If you have just been diagnosed with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, you might be thinking it’s the end of the world. I remember stamping my feet and pouting my lip when I was advised to remove gluten and dairy from my diet. I wanted to refuse, but the only reason I insisted on trying it for a month was to prove to the naturopath that this wasn’t the cause of my health issues.
Didn’t I eat my words (and less gluten) after just 2 weeks!
So you want to find out what foods do and don’t contain gluten? The most simple answer to this often over-complicated question is this … wheat, rye, barley.Avoid these 3 things and you are on the right track.
These raw ingredients DO contain gluten:
These raw ingredients DON’T contain gluten:
- Beans (chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, lima beans, soy beans etc)
- Vegetables (potato, sweet potato, broccoli, zucchini, carrot, tomato, corn, snow peas, peas, beans, green leafy vegetables, pumpkin, onion, beetroot, capsicum, chilli, herbs, ginger, garlic)
- Unprocessed Meat
These raw ingredients have special conditions:
- Oats – they have long been one of the 4 grains which were confirmed to contain gluten, but it now seems it was only by association. They have always been processed together with wheat products so there were always traces of gluten present in oats. Improvements in processing have reduced this and many nutritionists now consider oats to be gluten free.
HOWEVER: we recommend seeking personal advice on oats and looking for organic, individually processed oats which are certified gluten free. This information is always changing so keep up with the latest news from your local health food shop … or us of course. We still consider oats to be one of the 4 grains containing gluten, but believe this will not be the case much longer.
- Buckwheat – it may have the word ‘wheat’ in it, but it is actually a grass with pinkish white flowers – and it’s the cousin of the rhubarb plant – meaning buckwheat is in no way related to wheat. It is however and excellent substitute for wheat flour in cooking – many people already use it as an alternative in pancakes and muffins and it has been used in Asian noodles for centuries.
- Millet – Another interesting one. While it doesn’t contain gluten as such, it does contain gliadin which is a protein that is a principal toxic component of wheat gluten. This means that many celiac sufferers get a significant negative reaction to Millet. This should be approached with advice, and included or excluded in your diet based on your own digestive sensitivities.
The 4 grains (wheat, rye, barley and oats) contain the indigestible protein, gluten. Flour is made from wheat. Cereals are generally made from a combination of these 4 grains. Foods containing gluten include muesli bars, pasta, bread, gravy, rissoles, chicken stuffing, BBQ sauce – they all contain the 3 grains, or flour which is made from these grains.
Traces of gluten have been found in some foods which are grown near wheat farms. This is yet to be researched with any depth, but some extremely sensitive celiac diets require that you shop for certified gluten free products. Your naturopath, nutritionist or dietician will be able to point you in the right direction for YOUR health.
The good news is that every one of the 3 grains with gluten can be replaced with one of the many gluten free variations. This website features a number of articles about gluten free cooking including a range of popular recipes and their gluten free variations. Your level of intolerance will decide which foods you can get away with it but if you have been advised to eat gluten free it is recommended that you try to remove it from your diet entirely.