Ever wonder what makes pizza dough stretchy or thickens a sauce? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and other grains that gives bread, pasta and crackers their structure. Gluten is also used to make processed meats and as a thickening agent in soups and marinades. For people who suffer from Celiac disease or non-Celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten can cause serious pain when digested. A change in diet is necessary to eliminate or reduce gluten and feel better.
Foods to Avoid
When taking on a low-gluten or gluten-free diet, certain products should be avoided. Avoid foods made with wheat, barley, rye and spelt. This includes flours like wheat, graham, all-purpose, white, bran and durham. It also includes any foods made with those flours such as bread, pizza, pasta and cookies. Read labels carefully. Foods that contain the ingredients stabilizer, starch, flavoring, emulsifier, hydrolyzed or plant protein should also not be eaten.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten free. Frozen, dried and canned fruits and vegetables are good gluten-free options, as is 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice. Avoid foods that contain fruit fillings, like pies or jellies, because they were likely made with thickening agents containing gluten. Also, steer clear of breaded vegetables and soups made with vegetables.
Plenty of dairy choices are available in a gluten-free diet, but not all types of dairy make the cut. Choose whole, low-fat or skim milk, but check the ingredients on commercially made chocolate milk. American and aged cheeses like Parmesan, cheddar and Swiss are fine, but other cheeses are not. Certain kinds of sour cream and yogurt may be low or gluten free. Always check the label to be sure.
Not all grains are restricted on a gluten-free diet. Safe grains include millet, quinoa, amarenth, rice, buckwheat and arrowroot. Choose breads, pastas and baked goods made with these grains and ones that are labeled gluten free. Corn and corn meal are also gluten free, as are rice, soy, corn, potato and bean flours.
Beef, chicken, fish and seafood that is 100 percent natural and contains no fillers or wheat additives can be eaten on a gluten-free diet. Avoid meat products like sausage and bologna that are processed. When preparing meats, do not bread or coat with batter. Choose marinades that are gluten free and not made with thickeners.
Condiments and Snacks
Peanut butter, ketchup and relish are gluten-free condiments. Mustard, mayonnaise, salad dressings and tomato sauces may contain some gluten. For snacks, eat corn chips, ice cream, popcorn and pudding.