Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, or sometimes oats. It may also be found in some medicines. When a person with celiac disease eats or drinks anything containing gluten, the immune system responds by damaging the lining of the intestinal tract. This affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
Carefully following a gluten-free diet helps prevent symptoms of the disease.
Gluten-free diet; Gluten sensitive enteropathy – diet; Celiac sprue – diet
To follow a gluten-free diet means, you need to avoid all foods, drinks, and medications made with gluten. This means not eating anything made with barley, rye, and wheat. All items made with all-purpose, white, or wheat flour are prohibited.
FOODS YOU CAN EAT
- Cereals made without wheat or barley malt
- Fruits and vegetables
- Meat, poultry, and fish (not breaded or made with regular gravies)
- Milk-based items
- Oats (may be okay for some people with celiac disease, but work closely with your doctor or dietitian)
FOODS TO AVOID
- Flax, millet
- Legumes, nuts, seeds, cassava
- Tapioca, sorghum
The gluten-free diet involves removing all foods, drinks, and medications made from gluten. This means not eating anything made with barley, rye, and wheat. All items made with all-purpose, white, or wheat flour are prohibited.
Obvious sources of gluten include:
- Breaded foods
- Breads, bagels, croissants, buns
- Cakes, donuts, and pies
- Cereals (most)
- Cold cuts, hot dogs, salami, or sausage
- Crackers and many snacks bought at the store, such as potato chips and tortilla chips
- Pancakes and waffles
- Pasta and pizza
- Soups (most)
Less obvious foods that must be eliminated include:
- Candies (some)
- Communion breads
- Marinades, sauces, soy and teriyaki sauces
- Salad dressings (some)
- Self-basting turkey
There is a risk of cross-contamination. Items that are naturally gluten-free may become contaminated if they are made on the same production line, or moved together in the same place, as foods containing gluten.
Eating at restaurants, work, school, and social gatherings can be challenging. Call ahead and plan. It is important to read labels before buying or eating, due to the widespread use of wheat and barley in foods.
Despite its challenges, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is possible with education and planning.
Talk to a registered dietitian who specializes in celiac disease and the gluten-free diet to help you plan your diet.
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Your doctor might have you take multivitamin and mineral or individual nutrient supplement to correct or prevent a deficiency.