Gluten-free foods are foods that do not contain gluten, which is a protein found primarily in wheat, rye and barley. This protein is what gives breads their elasticity and baked goods their shape. Although some people choose to follow a gluten-free diet for personal reasons, most do so out of necessity because of a digestive disorder called celiac disease. Eating gluten-free for your health requires strict dietary guidelines and extensive education about which foods contain gluten. Therefore it is important to meet with a physician or dietitian to learn how to make the lifestyle changes that meet your specific requirements.
Any foods made from wheat or wheat byproducts should be avoided. Grains considered gluten-free include quinoa, flax, corn, millet, soy, potatoes, tapioca, rice, buckwheat, arrowroot and amaranth. In place of flour made from wheat, potato flour, rice flour and cornmeal can often be substituted. As always, the label should be checked to ensure that the food is gluten-free, as some grains are produced in the same facility as gluten-containing products and cross-contamination is possible.
Most fresh and plain frozen fruits and vegetables are gluten-free. Exceptions are those that may be breaded, are in a sauce/syrup or have certain additives.
Most fresh meats, poultry, eggs, beans, tofu and fish are gluten-free. Various preparation techniques, however, may add gluten to these foods. For example, breading on meat or fish is often made from wheat products. Processed meats, such as sausages and hot dogs, may have gluten-containing fillers added. Milk, aged natural cheese, cottage cheese, and most yogurts are gluten-free.
Ingredient lists must be checked in order to determine if a specific condiment is gluten-free. Sauces and gravies thickened with flour contain gluten. Soy sauce and marinades may also contain gluten. Sugar, jam, peanut butter, ketchup, mustard, cream cheese, salt and pepper are generally considered safe condiments.
Some medications, make-ups and lipsticks, beverages and candies contain gluten. Check with your physician or pharmacist to determine if a medication you need has gluten in it. Also, some play-dough items for children are made with flour, and although the gluten cannot be absorbed through the skin, carefully monitor your sensitive child to make sure it doesn't get in the mouth. Thorough hand-washing should follow playtime. Restaurants are also offering more gluten-free options and separate gluten-free menus.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.