Your One-stop Guide to a Gluten-free Diet!

20 Aug
2014
By Amelia Smith

A gluten-free diet is one that excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). No one can thinks of even compromising with the regular food they eat. Basically, we eat foods that contain gluten, which is regarded as a protein composite and is mainly found in wheat and related gains including rye and barley. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, which helps it rise and gives the bread a chewy texture. It is composed of two different proteins: gliadin protein and glutenin protein. Moreover, the related grains of wheat like barley and rye also contain protein composites such as prolamins and glutenin.

You may find gluten in many foods and the list of foods containing gluten is a long one:

  • Grains – Grains which contain gluten in their natural form include wheat, barley (including barley malt), kamut, orzo, bulgur, semolina, spelt, and farina.
  • Pastas – Different types of pasta such as macaroni, spaghetti, rigatoni. Pasta is made of wheat, semolina, and farina, which contain gluten.
  • Baked goods – It is a known fact that most processed baked goods are made from wheat, which contain gluten. These include cakes, breads, bread crumbs, pastries, sandwich buns, hot-dog buns, cupcakes, tortillas, pizza crust, and pie crust, cereals made from rye, wheat, bran, and barley.
  • Meat and poultry – In their natural state, meat and poultry are gluten free, but the processing and cooking of these products adds gluten. Meat and poultry products that contain gluten include breaded meat or chicken, and oven or deep fried meats.
  • Other products – Basically, the list is too long for the products containing gluten, but some other products that contain gluten include beer, tabbouli, gravies, sauces, candies, bouillon cubes, frozen or canned vegetables in sauce, potato and tortilla chips, canned soup and broth, restaurant or fast food French fries.

Is gluten really bad for health?

Every research has its own opinion, some say that it isn’t necessarily bad, but some say that it is bad for people who have gluten-intolerance. It means that the bodies of gluten allergic people produce an abnormal immune response during digestion. Basically, the most known form of gluten intolerance is celiac disease, which affects an estimated 1% of Americans. Celiac disease is a condition which causes an abnormal response to gluten, thereby damaging the lining of the small intestine. This condition prevents the absorption of important nutrients by the body.

Diarrhea, anemia, a severe skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis, and bone pain are common symptoms of celiac disease. In cases of gluten intolerance, doctors recommend the patients to go on a gluten-free diet. Doctors prescribe the patients with a list of foods and ingredients that contains gluten, including bread, French fries, pastas, salad dressing, pizzas, soy sauce, beer, some soups, and many others (unless otherwise marked as “gluten-free”).

Gluten-free Diet

What is a gluten-free diet?

A gluten-free diet excludes the protein gluten from the diet. Basically, gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten-free diet is recommended by the doctor because gluten protein in foods causes inflammation in the small intestines of people with celiac disease and the gluten protein-free diet is used to treat celiac disease.

Variegated researches and studies have stated that in recent years, many people are thinking to switch to gluten-free diets. But, experts have already shown worry signs, that going on or switching to gluten-free diets without explicitly could cause problems to a person’s health, as these are nutrient-deficient.

Generally, gluten-free diets help people who are sensitive to gluten. A number of researches performed around the parts of the world have stated in their studies that it is only a perception of people that gluten-free diet helps in weight loss. It’s true that people lose weight when they stop eating pizzas, pastas, and breads. But, gluten products are high glycemic-index foods, including cakes, cookies, and muffins. So, if you are planning to lose weight, then seek a consultation with your doctor or nutritionist for right diet to follow.

Many specialty grocery stores sell gluten-free foods and products. Moreover, if you’re thinking of starting a gluten-free diet, then it’s necessary for you to consult a dietitian or nutritionist who can answer your questions and offer advice about what to eat and what not to.

What comprises a gluten-free diet?

Switching to gluten-free diet may be difficult for people. Start eating the right variety of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products (do not have gluten containing additives), nuts, and lean meat, beans, eggs, poultry, and fish to stay gluten-free. Some other gluten-free foods, which may become the part of your diet include:

  • Gluten-free flours (rice, soy, corn, potato, bean)
  • Hominy (corn)
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Corn and cornmeal
  • Rice
  • Arrowroot
  • Flax
  • Buckwheat
  • Soy
  • Tapioca

Before jumping to these foods, it’s very important to make sure that the above mentioned foods are not processed or mixed with gluten-containing grains, additives or preservatives.

Gluten-free recipes:

You can prepare healthy and delicious meals and snacks even when you’re on gluten-free diets. Below are some examples of gluten-free meals that you can enjoy throughout the day:

Gluten-free recipes

Breakfast:

  • You can have gluten-free bread in your breakfast with peanut butter along with a small bowl of fresh berries. As you have already read above that wheat is the main ingredient in processing of bread, which contributes to the elasticity of dough. But, gluten-free bread is made with ground flours and a variety of healthy materials such as almonds, rice (rice bread), corn (cornbread), sorghum (sorghum bread), or legumes such as beans (bean bread). For maintaining the health it is important to wash out the image of fluffiness and shape.
  • You can also have an omelet with 2 eggs along with gluten-free bread, sautéed mushrooms, onions, peppers, and reduced-fat cheese.

Lunch:

  • You can have tuna salad made with light mayo, chopped carrots, and chopped celery. To make it tastier and healthier, serve tuna salad on gluten-free crackers or wrapped in large lettuce leaves to make lettuce wraps.
  • Prepare chicken and cheese quesadilla fixed on a pure corn tortilla with a side of pinto beans.

Dinner:

  • You can have rice noodles topped with sauteed vegetables and tofu
  • Baked chicken breast with corn, and cooked broccoli seasoned with lemon juice and freshly ground pepper
  • Tacos made with pure corn tortillas filled with lean ground beef, tomatoes, black beans, and reduced-fat cheese
  • Grilled salmon filet with wild rice and a side salad (with gluten-free dressing)

 

Gluten-free desserts:

To conclude your gluten-free day, it must be with gluten-free dessert. This seems like a mouth watering option, and yes it is. There are a variety of gluten-free deserts that you can eat after dinner. These include:

  • Apple cake with cranberries
  • Banana-blueberry muffin cake
  • Coffee biscuits with chocolate chips
  • Brownies

Going the gluten way means cutting down bread and wheat preparations from your meal. Cakes, pies, all kinds of alcoholic beverages, pastas, oily food like french fries and burgers should be completely slashed from your diet. If you’re not completely sure about what foods come under the gluten-free category, consult a dietitian or doctor for the best advice.

If you found this article helpful, then please share it with your friends and family. Also, post comments in case you have any health queries.

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Amelia Smith

Nutritionist, herbalist, health and medicine writer and yoga enthusiast, Amelia Smith, is a professional in the health, nutrition and diet industry.

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