Have you ever considered a gluten free diet?

For some (those who suffer from Coeliac disease) a gluten free diet is the only choice. But are there other reasons why removing gluten from your diet can be a good choice?

We’ve had a look into the different reasons behind gluten free diets and why you should, and sometimes shouldn’t, give them a go.

Hopefully our research will help you to make the decision on whether it’s right for you, if you have considered it in the past. We’ll also be making you aware of some substitutions you can use as well as some great recipe books we’ve found.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is found in grains, such as wheat, barley, rye and a cross between wheat and rye triticale.

Gluten is a substance that helps food to maintain its shape, acting like a glue to hold it all together.

Gluten can be found in many types of foods and not just the type of food you would usually expect.

If you are a Coeliac then it is important to remove every trace of gluten from your diet, however if you would just like to go Gluten free to try it out, then foods which do have a small trace are ok to eat.

What is the difference between Gluten intolerant and a Coeliac?

If you do have Coeliac Disease then you are essentially allergic to Gluten, consuming any food with Gluten can have an adverse effect on your body. If you were to eat any food with gluten included your immune system would attack your own body, your body mistakenly attacks the healthy tissue as it believes it is a threat to your body.

Symptoms of Coeliac Disease are things such as indigestion, bloating, constipation and stomach aches. These symptoms may be brushed off as you’ve just eaten something that doesn’t agree with you however if you do have Coeliac disease and continue to eat gluten you can face more long-term serious complications such as anaemia, osteoporosis and bowel cancer.

If you are gluten intolerant eating gluten gives short term symptoms such as bloating and stomach aches, but it does not cause any long-term problems.

Why go gluten free?

There are some excellent reasons to go gluten free however there are also some great reasons not to cut gluten from your diet.

The main reason to have a gluten free diet it to manage Coeliac Disease, having a gluten free diet is the only way to do this.

Another great reason to choose a gluten free diet is to reduce symptoms of gluten intolerance.

There are no long-term health benefits to doing this, however it can make you feel more relaxed when eating out, ensure you’re less bloated and live a more comfortable lifestyle.

Why you shouldn’t go gluten-free

It’s a major misconception that removing gluten from your diet will be healthier. Carbohydrates should still make up part of a healthy diet and gluten is found in many carbohydrates. Removing ingredients such as wheat from your diet will reduce the amount of Fibre, Vitamin B, Iron Calcium and Vitamin D that you receive from such foods.

Using a gluten-free diet to lose weight isn’t the healthiest way to lose weight. It’s a very hard diet to stick to and gluten-free products can be more expensive if you’re using them as a substitute. Instead try to eat more nutritious foods such as vegetables and stick to a calorie deficit.

It is quite dangerous to use a gluten-free diet to diagnose yourself for Coeliac Disease. If you think you may be Coeliac is it so much more important that you stick to your current diet and see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis. Your doctor will perform blood tests and the results may show up as a false negative if you have already eliminated it from your diet.

Gluten Free Diet

If you do realise that a gluten-free diet is the only option for you then here is some advice to use when you’re shopping or eating out to ensure you can avoid gluten at all costs.

In the UK when you buy products if they state they are gluten-free then by law they have to be gluten free, you should always check the labels and know the ingredients. If something contains gluten then it will be listed in bold, some of the words to look out for are, wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt and khorasan wheat

Coeliac UK have developed a great app that can be used when shopping to scan barcodes of different products, download it here 

Look out for the specialist food section when you’re shopping, there are always plenty of suitable foods in these aisles, including, pasta, flour and bread, although these are only usually available in large stores.

Eating out can sometimes pose more of an issue, however, many food establishments are now noting on their menu when food is gluten-free. Most restaurants are always happy to discuss their menus with you and point out what you can and can’t have, if you’re not sure you can always call ahead and ask too.

Cooking at home

Once you have the ingredients you need to stick to your gluten-free diet what will you be making?

Here are some great recipe books and ideas to help you become a whizz in the kitchen at wonderful gluten-free meals.

A great recipe book for family meal ideas is 200 Gluten-Free Recipes 

You could make your own gluten-free bread by grabbing a copy of  Artisan Gluten-Free Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Gluten Free Baking

For those who love to bake, Vegan Baking for Every Occassion is  great choice.

This website conveys fantastic recipes from Great British Chefs

Hopefully this information helps you to decide whether or not you will need to move to a gluten-free diet and if so, we hope you love the recipes and books here.

We’d love to hear how you are getting on, please do share your recipes and ideas with us too.