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Starting Gluten Free PDF Print E-mail

If you're newly diagnosed with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, the thought of eliminating gluten from your diet can be overwhelming; in part, because gluten is so common in many different foods

What is a gluten-free diet?

A gluten-free diet is 100% elimination of the protein gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, and rye.  Other grains also have gluten.  The Mayo Clinic lists them as farina, graham flour, semolina, durham, bulgur, kamut, kasha, matzo meal, spelt (a form of wheat), and triticale. 

Oats has been a concern for a number of years.  Originally it was considered forbidden.  But in recent years, it has been confirmed that oats alone are safe for celiacs.  Although two concerns remain.  Regular oats often become contaminated with wheat during processing, so if you want to eat oats, you should purchase guaranteed gluten-free oats.  Celiac.com raised another concern that some celiacs simply cannot tolerate oats. 

"Some studies show that most people with celiac disease can tolerate oats, while some studies show sensitivity. Some people with celiac disease seem to be sensitive to oats, whether they are contaminated or not, but recent studies suggest that contamination is the main problem for most people with celiac disease who wish to eat oats. Anecdotal evidence is equally divided, with some folks reporting no problem with oats, while others report adverse reactions." -- Celiac.com June 30, 2008

Eating gluten-free oats is purely a decision only you can make.

Celiac.com has a very good list detailing unsafe additives or ingredients.

What can I eat?

The simple answer to the question "What can I eat?" is this: meat, potatoes, vegetables, and fruit.  They are some of the most basic foods we have.  Yes, you can still eat bread, pizza, cookies, cake, you just need to find gluten-free versions. 

Basic, unprocessed steak, hamburger, chicken, pork, fish, that you buy right from the butcher are gluten-free. Once you get into the prepackaged meats you need to watch the label closely for words like broth and natural flavorings.  Those could harbor gluten-containing ingredients.

Potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes are gluten-free.  Caution: boxed/processed potatoes, potato or rice mixes (like Rice a Roni) often are not gluten-free.  Please read ingredient labels and call the company to confirm the product's gluten-free status.

Vegetables are naturally a gluten-free food.  If they are processed or "creamed", then they could become contaminated with gluten. 

Fruit is also a naturally gluten-free food.

Eggs are also gluten-free.

Dairy can be a bit trickier.  While a lot of dairy products are gluten-free, you do need to check with the company that makes your favorite dairy products to confirm which ones are gluten-free.

Again, Celiac.com has a list of foods and ingredients that are safe for celiacs.  This list also includes a list of gluten-free flours.