Lately, there has been a lot of press about going/being gluten free. Although some people believe that being gluten free is a fad, from my clinical experience and from the science, gluten sensitivity is a real health concern for some people, myself included. I know that I feel my best when I eliminate all gluten from my diet. It seems that for some people eating gluten activates their immune system in a bad way, and that activation causes a whole host of problems.
So should everyone be gluten free? I don't think so. Some of the negative press about gluten comes from people using gluten free diets as a way to loose weight. If you are truly gluten sensitive you can loose weight, since you will be lowering the inflammatory response of your body.
However, there is a buyer beware caution here since a lot of gluten free products are full of sugar to make it taste better, and it is these products that can cause you unwanted weight gain.
Who should be gluten free?
If you are curious how you do feel when you are eating gluten, remove it from your diet for 6 weeks and see how you feel. Here are a few conditions that should be considered when trying to eliminate gluten:
Ready to get rid of gluten from your diet? Check out these tips below!
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a group of proteins most notably found in wheat, but also present in a number of other common grains (technically any grain from the triticae family is high in gluten). Gluten is chiefly composed to proteins gliadin and glutenin. It is the substance that makes the bread chewy and elastic.
Where is Gluten found in common grain foods?
Oats - not directly but often can cause issues from where oats are processed, although some new science shows that about 16% of people who are sensitive to gluten are also cross-sensative to a protein in oats called avenin. So if you suspect you are sensitive to gluten, you may have to remove oats as well if you are still having issues.
Read labels: Gluten may be hiding in unexpected places!
Here are some of the places you would not expect to find gluten:
Alcoholic beverages - Sorry! But, beer often has gluten and you also need to be careful for certain vodkas, whiskeys and more! Clear alcohols from sugar cane and the agave plant, rum and tequila respectively, are almost always gluten free.
Cold cuts - Gluten is often mixed in with the preservation ingredients.
Soy sauce - Many soy sauces use wheat as a thickening agent. Look for rice based soy sauces which are gluten free.
Supplements - Yes some vitamins you get at the health food contain gluten. Especially be careful with liquids and tablets. Always check the label!
Caramel colouring - It might look good but caramel colouring often uses barley malt.
Coffee - This one is hotly debated but some coffee (mainly instant) can be cross contaminated and cause cross reactivity with gluten. Some flavourings also use malt = gluten.
Salad dressing - Like soy sauce, gluten can be used as a thickening agent.
Ice cream - Wheat flour is often added to prevent ice from forming.
Candy and gum - Gluten can be hiding in the glucose syrup used to sweeten these items.
Toothpaste, lip gloss, stamps and glue!
Alternative (sneaky) names for gluten:
Often, food packaging will often state if the product contains gluten. However, this is not always the case and there are a number of ingredients that contain hidden gluten. When reading food labels people who are on a gluten-free diet must look out for the following:
Modified food starch
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein - HVP
Hydrolyzed plant protein - HPP
Texturized vegetable protein - TVP
All purpose flour
If it doesn’t boldly say “gluten free” then it mostly likely isn’t.
How to avoid gluten? Consider Gluten Free Grains
Rice: white, red, brown, long grained, basmati, wild
Quinoa: This is a nutty, rice-like grain from South America that can be used as a substitute in any rice, couscous and some pasta recipes. It takes a couple of tries to get used to it, but a little goes a long way.
Corn: Not only can you eat corn, but you can eat anything made from corn flour and you can substitute cornstarch for wheat flour in gravy recipes.
Millet: Considered one of the first cultivated grains, let alone being one of the gluten free grains. This is cheap and plentiful.
Buckwheat: Despite the name, buckwheat does not contain wheat, so it’s on the gluten free grains list. Some commercial products like frozen waffles are made of buckwheat and not wheat wheat.
Montina (Indian rice grass)
Teff (Ethiopian grain)
As I continue on my journey of being 100% gluten free 100% of the time, I find that the following websites have been super helpful. I hope that you will find them helpful too:
Helpful gluten free recipe websites!
Also, for information on which restaurants provide gluten-free options: