There are a variety of reasons why individuals may consider a gluten-free diet, or consider removing wheat products from their usual meal plan. Two staple foods that gluten and wheat appear in are bread and cereal, but this doesn't mean they have to be removed from your diet entirely.
Celiac Disease and Wheat Allergy
The recommended treatment for celiac disease, a wheat allergy or non-celiac gluten sensitivity is the adoption of a gluten-free diet. This diet may call for removal of wheat products, because gluten is a protein that is found in wheat.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes the body's immune system to attack itself if it detects gluten, a protein found in many foods. It's mainly found in wheat, barley and rye — and therefore, in breads and cereals made with those grains. This condition is a lifelong disorder that affects one in 100 Americans, 80 percent of whom do not have an official diagnosis.
According to the Mayo Clinic, wheat allergy is characterized as an allergic reaction to wheat that can occur following the consumption of wheat products, but it may also occur in rare cases from the inhalation of wheat flour. Wheat appears in more products than you might expect, but this does not make it impossible to avoid.
Celiac disease and wheat allergy are often confused with one another, but they are different conditions — one is an autoimmune disorder and the other is an allergy. However, treatment is very similar: A lifelong gluten-free and wheat-free diet is recommended. This is actually much more achievable than it may seem at first, particularly with the increasing availability of specially made gluten-free foods.
A gluten-free diet is entirely free of wheat, but wheat-free foods may still contain gluten. Therefore, if you have a wheat allergy, it's safe for you to consume gluten-free products, but if you have celiac disease or a similar gluten intolerance, then products labeled "wheat-free" may not be appropriate. Always refer to the ingredients label for assurance.
Cereal Without Gluten or Wheat
Many cereals are made with wheat and gluten. But, partly due to how prevalent celiac disease and wheat intolerance have become, many brands have adopted the production of gluten-free cereals.
These can range from fruit muesli to chocolate-covered cereals. With the variety available, a more restrictive diet does not have to mean that it is a boring one.
In addition to specifically made gluten-free or wheat-free cereals there are certain cereals made from gluten-free grains that are applicable to a gluten- or wheat-free diet. These grains include:
Cereals made from these grains should be appropriate due to their gluten-free content, but because they may have been processed in a facility that also processes wheat, you should always check ingredients lists before you purchase.
If you find that your gluten-free cereal is lacking a little in flavor, try getting creative by adding fruit (berries or apple slices are great choices) or even some Greek yogurt — most natural dairy products are free from gluten and wheat.
Wheat-free bread is a little more complicated in its creation and production than wheat-free cereal. This is because, as noted in an article published in the December 2017 issue of the journal Food Science and Technology, the protein in wheat — gluten — is the glue that holds the bread together and maintains its appearance and shape. So wheat-free bread cannot be mass produced like other breads.
However, there have been many developments in the production of wheat-free bread to streamline the process and make these products more available, thanks to the increasing demand for gluten-free products.
This means there are many wheat- and gluten-free breads available. Genius Bread , for example, produces a variety of breads (brown, white and cinnamon-raisin, to name just a few) that are completely wheat- and gluten-free, and the company claims they taste just like the original product.
There is also the option of baking wheat-free bread yourself using many of the wheat-free flours available. According to the experts at the Colorado State University Extension, wheat-free flours you can use in baking your own gluten-free breads include:
- Brown rice
- Buckwheat (despite its name, buckwheat is actually from rhubarb)
And there are many others. There is no shortage of options if you choose to bake your own gluten- or wheat-free bread, but if this is not something you have the time for or feel capable of doing, then the ingredients on the product labels of store-bought breads that indicate they contain wheat include:
- Cereal extract
The safest option is to purchase from a manufacturer that specifically creates wheat-free or gluten-free products, as this should eliminate any doubt. The Celiac Disease Foundation provides a helpful resource in the form of a full list of gluten and wheat-free companies for you to examine and purchase from as necessary.
Note: The ingredients and processing procedures of companies that provide gluten-free or wheat-free products are updated often so it is important to always check ingredients and manufacturer details when shopping for foods for a wheat-free or gluten-free diet.
Read more: Side Effects of Starting a Gluten-Free Diet
Gluten-Free Grains and Other Foods
The real problem with oatmeal and gluten or wheat intolerance stems from the possibility of cross contamination with wheat, barley or rye. If any problems arise following the consumption of oats, it may be due to the factory where they were prepared, as opposed to the oats themselves.
Gluten-free grains, seeds and vegetables include:
- Cassava (manioc)
- Gram flour (besan)
- Pulses (peas, beans, lentils)
- Urd/urid/urad flour
Any other products described as grains or seeds may not be suitable for those who cannot consume wheat or gluten. Always check the label to be sure.
Rye is not gluten-free, unless specifically stated on the packaging. It contains secalin, a gluten protein. However, rye is wheat-free; therefore, those with a wheat allergy may be able to eat rye bread. But it shouldn't be eaten by those who suffer from celiac disease. It is important to understand the differences before making dietary choices.
Should you have any concerns regarding the differences between wheat allergy and celiac disease and which may apply to you, contact your health care professional for advice.
- Beyond Celiac: "Celiac Disease: Fast Facts"
- Coeliac UK: "About Coeliac Disease"
- Mayo Clinic: "Wheat Allergy"
- Scielo: Food Science and Technology: "Recent Developments in Gluten-Free Bread Baking Approaches: A Review"
- Genius Bread
- Coeliac UK: "Oats"
- Coeliac UK: "Grains"
- Beyond Celiac: "Is Rye Gluten Free?"
- Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council: "Gluten in Grains"
- Colorado State University Extension: "Gluten-Free Baking"
- Kids With Food Allergies: A Division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "Wheat Allergy"
- Celiac Disease Foundation: "Gluten-Free Companies"
- Gluten-Free Watchdog: Ready-to-Eat Cereal