A gluten-free diet involves excluding foods that contain the protein gluten, including wheat, rye and barley.

Most studies on gluten-free diets have been done on people with celiac disease, but there is another condition called gluten sensitivity that also causes problems with gluten.

If you are intolerant to gluten, then you need to avoid it completely. If not, you will experience severe discomfort and adverse health effects

Here is a complete guide to the gluten-free diet, including a delicious sample menu. But first, let’s start with the basics.

Foods to Avoid

Completely avoiding gluten can be challenging.

This is because it is found in many common ingredients that are added to foods.

These are the main sources of gluten in the diet:

  • Wheat-based foods like wheat bran, wheat flour, spelt, durum, kamut and semolina
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Triticale
  • Malt
  • Brewer’s yeast

Below are some foods that may have ingredients containing gluten added to them:

  • Bread. All wheat-based bread.
  • Pasta. All wheat-based pasta.
  • Cereals. Unless labeled gluten-free.
  • Baked goods. Cakes, cookies, muffins, pizza, bread crumbs and pastries.
  • Snack foods. Candy, muesli bars, crackers, pre-packaged convenience foods, roasted nuts, flavored chips and popcorn, pretzels.
  • Sauces. Soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, hoisin sauce, marinades, salad dressings.
  • Beverages. Beer, flavored alcoholic beverages.
  • Other foods. Couscous, broth (unless labeled gluten-free).

The easiest way to avoid gluten is to eat unprocessed, single-ingredient foods. Otherwise, you should read the food labels of most foods you buy.

Oats are naturally gluten-free. However, they are often contaminated with gluten, as they might be processed in the same factory as wheat-based foods

Foods to Eat

There are plenty of gluten-free options that will allow you to enjoy healthy and delicious meals.

The following foods are naturally gluten-free:

  • Meats and fish. All meats and fish, except battered or coated meats.
  • Eggs. All types of eggs are naturally gluten-free.
  • Dairy. Plain dairy products, such as plain milk, plain yogurt and cheeses. However, flavored dairy products may have added ingredients that contain gluten, so you will need to read the food labels.
  • Fruits and vegetables. All fruits and vegetables are naturally free of gluten.
  • Grains. Quinoa, rice, buckwheat, tapioca, sorghum, corn, millet, amaranth, arrowroot, teff and oats (if labeled gluten-free).
  • Starches and flours. Potatoes, potato flour, corn, corn flour, chickpea flour, soy flour, almond meal/flour, coconut flour and tapioca flour.
  • Nuts and seeds. All nuts and seeds.
  • Spreads and oils. All vegetable oils and butter.
  • Herbs and spices. All herbs and spices.
  • Beverages. Most beverages, except for beer (unless labeled as gluten-free).

If you’re ever unsure if a food item contains gluten, it’s best to read the food labels.

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