Going Gluten Free – The Basics

If you have been newly diagnosed with Coeliac Disease or know someone that has, this post will hopefully give you a little insight on the ins and outs of going on a gluten free diet. Other than those with Coeliac disease, some might have to go on a gluten free diet if they do suffer from wheat intolerance. Before going into the basics of the diet, here’s a little snippet on coeliac disease & wheat intolerance:

In coeliac disease, the intestine cannot absorb a protein called gluten which is found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats. The only treatment is to follow a gluten free diet which is life-long. Symptoms vary from person to person and can include: diarrhoea, gas, constipation,  nausea, vomiting, or even a  combination of iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency, weight loss or repeated miscarriages. Some symptoms may be mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome or wheat intolerance so you would need to rule those out. Diagnosing coeliac disease will involve going for specific blood tests and undergoing an endoscopy for a gut biopsy. Confirmation is then given when gut damage typical in coeliac disease is present.

Wheat intolerance is usually considered as  a non-allergic negative reaction to eating wheat. Symptoms are usually hard to diagnose as they can occur many hours or even a couple of days after consuming wheat. Some people are able to build up a mild tolerance in time, however, to avoid symptoms from occurring over and over again, going on a gluten free diet is advised.

Note: If you suspect that you might be intolerant to gluten, talk to your GP about it and seek help from a dietitian.

Basics of a Gluten Free Diet:

*Gluten-Containing Grains:

  • Wheat, barley & rye breads
  • Wheat based flour
  • Wheat and oat-based cereals
  • Wheat pasta
  • Biscuits, cakes, pastries, small goods, sauces
  • Malted and cereal drinks
  • Yeast extract spreads
  •  *Gluten- Free Grains & Starches:

  • Maize (corn)
  • Rice, Soy
  • Potato
  • Tapioca
  • Buckwheat
  • Sago
  • Millet
  • Amaranth
  •  The importance of reading food labels!!! Reading food labels is ESSENTIAL as you will need to identify the ‘hidden gluten’ found in many packaged foods, (when a food is not declared as gluten free). Dietitians are the best ones to ask regarding reading food labels where you will go through a list of hidden sources of gluten. For example – Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP) or Texturized Vegetable Protein is NOT OK unless the source is soy or corn.

    Another important issue to consider is CONTAMINATION! The following points can help you avoid contamination: 

    • Thoroughly clean bread boards, knives and other cooking utensils used in preparation of gluten free foods.
    • Ensure appliances such as toasters, sandwich makers and grills are clean before preparing gluten free foods.
    • Use separate water in a clean pot/strainer for cooking or re-heating gluten free pasta.
    • Do not dust meats or fish with flour prior to cooking.
    • Do not dust cake tins with gluten containing flour (including wheaten corn flour).
    • Use separate oil for deep frying.
    • Icing sugar mixture commonly contains wheat. Keep this in mind when dusting cakes and slices. Choose a gluten free icing sugar mixture if available.

    If you require a list of all ingredients that contain gluten or a sample meal plan, or if you just have basic questions, please contact me at nutritionaz@gmail.com and we could discuss your case further. Remember- Going gluten free is NOT EASY! You will require support and guidance so do not be afraid to seek help!

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