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.
A gluten free diet is primarily used to treat celiac disease. Gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines of people with celiac disease. Eating a gluten free diet helps people with celiac disease control their signs and symptoms and prevent complications.
Initially, following a gluten free diet may be frustrating. But with time, patience and creativity, you’ll there are many foods that you already eat that are gluten free and you will find substitutes for gluten containing foods that you can enjoy.
The gluten free diet is a treatment for celiac disease. Some people who don’t have celiac disease also may have symptoms when they eat gluten, however. This is called non celiac gluten sensitivity.
People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may benefit from gluten free diet. But people with celiac disease must be gluten free to prevent symptoms and disease related complications.
Switching to a gluten free diet is a big change, and like anything new, it takes getting used to. You may initially feel deprived by the diet’s restrictions, especially if you weren’t having trouble symptoms before your diagnosis.
It may help to try to focus on all the foods you can eat instead, however. You may be pleasantly surprised to realize how many gluten free products, such as bread and pasta are now available. Many specialty grocery stores sell gluten free foods. If you can’t find them in your area, check with a celiac support group of search online.
If you’re just starting a gluten free diet, it’s a good idea to consult a dietitian who can answer your questions and offer advice about how to avoid gluten while still eating a healthy balanced diet. You may call our office to schedule an appointment with a dietician at (337) 232-6697.
Ask your dietitian to see that you’re getting enough of these key nutrients:
Using a common toaster for gluten-free bread and regular bread is a major source of contamination. Be careful at restaurants and ask questions to the staff.
Many healthy and delicious foods are naturally gluten-free
- Beans, seeds and nuts in their natural, unprocessed form
- Fresh eggs
- Fresh meats, fish and poultry (not breaded, batter-coated or marinated)
- Fruits and vegetables
- Most dairy products
- Corn and cornmeal
- Gluten-free flours (rice, soy, corn, potato, bean)
It’s important to make sure that they are not processed or mixed with gluten-containing grains, additives or preservatives. Many grains and starches can be part of a gluten-free diet.
- Barley (malt, malt flavoring and malt vinegar are usually made from barley)
- Triticale ( a cross between wheat and rye)
- Wheat including durum flour, karina graham flour kamut, semolina and spelt
avoid unless labeled ‘gluten-free’:
- Cakes and pies
- Communion wafers
- Cookies and crackers
- French fries
- Imitation meat or seafood
- Processed luncheon meats
- Salad dressings
- Sauces, including soy sauce
- Seasoned rice mix
- Seasoned snack foods (potato chips)
- Self-basting poultry
- Soups and soup bases
- Vegetables in sauces
You still need to check the actual ingredient list. If you’re not sure, don’t buy it.
Be aware that products labeled “gluten-free” or “wheat-free” may still contain gluten. The FDA requires the product contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten.
NOT STICKING TO THE DIET: If you accidentally eat a product that contains gluten, you may experience abdominal pain and diarrhea. Even small traces of gluten may damage the small intestines. Over time, not following the diet, celiac disease can lead to serious complications including small intestinal cancer.