If you or your child has celiac disease, your body reacts to gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains. The reaction occurs in your small intestine and prevents needed nutrients from being absorbed. You may experience unpleasant effects, such as bloating and stomach cramps, after eating a piece of bread or anything made of wheat. Starting a new diet, especially one that seems to eliminate so many common foods, can be tricky. Go gluten-free by focusing on what you can eat, instead of what you shouldn’t.
Educate yourself about which grains are safe to eat on a gluten-free diet. Rice, either white or brown, does not contain gluten. Other healthy whole grains, such as quinoa and corn, are also gluten-free. More exotic grains and seeds, such as amaranth, buckwheat and millet, are also safe to eat.
Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, which are naturally gluten free. If you love to eat salads, trade in your croutons for slivered almonds or crushed cashews. If you’re a sandwich person, try a veggie wrap on a corn tortilla instead of a roll or bread.
Keep eating meat, but steer clear of anything that’s breaded or marinated. Some soy-based marinades may contain gluten. If you are breading the meat at home, use crushed corn flakes instead of bread crumbs. Keep other gluten-free sources of protein in mind, such as beans and tofu. Seitan, a vegetarian protein made from gluten, is off-limits.
Read the ingredient labels of processed and packaged food. Gluten can hide in unexpected places, such as salad dressings, chocolate and even in some beverages. A lot of labels will tell you if the product was made in a factory that also produces food with wheat ingredients as well.
Play around with gluten-free flours and stabilizers, such as xanthan gum to prepare your favorite wheat recipes or try prepared gluten-free breads or baked goods. Gluten-free baked goods may not taste quite as good as you hope, so you may need to experiment with several brands or combinations of gluten-free flour before you find a recipe or brand you like.