Gluten-free is everywhere. In the form of much appreciated gluten-free cakes and pizza and not-so-much appreciated things like water (yes, a company labeled their water gluten-free). So, since gluten-free is available for those of us with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance, there must be gluten-free wheat available, right?
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Sorry, please don't hate the gluten-free messenger!
All wheat contains gluten. There is no variety of this grain that does not contain gluten. When you encounter a gluten-free product that just means it’s been made without wheat as well as other gluten-containing grains. The product is made with alternative, gluten-free grains. But in order to maintain a gluten-free diet, it’s important to remember that while all wheat has gluten, not all gluten comes from wheat. Excluding wheat from your diet won’t eliminate other sources of gluten which exist in a wide range of grains and grain products. Wheat is just the most common of many gluten containing grains. Think of wheat as the homecoming queen or king. Everyone knows wheat.
Remember, when looking for safe products for your gluten-free lifestyle -- all wheat contains gluten, but not all gluten comes from wheat!
So, what is gluten, if it’s not a synonym for wheat? Gluten is a binder that essentially helps the ingredients "stick together". Companies use gluten in candy and cosmetics for the same reason. Gluten is complex and a collective name for four different proteins – Gliadin, Hordein, Secalin, and Avenin. These proteins are naturally present in wheat and wheat-based products such as Semolina, Bulgar, Couscous, and Orzo as well as related grains like Spelt, Kamut, Farro, and Durum. Let's round out the gluten-filled party with a few more gluten-containing grains: Barley, Rye, and Triticale.
Essentially, if you’re eating gluten-free, you’ll need to keep an eye out for – and avoid – all of the above-mentioned gluten-containing grains, not just wheat.
Now that wheat is out of the picture (buh bye), what can you eat? Gluten-free products are made with grains that do not contain gluten. This means they are never made with wheat or any of the other gluten-containing grains. Some of the most popular gluten-free grains include Rice, Amaranth, Millet, Teff, Sorghum, Corn, and – believe it or not! – Buckwheat. Despite its name, Buckwheat isn’t related to wheat at all. This means buckwheat is totally gluten-free and safe for those of us with celiac disease and others on a gluten-free diet.
It’s also important to note that the term “gluten” doesn't always refer to gluten derived from wheat and gluten-related grains. As you're reading yet another ingredient label, you may see the “rice gluten” listed as an ingredient in packaged food. The use of “gluten” in this case refers to the stickiness of rice and is not related to the proteins found in gluten-containing grains. Rice gluten is a safe and acceptable component of a gluten-free diet.
Like wheat, the following grains contain gluten and are unsafe for people with celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities:
- No Barley
- No Couscous
- No Farro
- No Kamut
- No Orzo
- No Rye
- No Semolina
- No Spelt
- No Triticale
- No Wheat
Switch out nasty gluten-filled grains with these awesome gluten-free grains:
- Yes! Amaranth
- Yes! Buckwheat
- Yes! Corn
- Yes! Millet
- Yes! Quinoa
- Yes! Rice
- Yes! Sorghum
- Yes! Teff
- Yes! Arrowroot
- Yes! Montina
So, what about Oats? Do oats contain gluten?
According to The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) of North America, "While studies have found that oats are safe for the vast majority of those with celiac disease, they can be contaminated by wheat, rye or barley during farming, processing and storage."
Those with Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance can consume oats that are specially processed to be gluten-free. Depending on where the oats are farmed and how they are processed, cross contamination can occur, and the oats become “glutened”. That's where the Purity Protocol Oats come into play (see link below for more details).
My PSA of the Day: Do NOT go out and buy a container of Quaker Oats Oatmeal. You (and your toilet) will regret it.
Learn more about Purity Protocol Oats and why these gluten-free oatmeal brands are the safest around.
Despite its name, Buckwheat isn’t related to wheat at all. It's completely gluten-free!
Do you have a question about living gluten-free? Wondering what the heck you can eat? Post your questions in the comments below or via my Contact page.