To Be or Not To Be – Gluten Free

It’s been fat and sugar in the past. What’s the latest craze?

Going gluten free.

Many people have decided to forgo gluten, though they find it’s not that easy to give up their pizza, pasta and bread.

It’s important to note that it's is not bad for many people. If you are intolerant to gluten, you’ll notice that your system doesn’t react well after eating it – think bloating, discomfort and diarrhea.

There is no test for gluten intolerance; an elimination diet is the best way to find out if it’s not working for you.

Celiac disease is a more serious immune response.

Here, gluten damages the lining of the small intestines, interfering with nutrient absorption and causing bloating, abdominal pain and chronic fatigue.

About 1% of the population has celiac disease (3 million people) but it’s estimated only 1% of those who have it have been diagnosed. If undiagnosed, problems like anemia, infertility, osteoporosis or cancer may arise.

Blood tests and a biopsy of the small intestine can help confirm a diagnosis. The only treatment for celiac disease is a gluten free diet.

There are more and more options in the stores but remember that fruits, vegetables, legumes, unprocessed meats and most diary products naturally have no gluten.

If you are going to get rid of gluten (a protein found in certain grains) you'll need to eliminate from your diet: wheat (including kamut and spelt), rye and barley and their products.

Oats have a very small amount of gluten (only 10-15% of its protein), so is not as problematic though if you have just been diagnosed with celiac disease it is advised to avoid oats until health is restored.

Some hidden sources of gluten are hydrolyzed vegetable protein, malt, dairy substitutes, soy sauce, modified food starch, processed meats and cheeses, soups, sauces, jams, gravies, processed foods, prescription and over the counter drugs and even lipstick!

Make sure you read labels carefully.

So what’s a pasta-lovin guy or gal to do?

There are great tasting, nutrient-dense grains you can eat plenty of: quinoa, buckwheat/kasha, millet, wild rice, teff and amaranth. Eat these whole grains or look for them in pasta and bread form.

And don’t forget the old standbys like brown rice and starchy vegetables like corn and yams.

The simplest substitute for baking is to use 1 cup of brown rice flour for 1 cup of regular flour. You can also purchase mixed gluten free flours for baking.

Go from Gluten Free to Healthy Diet Plan