December 11, 2008

You Ask, I Answer: Gluten-Free Diets

I just learned I have celiac disease.

My doctor told me to avoid wheat [and wheat by-products.]

He mentioned to also steer clear of barley and rye.

A family member told me that's only the surface of things I should avoid, since things like soymilk and spelt should also not be eaten.

Can you give me some information?

-- Marie Brilmer

(Location withheld)

Although I am sure this new diagnosis seems initially overwhelming, I am glad you now have a way to explain a lot of the uncomfortable symptons I am sure you were experiencing.

It's a shame your doctor's advice was so vague. Your family member is right -- simply thinking of a gluten-free diet as "no wheat, barley, or rye" is only part of the puzzle.

Her soymilk concern is somewhat on target.

Some soymilks use malt flavorings -- derived from barley -- as flavoring agents. As always, you must read the ingredient label to figure out which brands fit into your celiac-friendly eating plan.

Other things to look out for:

* Soy sauce, which can contain wheat

* Bulgur, which is a wheat product

* Durum flour, also a wheat product (this is what conventional pastas are made with)

* Triticale, a mixture of wheat and rye

* Products containing hydrolyzed vegetable OR hydrolyzed plant protein (this includes canned tuna) -- usually derived from wheat protein

* Items containing wheat starch (including, but not limited to, cake frosting, gravy, pre-sliced cheese, and over the counter drugs)

I should also inform you that many cosmetics companies add wheat starch to their lipsticks as filler.

Since even a tiny amount of wheat can set off all sorts of unpleasant reactions, be sure to research brands that offer celiac-friendly makeup!

1 comment:

Kristin said...

Check out this Web site:

Something I learned from it that might not seem immediately obvious is that your wooden cutting boards (if you have any) absorb gluten, so you will need to re-gift them to someone who can use them and buy new ones.

There is a whole wealth of information on this Web site (especially in the links) that you may find useful, especially if you cook. And if you have to eat GF, and you don't know how to cook this would be a good time to learn. Just know that there are plenty of good things out there for you to eat that are GF, and more and more GF products made available daily. So don't feel discouraged–it's sort of an adventure in learning what you can and can't eat and learning how to work around your intolerance creatively.

Best of luck!