So, what exactly does it mean to be on a gluten free diet? Typically this diet is associated with treating people that have Celiac (Coeliac) disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder of the small bowel that occurs in genetically predisposed people of all ages from middle infancy. While difficult to diagnose, each day doctors are correctly diagnosing more people with the disease based on their Celiac symptoms. Treatment of the disease typically involves being on a gluten free diet.
What foods contain gluten?
A gluten free diet is a diet completely free of ingredients derived from gluten-containing foods: wheat (including Kamut and spelt), barley, rye, oats and triticale, as well as the use of gluten as a food additive in the form of a flavoring, stablizing or thickening agent. Although most patients can tolerate oat products, there is a controversy about including them in a gluten free diet: some medical practitioners say they may be permitted, but the Celiac Society advises against them.
What foods are gluten free?
Several grains and starch sources are considered acceptable for a gluten-free diet. The most frequently used are maize (corn), potatoes, rice, and tapioca (derived from cassava). Other grains and starch sources generally considered suitable for gluten-free diets include amaranth, arrowroot, millet, montina, lupine, quinoa, sorghum (jowar), sweet potato, taro, teff, and yam. Various types of bean, soybean, and nut flours are sometimes used in gluten-free products to add protein and dietary fiber. In spite of its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat; pure buckwheat is considered acceptable for a gluten-free diet, although many commercial buckwheat products are actually mixtures of wheat and buckwheat flours, and thus not acceptable. Gram flour, derived from chickpeas, is also gluten free.
Gluten is also used in foods in some unexpected ways, for example as a stabilizing agent or thickener in products like ice cream and ketchup
People wishing to follow a completely gluten free diet must also take into consideration the ingredients of any over-the-counter or prescription medications and vitamins. Also, cosmetics such as lipstick, lip balms, and lip chap may contain gluten and need to be investigated before use.
Living on a Gluten Free Diet
People diagnosed with Celiac Disease will often become anti-social, prefering the comfort of their own cooking over the hassle of trying to find gluten free foods out in the world. This also reduces the risk of cross-contamination, which is always something people on the diet need to be wary of.
As more people are either diagnosed with Celiac Disease or know someone how is, things have steadily been improving for people who want to become more social.