Introducing such an extreme diet cold turkey is more than difficult. But when it comes to the health of your body, change is a must. While the transition is hard, there are still many natural products, along with the ever-growing gluten-free market, that will make the switch easier than one would think. Don’t be fooled; if you jump off your diet and eat gluten, you may not experience the signs of the sensitivity flaring up, but the intestines will still be damaged in the process!
The Mayo Clinic tries to have patients focus on the foods patients can eat, not the ones they will be tossing in the trash from here on out. Here is a list of allowed foods:
- Nuts (unprocessed)
- Fresh eggs
- Fresh meats
- Poultry (not breaded/marinated/battered)
- Fruits and vegetables
- Gluten-free flours (rice, soy, corn, potato, bean)
On the flip side, the list of things to avoid is more extensive, although some products are okay if listed as gluten-free on the label.
- Barley (malt, malt flavoring, malt vinegar)
- Triticate (cross between wheat and rye)
- Wheat (that is bromated, enriched, phoshated, plain, self-rising wheat, bulgur, durum flour, farina graham flour, kamut, semolina or spelt)
- French fries
- Imitation meat/seafood
- Processed lunch meat
- Salad dressing
- Sauce (soy)
- Seasoned rice mix
- Seasoned snack food
- Self basting poultry
- Soups and soup base
- Vegetables in sauce
- Oats (can be contaminated during growing and processing stages of production)
- Malt flavoring
- Modified food starch
Another important concept to keep in mind is cross contamination. While you may think you are eating gluten-free products, the labels tell you otherwise. Cross contamination usually occurs during the manufacturing process, where food with gluten is in contact with non-gluten food. Labels should state “may contain gluten” to alert consumers that cross contamination may have occurred in the manufacturing site. Still, check the ingredients list to verify that the food is safe. Cross contamination may also occur in home kitchens with surfaces or utensils that are commonly used. Toasters, for example, are infamous for contaminating gluten-free bread. Either make your house gluten-free, or consider two separate toasters to ensure the safety of your loved ones.
Some medications and vitamins contain gluten as a binding agent. Check labels to make sure you are not ingesting gluten in this form.
Another thing to look out for is nutrition; gluten-free diets usually contain fewer vitamins and minerals. Wheat is high in fiber, iron, and vitamin B that are not found in gluten-free bread products. Talk with a dietitian to make sure these nutrients are still included in your diet:
Select studies have shown that there is nothing inherently healthier about a gluten-free diet, mostly because there is typically more sugar and fat in the gluten-free products to help simulate the texture and fluffiness that gluten creates. But if you notice any of the symptoms of celiac disease, it is best to get tested. If results show up negative, eliminate gluten from the diet for a week. If symptoms start to weaken or disappear, this may indicate gluten sensitivity.