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Gluten-free diet

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A woman preparing and chopping vegetables
If you have a gluten intolerance or coeliac disease, then choosing the right foods is essential. Our guide will show you what you can and can't eat plus give you an example diet to try.

What is it?

Gluten is a special kind of protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Many everyday foods contain gluten including bread, biscuits, pasta and even some man-made meat products such as sausages.

A gluten-free diet is one that completely cuts out gluten, either by eating foods that are naturally gluten-free or by swapping foods that contain gluten for gluten-free alternatives. A gluten-free diet is not the same as a wheat free diet. Bear in mind that some gluten-free foods may still contain wheat.

How does it work?

Gluten doesn't cause a problem to most people but some people's bodies can't tolerate it. No one really knows how or why but it's thought certain people's immune systems react against it.

By cutting out gluten completely, these people will not only feel better day-to-day, they'll also avoid storing up health problems in the future.

 

 

About one in a hundred people in the UK suffer from coeliac disease
which is caused by an intolerance to gluten. After eating foods
containing gluten, people with this condition will suffer symptoms
including bloating, nausea, headaches and constipation Extreme cases can
result in infertility, osteoporosis and gut cancer. That's why a gluten
free diet is essential.

Coeliac disease is permanent so sufferers should aim to cut out gluten
from their diet for life. Once they've stopped eating gluten, many
people with coeliac disease will feel better within a few weeks but it
may take up to two years for some people's gut to recover.

What are the drawbacks?

Gluten is found in a surprising number of foods so it can be hard to
completely cut it out. But if you've got coeliac disease, it really is
the best way to become and stay healthy.

What do you do?

You will need to cut out most processed food including bread, cakes,
ready meals, pasta and some man-made meat products like sausages. If in
doubt, check the label before you buy. The list of ingredients might
include wheat, barley or rye - all things to look out for, or it might
actually state gluten.

The good news is that in recent years hundreds of gluten-free foods have
been created. It's now possible to buy gluten-free bread and pasta
along with many other products. Most large supermarkets stock a
gluten-free range and some foods are even available on prescription.
Instead of regular flour, coeliacs can use other types of flour that
don't contain gluten including potato flour, soya flour and buckwheat
flour.

 

Many foods are naturally gluten-free including rice, maize, fish, cheese
and eggs. Fruit, vegetables and pulses like peas and beans are also
fine. Gluten-free alternatives are now widely available to replace foods
normally full of gluten.

Typical day's diet

 Breakfast: Gluten-free porridge, dried fruit.
Lunch: Salad with tuna, cheese or mixed beans in tomato sauce, rice crackers, fruit.
Dinner: Steak, potatoes, carrots and peas.

Top tip: Some people with coeliac disease can eat oats without
any side effects but in general, the Coeliac Society advises people with
this condition to steer clear of them too.

Join our Diet Club
Check out our calorie controlled Gluten-free Diet Club plan and use our team of health experts to guide you towards a healthy, well-balanced, gluten-free diet. Join now and get 4 weeks free

Find out more:

If you feel unwell after eating certain foods, visit your doctor.

Visit www.coeliac.co.uk or ring the Coeliac UK helpline on 0870 444 8804 for help and advice.
Juvela and Glutafin are two companies that make a whole range of gluten-free foods. Visit www.juvela.co.uk and www.glutafin.co.uk for more information.

Continued below...


Try our gluten-free recipes we've even got a gluten-free chocolate pudding to try.

 

 

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hannah55

hi I have always been intolerant/ celiac to gluten, bread, milk and sugar. As a child I had malapsortion of minerals and nutrients and had trouble to grow, I had to have calcium injected in order to grow. I am the smallest of all my family members. As a child I tend to vomit the usual cereal meals and felt extremelly tired and always with fatigue throughout. On my teens, my hair started to fall, and I had rushes/psiorasis or what I thought it was ezcema from time to time. My face was always covered in these blisters ( twice a year) that will leave scars. on my early 20s I started to have violet reaccions my whole face including my eyelids wil swollen and then the skin will peel off, that really scared me and I tested myself for allergies on a new german machine. I was told to stay away from gluten in order to stop the reactions and the fatigue. It worked though it was really difficult and expensive , I lost a lot of weight and stopped the regime after I recovered.. Big mistake! I have developed IBS and have chronic fatigue, all pointing out to gluten intolerance. I am now sticking to no cakes, barley instead of pasta, rye bread with no yeast and at least 60% of raw food. In three days I feel already better. I wish there was a remedy againts the gluten intolerance. Anyone knows about the psychological-genetic causes?

Mia

I was diagnosed as a coeliac 12 years ago, and i have to say i have found it very difficult to stick to the diet. I have never asked for a prescription, does anyone know how much it would cost me? My tummy is always bloated as well.

Susan

hello My son has been on a gluten free diet for almost a year with huge improvements in his health. Can anyone recommend the most normal seeming gluten free breads and rolls to buy and the best gluten free pasta. Thanks Susan

Franki

I disagree with your comment that 'no one really knows how or why' - coeliac is an auto-immune disease, which means that the body produces antibodies that attack its own tissues - For people with coeliac disease this attack is triggered by gluten whereas gluten/wheat intolerance works like any other intolerance. If you have been diagnosed as coeliac then join the coeliac society (simple web search will find them). tips: always phone restaurants in advance and ask if they cater for a gluten free diet - you will soon learn who knows what they are talking about. Don't feel bad about walking out of a restaurant if you don't feel confident that they can cater for your diet. Shop bought gluten free bread - isn't great as bread but makes nice toast. If you are buying gluten free pasta I find that the maize based stuff is difficult to cook and goes mushy if you cook it for too long - try to buy rice based pasta instead (it is paler in colour) it keeps it's texture better. Continental sausages are less likely to contain gluten - it seems to be mostly us Brits who insist on putting rusk in sausages. --and my final tip - and a warning to food producers - I can't be bothered spending hours in the supermarket reading labels - if it's not clearly labelled as gluten free I don't buy it - why waste time? buy the products that are clearly marked.

Georgin McCartney

I am seeking gluten free bran as the diet and medication are causing me considerable constipation. I am taking strong iron so I would appreciate any information.

Cally

For my a level coursework ive got 2 interview people with special dietary needs....and this site says theres a diabetic and obviously lots of gluten free people.... So if people wouldn't mind answering a few questions, it would be much appriatated :D

Tom

hello, my partner is intollerant to gluten, she finds it extremly hard to stick to a strict diet, especially when we go out for meals or we just need convienice meals, as we normally in a rush, gluten is in nearly every product. plus all free from foods are well over priced an not the best quality, especially the bread!!

lyndsey

hi ive done a restriction diet and re introduced most foods, also i am a diabetic and have i b s i would love to know how and what foods have been good for you as i have lost the will to eat, please give me some sound advice that WORKS.

meg

Hi, I've just been diagnosed with a wheat/gluten allergy, following an analpyhllactic reaction - my body's way of saying enough is enough and ignoring all the warning signs. Am scared enough at the reaction but I wish the dermatitis rash and the itching associated would go! I'm now on the hunt for gluten / wheat free products and advice. Meg

rachael

This article is very helpful. My best friend has been diagnosed the coeliac disease 6 months ago and is trying to stick to the diet but she also finds eating out a problem as many resturants dont cater for this condition. Any help and useful tips any way has please let me know and i will pass it on to her. Rachaelxxx

MICHELE GREIG

HI,I HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH COELIAC CONDITION (why do we call it DISEASE when it is NOT CONTAGIOUS) I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM ANYONE WHO KNOWS OF A GLUTEN AND WHEAT FREE RESTURANT ANYWHERE IN CENTRAL LONDON..I AM SURE THAT THERER IS A HUGE MARKET OUT THERE FOR THIS. I BELIVE THAT THERE ARE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WHO ARE HEADING TOWARDS BECOMING COELIAC BUT HAVE YET TO BE DIAGNOSED.I HAVE HAD COELIAC FOR FIVE YEARS AND HAVE READ MANY BOOKS ON THIS,I HAVE ALSO BOUGHT SEVERAL GLUTEN AND WHEAT FREE COOK BOOKS FOR SEVERAL RESTURANTS,SO THAT I CAN EAT OUT AND KNOW THAT THAT I WILL NOT BE TIRED AND LISTLESS FOR THE NEXT FEW DAYS FROM EVEN TRACES OF GLUTEN IN MY MEAL.MANY FRIENDS LOOK AT MY DISH WHEN IT ARRIVES AND THEY ARE VERY KEEN TO TRY THIS DIET EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE THE CHOICE,IF ONLY GLUTEN WAS LEFT OUT OF ALL FOODS THEN WE COULD ALL EAT EVERYTHING..GLUTEN IS NOT GOOD FOR US SO WHY PUT IT IN SO MANY FOODS.BEST WISHES MICHELE GREIG X

Lynne

I have visited the doctor and I am being checked for coeliac disease! I have got most of the symptoms and I have decided to try cutting out gluten anyway. I have read that my symptoms should go (if that is my diagnosis) One of my symptoms is hair loss. Can someone please tell me if the hair starts to grow back or is this long term damage?

Kathy

Good article covers the basics very well. I suffered with undiagnosed coeliac disease for about twenty years, and am now much better sticking rigidly to a GF diet. I also have diabetes which makes things a bit more difficult, but, hey who said it would be easy!

SIHAM SEMAAN

Hi, I'm a Lebanese 42 year-old woman and I've been on a gluten-free diet for more than 7 years. I suffered a lot before I switched to this diet espeically that my body was not absorbing any minerals and vitamins from the foods I was eating. I just want to add a small tip to those who are new to the gluten-free diet. Always make sure to read all the ingredients found in any product you buy from a shelf in super markets. gluten is hidden in stuff you won't even think of like Salad dressings, chewing gum, and candies. Thanks

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