It's commonly found in wheat and many other grains including barley, spelt, and rye.
Together, glutenin and gliadin make up 80 percent of the protein in wheat.
Because gluten provides a glue-like consistency, it is used in wide variety of foods as a sticky bond (2).
In baked goods, gluten makes dough elastic, enables dough to rise, and gives a chewy texture.
While gluten has been a common part of people’s diet for thousands of years, it causes serious health problems in people with gluten sensitivities or intolerance.
More precisely, it’s reported that it's the gliadin part of gluten that causes the harmful effects in some people.
Gluten is used in practically all types of foods from dressings to pasta, and for those who are starting a gluten free diet for the first time, the task of finding gluten-free foods can be very daunting.
Identifying what to eat and what to avoid is where most people get stuck and frustrated.
If that's you, don't.
While it may seem almost every food on the planet contains gluten, there are still plenty of foods that are free of gluten that you can enjoy and eat without worrying about gluten intolerance symptoms.
With that being said, since gluten is found in wheat, rye, spelt, and other grains, any food made with those ingredients are off limit.
This means wheat pasta, crackers, baked-good and even cakes need to be avoided.
So what can you eat?
The rest of this post will explain what you can eat while going gluten-free.
What to Eat On a Gluten-Free Diet?
Again gluten is a two-part protein that can be found in wheat, spelt, rye, and barley. So it’s clear those grains are out!
But not all grains contain gluten.
In fact there are about a dozen you can still eat. Ancient grains like oats, quinoa, rice, buckwheat and corn for example are all naturally gluten free.
However it still important to read food labels to ensure they are "certified gluten free" or GF. This is because modern food-processing techniques usually cross-contaminate these foods with gluten since they are often processed using the same equipment that wheat uses.
Gluten free grains
Grains listed below are naturally gluten-free and can be enjoyed on your gluten-free diet.
- Corn (maize)
- Buckwheat groats (also known as kasha)
- Gluten-free oats
- Nut flours
The healthiest way to eat when you’re gluten intolerant is to follow a gluten-free diet that includes all natural fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
In their natural state, all fruits and non-grain vegetables are gluten free.
However when buying raw vegetables, remember to wash them thoroughly before eating in case they have come in contact with a product containing gluten.
If you’re buying frozen or canned vegetables or fruits, read the label to be sure it's gluten free.
Plain milk from animals (cows, goat, or sheep) is gluten-free in its natural state.
However when buying butter, yogurt, or ice cream, be sure to check the label for barley malt or maltodextrin, which may be used as sweeteners.
Hard cheese is gluten-free, but it always pays to check the label.
Meat, Poultry, and Fish
According to Celiac.com, beef, pork, lamb, poultry and fish are naturally gluten-free. Again just like the fresh fruits and veggies, store them separate from any gluten-containing products to avoid cross contamination. Wash before you cook.
Packaged meats, poultry, and fish, as well as restaurant entrees, are frequently covered with breadcrumbs or a flour-containing sauce, both of which contain gluten.
Buy fresh whenever possible, and read packages carefully to ensure they’re certified gluten-free.
Nuts, Seeds, and Beans
Beans, nuts, and seeds are naturally gluten-free in their most natural state.
You can find the complete list of nuts and seeds here. If you are buying these items from a bulk bin, be sure to use gluten-free designated serving spoon to avoid cross contamination. For canned goods, look for "GF" sign on the product label.
Gluten-Free Food List
Your gluten-free diet can still be nutritious and delicious.
With gluten-free diets, you certainly have grains and food items you need to absolutely avoid such as wheat and barley. However, there are still many grains who are wheat and gluten-free that can be incorporated into your diet.
Not only that, many common wheat-containing foods such as pasta, noodles, and bread now have gluten-free varieties that utilize non-gluten grains and starches. You can also use vegetables to substitute noodles and pasta. Take zoodles for an example. Zoodles are zucchinis made into pasta shaped.
Additionally, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are naturally gluten-free. Also, meat, poultry, and fish are all naturally safe.
But when in doubt, check "GF" sign for certified gluten-free food items.