For people with coeliac disease or gluten intolerance, starting a gluten-free diet can be difficult. Most standard diets contain gluten, and it can be hard to construct an entirely new meal plan that doesn’t include gluten. Breads, pastas, cereals, and literally all foods made with wheat, barley, or rye are all off-limits for those with coeliac disease. This can be difficult to work around because gluten is found in so many different foods. Even so, if you have been diagnosed with coeliac disease, then it is of the utmost importance to start a gluten-free diet as soon as possible. But, where should you start?

*** Local Caption *** Fresh baked loaf with wheat ears on wooden	breadboard

Naturally Gluten-Free Foods

There are plenty of foods that naturally contain no gluten and were probably a part of your standard diet already. These include fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, poultry, nuts and legumes (among others). The key word here is “fresh.” There’s a high probability that processed foods contain some gluten either because of inadvertent cross-contamination or deliberate preparation practices. For instance, a chicken nugget may contain chicken, but the external breading will almost certainly be filled with gluten. Fresh, untampered-with chicken, on the other hand, will naturally contain no gluten. This also applies to almost every fresh food like vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts. If the food you’re eating comes straight from an animal or a plant without any processing, then it is safe to say that it’s gluten-free. Even dairy products like milk or yogurt are naturally gluten-free.

Grain Substitutes

Wheat is a common ingredient in grain-based foods, but there are plenty of grain substitutes that you can use in order to avoid gluten. Many markets now contain ample gluten-free options when it comes to pasta, bread, cereal, and other grainy foods. Some grains that are naturally gluten-free include:

  • Sorghum
  • Soy
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Amaranth
  • Flax
  • Chia
  • Yucca
  • Cassava

Grain-based products that are labelled “gluten-free” often use one or more of these grains in their production. For instance, gluten-free pasta will often have some combination of quinoa, soy, corn, and potato in its makeup.

Foods to Inspect

Some foods that have trace amounts of gluten may appear to be gluten-free at first. For instance, corn or rice-based cereals could have ingredients like malt extract (or malt flavoring) that do contain gluten. Likewise, oats are frequently processed in the same facilities where wheat is processed, meaning that cross contamination is likely. There are even some situations where a food product will be advertised as “gluten-free” despite the food being processed in a wheat-friendly facility. Being diagnosed with coeliac disease isn’t easy because it forces you to examine every potential dietary choice you make. You can no longer just buy a doughnut at the bakery or even drink a beer without suffering some consequences. Even so, a gluten-free diet is just like any other diet. Over time, you will get used to it. A gluten-free diet is currently the only cure for coeliac disease and it is 100% effective. Cutting wheat-based foods out of your diet may be difficult, but it will help eliminate negative symptoms and have you leading a happier and healthier life.

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By Harry Price

Harry Price is a writer and Artist from the South Coast, who lives with his wife and 3 dogs.  In his spare time, he teaches english to foreign students.