People suffering from a gluten intolerance will experience symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and generally feel unwell after consuming foods and dishes containing gluten. Rarer symptoms that can also occur are headaches, anxiety, confusion, skin rashes, as well as joint and muscle pain.
By the way: a gluten intolerance is not the same as a wheat allergy. While a gluten intolerance causes discomfort, a wheat allergy will cause stronger symptoms like hives, swelling, and breathing difficulties, which often require medical attention.
Avoiding gluten sounds simple enough at first – just don’t eat anything containing any form of wheat, barley, or rye, right? But unfortunately, it’s not quite as straightforward, since wheat and wheat varieties containing gluten are used to make a very long list of products.
Food products and dishes typically containing gluten
- Wheat-based bread varieties like bagels, pittas, flatbreads, rolls, breadcrumbs, and croutons
- Wheat varieties like barley, bulgur, couscous, durum, einkorn, emmer, farina, farro, graham flour, kamut, seitan, semolina, spelt, rye, wheat bran, and wheat starch
- Wheat-based pasta varieties and traditional pizza dough
- Wheat-based beverages like beers, ales, porters, stouts, and lagers
- Wheat-based pastries and desserts like pancakes, scones, biscuits, cereal, crumpets, cakes, cookies, muffins and more
- Wheat-based meat and seafood substitutes
On packaged products, gluten may be referred to as triticum vulgare (wheat), triticale (a cross between wheat and rye), hordeum vulgare (barley), secale cereale (rye), and triticum spelta (spelt).
Wheat itself may be referred to as bromated flour, cereal extract, cracker meal, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydrolyzed wheat protein, matzoh, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and triticale.
Dietary supplements containing wheat gluten must state “wheat” on the label.
Alternatives to gluten products
With so many food products and dishes off the table, which foods are safe to eat with a gluten intolerance? Good news: there’s more alternatives on the market than you might think!
Here’s a list of substitutes for all kinds of products, divided into categories:
Gluten free flour for baking
- Buckwheat flour
- Quinoa flour
- Rice flour
- Potato flour
- Chickpea flour
- Almond flour
- Sorghum flour
- Amaranth flour
- Teff flour
- Oat flour
- Corn flour
Gluten free pasta
- Chickpea pasta
- Lentil pasta
- Brown rice pasta
- Quinoa pasta
- Corn pasta
- Soba noodles (made from buckwheat flour)
- Vegetable noodles made from zucchini, carrot, or squash
Gluten free side dishes
- Rice (all varieties)
Get all your vitamins and nutrients
Keep in mind that a gluten-free diet can cause a lack of certain vitamins and nutrients in your diet, most notably iron, calcium, fiber, thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), and folate (vitamin B9). A certified nutritionist can set up an individual diet plan for you that will make sure you get all the nutrients you need when you’re gluten-free.
Here’s a short overview of foods that contain these nutrients:
- Iron: Red meat, pork, poultry, seafood, beans, dark green leafy vegetables (e.g., spinach), peas, dried fruit (e.g., raisins, apricots
- Calcium: Dairy products (e.g., milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.), green leafy vegetables, soy drinks with added calcium
- Fiber: Nuts and seeds, potatoes with skin, broccoli, carrots, sweetcorn, berries, pears, melons, oranges
- Thiamin/Vitamin B1: Nuts and seeds, pork, fish, beans, green peas, tofu, brown rice, squash, asparagus
- Riboflavin/Vitamin B2: Beef, tofu, milk, fish, mushrooms, pork, spinach, almonds, avocados, eggs
- Niacin/Vitamin B3: Fish, beef, poultry, legumes, nuts and seeds, soy products
- Folate/Vitamin B9: Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, dark green leafy vegetables, peas, chickpeas, kidney beans