A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and a cross between wheat and rye called triticale.
A gluten-free diet is primarily used to treat celiac disease. Gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines of people with celiac disease. Eating a gluten-free diet helps people with celiac disease control their signs and symptoms and prevent complications.
According to a 2013 survey, 27% of Americans believe that eliminating gluten from their diets will help them shed excess pounds. High-profile celebs like Miley Cyrus and Victoria Beckham say the GF-lifestyle has helped them lose weight, too. The only problem? There is absolutely no evidence or reason to support that belief, says a new paper published in the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.
Switching to a gluten-free diet is a big change, and like anything new, it takes some getting used to. You may initially feel deprived by the diet’s restrictions, especially if you weren’t having troubling symptoms before your diagnosis.
It may help to try to focus on all the foods you can eat instead, however. You may be pleasantly surprised to realize how many gluten-free products, such as bread and pasta, are now available. Many specialty grocery stores sell gluten-free foods. If you can’t find them in your area, check with a celiac support group or search online.
If you’re just starting with a gluten-free diet, it’s a good idea to consult a dietitian who can answer your questions and offer advice about how to avoid gluten while still eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Gluten Free Food List
The following items can be consumed liberally on your Gluten Free Diet (go organic and local with your whole- food choices wherever possible; flash frozen is fine, too):
- Healthy fat: extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, grass-fed tallow and organic or pasture-fed butter, ghee, almond milk, avocados, coconuts, olives,nuts and nut butters, cheese (except for blue cheeses), and seeds (flaxseed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds).
- Protein: whole eggs; wild fish (salmon, black cod, mahi mahi, grouper,herring, trout, sardines); shellfish and molluscs (shrimp, crab, lobster, mussels, clams, oysters); grass-fed meat, fowl, poultry, and pork (beef, lamb, liver, bison, chicken, turkey, duck, ostrich, veal); wild game.
- Vegetables: leafy greens and lettuces, collards, spinach, broccoli, kale, chard, cabbage, onions, mushrooms, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, sauerkraut, artichoke, alfalfa sprouts, green beans, celery, bok choy, radishes, watercress, turnip, asparagus, garlic, leek, fennel, shallots, scallions, ginger, jicama, parsley, water chestnuts.
- Low-sugar Fruit: avocado, bell peppers, cucumber, tomato, zucchini, squash, pumpkin, eggplant, lemons, limes.
- Herbs, Seasonings, and Condiments: You can go wild here as long as you watch labels. Kiss ketchup and chutney goodbye but enjoy mustard, horseradish, tapenade, and salsa if they are free of gluten, wheat, soy, and sugar. There are virtually no restrictions on herbs and seasonings; be mindful of packaged products, however, that were made at plants that process wheat and soy.
The following can be used in moderation (“moderation” means eating small amounts of these ingredients once a day or, ideally, just a couple times weekly):
- Non-gluten grains: amaranth, buckwheat, rice (brown, white, wild), millet, quinoa, sorghum, teff. (A note about oats: although oats do not naturally contain gluten, they are frequently contaminated with gluten because they are processed at mills that also handle wheat; avoid them unless they come with a guarantee that they are gluten-free.) When non-gluten grains are processed for human consumption (e.g., milling whole oats and preparing rice for packaging), their physical structure changes, and this increases the risk of an inflammatory reaction. For this reason, we limit these foods.
- Legumes (beans, lentils, peas). Exception: you can have hummus (made from chickpeas).
- Carrots and parsnips.
- Whole sweet fruit: berries are best; be extra cautious of sugary fruits such as apricots, mangos, melons, papaya, prunes, and pineapple.
- Cow’s milk and cream: use sparingly in recipes, coffee, and tea.
- Cottage cheese, yogurt, and kefir: use sparingly in recipes or as a topping.
- Sweeteners: natural stevia and chocolate (choose dark chocolate that’s at least 70 percent or more cocoa).
- Wine: one glass a day if you so choose, preferably red.
Here’s a sample shopping list:
- Shredded Coconut
- Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Grass Fed Beef
- Free Range Eggs
- Free Range Turkey
- Free Range Chicken
- Mixed Greens
- Wild Salmon
- Berries (in moderation)
- Bell Pepper
- Black Pepper
- Goat’s Cheese