What is a gluten-free diet? The gluten-free diet is one of the most trending diets around the globe. But what is gluten exactly? Did you know that a gluten-free diet is quite a controversial diet in many ways?
Gluten is actually a protein which has a sticky nature when it comes in contact with water. It is naturally found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye.
Gluten-free diet is simply a diet without any traces of gluten.
The gluten-free diet is mainly followed by individuals diagnosed with gluten intolerance or in severe cases of celiac disease.
Celiac disease: It is an autoimmune disease. A person suffering from this disorder cannot digest gluten. This is because the body mistakes the gluten for a harmful foreign agent. As a result, the person after consuming food with gluten suffers from abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation, skin rashes, etc.
While some people display other symptoms such as fatigue, depression, anaemia, weight loss, etc. If the disease is not diagnosed and treated, it damages the small intestine.
However, some without the disease also have allergic reactions similar to that of the celiac disease or gluten intolerant individuals.
In such a case as well, they have to follow the gluten-free diet. This condition, where the person doesn’t have celiac disease or gluten intolerance but is allergic, suffers from a condition, known as, non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Nowadays, a gluten-free diet is also followed to help with weight loss and to adopt a healthier life.
Now to get started with the diet, knowledge about the food is important. You will be surprised to know gluten is present in most food that you have been consuming. For instance, bread, pasta, cereals, beer, salad dressings, various kinds of sauce and many more are high in gluten.
What to eat in gluten-free diet?
Firstly, if you are buying any packaged food, always check the ingredients. Go for products that are mentioned as gluten-free. Apart from the packaged food, you can have the below mentioned food without any thoughts:
- Fresh Meat and fish.
- All fruits and vegetables
- All types of legumes, seeds, and nuts (unprocessed)
- Dairy products. If you are consuming locally produced dairy products, then it is fine. But if it is packaged, do read the label to check if it is gluten-free or not.
- Naturally occurring starch found in potatoes, tapioca, corn.
- Grains such as rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, soy, unprocessed oats
- All herbs and spices
Now you must be thinking, what is left as almost everything is there.
What to avoid in gluten-free diet?
As I have mentioned earlier, if you are purchasing any packaged or processed food, you have to check the food labels for confirmation. Also, point to be noted, some manufacturers do mention the processed food as gluten-free but still contains a small amount of gluten. You should be careful about these foods before purchasing:
- All forms of food with wheat such as wheat starch, wheat germ, couscous, durum from which pasta is made, graham flour, bread, etc.
- Processed oats
- Barley malt
- Malt vinegar
- Certain salad dressings
- Soy sauce
- Canned, dehydrated fruits
- Malted milk drink
- Ice cream (if mentioned gluten-free, then, of course, you can consume)
- Beer, lager, ale
- Fried chicken and fish with batter.
Maintaining the diet
Maintaining a gluten-free diet is a challenge just like any other diet which is followed to improve the lifestyle. Following a gluten-free diet is mostly about the consumption of healthy food. Also, you need not worry about going out for meals because you can eat out obviously. Just keep in mind not to order anything fried and anything which should be avoided in a gluten-free diet, not even French fries.
You must be thinking that potatoes are allowed in a gluten-free diet. But the risk arises when it comes to the recipe the restaurants follow to make the dish. So, choose wisely.
Another important factor to note whether you should follow a gluten-free diet or not?
If you are diagnosed medically with any gluten related allergy, then, yes, you should follow this diet, or else it will cause further trouble.
If you do not have any such medical issues and you want to follow it for the purpose of losing weight, I suggest consulting with the doctor first for guidance is necessary. It is wise to take medical advice before making any changes to your diet according to your health.