What is Gluten Sensitivity?
If you have found that when you eat certain foods with gluten, such as wheat bread or baked goods, that you feel ill but have not tested positive for Celiac disease, you might be struggling with gluten sensitive, as opposed to an allergy. This is often referred to non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and is much more common than you might think.
Gluten Intolerance VS Celiac Disease
Unless you have been living under a rock, you have undoubtedly seen or heard many people saying they are reducing their gluten or giving it up altogether. In some cases, people actually have allergies or a condition called Celiac disease, which is causing gluten to make them ill. Others simply have a sensitivity or intolerance to gluten. The latter is more common, so that is what we are going to talk about.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a type of protein that is found in a variety of different grains. Many people think about wheat as being gluten, but it can also be found in rye, oats, and barley. The gluten protein is made up of other proteins, including glutenin and gliadin. These are often more closely linked to people that have negative reactions in the form of a gluten allergy or Celiac disease, which is an autoimmune condition of the small intestine. The symptoms are slightly different when comparing an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten as opposed to actually being allergic to it.
How to Know You Have a Sensitivty
When you have an intolerance to gluten, your symptoms can range from mild discomfort and abdominal pain, to some of the more common signs of being allergic to gluten. First of all, you might find that you have abdominal discomfort or indigestion when you consume foods with a lot of wheat or rye. There are actually many regular food items that contain wheat or other grains, that you would otherwise think are harmless. You may eat a simple sandwich with wheat bread and suddenly find that your stomach is hurting and you might even have diarrhea or nausea. Some other common symptoms include headaches, skin changes, and allergy symptoms like coughing, sneezing, and runny nose.
If you are found to have a gluten sensitivity, you don’t have to completely give up all gluten, but you do need to decrease it as much as possible. The more foods you eat with gluten, the worse you are going to end up feeling. They might not cause serious illness like if you had Celia disease, but gluten can definitely make you feel ill. If you want those stomach aches and migraines to go away, stay away from foods with wheat, rye, or barley. This includes most breads, grains, pasta, and a wide range of packaged and processed foods. You should try to stick to a diet consisting primarily of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein like meat.
Tips for Eating Without Gluten
Now that you understand a little more about what gluten is and how it affects your body if you have an intolerance to it, it is time to figure out what exactly you can eat. This is a new lifestyle, so don’t treat it like something you only do when convenient. If you think it will be better, start gradual by slowly removing food items with gluten one by one until eventually the majority of your diet doesn’t have it. Remember that you have a sensitivity, not an allergy, so you can still have some gluten in small quantities.
Foods With Gluten
Before discussing what you can eat when you have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity, it helps to understand exactly what foods are going to contain gluten. It is found in grains like wheat, rye, barley, couscous, bulgur, semolina, triticale, spelt, and many others. This means the majority of cold cuts, commercial broth and bullion, malt, soup, breads, salad dressings, sauces, condiments, processed cheese, and processed foods will have it. Some food items you need to get rid of or reduce considerably are:
- Condiments and salad dressings
- Canned beans
- Processed meat like hot dogs
- Non-dairy creamer
- Egg substitutes
- Granola and trail mix
- Energy bars
- Ice cream
- Fruit filling and pudding
- Cereals and breads
Fruits and Vegetables
For starters, you can begin by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Most fresh produce, and some frozen, is not going to contain any type of gluten and won’t upset your stomach. Some good vegetables to have are greens, broccoli, cauliflowers, Brussels sprouts, leeks, fennel, artichoke, bok choy, rasishes, onions, cabbage, green beans, celery, and mushrooms. With fruits, you want to be careful about the sugar content. Try to go for fruits like tomato, bananas, lemons, limes, and some berries. These fruits tend to have a lower amount of sugar.
Fats and Seasonings
You don’t have to worry too much about having flavor with your food, just because you can’t have most grains. Healthy fats are a great thing to add to your gluten-free diet, including olive oil and coconut oil, nut butter, olives, nuts, seeds, almond milk, and butter if it is organic and grass-fed. With seasonings and condiments, feel free to have anything without sugar, soy, and wheat. This means mustard, salsa and horseradish are fine, but ketchup is unfortunately out.
As you can see, your new lifestyle will provide you with a lot of tasty, nutritious food even without having gluten.