Gluten is naturally found in a variety of grains including wheat, rye, spelt, barley, oats, and triticale, which is a cross between wheat and rye.
You will also find gluten in a range of processed foods such as bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, desserts, biscuits, sauces, and microwave meals.
Gluten-Free Foods Are Not Always Healthy
You may already be aware gluten-free foods have gone mainstream with health food stores and supermarkets now offering a wide range of food products.
However these gluten-free alternatives are not always healthy and it’s wise to check the ingredients listed on the label to discover what’s really inside. Here are a few things to keep in mind;
- Gluten-free products made with soy, corn, vegetable oils, monosodium glutamate (MSG), artificial flavors, and preservatives are not healthy. Also, some gluten-free foods are loaded with added sugar to make them more palatable.
- Corn (maize) and soy are commonly used as cheap substitutes for wheat. These two ingredients can also initiate food intolerances.
- Soy should definitely be avoided when you have a thyroid disorder. This includes soy oil which is labelled as ‘vegetable oil’. If you are not sure check to see if the label states the product contains soy.
Your Gluten-Free Shopping List
To help you get started on a gluten-free diet this shopping list offers alternatives to some of the most common grain based products.
- Breads: rice, buckwheat + ‘wheat free’ varieties.
- Breakfast cereals: organic corn flakes, rice bubbles, Amaranth, puffed buckwheat, and gluten-free muesli.
- Flours: 100% buckwheat, Besan (chickpea), chestnut, coconut, and almond.
- Non-gluten grains: amaranth, buckwheat, rice, millet, quinoa, sorghum, and teff.
- Noodles: rice + 100% buckwheat.
- Pasta: vegetable + rice varieties.
- Porridge: Quinoa, rice + Polenta porridge.
- Rice: brown, white, and wild.
- Crackers: brown rice varieties free of gluten ingredients.
Here’s three things I would like you to know about going gluten-free;
- Gluten can be hidden so it pays to be a ‘label detective’. These are some grocery items that you may not expect contain gluten. This includes soy sauce, baking powder, flavourings, and hydrolysed vegetable protein.
- Alcohol is a common source of gluten. For example; beer contains gluten as it’s produced by fermenting cereals such as wheat and barley. If you still want to have the occasional beer some breweries are producing gluten-free beers.
- Cross contamination of gluten-free foods can occur during the manufacturing process when these foods come into contact with foods that contain gluten. For example, if the same equipment is used to make a variety of snack foods some gluten-free items get contaminated. Food labels often include a ‘may contain gluten’ statement if this is the case.
Intolerant To Gluten? You Could Also Be Intolerant To Dairy
It’s common for individuals with gluten intolerance to also react to milk and dairy products. If you find you are still experiencing digestive distress after giving up gluten I suggest you eliminate all dairy foods from your diet for at least six weeks.
This may help improve digestive function particularly if you have been experiencing bloating, flatulence and poorly formed stools.
A dairy intolerance can be due to a reaction to casein, or lactose. Casein is the protein naturally found in milk, while lactose is a sugar naturally found in milk. Be aware, some milk products are marketed as being ‘lactose free’ but it’s likely they will still contain casein.