What is gluten free diet? Mean spirited jokes about this eating plan have been circulating for years, perhaps because of the misconception that it’s extremely restrictive, and perhaps because people who follow gluten free diets must often ask questions when deciding what to eat.
The simplest way to answer the question is to define gluten. Gluten is a type of natural protein found in foods containing wheat, rye, and barley. Foods containing triticale, kamut, and spelt are off the menu too, along with anything that contains durum, semolina, farina, and einkorn.
Some oat products also contain gluten; sometimes it’s because oat crops are grown alongside wheat and other gluten-containing crops, and sometimes gluten makes its way into oats during processing on shared equipment.
Gluten foods are everywhere; for example, most pizza crusts, breads, pies, cakes, cookies, cereals, and crackers contain gluten. Luckily, food manufacturers are adding a wide variety of certified products to the gluten free food list 2017 and beyond, making it far easier to enjoy familiar foods without worry.
What are the benefits of a gluten free diet?
There are many benefits that come with following a gluten free diet. For people with celiac disease, going gluten free means that their intestinal tracts have a chance to recover from the damage caused by previous intake.
Although it was initially created to help people with celiac disease, others can benefit from it, particularly those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Gluten intolerance symptoms can vary from one person to the next. They include:
- Painful cramps
- Stomach discomfort or pain
- Acid reflux
- Joint pain
- Bone pain
- Muscle cramps
This is by no means an exhaustive list of gluten intolerance symptoms – but it serves as an illustration of the sometimes-serious discomfort that gluten can cause. Going stops some symptoms almost immediately, while others associated with long-term inflammation may take longer to clear up.
For some following a gluten free diet, weight loss is another benefit. Calories need to be taken into account though, particularly if you’re using certified baking ingredients like quinoa, amaranth, millet, and eating other calorie-dense foods. If you are hoping to shed some excess weight by following this plan, then it pays to take a sensible, conscientious approach and choose nutrient-dense foods. Many prepared choices are very high in calories, just like their gluten containing counterparts.
Sample Shopping List
Ready to shop? Use this list of naturally for kids to create delicious meals that everyone will enjoy.
Popular Gluten Free Brands and Products
There’s great news for everyone following a gluten free diet plan: Grocery store shelves are brimming with good choices that offer similar characteristics to standard foods on the “do not eat” list. This is just a sampling of some of the top brands. Many supermarkets carry their own gluten-free lines, and there are lots of stores offering in bulk. Spend a little time checking out the shelves and you’ll probably be amazed at what you find there.
Amy’s Kitchen – Prepared gluten free entrees and more
Ancient Harvest – pasta and more
Annie’s – Natural gluten free snacks and more
Arrowhead Mills – Gluten free baking ingredients
Barbara’s Bakery – Gluten free snacks, baked goods and more
Bob’s Red Mill – Gluten free baking mixes, ingredients, and more
Bisquick – Gluten free baking mixes and more
Chebe – baking mixes
Enjoy Life – Gluten free baking mixes
Garden of Eatin’ – snacks
Glutino – Gluten free cookies, crackers, and more
Kind – energy bars
Larabar – energy bars
Mary’s Gone Crackers – Gluten free crackers
Pamela’s – Gluten free baking mixes
Primal Kitchen – Gluten free baking ingredients, condiments, and more
Simple Mills – Gluten free crackers, baking mixes, ingredients, and more
Thrive Market – Gluten free grains, condiments, baking mixes, and more
TruRoots – Gluten free pasta and more
Udi’s – Gluten free breads and buns
List of Naturally Gluten Free Foods
- All fresh fruits
- All fresh vegetables
- All unprocessed dairy products
- All unprocessed fish and seafood including salmon (here is a grilled salmon recipe that you can try)
- All unprocessed meat
- Many cereals, i.e. Chex, Rice Krispies, and several other varieties; always look for gluten-free labeling
- Many salad dressings; look for gluten-free labels
- Most canned fruits
- Most canned vegetables
- Most corn tortillas (double-check ingredients and look for gluten-free labels)
- Most frozen fruits
- Most frozen vegetables
- Most nuts, nut milks, and nut spreads
- Most ketchup brands
- Most mayonnaise brands
- Most mustard brands
- Most seasonings and spices
- Plain beans, either dried or canned
- Plain, unseasoned rice
- Popcorn (be cautious of flavored varieties; read ingredients)
- Potatoes, potato chips, and other potato products (be cautious of flavored varieties; read ingredients)
- Fish sauce
- Rice noodles (be cautious of flavored varieties; read ingredients)
- Salted and unsalted corn chips (be cautious of flavored varieties; read ingredients)
- Some soft drinks – double check for gluten
- Veggie burgers ( be sure to read ingredients)
- Wine – most wines are gluten free
Gluten Free Foods for Kids
While it’s true that kids can enjoy the same gluten-free foods you do, you might also want to stock up on some special treats. Here are suggestions for 25 kid-friendly gluten free foods – and remember – learning to bake some favorites such as chocolate chip cookies will make an even greater hero out of you, in their eyes! Check out some gluten free recipes here.
- Apple chips
- Banana chips
- Cereals such as Rice Chex or EnviroKidz Organic Gorilla Munch
- Cheese sticks
- Dried fruit
- Fresh fruits like kid-sized apples, clementines, grapes, pears, etc.
- Frozen treats such as popsicles – many are gluten free
- Fruit leather
- Fruit sorbet
- Gelatin (most varieties are gluten-free)
- Gluten-free crackers and snacks such as Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Puffs
- Gluten-free granola bars
- Gluten-free pretzels
- Homemade Chex mix
- Home-popped popcorn
- Kale chips
- Rice Krispy treats
- Peanut butter on celery
- Pumpkin seeds
- Quick lunches like Annie’s Organics Gluten-free Macaroni and Cheese
- Rice cakes (be cautious of flavored varieties; read ingredients)
- Tapioca pudding (double-check ingredients or make homemade)
- Veggie sticks
- Sweet potato chips
The basic gluten free diet plan revolves around avoiding certain foods that contain gluten. This list of gluten foods to avoid will make meal planning and shopping easier. Note that some varieties of common gluten-containing foods are also available in gluten-free varieties, and always remember to double-check labels since different manufacturers use different additives or process foods using shared equipment.
Gluten Foods to Avoid
All foods with labeling that warns of processing on equipment shared with wheat
Barley and products that contain it
Blue cheese – many varieties contain bread mold
Breads and baked goods not labeled as gluten-free
Breaded meats, seafoods, vegetables, cheese sticks, etc.
Cream soups – many contain gluten in thickening agents; read labels carefully
Durum and products that contain it
Farina and products that contain it
Fried foods prepared in the same oil as gluten-containing fried foods
Graham flour and products that contain it
Gravy mix and prepared gravy – most contain gluten; some gluten-free varieties are available
Licorice and similar chewy candies – many contain flour as a thickener
Mock meats and seafoods – most contain gluten
Most baked goods – cakes, cupcakes, donuts, muffins, pies, etc.
Most Beer – some breweries now offer gluten-free varieties
Most bread – breads and similar products including rolls, buns, croutons, flour tortillas, sandwich wraps, etc.
Most communion wafers – Some churches have standardized gluten-free communion wafers; double-check for safety
Most matzo – some brands now offer gluten-free varieties; double-check to see if they’re appropriate for Seder
Processed cheeses – most varieties may contain
Flavored yogurt – many varieties contain gluten; be sure to double-check labels
Ice cream flavors that might contain gluten, i.e. birthday cake, cookie dough, and cookies & cream
Kamut and products that contain it
Malt – this is usually made from barley
Pasta – Most pasta contains gluten; the good news is that many stores now offer plenty of gluten-free pasta varieties
Pizza – Standard pizza should be avoided but many places now offer the option of gluten-free crust
Processed meal mixes such as Hamburger Helper or Rice-a-Roni – Some of these are gluten free; just be sure to check labels
Processed meats such as deli meat, hot dogs, and sausages – many varieties contain fillers and seasonings with gluten; others offer prominent gluten-free labeling
Processed potato products – Many varieties of quick scalloped potatoes and instant potatoes contain in the flavor mixes and as a thickener
Rye and products that contain it
Semolina and products that contain it
Soy sauce – most brands are fermented with wheat; gluten-free varieties are available
Spelt and products that contain in
Triticale and products that contain it
Vegetables with sauce included – many contain gluten
Wheat and products that contain it
You might want to take a gluten free food list – printable or on your mobile – with you when you shop, especially at first. Many gluten-free foods are prominently labeled, which can make shopping simpler, too.