Gluten is a little protein molecule that is found in some grains, including wheat. For some people gluten is a big problem as it sparks off an intolerant or allergic reaction.
Some people have Coeliac Disease which is an autoimmune condition causing a permanent intolerance to gluten. People with Coeliacs have to avoid all forms of gluten. It is possible, however to have a less severe form of gluten sensitivity which can cause quite an array of unpleasant symptoms (bloating, constipation, flatulence, fatigue, loss of appetite and so on). This factsheet is designed for this latter group of people.
Where do I find gluten?
Gluten is present in a number of different grains including wheat, barley, spelt, rye and triticale. It is present in small amounts in oats, although some coeliacs can tolerate oats.
Any foods that contain the above grains also contain gluten. Unfortunately these grains, especially wheat are very, very common and present in many processed foods. Most of us eat these foods every day of our lives.
Tips for Avoiding Gluten
- Read all food labels carefully - this will mean your first few shopping trips will take longer than normal, but you will soon get used to the foods you can and can’t eat.
- Gluten free breads usually taste better toasted and are best stored in the fridge or freezer. Experiment with a few different brands as some are definitely better than others.
- When eating out choose foods without crumbing, coatings, gravies and sauces. Ask restaurant staff for recommendations. It is often best to call ahead to notify the chef of dietary requirements.
- Replace gluten containing foods with brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, potatoes, beans and legumes, fresh fruit and Vegies.
- Avoid skipping meals, eat slowly and chew all food thoroughly.
- Plan your meals and carry snacks with you so you are prepared for all eventualities.
- There are a number of coeliac societies around Australia and they provide information to all people trying to avoid gluten. For information on ingredients, where to shop, friendly restaurants, cooking and recipe tips have a look at the website: www.nsw.coeliac.org.au
Gluten Free Eating
Here is a list of the main gluten containing foods, along with the all important alternatives that you can include in your diet. While going gluten free takes some adjusting there are more and more good alternatives available.
Foods to Include
- Grains: buckwheat, rice, amaranth, wild rice, maize (corn), quinoa, millet, sorghum, polenta.
- Roots & tubers: potato, tapioca, arrowroot, sweet potato, parsnip, jerusalem artichoke
- Legumes: beans, soy, lentils, peas, chickpeas
- Breads: gluten free breads based on buckwheat, corn, rice, chickpea flour, soya flour.
- Cereals: gluten free muesli; make your own muesli with gluten free grains, quinoa, rice flakes, raw nuts & seeds & coconut; polenta porridge; brown rice with yoghurt, fruit & honey
- Pastas: 100% buckwheat noodles; rice noodles; corn, soy & rice pastas - some pastas are a bit mushy, so try a few different brands
- Crackers: rice cakes, corn cakes, gluten free products. Be careful of preservatives and flavourings as these may contain gluten.
- Flours: soy, buckwheat, millet, rice, finely ground polenta, potato, chickpea (besan)
- Snacks & desserts: popcorn, dried fruit, fresh fruit, carob, sesame snacks, fruit and nut bars, gluten free biscuits or other snacks. There are many ‘gluten free’ products and outlets.
- Seasonings and thickeners: tamari (wheat free soy sauce), fresh/dried herbs and spices; vinegars except for malt; 100% corn flour; arrowroot, kuzu and agaragar
- Beverages: white or white wine wine, light rum, tequila without dyes, potato vodka, teas, coffee, soft drinks, mineral water, fresh fruit/Vegie juices
Foods to Avoid
- Grains: wheat (including durum, semolina, triticale), spelt, rye, bulgur, couscous and possibly oats
- Roots & tubers: French fries - check the label as they are often cooked with wheat flour.
- Legumes: baked beans unless gluten free - check label.
- Breads: wheat breads (including sour dough), rye bread, oat bread, barley bread, burritos, pumpernickel bread, pitta bread, some mountain breads
- Cereals: most commercial cereals including rice bubbles, wheat-bix, bran flakes, special K; wheat germ; wheat bran; porridge oats; oat bran; cereals containing malt
- Pastas: durum wheat pasta (spaghetti, macaroni, etc), egg noodles, hokkein noodles,barley pasta, spelt pasta, many soba -Buckwheat- noodles contain wheat (check label)
- Crackers: wheat crackers, ryvita, oatcakes, bran biscuits
- Flours: wheat, wholemeal, baker’s, rye, semolina, barley, battered/crumbed foods
- Snacks & desserts: most biscuits, cookies, cakes, scones, pastries, liquorice and pies and some lollies
- Stock, seasonings and thickeners: malt and malt vinegar; vegemite; wheat starch; soy sauce; gravy
- Beverages: cereal & malted beverages; malted milks; wheat beer; ovaltine & milo
- Gluten free toast with avocado and tomato; ricotta and honey; tinned sardines and cucumber; nut butter and gluten free marmite; banana and jam; hummus, rocket and tomato.
- Fruit and yoghurt and a sprinkling of nuts and seeds.
- Polenta or quinoa porridge with banana, honey and sultanas.
- Cooked brown rice mixed with yoghurt, chopped almonds, sultanas and stewed apple.
- Buckwheat pancakes with strawberries and honey.
- Poached eggs on gluten free toast.
- Cup of ricotta mixed with fruit eg banana, berries, apricots.
- Homemade hearty soup.
- Salads: rice salad, Greek salad, make up your own big bowl with lots of raw or roasted vegies, avocado, hummus and chicken.
- Wheat free bread with avocado, tinned fish, tomato and rocket.
- Sushi and nori rolls (without the soy sauce, but take your own tamari).
- Jacket potato with coleslaw, grated beetroot and grated cheese; or chilli beans
- Grilled/baked fish with steamed vegetables
- Hearty big stews on polenta, quinoa or millet
- Vegie and chicken or tofu stir fry with garlic, ginger, chilli and tamari
- Mushroom omelette with a big pile of salad.
- Yummy, healthy nachos with 100% corn chips, mashed avocado, kidney beans, tomato, lettuce and a sprinkling of grated cheese
- Tamari coated nuts and seeds (available from health food shops)
- Fruit and yoghurt
- Smoothies with yoghurt and fruit
- Sago puddings
- Fresh fruit and nuts
- Vegetable sticks (eg carrot, celery, capsicum) wiht hummus
- Roasted chickpeas