Gluten intolerance, also known as Celiac Disease, affects around one in every hundred Americans. You may suffer from it yourself, or know someone who does. Understanding the problem and learning to live with a gluten free diet can be challenging. Perhaps our diet tips and information will make it a little easier!
What is Gluten Intolerance?
A person is deemed gluten intolerant when their immune system reacts negatively to gluten, the protein found in barley, wheat and rye. When a gluten intolerant person digests gluten, the body produces antibodies to attack the gluten. It may cause damage to the intestines and can prevent the body from properly digesting other essential nutrients.
The internal inflammation triggered by eating foods containing gluten may cause severe bloating, nausea, gas and stomach cramps in anyone who is gluten intolerant. Some people have no internal symptoms but the resulting poor absorption of nutrients leads to tiredness, hair loss and malnutrition. The only treatment for gluten intolerance is to adopt a totally gluten free diet.
What You Can Eat on a Gluten Free Diet
Anyone forced to adopt a gluten free diet will quickly find that there are many foods that contain gluten. Bread, pasta, pizza bases, thickened sauces and soups, cookies, cakes, ice cream, canned and cured meats, condiments, breadcrumbs and spice blends…the list is depressingly long.
It’s easier to focus on what food groups you CAN eat on a gluten free diet. You can freely enjoy as much as you like of the following healthy gluten free foods:
- Fresh fruit
- Non-processed meats, chicken and fish
- Natural dairy products, milk and unprocessed cheeses
- Grains and cereals such as corn, rice, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth and millet
How to Live a Gluten Free Lifestyle
As gluten intolerance affects around 3 million Americans, the food industry has developed a whole range of gluten-free foods to add to the above list of gluten-free staples. You’ll find gluten free bagels, muffins, pancakes, bread, doughnuts and desserts in most supermarkets and health-food stores.
Treat yourself to a cookbook of gluten-free recipes and search for websites with more information on adopting a gluten free lifestyle. Pinterest is a good way to source gluten free meal ideas or try these tasty gluten free recipes as part of your new gluten free diet.
Read the Label
It’s important to understand that if you are gluten intolerant you can’t just reduce gluten intake, you must completely eliminate gluten to avoid serious damage to your health. Unfortunately, gluten is found in makeup, beer and in many ready meals. However, when dining out, most chain restaurants offer gluten free options.
If a product does not specifically say it is gluten free, you need to check the label for hidden gluten in words such as:
- Licorice (made from wheat flour)
- Hydrolyzed wheat protein
- Malt products
Although a gluten free diet may have been forced upon you by circumstance, embrace the opportunity it brings and establish a new healthier lifestyle for yourself and your whole family.