Your Complete Guide to a Gluten-Free Diet
While gluten-containing dishes are part of hundreds of cultures across the world, many people choose to follow a gluten-free diet. This is for multiple reasons, such as celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or generally because they feel better by putting off gluten from their diet.
Originating from the Latin word for “glue”, gluten is a protein that can be found in some grains such as wheat, barley, spelt and rye. It’s because of gluten that bread has a chewy texture, and you can find it in a variety of other foods such as pasta and pastries. It also helps food stay elastic and stretchy.
Why People Choose to Follow a Gluten-Free Diet
- Celiac disease. Many people have to follow a gluten-free diet because they suffer from celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder.
Eating gluten causes them a severe reaction and can harm their intestines. In this case, the body thinks that gluten is a threat, and attacks gluten proteins to defend itself. This can cause severe harm to the intensities and lead to nutrient deficiencies, anaemia, and other harmful effects.
Those who have a wheat allergy also avoid gluten.
- Non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Although they may not have celiac disease, many people prefer to avoid gluten all-together, because they can experience some sensitivity when eating it.
Foods to Avoid on a Gluten-Free Diet
Following a strict gluten-free diet can be challenging, but if that’s what you’re looking for, we’re here to help you in your journey! Below is a quick list you can keep in handy of foods to avoid. Download our info-graph image by clicking here or scroll to the end of the article to view it. You can download it and keep it with you at all times or share it with a friend who’s on a gluten-free diet.
Some of the foods that we’re listing below have gluten-free substitutes. Unless it’s certified ‘gluten-free’ on the package, it’s best to say safe – or read the label.
Below are some typical gluten-containing foods:
- Wheat – any wheat-based ingredients
- Wheat bran
- Wheat flour
- Wheat berries
- Bromated flour
- Malt – any malt-based ingredients
- Malt-based beverages
- Malt vinegar
- Malt extract
- Malt syrup
- Sauces – wheat can be used as a thickener
- Soy sauce
- Teriyaki sauce
- Hoisin sauce
- Salad dressings
- Stock cubes (unless specified gluten-free)
- Baked foods
- Pre-packaged treats
- Roasted nuts
- Flavoured popcorn
- Muesli bars
- Some processed meats
- Corned beef
- Some grains
- Bread (unless specified gluten-free)
- Pasta (unless specified gluten-free)
- Cereals (unless specified gluten-free)
- Brewer’s yeast
- Modified food starch and maltodextrin
It’s also important to note that while oats are naturally gluten-free, they may come in cross-contact with wheat-based or gluten-containing foods during processing or harvesting at the factory or facility.
Therefore, it’s important to read labels to check for cross contamination.
Foods You Can Eat on a Gluten-Free Diet
Although following a gluten-free diet might sound intimidating, there are plenty of foods you can eat and exciting recipes to cook that keep your diet colourful and nutritious.
Whole, unprocessed, fresh food is necessary to maintain a healthy gluten-free diet.
It’s recommended to follow a diet that consists mainly of fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats.
Generally, whole grains are gluten-free, though some do contain gluten – especially if they’re processed in the same place as gluten foods. Therefore, it’s crucial to double-check labels and ensure the food is certified gluten-free before buying it.
(Note: wheat-free labels are not always gluten-free.)
Below are naturally gluten-free foods:
- Some whole grains –
ensure that they’re labelled gluten-free as there can be cross-contamination
- Buckwheat (kasha)
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
- Amaranth (labelled gluten-free)
- Oats (labelled gluten-free)
- Dairy – plain dairy
products (flavoured dairy products may contain gluten)
- Plain milk
- Plain yoghurt
- Plain cheeses
- Almond flour and nut flours
- Coconut flour
- Corn and cornflour
- Chickpea flour
- Potatoes and potato flour
- Soy flour
- Meats and fish (unless battered or coated)
- Fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and seeds (including flax and chia)
- Vegetable oils and butter
- Herbs and spices
That’s not all! There are many gluten-free substitutes, ranging from gluten-free chips to delicious energy bites.
SUBSTITUTES: While wheat products like pasta aren’t gluten-free, there are alternate gluten-free options that can be found in the ‘healthy section’ of your favourite supermarket. Also, gluten-free flours are now generally available, and so are gluten-free cereals.
TIP: Keep in mind that soups and sauces usually contain gluten. Since gluten maintains food’s elasticity and helps thickens its texture, it’s no wonder. Therefore, when buying anything creamy, including sauces, canned soups, or processed fruits, remember to check the label.
General rule of thumb for a gluten-free diet: read labels.
Gluten-Free Recipes You Can Cook at Home
Strict diets can become bland after a while. But that doesn’t have to be the case. You can try any of these delicious recipes at home:
2. Cheesy Bolognese Pizza with Cauliflower Crust [click for recipe]
3. Baked Honey and Garlic Salmon with Carrots and Rice [click for recipe]
4. Mexican Style Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes [click for recipe]
5. Spicy Eggplant and Black Bean Shakshuka with Feta [click for recipe]
Quick Tips for Your Gluten-Free Diet
- Read labels on any food you buy.
- Let people around you know that you’re gluten-free.
- Plan your meals ahead.
- Research before travelling. You can research good gluten-free friendly restaurants in the area you’re travelling beforehand to be prepared.
- Download this gluten-free infographic and check it whenever you go grocery shopping.
- Store your utensils and cleaning equipment aside. Your utensils might accidentally get contaminated with your roommate’s, so it’s best to keep your own utensils stored aside to avoid accidentally having gluten on your utensils.
If you are trying to follow a gluten-free diet, there are plenty of delicious recipes you can cook at home – like the ones above!
To maintain a healthy lifestyle, keep track of the types of foods you’re eating. Check your labels, eat whole and fresh nutritious foods, and minimize processed foods from your meals.
For more easy-to-follow gluten-free recipes, check our weekly menu and find the ‘gluten-free’ feature icon below.