How to eat gluten free in celiac disease

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale (cross breed of wheat and rye) that causes inflammation of the small intestines in persons with celiac disease.

Eating gluten free gives great relief of symptoms. The symptoms are bloating of the stomach and gas, diarrhoea, weight loss, abdominal cramps, fatigue, iron deficiency anaemia, osteoporosis and canker sores (mouth ulcers).

The difficulty is not in finding substitutes for wheat, barley and rye. For Indians who have a variety of traditional grains to choose from, eating without gluten is not too restrictive. It is just a matter of choices.

But the difficult part lies in identifying products that contain them and avoiding them because gluten is extensively used in commercial products.

What to avoid

Wheat, barley, rye, triticale: All wheat and rye breads and flours, bran flakes, regular macaroni, spaghetti, noodles, vermicelli, biscuits, bulgur, bread crumbs, commercial chocolate milk, malted milk, commercial soups and bouillon cubes, sausages, frankfurters, cold cuts, canned meats, semolina or rava and its dishes like kesari etc, wheat, maida, and its dishes like wheat dalia, wheat porridge all varieties of rotis and paratas,  cakes, pies, pizza, doughnuts, croissant, samosas, soy sauce, breaded foods like cutlets, breaded chicken (fast food), processed cheese, commercial salad dressings, commercial cereals, malt vinegar, croutons, French fries, spelt, bran, muesli, ice cream, baking powder (check label), mayonnaise, mustard sauce.

Oats: Check label to see if it is gluten free. If not specified, do not use.

Medications and vitamins: Check label to see if gluten is used as binding agent.

Alcohol: Ale, stout, beer,

Food additives: Check label for the words maltodextrin, MSG, dextrin, maltose, malt flavouring or modified food starch, vegetable gum, vegetable protein, artificial or natural flavouring or colour. Avoid products that contain these.

What’s allowed
All fresh fruits and vegetables (not breaded), fresh chicken, fish or meat , all fresh juices, potato, rice, quinoa, amaranth, arrowroot, tapioca, millets, sorghum, soy, buckwheat, rice noodles, corn, corn flour, corn meal, rice cereals, any cheese without stabilizer, butter, ghee,  cream, jam, honey, custard, jelly, rice kheer/puddings, vinegar, olives, all nuts, chocolates, pure cocoa, coffee and tea, carbonated beverages, milk, buttermilk, curds, snacks and sweets made with rice and other allowed foods, legumes, Indian spices and condiments.

There is a message here for those on gluten free diet. It is to eat fresh and avoid all commercial products that do not say “gluten free”.

It is important to remember that if the right foods are not included, eating gluten free can lead to deficiency of B vitamins, iron, fibre and calcium. So make sure you eat a variety of millets, apart from rice as part of the staple diet.

Make this an opportunity to look beyond the usual wheat products and try other very much available but no so often used grains.

Parvathy R Krishnan

The author is a trained Nutrition & Dietetics expert with over 20 years’ of experience in hospitals like Vijaya Hospital in Chennai and the Armed Forces Hospital and New Mowasat Hospitals in Kuwait. She is presently a member of the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India. Parvathy blogs at http://premadiet.blogspot.in/

More by this author:

Dieting tips for those at work
How to eat rice and lose weight

Image: Flickr/creativecommons seriousbri

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