September 25, 2008

 

Help for Those New to the Gluten-Free Diet

You just found out you have celiac disease. It is overwhelming. You have a disease and you can’t eat wheat. You wonder, “What can I eat?” Food is near and dear to most of our hearts, but even if you’re not that fond of it, you still have to eat, so let’s talk about the gluten-free diet.

First, try to focus on what you can eat, rather than focusing on what you can’t eat. You can eat everything that does not contain wheat, rye, barley, and sometimes oats.

Fresh, unprocessed foods such as:

Fruits and vegetables (I won’t make a list, but that’s a lot of food!)
Fresh meat
Milk
Eggs
Plain rice

As for processed foods, learn to read labels. Wheat has to be declared in the list of ingredients or in an allergy line below the ingredients. That means that almost everything that contains gluten will say so on the label. Rye is pretty obvious in things such as rye bread. Barley most often comes up in malt flavoring, such as in cereals.

There are many gluten-free choices in the following categories, just check the label for the brand your store carries.

Canned fruits and vegetables
Frozen fruits and vegetables
Tomato sauces such as spaghetti sauce
Other pasta sauces
Canned beans and refried beans
Canned meats such as tuna and salmon
Condiments
Salad dressings
Seasonings
Chips (potato and corn based)
Juice and other drinks
Cheese
Yogurt
Hot dogs
Ham
Other processed meat


A couple of specific gluten-free items that are useful to know about are:
Rice Chex
Dinty Moore Beef Stew

There are some great gluten-free pasta choices. Tinkyada and Pastariso are brands I particularly like. I can find Tinkyada in the health food isle of my local Giant grocery store. They also carry Enviro Kids cereals. Health food stores are a great resource and carry a selection of gluten-free pastas and cereals.

If you’re new to this, you’re probably wondering about oats. Pure oats are safe for most celiacs. According to Dr. Alessio Fasano, 5-6% of celiacs do not tolerate pure oats. Pure oats are those grown in such a way to avoid contamination with wheat. You can find oats labeled gluten-free at health food stores and on the Internet. Cream Hill Estates is a brand I have used. Oats found at a regular grocery store are likely to be heavily contaminated with wheat. That would also be true of processed foods containing oats, even if the other ingredients are gluten-free, unless pure oats have been used.

Are you new to the gluten-free diet? Leave a comment or send and email and let me know how it’s going for you.

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Comments:
thank-you. ds son 29 has this, just diagnois last yr but I think he has had it since he was 5.
 
I want to thank you for this website. I have many friends with various allergies (lactose intolerance, allergic to milk protein, nut allergies, and more recently gluten allergies). I try to have a store of recipes on hand, and an awareness of everything I cook and every ingredient. I love food, and love having dinner parties. This website is very useful. I appreciate all you do to maintain it. Thanks!
 
I love getting comments like that, so thanks for taking the time to leave one. It means a lot.
 
Hi Linda,
Just wanted to thank you for this comprehensive site. I still don't know for sure what is up with my son (32 months old) and gluten but we noticed he was having issues with his nose and that it was always far worse when he was eating.

So just a couple of days ago I got some basic supplies in (bread, pasta and flour) and have kept him off the gluten since Sunday night. He is sleeping better, his nose no longer bothers him and he's less grumpy too!

I'm trying to get back to the doctor before Christmas so we can find out for sure one way or another but I really appreciated your explanation about the deal with oats (hence this comment.)

I was a bit stuck for what to give him for breakfast yesterday so having been told that oats would be fine, I made him some porridge. I couldn't understand why this troubled him but it did. And thanks to what you wrote, I can now see why ;)

Thank you again,
Eleanor
 
Eleanor, Thanks for your comments. It is such an encouragement to know that my blog helps people. I'm glad you are finding some answers for your son.
 
I am trying to get new recipes and new ideas of where to find things my son can eat! Any tips are great!! Thanks
 
I am so excited that I found this site! My six year old daughter was just diagnosed with celiac disease a week ago. I have been scouring the web for a comprehensive site. I'm not sure how strict we need to be with the diet since she doesn't have any symptoms! We did a blood test on her because she is pretty skinny. No fat just pure muscle. The blood test came back positive with celiac. Gluten never gave her stomach problems, irritability,etc. We were shocked! Any idea on how to tackle this?. Can you test positive but not really have a problem with gluten? Or maybe lack of weight gain is her symptom?...
Janna
 
Janna, That's one of the interesting things about celiac disease. Some people don't have obvious symptoms and other people have lots of them. There is always an autoimmune reaction including intestinal damage going on, however. She should stick to a strict gluten free diet regardless of obvious symptoms (and yes, lack of weight gain is a symptom). Many times there are more subtle symptoms going on that don't show up for years such as osteoporosis. In addition, triggering an autoimmune reaction could make her more likely to develop other autoimmune diseases. I hope that helps, and good luck with the diet!
 

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