Gluten is a type of protein that is found in products made with wheat, rye, and barley. People who have celiac disease or another form of gluten intolerance cannot properly digest these proteins, leading to gastrointestinal health issues like stomach upset, pain, and vomiting.
Thankfully, managing celiac disease is simple once you know what kinds of foods to avoid. By following a gluten-free diet, you can pass on foods and drinks that cause pain while still enjoying plenty of tasty meals.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease affects over one percent of the U.S. population, and its prevalence has only increased in recent years. Chances are, if you don’t have celiac disease yourself, you probably know someone who does, which is why it’s so important to learn how to avoid aggravating this condition.
How Gluten Aggravates This Condition
Celiac disease is considered an autoimmune disorder. When someone with celiac disease eats gluten, this causes the body’s immune system to attack the villi in your small intestine, which are usually responsible for nutrient absorption. This can lead to symptoms ranging from bloating, constipation, and diarrhea to intense nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and fatigue.
Celiac flare-ups increase your risk of dehydration, and many people who suffer from celiac disease experience significant weight loss over time if they don’t follow the right diet.
Gastrointestinal Treatment Through a Gluten-Free Diet
Any ingestion of gluten can trigger a celiac flare-up. In addition to monitoring the ingredients of any topical products that you use, like lotions and hand sanitizers, you’ll want to keep a careful eye on what you eat.
Gastrointestinal treatments that involve following a gluten-free diet can prevent flare-ups from ever occurring, letting you enjoy a more comfortable life.
Many foods are naturally gluten-free and can be safely consumed on a celiac-friendly diet. You should always check nutritional information and consider if food could have come into contact with gluten contaminants, but for the most part, foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, plain meat, dairy products, and gluten-free grains are all safe.
Fruits and Vegetables
All fresh fruits and vegetables are safe to eat on a gluten-free diet. However, you’ll want to be wary of frozen and premade vegetables served in a sauce, as these sauces often contain gluten.
You have plenty of protein options on a gluten-free diet so long as you avoid anything overly processed or breaded. It’s best to eat lean meats like chicken, turkey, and fish, but red meat is gluten-free as well, though it should be enjoyed in moderation.
The vast majority of dairy products are safe to eat on a gluten-free diet. You’ll want to double-check the ingredients on any flavored milk, yogurt, and ice cream. Also, avoid anything malted, as malt contains gluten.
Not all grains contain gluten. There are plenty of options for supplying your body with healthy carbohydrates that don’t cause you pain. These include:
• brown rice
• wild rice
• oats labeled as gluten-free
Foods to Avoid
While there are plenty of ways to eat a healthy and delicious meal while following a gluten-free diet, there are also many types of food you should watch out for. In particular, avoid anything that contains ingredients derived from gluten, such as flour, malt, and wheat starch.
Breads, Pastas, and Baked Goods
Anything produced with wheat flour should be avoided on a gluten-free diet. This includes bready foods like pastas, crackers, and most baked goods, though products made with gluten-free grains are okay.
Note that many companies produce gluten-free breads and pastas. If you prefer to make your own, use gluten-free flours like almond flour, coconut flour, and rice flour.
Dressings and Condiments
Many condiments and salad dressings contain gluten as a thickening agent. Still, there are some gluten-free options, like oil and vinegar and most mustards. Just be sure to always read the label, and look for products that are specifically marked as gluten-free.
Beverages are often overlooked as sources of gluten. In particular, beer and any malted drinks contain gluten, though most kinds of soft drinks, wines, and hard liquors are safe for consumption.
It can take some time to get used to a gluten-free diet, but as you learn what to eat and what you should avoid, you’ll find it becomes easier to make the right dietary choices. This will help you maintain good gastrointestinal health without any pain from your diet.