A comprehensive short-list for gluten free diets
FOODS ALLOWED ON A GLUTEN-FREE DIET
Never assume that simple because a product is “gluten-free” that it is automatically good for you to eat. Always consider that non-organic and GMO foods and drinks can come with a whole set of health harms to be scrutinized carefully by the health-conscious food consumer.
Acceptable Grains, Breads, Cereals, Pastas
Rice, GMO-free corn and soy, arrowroot, potato, and tapioca-containing products. Breads may contain flour prepared from white or brown rice, potato, tapioca, arrowroot, pea, corn, or bean. Cereals include those from corn meal, millet, buckwheat, hominy, puffed rice, crisp rice, and cream of rice. Malt or malt flavoring derived specifically from corn. Pasta from rice, corn, and/or beans. Quinoa and Amaranth are fine.
Fresh, frozen, dried, or canned products whose labels indicate they are free of thickening agents. (Thickening agents often contain wheat flour).
Fresh, frozen, dried, or canned fruits.
Fresh, frozen, and canned meats.
All aged hard cheeses. Pasteurized processed cheeses including cottage cheese and cream cheese, and also ice cream that is free of gluten stabilizers. Most children with Celiac disease tolerate milk sugar (lactose)-containing milk and yogurt soon after starting a gluten-free diet.
Many but not all salad dressings are gluten-free. Apple, wine and rice vinegar are generally acceptable.
Drinks and Juices
Freshly brewed coffee, tea, chocolate made from powdered cocoa, some carbonated drinks, and juices made from fresh fruit.
Condiments and Additives
Soy sauce that does not contain wheat or barley. Hydrolyzed or textured soy and corn vegetable protein. Corn malt. Starch (raw or modified from arrowroot, corn or maize, potato, and tapioca). Vegetable gum from carob, locust bean, cellulose gum, guar gum, arabic gum, acacia gum, tragacanth, and xanthan gum.
There is no evidence that FDA-approved food colorings or monosodium glutamate (MSG) are harmful to persons with celiac disease.
FOODS NOT ALLOWED ON A GLUTEN FREE DIET:
Grains, Breads, Cereals, Pastas
Anything made with or containing wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt and kamut or triticale. Breads or cereals containing wheat starch contain small amounts of gluten; as do cereals and crackers containing wheat and oat bran, graham, wheat germ, and bulgar. Cereals or breads containing malt flavoring of unspecified origin. Regular spaghetti, macaroni, and noodles. Most packaged rice mixes such as Rice-a-roni.
Products containing thickening agents which may utilize food starches and stabilizers with gluten. (Thickening agents often contain wheat flour).
As with vegetables, avoid prepared fruits containing thickening agents found in fruit pie fillings.
Prepared meats including luncheon meats, sausages, and canned meats containing grain and starch fillers with gluten. Self-basting turkey and other fowl often contain fillers and brines infused with gluten. Fresh ground meats containing “Oattrim”or “LeanMaker”.
Cheese foods including spreads, soft cheeses, and dips often contain hidden gluten additives. Some ice creams also contain gluten ice cream stabilizers.
Salad dressings containing grain vinegar including distilled, white vinegar or if the type of vinegar is not stated. Some dressings contain emulsifiers and stabilizers made with gluten.
Drinks and Juices
Some brands of flavored coffee, herbal tea, and instant cocoa mixes, including malted milk. Grain-derived drinks including Postum and Ovaltine.
Condiments and Additives
Many soy sauces contain gluten. Products with grain vinegar including catsup and mustard. Soups or broths containing bouillon. Unspecified texturized or hydrolyzed vegetable protein, vegetable gum from oats and any other product containing an unspecified flour or cereal additive. Barley malt. Wheat starch. Caramel candy may contain gluten. Read labels on margarine to check for flour additives. Flavorings made with alcohol. Some spray coatings for “non-stick” uses have unspecified ingredients added.
Potential harmful ingredients include:
- unidentified starch
- modified food starch
- hydrolyzed vegetable protein-HVP
- hydrolyzed plant protein-HPP
- texturized vegetable protein-TVP
- binders, fillers, excipients, extenders
- malt & other natural flavorings
Gluten is sometimes used as a binder in some pharmaceutical products. Request clarification from food and drug manufacturers when necessary.
Alcohol and vinegar that are properly distilled should not contain any harmful gluten peptides (or prolomines). Research indicates that the gluten peptide is too large to carry over in the distillation process. This leaves the resultant liquid gluten-free unless a gluten-containing additive is inserted after the distillation process. Alcohols and vinegar should be carefully investigated for additives before consumption.
Malt vinegars are not distilled and therefore are not gluten-free.
READING LABELS FOR GLUTEN INGREDIENTS
When consuming any commercial food product, the list of ingredients must be read carefully. Although ingredients are listed in order of decreasing content, any product containing even the smallest amount of gluten must be avoided. Any ingredient of unspecified grain origin should be assumed to contain gluten. After all, the coveted label of “gluten free” means that this product will automatically cost you more. Truly gluten free products are openly advertised as such for this very reason.
Food manufacturers are generally willing to provide additional information about their products beyond what is listed on the label. Most labels have addresses of the manufacturers and many even have a toll-free telephone number. Similarly, some restaurants have ingredient lists for their products, either posted within the restaurant, on their website or available upon request.
Medications must always be checked. Fillers and excipients can be wheat-based. Example: Cough medicines often contain alcohol which could have beeen derived from a gluten grain.
Which grains are safe, which are not?
The common list of forbidden grains is: wheat, rye, barley and oats.
Unfortunately, there are variants out there that go by other names. Durum and semolina are names for certain kinds of wheat grains that have been bred for specific uses. Both spelt and kamut are versions of wheat. (Other names for these gluten grains are: spelta, Polish wheat, einkorn and small spelt). Bulgur is wheat that’s been specially processed. Triticale, a grain crossbred from wheat and rye, is definitely on the toxic list.
Though corn (AKA maize) is one of those grains that many people–not just Celiacs–may be allergic to, it is not a grain that is thought to cause damage to the intestinal villi in Celiacs. It is tolerated by most Celiacs.
Of the common grains, rice is the favorite as it rarely troubles anyone.
Aside from corn and rice, there is a wide variety of other grains that are used in gluten-free cooking. You sometimes see beans and peas (legumes, pulses) used for gluten free flours.
The following gluten free seeds and grains can be milled into flour: amaranth*, buckwheat* (or kasha), chickpeas (garbanzos), Job’s tears (Hato Mugi, Juno’s Tears, River Grain), lentils, millet*, peas, quinoa*, ragi, sorghum, soy, tapioca, teff*, and wild rice. Many of these flours are readily available in health food stores. Some (like rice flour) may be available in grocery stores.
(The products marked with an “*” are listed as grains to avoid by some physicians and celiac societies. See the discussion below about anectodal evidence and possible cross-contamination of flours for more information.)
To improve the texture of gluten-free baked goods, most cooks use one or more of the following: xanthan gum, guar gum (though this sometimes has a laxative effect), methylcellulose, or a more recent product called Clear Gel. These can be obtained either through health food stores, specialty cook’s stores, or some online and mail order sources.
Oils popular in gluten free cooking include: corn, peanut, olive, rapeseed (canola), safflower, soy, and sunflower.
Which alcoholic beverages are gluten free?
Wine, rum, tequila, and sake are generally safe choices as their alcohols do not generally originate from toxic grains. Some vodkas are also okay. However, as with any other ingested product, you should gauge your reaction and research and learn as much about your favored brands as possible.
Grain alcohols are some of the more controversial items for gluten free discussion. While the alcohol distillation process should leave no room for gluten particles to wind up in the end product, many Celiacs do report problems with grain-based alcohol ingestion. One hypothesis for this is that some of the original “mash” may be added back in at the end of the process for flavor. This is worth researching over with the manufacturer of your favorite product.
Many liquors are made with grain alcohol and so may be suspect. Whiskey, bourbon, gin and rye are definitely on the suspect list, since they are made with rye and barley. Beers also must be avoided in general, since malt (usually from barley) is a common beer ingredient. Even rice beers use malt.
Cancer Nutritionist Craig Stellpflug NDC, CNC
Dayspring Cancer Clinic Scottsdale, AZ
Copyright 2011 Craig Stellpflug© Permission is hereby granted to copy and distribute this article but only in its entirety