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Tips for Going Gluten-Free

Nowadays, “gluten-free” products are easier to find in grocery stores due to the increased demand by consumers. This may be the result of a health necessity or the latest trend in fad diets. Either way, the increased availability of products and education about gluten has been helpful to consumers with Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity.

Over 1% of the U.S. population (1 in 141 Americans)* has Celiac Disease – an immune reaction triggered by gluten that damages the lining of the small intestine (where most nutrients are absorbed). Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. There are no medications to treat it, so a gluten-free diet is the only way to manage Celiac Disease. Intestinal lining damage causes vitamin and mineral deficiencies, anemia, infertility, weak and brittle bones, and other serious health conditions.

To follow a gluten-free diet, it is important to understand which foods and ingredients to avoid. See below:

Foods to Avoid

GRAINS PROCESSED FOODS
Barley

Rye

Wheats including:
> Einkorn, emmer, spelt and kamut
> Wheat starch, wheat bran, wheat germ, cracked wheat and hydrolyzed wheat protein
> Plain flour, white flour, bromated flour, enriched flour, self-rising flour, durum flour, farina, semolina and graham flour

Triticale – cross between wheat & rye

Other cross-bred grains – containing barley, rye or wheat

Oats – unless labeled gluten-free

> Bouillon cubes
> Brown rice syrup
> Chips/potato chips
> Candy
> Cold cuts
> Hot dogs, salami, sausage
> Communion wafers
> French fries
> Gravy
> Imitation fish
> Matzo
> Rice mixes
> Sauces/marinades
> Seasoned tortilla chips
> Self-basting turkeys
> Soups
> Soy sauce
> Vegetables in sauce

Several grains and plant-based products can be used in place of wheat, rye, barley and their derivatives. There are also plenty of fresh foods that are naturally “gluten free.” See below:

Naturally Gluten-Free Foods

FRESH FOODS** GRAINS/PLANT SOURCES
> Fruits
> Vegetables
> Beef
> Poultry
> Fish
> Nuts
> Eggs
**Avoid marinades and seasonings already on these products as they might contain gluten.

> Amaranth
> Arrowroot
> Buckwheat
> Corn
> Flax
> Indian rice grass
> Lentils
> Millet
> Potato
> Quinoa
> Rice
> Sago
> Sorghum
> Soy
> Tapioca
> Teff
> Wild rice
> Yucca

The Pastabilities are Endless!

Try these ingredients as excellent alternatives for pasta-lovers.

> zucchini or eggplant Cut these vegetables into thin strips as a replacement for noodles in spaghetti or into wide ribbons to use as lasagna noodles.

> spaghetti squash Roasted and pulled apart with a fork, this is a great alternative to wheat-based spaghetti pastas.

> polenta This cornmeal favorite goes great with classic pasta toppings like marinara sauce.

> gluten-free pasta Gluten-free pastas are made of a rice and corn blend that tastes and feels just like regular pasta.

> quinoa This superfood is a great substitute for couscous because it’s similar in texture.

Many manufacturers are developing “gluten-free” products to provide an alternative to their standard versions. Read package labels closely to avoid gluten-containing ingredients and contamination at the processing facility. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer with questions.

By August 2014, products with a “gluten-free” label cannot have wheat, rye, barley or their derivatives as ingredients and must not contain more than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten from cross-contamination in harvesting or processing.

Debra Heverling

For more information on Celiac Disease, gluten-free diets, and related topics:
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) – http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/celiac/index.aspx#examples
National Foundation for Celiac Awareness – http://www.celiaccentral.org/
Celiac Disease Foundation – http://celiac.org/
American Celiac Disease Alliance – http://americanceliac.org/
Always consult your physician or a registered dietitian regarding personal health needs, as this information and these resources do not constitute medical advice.
*Rubio-Tapia A, Ludvigsson JF, Brantner TL, Murray JA, Everhart JE. The prevalence of celiac disease in the United States. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2012;107:1538–1544.