What Can You Eat on a Gluten-Free Diet?
Adopting a gluten-free diet is important if having trouble digesting gluten. Find out which foods to enjoy and avoid to ease your next grocery store trip!
Identifying foods high in gluten is important if having trouble digesting gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains. This includes people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. People with a wheat allergy can also benefit from a gluten-free diet.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which the body perceives gluten as harmful, attacks itself, and damages the small intestine. Ongoing and chronic damage to the lining can lead to a host of health concerns such as nutrient deficiencies.
Signs and symptoms of celiac disease may vary between children and adults. However, shared indicators of celiac disease mostly impact the digestive system and likely causes:
• Abdominal pain and bloating
• Nausea and vomiting
It is critical to consult with a healthcare professional if experiencing any of the above symptoms for a potential celiac diagnosis. If experiencing signs and do not test positive for celiac disease, individuals may identify themselves with a gluten sensitivity or intolerance.
Without proper management, people with celiac disease are at risk of a number of health conditions. Serious and long-term consequences include nutrient deficiencies, osteoporosis, and anemia. Children can have developmental delays and stunted growth.
But what is gluten and which foods are high in gluten? Learn the basics of which foods to avoid and eat for a successful gluten-free diet!
Foods to Avoid With Gluten
Gluten is a protein found in a variety of grains. It helps food maintain their shape and acts as the glue to hold food together. When it comes to eating gluten-free, whole grains are mostly of concern.
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, gluten-containing grains and their derivatives include:
• Varieties and derivatives of wheat, including durum, einkorn, emmer, farina, farro, graham, semolina, spelt, and wheat berries
• Malt in various forms, such as malted barley flour, extract, and syrup
• Brewer's yeast
• Wheat starch
In addition to avoiding these gluten-containing grains in their whole form, steer clear of their byproducts. This often includes processed foods prepared with wheat flour and other gluten-containing ingredients, including:
• Pastas and noodles: ravioli, ramen, couscous, udon, soba egg noodles
• Breads and tortillas: croissants, naan, bagels, flatbreads, cornbread, flour tortillas, breadcrumbs, rolls
• Crackers and chips: pretzels, graham crackers, Wheat Thins, multi-grained chips
• Baked goods and pastries: donuts, cakes, cookies, pie crusts, brownies
• Cereals: granolas, breakfast cereals, oats*
• Breakfast foods: pancakes and waffle mixes, French toast, biscuits
• Sauces and gravies: soy sauce, cream sauces made with a roux
• Soups: especially cream-based soups that use flour as a thickening agent
• Salad dressings and marinades: especially if including malt vinegar
• Granola and protein bars
• Meats: meat substitutes, lunch, and pre-seasoned meats
• Malted beverages: beers, ales, lagers, malt milkshakes
• Candy and candy bars
*Though oats are generally considered safe, they are often manufactured in food plants that also process wheat. This can subsequently increase the risk of cross-contamination.
Aside from the recognizable sources of gluten, sauces, dressings, marinades, and other products may contain hidden gluten. Cosmetics and medications are also unlikely culprits.
Naturally Gluten-Free Foods
With gluten found in a wide variety of products, tackling a gluten-free diet may seem intimidating and overwhelming. However, eating gluten-free can be achievable and simple with this gluten-free food list that is also rich in nutrients.
Though wheat, barley, rye, and their products should be avoided, there are grains naturally gluten-free. They are often used to make gluten-free bread, pasta, and other products often using gluten-containing grains.
Some of the most popular gluten-free grains include:
• Rice: All plain rice is gluten-free including white, brown, wild, long-grained, and basmati rice. However, most flavored rice and vinegar-based sushi rice contain gluten ingredients.
• Oats: Though oats are naturally gluten-free, oats are commonly manufactured with the same equipment as gluten-containing cereals. Prevent cross-contamination risk by checking if the product is labeled "gluten-free".
• Corn: This whole grain in all forms is absent of gluten - cornmeal, corn flour, corn starch, etc. It is most important to be mindful of the ingredients added with corn.
• Other: There are a number of whole grains that are naturally free of gluten, including amaranth, buckwheat, and millet.
Along with gluten-free grains, the foods below are considered safe on a gluten-free diet and nutritious components of a well-balanced diet.
Fruits & Vegetables
Fresh fruits and veggies are encouraged not only for optimizing health but on a gluten-free diet. So enjoy all the nutritious, colorful produce the market has to offer such as apples, bananas, oranges, berries, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, etc.
Just be cautious of packaged veggies and fruits prepared with a sauce or other ingredients, as gluten may be present.
Beans and Legumes
Beans, lentils, peanuts, and other legumes are free of gluten while offering plant-based protein and fiber.
Meat and Poultry
Chicken, turkey, sirloin, and eggs are lean protein sources to include in a gluten-free diet.
Breaded chicken breasts and similar products may contain gluten, so be sure to look at the label in detail.
Fish and Seafood
From tuna to shrimp, fish and seafood varieties are naturally free of gluten. They are also ample sources of protein and healthy fats.
Like meat and poultry products, be cautious of battered and breaded fish that may contain gluten.
Nuts & Seeds
Walnuts, pecans, flax seeds, and other nut and seed assortments are free of gluten. Nut meals make a great alternative to gluten-based flours.
Safe Dairy Products
Milk, butter, and real cheese do not naturally contain gluten. Flavored dairy products, including yogurts and ice creams, should be yielded with caution.
Soy and soybean products are naturally gluten-free. They are also an excellent source of protein, iron, and calcium.
Produced from the cassava root, tapioca is actually not a grain at all and coined as naturally gluten-free. But like oats, tapioca has a high risk of cross-contamination so should be used with caution.
Other Gluten-Free Diet Considerations
The protein can also be transferred into foods via cross-contamination and found in products beyond high-gluten foods.
Beware of Cross-Contamination
Like oats, naturally gluten-free foods can become contaminated through cross-contact. This often occurs when sharing utensils, cooking and storing environments.
Common places where cross-contact can occur include toasters, fryers, and cutting boards. Other foods that can be contaminated easily include foods include pizza, French fries, and baked goods.
Think Outside of Gluten Foods
There are numerous non-food sources that may contain gluten, including nutritional and herbal supplements, medications, and cosmetics. Always consult with a healthcare professional and read labels before taking any sort of questionable product.
Ultimately, verify whether or not gluten is present by taking advantage of food product labels. Also, ask the chefs or servers about gluten-free options when eating out. If skeptical of a food, skip out on it to lower the risk of gluten intake.
A Registered Dietitian can also help create an individualized plan to ensure nutritional needs are being met while eliminating gluten.
A Gluten-Free Diet Made Simple and Delicious
While gluten widespread in the food supply, going gluten-free requires attention of food labels and cross-contamination. Successful elimination in itself may come with substantial pressure. Add on the desire of weight loss whilst ensuring adequate nutrient intake, stress may only be exacerbated.
Effectively following a nutritious, gluten-free diet will come easy and naturally with bistroMD's Gluten-Free Program. By entrusting in bistroMD, members receive a custom program sure to be devoid of gluten. All meals are tested to the Food and Drug Administration gluten-free standard, or 20 parts per million (ppm) or less.
BistroMD takes care of all the work, including grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning! Gluten-free meals are also created with fresh and all natural ingredients that arrive directly to doorsteps. Members can also consult with dietitian and receive one-on-one support via email, phone, and online chat.