leaves the resultant liquid gluten-free.  Wines and hard liquor/distilled beverages are gluten-free. Beers, ales, lagers and malt vinegars that are made from gluten-containing grains are not distilled and, therefore, are not gluten-free. There are many great gluten-free beers available.

FOODS THAT ARE NATURALLY GLUTEN-FREE:

Fruits and vegetables
Beans, seeds, nuts in their natural, unprocessed form
Fresh eggs
Fresh meats, fish and poultry (not breaded, batter-coated or marinated)
Most dairy products

GLUTEN LIKES TO HIDE: Always Read Labels. Don’t be afraid to call the manufacturer if you are unsure.

Products to be careful of where gluten can be hiding: broth, bouillon, beers, ales, lager, breading & coating mixes, energy bars, syrups, communion wafers, french fries, croutons, dressings, drugs & over-the-counter medications, modified food starch, ice cream and frozen desserts, flour & cereal products, herbal supplements, imitation bacon (and other fake meats), veggie burgers, imitation seafood, marinades, nutritional supplements & vitamins, pastas, flavored vinegars, chocolate, candy, processed deli meats, sauces & gravies, hot dogs and vegan hot dogs, spice blends, self-basting poultry, soy sauce or soy sauce marinades, soups and soup bases, stuffings, thickeners (Roux), confectioner’s and brown sugar, herbal teas (watch for barley), jerky.

*Please remember that even the words “gluten-free” on a label do not always insure 100% gluten-free, due to cross contamination. Be cautious and be vigilant. Call companies and manufacturers, ask for detailed information or testing.

REMEMBER WHEN IN DOUBT, GO WITHOUT! IT IS NEVER WORTH IT!

When you are unable to verify ingredients or the ingredient list for a food is unavailable – DO NOT EAT IT!!  No matter the amount consumed, it is not worth affecting your immune system nor is it worth the damage that will surely be done to the small intestines as a result, every time gluten is eaten. Whether or not symptoms or signs are present, it may be happening.

To see some of Beth’s awesome gluten-free recipes visit her blog Tasty Yummies!

More healthy recipes from the BLDG 25 Blog.

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Comments

Andrea -April 11, 2013, 10:07AM

I am currently on day 2 of my 14 day gluten free diet to determine whether or not I have an intolerance/celiac disease. This was SO helpful!!! It’s crazy how many items gluten can actually be hiding in. I am excited to check out your blog and try some recipes. Thank you!!!

Beth @ Tasty Yummies -April 11, 2013, 1:57PM

PLEASE NOTE: my website server is experiencing issues on the hosting co’s side of things. If you visit http://www.tasty-yummies.com and it doesn’t load, I apologize. Please try back later, it should be up and running soon enough! Thanks so much

Jasmine -April 11, 2013, 7:06PM

I’ve been eating gluten-free and dairy-free for a little more than two years now due to a medical problem. It started off being really hard, since I’m only 13, and I missed all of the favorites I had to leave behind. But after a while the cravings went away – I didn’t even want it anymore. This is a really helpful list for anyone who wants to start a gluten-free diet or to help maintain an already existing one. Don’t give up! I promise it gets easier.

BEVERLY MILLEY -April 11, 2013, 7:31PM

BEVERLY APRIL 11,2013

I HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING YOUR E MAILS FOR SEVERAL MONTHS NOW I HAVE BEEN GLUTEN FREE FOR ALMOST 2 YEARS NOW AFTER BEING SICK FOR SUCH A LONG TIME AND NOBODY COULD TELL ME WHY. I THINK I HAVE FINALLY GOT IT UNDER CONTROL BUT STILL EVERY DAY IS A NEW THING AND LEARNING SOMETHING ELSE . MY HOUSE IS GLUTEN FREE . AND NOW I AM GETTING HOUSE GUEST FAMILY MEMBERS ARE COMING FOR VACATION SINCE I LIVE IN GA. I AM SO SCARED THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I WILL BE HAVING PEOPLE STAY WITH ME SINCE I HAVE GONE GLUTEN FREE. IT IS HARD YOU KNOW THAT BUT I DON’T EVER WANT TO GO BACK TO THE PLACE IN MY LIFE WITH BEING SICK AND TAKEN TO THE HOSPITAL EMERGENCY EVERY TIME I ATE SOMETHING I WASN’T SUPPOSE IT. I NEVER KNEW GLUTEN WAS IN ALMOST EVERYTHING EVEN MY DOGS ARE GLUTEN FREE NOW. THANKS FOR ALL YOUR HELP ALONG THE WAY. KEEP ALL RECIPES COMING I AM GRATEFUL THANK YOU

Debbie -April 12, 2013, 11:44AM

I have been dairy free for 9 years because whenever I ate dairy I felt like I was going through child birth for 4-6 hours of intense labor (pushing). Even though cutting dairy helped immensely with my gut, I was still having issues. Two years ago I cut out gluten and am doing much better. The only time I really get a bout with my tummy, is when we dine out. Especially during travel. Love the Tasty Yummies blog and emails from Beth. Thanks for contributing what you do.

Rin -April 15, 2013, 3:41AM

I have been gluten free for about 2 years now. I have been sick for most of my life and the doctors didn’t know why until i took an allergy test! I already knew that i was lactose intolerant but that just runs in the family. The gluten allergy i got from my dads side as well as lactose intolerance again runs in the family. I live in Japan and i find it very challenging but these post really give me options and informative as well. I have been looking online to make a gluten and dairy free cookie. If you have any ideas? I don’t see it as a burden much now, when i see bread it looks like poison. but i do miss cookies.
this post is very helpful! Thank you and keep them coming please!

Erica -April 24, 2013, 12:33AM

This is such a great description of gf. I’ve been gf for over 2 years now due to celiac diagnosis. There are so many incorrect articles and blogs about the diet that its great to read one that is actually helpful and accurate.

Scott lowe -July 31, 2013, 6:52PM

I stopped eating bread a month ago and fish in batter, i was feelin sick and bloated. I love toast and Kippers. Started on Gluten free Bread. OMG no more pain, WOOOOOO

healthy dog treats uk -December 27, 2013, 5:58PM

You have made some really good points there. I checked on the net
for additional information about the issue and found most individuals will go along
with your views on this site.

Sue -October 2, 2014, 11:12AM

My daughter is 16 and was diagnosed with celiac disease 5 years ago when she was 11. The only symptom of celiac she had was cuts on her face and hands. Her brother was diagnosed and therefore the entire family was tested and my daughter tested positive. A endoscopy was performed and confirmed she had celiac disease. She has been eating gluten free since diagnosed. The other weej she had potatoe pancakes thinking it was only made with potatoes but found out after she ate it that is was made with flour. We waited for her to get sick and nothing. Not even a stomach ache. A few days later she ate something else that had wheat and no problems, pains or issues. Could she have been misdiagnosed? Could she have grown out of being celiac disease? Should I let her eat wheat? I’m thinking of taking her to a different doctor than the one who diagnosed her but would hate to have another endoscopy done. Please let me know if anything like this has happened to anyone. Thank you

Reva -October 5, 2014, 1:06PM

Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the images on this blog
loading? I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
Any responses would be greatly appreciated.

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