GF 101: Part Two (The Food)

Okay, first things first. Take a deep breath. It’s a lot to take in. 

You've seen a doctor, right? If you don't see a doctor to get a diagnosis first, you may have to eat gluten for five whole weeks to get an accurate diagnosis. Trust me, once you go off gluten you won't want to go back. See the doc first

Okay. Ready?

Being GF often feels like a lonely hike through the wilderness...
but there are friends right around the corner, I promise!

Let’s start with what you can eat on a gluten free diet:

·         Anything specifically labeled gluten free
o   Brands that regularly label their gluten free products include: Annie’s, Bob’s Red Mill, General Mills, Heinz, Kraft, Hormel, Hellman’s, Smart Balance, Wishbone, and more

·         All raw fruits and vegetables

·         Cooked fruits and vegetables are fine too, as long as there are no gluten ingredients added or no risk for cross-contamination (see below)

·         Beans, legumes, nuts
o   As long as they are not processed on equipment that also processes wheat

·         Meat
o   As long as it has not been injected with marinades or flavorings that contain gluten

·         Fish 

·         Eggs (see Gluten Intolerance and Other Allergies and Food Sensitivities)

·         Milk and other dairy products (see Gluten Intolerance and Other Allergies and Food Sensitivities)

·         Nut, soy, and rice milks (see Gluten Intolerance and Other Allergies and Food Sensitivities)

·         Rice

·         Potatoes

·         Quinoa (if certified gluten free)

·         Corn (if certified gluten free)

·         Sorghum (if certified gluten free)

·         Oats (if certified gluten free)

·         Cooking oil

·         Most cooking sprays
o   I use Pam cooking spray; the only off-limits Pam product is the Baking spray, which contains wheat flour

Next, be sure not to eat the following foods, ever, not even the tiniest little bits:

·         Wheat

·         Rye

·         Barley

·         Wheat variants:
o   Spelt (sprouted wheat)
o   Triticale (a wheat and rye hybrid)
o   Durum  (type of wheat)
o   Semolina (the type of wheat usually used in pasta)
o   Emmer or Einkhorn (ancient predecessors to wheat that also contain gluten)

·         A Note on Oats
o   Oats are usually grown in fields alongside wheat, stored in silos that also store wheat, and processed on equipment that also process wheat. There’s a debate in the gluten free community as to whether or not the protein in oats is similar enough to gluten to be harmful. But in general, most oats are so cross-contaminated that they’re on the Do Not Eat list. Only oats that are certified gluten free are safe.

·         Brown rice syrup (may contain barley malt)

Cross Contamination

Avoiding cross contamination is probably the most important part of going gluten free. You may know what you can and can’t eat, but you must also make sure what you can’t eat doesn’t find its way into your food.

·         Cross-contamination is often an issue in processed and packaged foods. If an item does not contain a wheat ingredient, but states that it has been processed on equipment that also processes wheat, then it is most likely cross-contaminated and you cannot eat it.
o   The term “no gluten ingredients” or “no gluten ingredients used” is a red flag for cross-contamination. This merely indicates that the food itself does not contain wheat but that the food may have been processed on shared equipment.

·         To prevent cross contamination, always use clean pots, pans, spatulas, cutting boards, utensils, etc.

·         Another source of cross contamination is cooking water or oil that has been used to cook food containing gluten.

·         Never “double dip” a utensil that may have touched wheat into a jar of otherwise gluten free spread.

·         Preparing gluten free items first cuts down on risks for cross contamination.

·         If you are committed to going gluten free and want to be sure to eliminate cross-contamination, I highly recommend getting new cutting boards, pots, pans, and cooking utensils. If you live with someone who is not gluten free, be sure they understand these dishes are only for gluten free food.

Gray Areas

These items often contain gluten unless they are specifically labeled “Gluten Free.” Be sure to read labels carefully. Take your time, and be wary of the term, “No Gluten Ingredients Used.” This is often a clue that cross-contamination is an issue.

·         Many canned soups and broths

·         Many marinades and sauces

·         Many salad dressings

·         Soy Sauce (gluten free tamari is available, but most brands use wheat)

·         Worcestershire Sauce (Lea and Perrins is currently labeled gluten free, but be sure to double-check)

·         Ice cream

·         Salsa

·         Nuts (often processed on equipment that also processes wheat ingredients)

·         Imitation seafood

·         Egg substitutes

·         Imitation meat

·         Veggie burgers (usually contain wheat)

Gluten Intolerance and Other Allergies/Food Sensitivities

You may find that you are sensitive to other foods after going gluten free. This is not unusual - you’ve  just eliminated what may be the biggest problem in your diet, only to find that there are some other, smaller problems.  Of course, you should discuss this with your doctor. Here’s a list of what I’m dealing with:

I’m very careful about the dairy products I consume. Otherwise, I will have very bad cramping.  I can tolerate organic milk from grass fed cattle, goat’s milk, and most organic cheeses.

I also have difficulty with nuts. Again, this is not unusual, since many people on a gluten free diet find that they cannot tolerate other foods. You will find that I do not use any recipes that contain nuts on this website, but if you can tolerate them, by all means, eat up! Just be sure to make sure the nuts have not been processed on equipment that also processes wheat, rye, or barley.

I have difficulty with conventional eggs. I buy organic eggs from hens fed a vegetarian diet, which seems to work for me. I also try to buy local, so I know what I’m getting and can support my local economy.

Lastly, I don’t use the gums (xanthan and guar) you will often find in gluten free baked goods. Many people have sensitivities to these gums. Instead, I use flax seed meal and psyllium husks. They do the same thing, but with more nutritional benefits.

This list may be long, but it is by no means exhaustive. Do some of your own research. Here are some great links to get you started:

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