Lately it’s become hip to go gluten free. Based on little or no evidence other than testimonials in the media, people have been switching to gluten-free diets to lose weight, boost energy, treat autism, or generally feel healthier.
A gluten-free diet is the only option for people with celiac disease, a severe gluten intolerance. Now, many people without this condition are ‘going gluten free’ because they believe it is a healthful option.
A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and a cross between wheat and rye called triticale.
Avoiding gluten means more than giving up traditional breads, cereals, pasta, pizza, and beer. Gluten also lurks in many other products, including frozen vegetables in sauces, soy sauce, some foods made with “natural flavorings,” vitamin and mineral supplements, some medications, and even toothpaste. This makes following a gluten-free diet extremely challenging.
If you’re determined to go gluten free, it’s important to know that it can set you up for some nutritional deficiencies.
Food to Eat when on a Gluten Diet
Many naturally gluten-free foods can be a part of a healthy diet:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Beans, seeds and nuts in their natural, unprocessed forms
- Lean, non-processed meats, fish and poultry
- Most low-fat dairy products
Grains, starches or flours that you can include in a gluten-free diet include:
- Corn and cornmeal
- Gluten-free flours (rice, soy, corn, potato, bean)
- Hominy (corn)
- Tapioca (cassava root)
Foods to avoid when on a gluten diet:
- any food made with cereals such as wheat, barley, triticale, rye, and malt
- some candies
- many desserts
- cakes and pies
- French fries
- processed meats
- sauce mixes
- brown-rice syrup
- malt derivatives, including malt loaf, malt vinegar, brewer’s yeast, and malt-based beer and malted milk or milk shakes
- some types of soy sauce
- self-basting meat