Gluten Free Diets
Gluten free diets are recommended for people with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and gluten allergy. A gluten-free diet prevents unpleasant symptoms and possible damage to the small intestine in people with these conditions.
Reasons for a Gluten-Free Diet
There are several conditions for which people need to eat gluten free diets. Some people are allergic to gluten. Eating gluten causes an allergic reaction that may include skin rashes or hives, watery eyes, a runny nose, and stomach pain.
Some people are gluten intolerant. That means they can’t digest gluten well and it causes symptoms like diarrhea, stomach pain, gas, and bloating.
Then some people have celiac disease, an autoimmune disease in which eating gluten causes damage to the lining of the small intestine. This damage or scaring of the small intestine prevents people with the disorder from absorbing nutrients properly. People with celiac disease usually have unpleasant symptoms similar to gluten intolerance when they eat gluten, but even if they don’t have symptoms they should avoid eating gluten in order to prevent damage to the small intestine.
What Can You Eat on a Gluten-Free Diet?
Gluten free diets contain no wheat, rye, or barley. That means no baked goods made with regular (wheat) flour, including bread, rolls, bagels, cookies, cakes, pies, or pizzas. It means no crackers, pretzels, or pasta. However, you can eat baked goods made with other kinds of flour, such as amaranth, arrowroot, soya flour, rice flour, almond flour, or cornmeal. You can eat pasta made from rice, potatoes, or corn.
A gluten free diet includes a number of grains, just not wheat or barley or rye. For instance, people on a gluten-free diet can eat millet, quinoa, rice, and corn.
On a gluten free diet, you can eat meats such as chicken, turkey, and beef, with the exception of some processed meats that may contain gluten (such as hotdogs and salami). You can eat fish and shellfish. You can also eat eggs.
You can eat dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese on a gluten-free diet. You can eat many cheeses, as well, but sometimes cheeses do contain small amounts of gluten so read the labels carefully first.
You can eat fruits and vegetables, fresh, frozen, and canned. Just watch out for vegetables prepared in some sort of sauce, because sauces are sometimes made with thickener that contains gluten.
You can eat dried beans and peas, corn, potatoes, rice, quinoa, millet, soybeans, and tofu. You can eat popcorn, as long as it doesn’t have any kind on coating or seasoning on it that contains gluten. You can eat rice cakes and rice crackers and corn chips (read the label first to make sure they are gluten free). You can eat corn tortillas and corn taco shells.
People on gluten free diets need to read food labels carefully because there is hidden gluten in many food items. If you have questions about whether or not a product contains gluten, you can always phone the manufacturer and ask. Manufacturers are usually quite responsive to customers with special dietary needs and food allergies.
Leaning to Eat Gluten Free
When people first switch to gluten free diets, they often find it challenging to eat properly. It takes some getting used to. When first switching to a gluten free diet, it may be helpful to make an appointment with a registered dietician. A registered dietician is a health care professional specializing in food and nutrition. He or she can instruct you further about what foods contain gluten and help you find suitable alternatives to your favorites that you can’t have anymore. A registered dietician can help you devise a personalized meal plan based on your likes and dislikes and any other special dietary needs you may have.
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