Gluten is a protein compound that is found in most grains, including wheat, barley, and rye. Some form of gluten is also found in other foods such as white rice, oats and corn. Gluten is the substance that can be mixed with flour that helps give the texture and consistency of breads, crackers and some pasta. There can be small amounts of gluten in many other processed foods such as cereal, sauces, salad dressings, candy, processed meats, and condiments. Beer and many other alcoholic beverages also contain gluten. The best way of knowing if the food you eat contains gluten is to read the label carefully.

How do you know if you are gluten sensitive? One way of helping to determine if you are sensitive to gluten is to try a strict gluten-free diet for at least 3 months. As more people are becoming aware of gluten sensitivity, there are a wider variety of gluten-free products available. However, read all of the labels carefully, as some products may say “gluten free”, but can still contain a small amount. Be aware that many sauces, canned products and condiments contain small amounts of gluten. One easy way of avoiding gluten completely is to limit any processed food and stick with lean meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and berries (read more about the Paleo diet). While you avoid gluten, keep a food diary that includes your symptoms (or lack of symptoms). After 3 months, review the diary with your health care provider and discuss if your symptoms have improved.

SYMPTOMS of gluten intolerance include (but are not limited to):

  • Abdominal bloating/cramps/ pain
  • Diarrhea and/or constipation, nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Weight  gain
  • Hair loss
  • Skin rash- called Dermatitis Herpetiformis- itching, blisters, redness
  • Depression and mood problems
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain/generalized muscle pain

 

What foods contain gluten?—most processed foods contain gluten unless stated otherwise on the label

  • Breads/cereals/pasta/tortillas
  • Candy
  • Ice cream
  • White rice
  • Pretzels, chips, pizza
  • many sauces, gravy, soy sauce and salad dressings
  • Beer and several alcoholic beverages
  • Cakes/cookies/pancakes
  • Processed meats (sausage, hot dogs, lunch meat, etc) and some cheese
  • Flavored milks (such as chocolate milk), and some soda such as root beer
  • Some additives in vitamins and supplements

The easiest way to avoid gluten is to avoid processed foods and stick to
lean meat, chicken, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and berries!

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