The basics of a gluten free diet are simple.
Gluten Free Foods are those foods that do not contain Gluten! Sounds simple even obvious, but what does that include?
Naturally Gluten Free Foods
If you think about it there are lots and lots of great things to eat, that do not contain gluten.
- All meats, all dairy, all eggs, all fruits, all vegetables, all beans, and all nuts.
Because these foods do not contain the dreaded gluten molecule, they can be enjoyed without concern.
What about Grains?
Gluten is a protein in the grains – Wheat, Barley, and Rye. This includes any variation or a hybrid variety of these grains (for example Triticum, Bulgur, Durum, Farina or Farro) or any product made using any of these grains. For example, any product using wheat flour (bread, crackers, etc.), Malt from Barley used for beer, Couscous, Seitan powdered gluten used for protein in vegan dishes or Tabbouleh. All of these examples contain gluten and must not be eaten to remain gluten free.
You can remember these as the BROW grains: Barley, Rye, Oats, Wheat.
Oats do not technically have gluten, but because of being grown near or in the same fields as wheat/barley/rye and processed with the same equipment, they can be highly contaminated with wheat/barley/rye fragments. Oats should not be eaten unless certified Gluten Free. (There are several brands on the market that provided certified GF Oats.)
Naturally Gluten Free Grains
All other grains besides the BROW grains are gluten free. Some examples of naturally gluten free grains are Amaranth, Buckwheat, Corn, Millet, Quinoa, Rice (white, brown and wild rice) and Sorghum. These grains are used as substitutes for wheat flour in any number of recipes and food products.
Be aware of possible gluten contamination of naturally gluten free foods
The only problem with eating foods which are naturally Gluten Free foods, is that IF and WHEN another food or ingredient containing a BROW grain (GLUTEN grain) comes in contact with the naturally non-gluten food. This can be in the form of a marinade used on steak (soy sauce is brewed with wheat), a sauce on potatoes (gravy thickened with wheat flour) or bread crumbs used to coat chicken before frying.
So you see, there is an abundance of foods to eat that are naturally gluten free. Education and awareness are needed to avoid other gluten-containing ingredients being added to your food. Choose wisely to avoid gluten creeping onto your plate. When first starting a Gluten Free Diet it is a great idea to try to stick with basic foods. Learn to adjust your eating and it will become second nature to you.