Coping with Gluten Intolerance

Gluten is a protein found in grains such as barley, oats, rye, and wheat. Gluten intolerance can lead to gastrointestinal distress, fatigue, and headaches. Gluten intolerance can be challenging because so many foods contain gluten. Not only is gluten in the obvious bread-related foods, it can also be found in beer, cereal, marinades (like teriyaki), crackers, licorice, and imitation crab.

To avoid gluten, here’s a short list of items to stock your pantry with:

Gluten-free flours. Experiment with amaranth, bean flours, sorghum, and more. They taste surprisingly good, and they’re nutritious, too.

Xanthan or guar gum. Some recipes require flour as a binding agent. These “gums” can serve the same purpose without kicking up your gluten allergy.

Quinoa. Quinoa is a seed but will remind you a bit of cracked wheat. It can make soup or salad hearty and filling.

Rice. Rice can make a great gluten-free side dish. For added nutrition, opt for brown rice instead of white.

Gluten-free snacks. They sell plenty these days. Keep them on hand for when you get the munchies or need nourishment on the go.

Gluten intolerance is an umbrella term that is often used to encompass wheat allergy, gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. There are important differences, though. Wheat allergy involves an immune response to a food protein in wheat (usually gluten) because the body considers the protein a threat. Gluten sensitivity causes the body to mount a stress response against gluten (usually resulting in stomach distress). Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestines (and can cause permanent intestinal damage.) If you suspect that you have any of these, see your doctor for a proper diagnosis.