What is a gluten-free diet? A gluten-free diet is an eating plan that helps you get the nutrition you need from foods that do not contain gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Some vitamin supplements and medicines may also contain gluten. Gluten may cause health problems for people with celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis, and wheat allergy. You will need to avoid many grains, pasta, cereal products, and processed foods on this diet.
Which foods do I need to avoid? The grains and ingredients to avoid are found in many foods such as flour, bread, pasta, cereal, cakes, and cookies.
- Do not eat foods that contain the following:
- Barley, rye, bulgar, semolina, and triticale
- Wheat, including wheat flour, white flour, gluten flour, graham flour, high-protein flour, and pastry flour
- Wheat varieties such as kamut and spelt
- Wheat bran, wheat flour, wheat germ, and unnamed food starches
- Oats that are not labeled as gluten-free, unless your dietitian has allowed you to eat a small amount
- Malt extract and malt flavoring
- Processed foods that may contain wheat, barley, or rye include the following:
- Gravies and sauces made with flour
- Rice mixes, most canned and dry soup mixes, and soup bases or bouillon mixes
- Breaded meat, fish, or poultry
- Packaged meats made with flour, such as cold cuts, hot dogs, sausages, or imitation meats
- Some French fried potatoes (especially those in restaurants)
- Snack foods such as potato chips, tortilla chips, and pretzels
- Foods made with hydrolyzed, hydrogenated, or texturized vegetable or plant protein (HVP or HPP)
What can I eat and drink on a gluten-free diet? Choose foods labeled as gluten-free. You may be able to eat gluten-free oats, or you may be able to eat regular oats in small amounts. Ask your dietitian if oats are safe for you to eat. You may also eat the following foods:
- Foods made with gluten-free flours, such as potato, rice, soy, nut and tapioca flour
- Brown, white, and wild rice without sauces, and rice products, such as rice cereal and rice cakes
- Corn products, such as cornmeal, corn flour, corn tortillas, corn cereals, and popcorn
- Corn starch and potato starch
- Arrowroot powder, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, hominy, quinoa, and tapioca
- Fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and vegetables
- Nuts, seeds, legumes, and fresh or frozen meat and fish
What is a sample diet for 1 day?
Breakfast: Soft boiled eggs, gluten-free toast with butter, and milk
Morning snack: Gluten-free rice cakes
Lunch: Tuna salad with tomato and lettuce, and an apple
Afternoon snack: Carrot sticks
Dinner: Broiled chicken, baked potato, green beans, and sorbet with strawberries
What can I do to make a gluten-free diet part of my lifestyle?
- Learn to read food labels. A dietitian can show you how and work with you to make this diet a regular part of your life. Include a variety of allowed foods so that you can get all the nutrients you need.
Always read the ingredient labels on products before you buy any packaged food. Gluten is found in many foods and drinks. It may not be clear which foods contain gluten. As a general rule, avoid all foods that contain wheat or wheat-related grains. Avoid foods and drinks that contain rye, barley, triticale, and possibly oats.
- Keep a list of items allowed on this diet in your kitchen to remind you of the foods you may eat. Carry a list of items allowed on this diet with you when you are away from home. Ask the waiter, chef, or host how the foods and drinks are prepared. Ask if any of the ingredients, foods, or drinks on your list are in the meal.
What are the risks of a gluten-free diet?
- Some gluten-free foods are not fortified with extra vitamins. You may have low levels of nutrients, such as B vitamins and fiber, if you do not eat a variety of foods.
- If you do not follow this diet, gluten will cause problems in your small intestine if you have celiac disease. You may not get the nutrition your body needs because you are not absorbing nutrients from food. You may lose weight and continue to have bloating, diarrhea, and stomach pain. If you have dermatitis, your skin condition may worsen. You may have an allergic reaction to the foods you eat if you have a wheat allergy. This may include a rash, sneezing, watery eyes and nose, itching, swelling and hives. An allergic reaction may cause life-threatening trouble breathing and unconsciousness.
Where can I find more information?
- Celiac Sprue Association
P.O. Box 31700
Omaha , NE 68131
Phone: 1- 402 - 558-0600
Web Address: http://www.csaceliacs.org
When should I contact my caregiver? Contact your caregiver if:
- You must take a medicine or vitamin that contains gluten.
- Signs and symptoms of your condition seem to be getting worse.
- You are losing weight rapidly, without trying.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
When should I seek immediate care? Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You have the following signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction that come on suddenly:
- Watery eyes and nose
- Itching, skin rash, or hives
- Swelling of your lips and eyelids
- Trouble breathing
You have the right to help plan your care. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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