How to Eat a Wheat Free Diet
Removing wheat from your diet can appear to be a formidable challenge. After all, wheat is an important component of our diet, particularly since American's eat a great deal of processed foods and eat out frequently.
According to Farms.com, the per capita all-wheat flour use for 2009 is estimated at 134.7 lbs. Yet people with celiac disease, irritable bowel and other intestinal issues, wheat allergies and even some cases of autism find relief from a wheat free diet.
Fortunately eating wheat free is not as difficult as eating a gluten free diet. By assimilating a few tips and making a few changes, it may be easier than you think.
Read labels. This may be the most important of all the tips you can assimilate. While many foods are naturally wheat free, others are a definite maybe. Read labels for all processed foods, hot dogs, luncheon meats, yogurts, cheeses, ice cream and barbecue sauce. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act that was passed in 2004 requires that the top eight allergens must be labeled by their common names on all foods, dietary supplements and vitamins effective Jan. 1, 2006. Many people do not read labels for foods such as beer, whiskey, distilled vinegar and malt liquor. But these foods are not wheat free.
Avoid processed foods. Many foods are wheat free naturally. Whole fruits and vegetables, rice, beef, pork, lamb, chicken and turkey are all free of wheat as long as they don't have fillers or a stuffing. Nuts, canned beans and lentils are generally wheat free, as are most oils, butters, 100 percent fruit juices, coffee, tea and soda. Try grits or cream of rice instead of farina, and puffed rice cereal is also a good option.
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Shop the ethnic food sections of the market. The Asian section is a good source for rice crackers and noodles and shop the Latin sections for corn tortillas and corn bread. In Brazil, they make a wonderful cheezy bread called pao de queijo which is gluten free and is made from tapioca flour. Try the mix or the frozen prepared rolls in the freezer section of your local Brazilian market.
Choose alternatives. Registered dietician Pam Cureton from Practical Gastroenterology recommends using pure cornstarch and mashed potato flakes as a thickener and crushed potato chips for a substitute crunchy topping for casseroles. Pick other flours such as buckwheat, teff and millet. The Food Allergy Network recommends substituting 1 cup wheat flour with one of the following: 7/8 cup rice flour, 5/8 cup potato starch flour, 1 cup soy flour plus 1/4 cup potato starch flour, or 1 cup corn flour.
Save gluten free foods for items that are time consuming or expensive to prepare. Specialized markets like Whole Foods and Henry's often have a good selection of gluten free foods. Also many of these foods can be special ordered from gluten free websites. But remember, wheat free is not gluten free. A gluten free diet is more restrictive than a wheat free diet.
Communicate with your waiter or restaurant manager. Tell them you are avoiding wheat so that they can make adjustments for you. Avoid foods that have breading, are fried or in sauces, and keep your order simple. Avoid the obvious culprits like croutons, pastas, stuffing and the crackers or bread basket on the table.
And remember, Just Almonds has both natural and blanched almond flour that is gluten-free. Order today!