Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What is Gluten?

I get asked this question A LOT...What is Gluten? If you were to pull out the Dictionary and look up the actual definition it would tell you that Gluten is...1. the tough, viscid, nitrogenous substance remaining when the flour of wheat or other grain is washed to remove the starch. 2. Archaic. glue or a gluey substance.
To me, all I read is blah blah blah. I want a definition I can actually understand and live by. I want to know what made my stomach hurt my whole life and why this stuff called Gluten made me have migraines. So with much research, I actually found a simple answer to what Gluten is.
When I hear the word Gluten, I automatically think GLUE. When you take a grain, such as flour, and you add water to it, the flour turns into this sticky glob. The gluten is what binds the flour and the water together to give you that 'glue like' form in your hand. I was NEVER that child that ate glue so why in the world would I want to eat it in my food. And no, it's not actual glue. It's just the binding part of the grain that acts like a glue.  So when you think Gluten, think glue.
"Ok, Dani. I understand what gluten is, but what should I avoid in my diet?"- said You
Great question You!- Here are the grains you should avoid if you are sticking to a Gluten-Free diet:
-Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
Flour and Wheat are the HARDEST to avoid. And they come in different names as well. Like:
-Bleached (flour)
-Unbleached (flour)
-Bulgur (wheat)
-Durum (flour)
-Farina (wheat)
-Graham (flour)
-Kamut (wheat)
-Semolina (wheat)
-Spelt (wheat)
There are certain grains, like Oats (that are gluten free in their own form), that can be contaminated with wheat in the growing process. So if you love Oats, please make sure you buy a product that says Gluten-free on the label.
"Ok, Dani. So I know what to avoid, but sometimes I can't read a label. Especially when I am out to eat or I have 12 children hanging off of me at the grocery store. So tell me what to always avoid, unless noted Gluten-Free on the label or menu?" - said You
Great question You! Here is a list of items to avoid, unless noted on the box or menu 'Gluten-Free'-
-French Fries
-Imitation meat (like hot-dogs)
-Ice cream
-Lunch meat (processed)
-Salad dressing
-Soy Sauce
-Seasoned rice mix
-Potato or Tortilla chips
-Oh...and you know that Play-Doh we all grew up on? If you have a child or you yourself has severe Celiac Disease, avoid buying it all together. Just playing with it can have an impact to your skin. I didn't eat glue as a child and I didn't eat Play-Doh either, but there are some children who try it all.
"Ok Dani! You practically took away all my favorite things and told me I can't eat anything I really want to eat in life! Please tell me not all hope is lost to enjoying all the sweets and savories I have always known and loved?"- said You
Another great question You! (you are really killing it with the questions today). Yes, there are still so many wonderful things in the world that you can eat.
I am a chip lover. I love all chips. Any flavor any brand any size! I have found that 3/4 of all national brand chips (such as Doritos, Lays, etc.) are gluten-free. And most of them say it right on the bag. Chex cereal is nationally known for being Gluten Free. They even have a wonderful commercial about it. Their vanilla Chex I keep stocked at my house because it's so wonderful. But besides that, here is a list of items you can safely buy at your local grocery store or order on a menu (just be sure to tell your waiter that you have a gluten allergy so they know to not cross contaminated with another product.)
-Gluten-free flours
-Nuts (natural unprocessed form)
-Almost all dairy products- including milk, cheese and yogurt
-Fresh meat
These grains and starch's you can also have, in their natural form. Which means if they come in a package, make sure to read the label and make sure they are not processed with wheat or flour.
Gluten-free flours include the following:
'Ok Dani. Give me one piece of advice to take away from all of this."- said You
Perfect question You!
Always read the label. There is a difference with gluten being in a product, and the product being made in the same factory as gluten. The allergy label is what I read. I don't sit there and go through all the ingredients, I don't know about you but I don't have that much time! I look at the back, and read the allergy label. They MUST put a allergy label. FDA demands they do.
I really hope this helps give you a clear picture of just what Gluten actually is and to help you avoid those types of food. It's really hard at first to go Gluten-free. But in the past year, there have been so many brands pop up that offer safe alternatives for you.
My 3 favorite brands to buy are:
Quest Nutrition
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them below. If I get enough questions, I will do a whole segment on them. Like a question and answer day.
Also, don't forget Mix and Match Mama herself is hosting her very own Younique party. So head on over and check it out!