Gluten-Free 101

You’ve seen gluten-free foods on restaurant menus and in grocery stores, you may have even tried a gluten-free muffin or cookie. You might have heard that gluten-free is “better for you”. But many people have no idea what gluten is and the real reasons why people eat gluten-free foods.

Many people think gluten means bread or wheat, but it’s more complicated than that. Let’s break it down:

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein that is naturally found in wheat. It’s the glue that holds these foods together. In addition to wheat and other grains, you’ll be surprised to learn about other foods that contain gluten.

Why go gluten-free?

People who have Celiac disease or a wheat allergy definitely need to avoid gluten. Some people are “gluten intolerant” and can have a variety of symptoms, such as feeling bloated or experiencing inflammation when they eat food with gluten, so they try to limit or even eliminate gluten from their diet. When people eat a gluten-free diet, they tend to eat less processed foods and more whole foods with whole ingredients.

Which foods have gluten?

Gluten is most commonly known to be found in wheat, but also in other grains including all of these:

  • Wheat berries
  • Durum
  • Emmer
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Farina
  • Farro
  • Graham
  • Kamut wheat
  • Einkorn
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Oats (oats are naturally gluten-free, but check the label to see if there’s cross-contamination with foods with gluten)

Gluten isn’t just limited to grains - you’ll also find it in some foods that might surprise you. These foods may contain gluten, so check the labels or contact the manufacturer if you want to make sure:

  • Sauces (barbecue sauce, tomato sauce, soy sauce, and more)
  • Salad dressings
  • Marinades and gravies
  • Malt (malted barley flour, malted milk and milkshakes, malt extract, malt syrup, malt flavoring, malt vinegar)
  • Food coloring
  • Soups
  • French fries and potato chips
  • Beer
  • Hot dogs and processed meats
  • Vitamins and other supplements
  • Medications

Which foods are gluten-free?

Luckily, gluten-free foods have come a long way in the past few years. People have found creative ways to make gluten-free food taste really good. And even better, there are many you can make yourself by using whole foods that are naturally gluten-free, like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

Gluten-free substitutes:

  • White/wheat flour: look for flours made from almonds, coconut, hazelnuts, cassava
  • White/wheat pasta: look for or make your own "zoodles", or pasta made from zucchini, or other foods like sweet potatoes, squash, or cauliflower
  • White/wheat bread: look for or make your own bread made with gluten-free flours

If animals are fed a grain-based diet, will the meat or eggs contain gluten?

Meat and eggs are naturally gluten-free, even if the animal was fed a grain-based diet.

Does gluten-free mean it’s healthier?

Not always. There isn’t a straight yes or no answer to this question because it all depends on which gluten-free foods you choose and the other foods you eat regularly. For example, gluten-free cookies and brownies have just as much sugar and fat as traditional baked goods, so these aren’t a healthier choice. And many gluten-free crackers and cereals have less fiber and vitamins compared to whole grain crackers and cereals, so they’d be a less healthy choice too.  

On the other hand, if you’re choosing plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, nuts and seeds, along with gluten-free substitutes, you can get all the fiber and nutrition you need.  

  • Certified Paleo Grain Free Granola in resealable pouches
  • Vegan and Non-GMO
  • 12g of healthy fats, 10g of carbs and 6g of sugar
  • Dairy-free, Soy-free, and Gluten-free
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