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Diet Diva

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Should You Be Gluten Free?

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One of the big nutrition trends right now is that of eating gluten-free, but where did all the hype come from? Gluten free diets are for those that have an autoimmune disorder known as Celiac Disease, meaning that they are allergic to gluten. Gluten is a byproduct of wheat and therefore found in many foods. People who have celiac disease may experience abdominal pain and gas after eating a gluten-containing food. When a gluten reaction occurs, nutrient absorption decreases. This, in turn, can cause vitamin deficiencies and lead to serious illness.

Gluten free diets are not weight loss diets, and don’t need to be followed except by those who are allergic or sensitive to gluten. For those of you who are, there are still many delicious and interesting foods that you can eat to live a normal and healthy life!

Foods to Avoid

To start, be aware of the foods that you should avoid. Gluten is found in any products containing any form of wheat, barley, or rye. It also can be added to foods that are naturally free of gluten, so be aware of the cooking methods used to prepare foods when you’re eating out, and try to prepare foods yourself as often as possible. Gluten is most commonly found in foods such as:

  • Bread   
  • Cereal
  • Crackers                                                              
  • Pasta
  • Gravies
  • Sauces
  • Cookies
  • Cakes/pastries
  • Waffles/pancakes
  • Beer
  • Oats (may be contaminated with gluten)
  • Fried or breaded foods

Be aware of added ingredients, and cross contamination as well!

Gluten-Free Food Options

Now that we have the basic foods that should be avoided, let’s get to the good part, the foods you can eat! Any fruits, vegetables, and meats that are in their natural state are safe to eat, as well as the following:

  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Most dairy products
  • Gluten free flours: Soy, rice, corn, potato, almond,
  • Eggs
  • Cheese (except for bleu)
  • Flaxseed
  • Millet
  • Polenta
  • Teff
  • Amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa (but these may be contaminated depending on preparation—so check package labeling carefully!)
  • Wine (always check with brand before drinking)

Besides this list of acceptable foods, there are also many brands that make gluten free versions of your favorite foods. Some great brands include: Ener-G, Food for Life, Glutino, Bob’s Red Mill, Udi’s, Gluten Free Pantry, Bakery on Main, Pamela’s Products and much more. Many stores also offer gluten-free aisles for easy convenience!

Many websites and cookbooks now offer delicious recipes that are gluten-free, healthy and so tasty that you won’t be able to tell the difference. Try out your favorite recipes and find what works best for you.  The best book I have found on the subject is The Gluten Free Diet:  A Comprehensive Resource Guide [http://www.glutenfreediet.ca/] by Shelley Case, RD.

If you think you may have celiac disease, see a doctor and get tested so that you can be on your way to recovery. Meet with a dietitian or health provider for a complete guide to living a gluten-free, healthy and happy life. 

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Tags: Nutrition Trends , Whole Grains

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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