For many Americans, gluten has recently become an enemy. With various gluten sensitivities and health problems like celiac disease, many men and women have experienced difficulties in digesting this wheat component. For this reason, it is a good idea that those with sensitivities or allergies know what foods contain gluten.
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is a wheat protein, or a mixture of these proteins, which are found most commonly in wheat, barley, and rye. It is the substance which makes dough squishy and springy when baking with wheat flour. You will notice that gluten free foods tend to need additional ingredients to add this springiness to the finished product. This is because without gluten, wheat takes on a completely different texture and consistency.
Making Your Meals
Gluten may be most commonly found in flour products such as durum, graham, semolina, and spelt, but it is also a sneaky ingredient in many food items you wouldn’t usually consider to have this kind of protein. Meatballs, premade, or homemade at a friend’s house may contain gluten due to the binding agent used. Many individuals sprinkle bread crumbs or crush crackers into meatloaf and meatballs to help them stick together. Similarly, sauces sometimes contain wheat as a thickening agent.
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you will find gluten in more prepared foods. Imitation fish, crab, and other imitation meats often contain gluten. Deli meat and hot dogs are another culprit, along with sweet and savory snack foods such as potato chips and even gummy bears. It all depends on the brand of the food item or how you or those whom you know prepare certain dishes.
Common Gluten Foods
Doing some research on gluten will help you to know what foods often contain gluten. These are foods like bread, pizza, tortillas, muffins, cakes, cookies, pie, pastry, beer, and pasta. Sometimes food labels will advise you that certain products contain gluten. At other times, you will need to be diligent in checking food wrappers and ingredient lists for wheat and other forms of gluten.
One thing that is suggested by medical professionals and nutritionists on how to minimize gluten in your diet is to eat whole ingredients, such as fruits and vegetables and meats, and make your own bread products using gluten free products. Unfortunately, most prepackaged items contain too many additional ingredients, which makes it very likely that gluten is included in one form or another. It is much safer to shop using whole foods with only one or two ingredients on the label.
A Helping Hand
If you have been diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity or digestive disorder resulting in the need to restrict your diet to one that does not include gluten, your doctor should be able to give you some advice or point you in the right direction. There are many online resources that examine what foods contain gluten and offer alternatives. You can also speak to a nutritionist to have a meal plan designed which will work with your sensitivities and lifestyle.
Avoiding gluten is not impossible, but it can be inconvenient, so if you are planning on cutting gluten from your diet, make it easy on yourself by packing most of your own foods, and always asking at restaurants whether a meal is prepared gluten free.