The Celiac Disease Diet

If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, it means that your immune system cannot cope with gluten. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, oats and barley, so as a celiac you must avoid any foods or drinks made wih any of these grains, it’s that simple.

Whiskey is gluten free
Hooray! Whiskey is gluten free

There are a few exceptions to this, where the process of making the finished product eliminates the gluten (such as the distillation of whiskey), or the product is made from a flour that has been processed to remove the gluten.

As an alternative to wheatflour, the following, amongst others, may be used instead; Rice flour, maize flour, potato starch, cornflour or gram flour (from chickpeas).

The celiac disease diet does not have to be boring however, with the specialist products that are available, most food can be made in a similar way to it’s gluten-filled counterpart. It does seem though that manufacturer’s find it difficult to make a bread that is as soft and pliable as regular bread. Genius, available in the UK, is very close and I would recommend trying it if you have been disappointed with other brands. Many supermarkets are now labelling food as WF (Wheat Free) or GF (Gluten Free), but there is no requirement for them to do so by law yet in the UK or the US, so you must be responsible for checking what you are buying.

Be careful when buying or ordering drinks, as some colas, ginger beer and squash such as barley water may also contain gluten. Beer and lager is made from barley so unfortunately, it must be avoided at all cost. Instead try cider, wine or schnapps and lemonade if you fancy a long drink, just be aware of the volume of alcohol you are drinking as these type of drinks can be a lot stronger than beer.

When shopping you must be extra vigilant if you are buying fresh processed meat like sausages and burgers as they may contain wheatflour or rusk as a binder and filler. Always ask what is in these type of foods if it is not clear and when you are in the supermarket always read all the labels. You will be surprised at some of the products that contain gluten, rice crispies breakfast cereal for instance have wheatflour in. Beware also of products containing malt vinegar, it is made from malted barley (malted barley is also used as a colouring in many foods so be on your guard).

As you cut out bread and other high-fibre foods from your diet because they are made from wheat, you must substitute them for other high-fibre alternatives. If you do not, you may well suffer from poor bowel function and constipation. Potatoes, beans, lentils, chickpeas and broccoli are all a good source of fibre to name but a few. If you are in the UK and have been diagnosed with celiac disease, you can get an allowance of specialist food every month on prescription. This will help to maintain your levels of fibre, and other nutrients such as iron that you could be lacking by cutting out wheat based food from your diet.