Gluten Free Diet

Some people, such as those who are sensitive to gluten, should adhere to a gluten free diet. Many individuals who follow the diet do so because of medical reasons such as those with Coeliac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis. Yet others may choose to follow the diet for personal reasons. Whatever the reason, the ultimate goal is to remove gluten from your diet.

A gluten free diet is one that avoids all foods containing wheat, rye, barley and oats. It is sometimes difficult to determine which foods are allowed on the diet as well as determining if a product contains gluten only by its name.

Obvious sources of gluten are items made from wheat, rye, oats and barley. Foods can also contain less obvious sources such as soy sauce, thickeners, starches, battered foods, crumbs, pastries, stuffings, canned or frozen vegetables in sauces, flavored tunas, meat pies, frozen dinners, tofu, soups, pasta, pizza, malted milk, ice cream, cheese mixtures, mustards, salad dressings, pickles, and BBQ.

Items that are safe to eat include fresh, frozen or canned vegetables with no sauce, fruit and vegetable juices, dried beans, chickpeas, lentils, split peas, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, fresh or smoked meats, fresh fruits, canned and frozen meats without sauce, bacon, ham, eggs, butter, margarine, oil, milk, cream, buttermilk, vinegar, tomato paste, tahini, gelatin, syrup, jam, honey, herbs, spices, water, tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, sherry, whisky, bourbon, vodka, rum, vermouth, tequila, and items labels as gluten free.

It is important to read the food labels for evidence of gluten. Many manufacturers are now making “gluten free” items.

If you are unsure whether a particular food is allowed, check with The Vegetarian Society or The Coeliac Society. Both societies keep an undated list of gluten free foods on their websites.

How It Works

The best way to manage gluten intolerance is with a gluten free diet. Gluten is a protein contained in grains such as wheat, rye, oats and barley. A diet containing no gluten allows the small intestines to heal. After recovery, the intestines can then assist in normal absorption of nutrients as waste passes through it. This is essential for the body to obtain all the vital nutrients it needs to sustain itself.

Benefits

A gluten free diet significantly helps those diagnosed with Coeliac disease. Individuals with Coeliac disease are sensitive to gluten due to gluten damaging the lining of the small intestines. The damage affects the absorption of food and causes weight loss, diarrhea, and iron deficiencies.

Many studies have found that a gluten free diet significantly decreases allergy symptoms among children.

Side Effects

A 1998 paper by Dr. Patricia Kane proposed that an excess of gluten had a significant link to autism in children. This study indicates the importance of gluten free or low gluten diet in children.

A gluten free diet is no doubt one of the most difficult diets to accept. The majority of the people partaking of a gluten-free diet are doing so for medical reasons. The best way to help you stay on this diet is ask for help from friends or family members and to seek assistance from a support group. Support groups offer a wealth of information and encouragement to help you manage your diet.