Have you noticed lately that everyone seems to be avoiding certain foods for one reason or another? Maybe it’s a food allergy or intolerance or perhaps just a dietary preference. Whatever the reason, avoiding certain foods can present challenges for both eating and cooking, but, as I have found, you can overcome them.
I am Jill (assistant to 100 Days of Real Food) and a little over 2 years ago, my husband started suffering from digestive problems following back surgery. After countless visits to doctors, including specialists, numerous medical tests and a weight loss of 40 pounds, we still had no answers. While his most severe symptoms had subsided, he was still not feeling well and was continuing to lose weight. Frustrated, we decided he should eliminate both gluten (despite him testing negative for celiac disease) and dairy (for which he had tested positive for a slight allergy although the doctors did not recommend avoiding it). It has been about 9 months now and his weight has stabilized and he is feeling pretty well overall. Even better news though is that his change in diet, although forced upon him, was really a gift. His diet of highly processed foods was finally catching up with him, even placing him at risk for elevated cholesterol (combined with a family history of high cholesterol and heart disease). Having to eliminate so much from his diet forced him to add in more whole foods, including fruits and vegetables. So, at the end of the day, while the initial change in diet was both difficult and frustrating at times, the long-term health benefits have been immeasurable.
We still do not have a definitive answer as to whether gluten or dairy was the cause of his illness, and the only way to tell for certain would be to add it back to his diet and see what happens. Right now we are not willing to do that as we are enjoying his improved health for this period of time, but we may eventually consider it just to know for sure.
Where Do I Start?
This was my biggest question and the one that caused me the most angst. Once I got started though, it became easier and almost second nature to cook within the parameters of these new food omissions. So, for starters, let’s focus on gluten first. Over the next few months, I plan to post more on food allergies and intolerances, specifically gluten and dairy, so please stay tuned.
Naturally Gluten Free Foods
So the big question I get from family and friends is “what can he eat?”. Here is a list of some more common naturally occurring gluten free foods.
- Fresh fruit – all kinds
- Fresh vegetables – all kinds
- Whole Grains
- Oats (use certified gluten free to avoid cross-contamination)
- Brown rice
- Wild Rice
The bigger issue is with the food preparation. For example, many marinades, dressings, sauces and other condiments contain wheat. For this reason, I now make all of my own marinades, dressings and sauces, not to mention that making them myself ensures that they are free of added sugar and preservatives. Additionally, there is the issue of cross contamination during food preparation with foods containing gluten.
What About the Rest of Your Family?
I am often asked if the rest of my family suffers from gluten sensitivity or intolerance and the answer is no. The obvious next question I usually get is “do you cook separate meals then or do you just have your whole family follow a gluten free diet?” Again, the answer is no. I do not (personally) believe that my children or I should avoid gluten without a medical reason to do so. I believe a diet rich in whole grains is important. A New York Times FAQ published last year quoted Michael Pollan as saying that “People who eat lots of whole grains are generally healthier and live longer than those who don’t.” In the same article Pollan also addressed gluten-free diets saying, “They are very important if you have celiac disease or can’t tolerate gluten. But it’s hard to believe that the number of people suffering from these conditions has grown as fast as this product category. Gluten has become the bad nutrient of the moment, the evil twin of Omega 3 fatty acids. Could it really be that bread, a staple of Western civilization for 6,000 years, is suddenly making millions of us sick? I’m dubious.”
So, how do I accommodate my husband’s gluten free diet while allowing the rest of my family to eat wheat? For dinner, I most often cook a meal that is naturally gluten free. If I make something containing gluten, like whole-wheat biscuits (which my kids love), he just doesn’t eat it. On the occasion I serve a pasta dish, I make a gluten free sauce and prepare a separate gluten free pasta for him (like brown rice pasta) while the kids and I have whole-wheat pasta (although they are happy to eat the brown rice pasta too). Breakfast is probably our biggest challenge when it comes to making pancakes and waffles because I do often find myself making a whole grain version as well as a gluten free one. We all love oats too, so as long as I use certified gluten free oats, everyone can eat them and feel good. And, finally, lunch…this is my easiest meal since my husband only eats this meal at home on the weekends…PHEW!
A Final Word About a Gluten Free Diet
A gluten free diet can present a challenge in regards to whole grain intake since it eliminates some of the most common sources of whole grain, including wheat, rye and barley. Fortunately, it can also provide an opportunity to eat a more whole food diet as is evidenced by the list above. While there are many refined gluten-free grain replacements such as cornstarch, potato starch, tapioca starch and white rice flour, the variety of nutritious gluten free whole grains is plentiful. So, rather than having the gluten free diet be a challenge, look at is as an opportunity to increase both variety and nutrient content through the incorporation of the above mentioned gluten free foods, including whole grains.
I’d like to leave you with two gluten free recipes to try that will help incorporate the whole grains listed above.
100 thoughts on “Food Allergies: Gluten (including recipes)”
I agree with many others who have asked for gluten-free whole grain recipes for things like pancakes, muffins, breads, etc. Yes, we could avoid all baked products, but where’s the “life” in that?
I don’t have celiac disease, but I was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s this year. So my doctor said the no. 1 thing I can do to keep symptoms at bay is to avoid all gluten.
So any time you have a recipe, I’d love to see a “gf” substitute or a way to modify it to make it gluten free. Skinnytaste.com does a wonderful job of this, and I’d love to see another site with healthy, quick alternatives to buying the processed gf products we’ve begun to buy since we’ve had to cut way back on whole grain products. (We can’t afford to buy two sets of everything, so I typically stock up when garbanzo bean pasta is on sale. However, my kids and husband do still eat regular bread.)
Thanks for your site, and I hope to see more real-food gf modifications soon.
You can search our recipe catalog for the 300+ GF recipes that we do have. We try to provide GF options when possible. – Nicole
Ok thank you!
Hi. So maybe I’m doing the search incorrectly, and if so, please tell me how to do it right. I just went on the website to the recipes section, and in the search bar, I typed gluten free. It pulled up a recipe for whole grain pizza rolls among a few other savory dishes. But the pizza rolls called for regular whole what flour.
But I’m wondering: Are there any baked-good (savory or sweet) recipes that are actually gluten free? I don’t know how this one got in the gf mix, and yes, I could sub a gf flour…but I was hoping you would have a link or some recipes to share for healthier gluten-free flours, baked goods, etc. I know how to make naturally gluten free stuff, but I’m looking for things to replace stuff like rolls, bread sticks, cinnamon buns, muffins, etc.
Hi. You will need to click on the Gluten Free box under Dietary Restrictions on the left side of the recipe catalog. There will be 300+ recipes that range from baked goods, soups, salads, and more.
The pizza recipe has been modified recently with regular flour. The original GF pizza crust can be found here: https://amzn.to/2YP8XRs
Since the site is all about Real Food, we don’t focus our full intentions on specific dietary needs. – Nicole
“Could it really be that bread, a staple of Western civilization for 6,000 years, is suddenly making millions of us sick? I’m dubious.”
All Natives of the Americas have never evolved to tolerate WHEAT. Is it really that hard to look at the globe and remember that before colonialism there were people here? And guess what???? We are still here!!! And yes, many indigenous people are gluten sensitive.
Additionally, Cealiac is not the only autoimmune disease exacerbated by Gluten protein. Almost ALL thyroid disease is Hashimotos Thyroiditis, and these people cannot eat gluten including me.
I’m glad to see someone else is gluten free and a 100 Days supporter. I’ve been a fan of Lisa’s since she first started her blog, before the cookbooks or the fame. I was disheartened when I anxiously brought home my newly purchased Fast and Fabulous Cookbook, and as I was devouring the pages, I read the slam against gluten-free. Most people don’t want to be gluten-free. I’ve been forced to, having an allergy and Lupus, gluten detrimentally affects my body. I love bread, pretzels, muffins, all of it. I guess I just wish it might’ve said- it’s not for everyone- but the benefits are: yadayada. Instead of a reprimanding exclamation stating it’s not for everyone. Maybe a true scientific approach about the inflammation it triggers for most Americans. It may not be for everyone, but everyone can benefit from reducing the amount we take in, allergies or not.
Gluten is a type of protein found in most grains, especially wheat. Eating gluten-free is very difficult and more importantly, it can be very expensive. It’s difficult because so many foods contain gluten (even spices), and it’s expensive because you’ll probably have to shop at a designer natural food store in order to find truly gluten-free foods. These stores have ridiculous markup. For instance, a box of standard cereal (containing gluten) might cost you $2.99, but buying GF cereal might cost you upwards of $6. Plus, most gluten-free foods don’t taste nearly as good as the food they are imitating.
So, to answer your second question, it might help you lose weight in the following ways:
– You can’t find any gluten-free food to eat, and therefore you eat less.
– You can’t afford to buy gluten-free food, and therefore you eat less.
– You don’t like the taste of gluten-free food, and therefore you eat less.
I think it’s a good idea to get tested for celiac even if you’re convinced that your body is okay with wheat. I felt fine after I ate bread, pasta, etc but blood tests showed that my body was not absorbing enough protein or iron from my diet. Celiac disease was the culprit! Some people feel little to no symptoms at all, but it’s worth it to know that everything is not okay inside of your body.
Some people notice a big difference, and some not at all after going gf. That’s what makes no sense to me.
It’s a pain when you consider that most of our favorite foods contain gluten and just aren’t the same when modified…. not to mention it’s everywhere it’s in our face. Wish there were more bakeries around with it.
So what gluten free flours, crackers,pasta and bread do you use?
Hi. I like Bob’s Red Mill whole grain blend, as well as almond and coconut flour. Crunch Master crackers, Mary’s Gone Crackers and now Vans make a couple that are pretty tasty. I love red lentil pasta as well as edamame pasta and appreciate their protein content. I’ve not found a commercial gf bread that doesn’t make me feel terrible, however. Our local bakery, Great Harvest, makes one that is delicious but it is not a typical sandwich type bread.
Thanks for your informative post on food allergies!
With me allergies for gluten, dairy and some other foodstuffs have been discovered some 6 years ago by an elaborate blood test, which had an other outcome than the simple test in hospital. Anyway, since then I’m on a diet and take Chinese herbs to support the indigestion and give physical relief. And since then, I must say I feel more energetic and have a brighter mind!
I recognize completely what you tell about changing the diet for a much better one. Apart from the possibilities you mention, I also use flour from soya and chickpeas. There is so much you can eat.
Now at some point you mention your husband started having allergic reactions after having had surgery. Here in Holland (Europe) where I live, discussions are going on about possible effects of anesthesia, inoculation, radiation and a bad environment. I had some dental surgeries in my twenties, after which the problems started. Our wheat comes from Ukrain, where the Chernobyl disaster took place in the eighties. That place is still abandoned, like a ghosttown. Moreover, after the accident radiated clouds poored out rain, after having been blown from Ukrain to Western Europe. Another thing is, that wheat has been entirely ‘through-developed’ so to speak: it is so useful a grain for bread baking, it’s not the ancient wheat that our ancestors ate anymore. None of these things have proved to cause allergies, but there are doubts and scientist do not agree on this. All the best!
We have just started our gluten free journey. Where can you find gluten free oats? We love Lisa’s granola cereal and want to keep making it.
Hi. You can find them in most grocery stores. Trader Joes carries them.
I was diagnosed with celiac disease yesterday and came here today hoping to find some info on it on the 100 Days site. Yay! I just wanted to share since the story mentions testing negative for celiac. My mom was diagnosed in 2008. I was tested then and the blood test was negative. In 2010 I had an endoscopy and that was negative as well. Yet here I am, testing positive in 2013–and I’ve had the same symptoms since 2007 (growing more persistent in the last six months or so). My gastroenterologist says it’s possible the test back then wasn’t as good, or my condition wasn’t bad enough to test positive then. I never looked into the genetic test but that’s an option for people who have tested negative but wonder. I would love to see more about GF diets on this page as I embark on this adventure/journey!
Gluten gives elasticity to dough helping it to rise and to keep its shape. It is found in many staple foods in the Western diet. It is a protein composite found in wheat and other grains, including barley and rye and processed foods thereof. Gluten is composed of a gliadin fraction (alcohol soluble) and a glutenin fraction (only soluble in dilute acids or alkali)…
Please do look over our new webpage
What is the best flour to substitute for whole wheat flour in recipes? Gluten free all purpose flour is fairly expensive, can I use white rice or oat flour I make at home?
The best flour for substituting whole wheat flour is typically a BLEND. Due to the lack of gluten, which gives it the light fluffy, airy appearance when cooked or baked – using a blend of flours with different properties helps.
My favorite thing to do (being a non-recipe follower) is to use a formula (1 part protein flour) (1 part whole grain flour) (1 part starch). For example:
1 part garbanzo flour
1 part brown rice flour
1 part tapioca or arrowroot flour/starch
You can mix and match as you have things on hand, and eventually will find the mixtures you like best. My favorite flours to use are brown rice, millet, sorghum, amaranth, and buckwheat. Tapioca and arrowroot are my go-to starches, but potato ends up in there once in a blue moon. Almond, coconut, garbanzo, or fava bean flours are pretty decent, too, depending on the taste you like.
We avoid corn here, due to the GMO factors and irritability of the stomach or indigestion when we eat it – but that is personal preference.
When blending flours, which of each type (protein, whole grain, & starch) are the least processed? I’ve been using a lot of sweet rice sorghum and a lot of the starches but after reading some posts I’m thinking they are too processed. If you had to rank each of the types of flour for being least processed, what would be the best protein flour, whole grain flour, and starch.
Thanks so much!
Hi Meghan. I often times substitute oats that I grind in my blender for other flours in recipes. I haven’t done it for baking though, just in breakfast type recipes like pancakes and waffles. Other than that, I try and use almond flour and coconut flour, but, they are not a 1:1 substitution. You will need to look for specific recipes using those flours. Hope that helps. Jill
Gluten allergy can be sometimes annoying because i have to bake and eat special gluten-free food stuffs. ”
My favorite web site
I strongly recommend that you do some additional reading on wheat and gluten allergies/intolerance. Bittman and Pollan can speak for themselves and possibly even a segment of the population. However, I’m convinced that wheat and grains in general are not healthy for some people.
For many years, I suffered from major digestive upset,
puffiness, flaky skin, etc. Over time, I experimented with elimination diets, becoming semi-vegetarian, eliminating sugars from my diet, etc., all to no avail. Then, after traveling to Europe on business trips and to visit family over a period of 5-10 years, I noticed that my stomach upsets subsided or disappeared entirely on these trips even though my diet was essentially the same. Numerous doctors assured me that my stomach problems were stress related or all in my head. However, after explaining my digestive and other issues to a naturopath at a pharmacy, it was explained to me that modern wheat (the common red semi-dwarf variety hybridized in the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970’s that is ubiquitous today)could be the culprit and that there was no relation between old strains of wheat and the new hybrid. I found the most tolerable breads and pastries in Europe were those I ate in France where the new hybrid has limited market penetration. Shockingly the newer hybrid wheat looks like a completely different plant; that’s how much we’ve changed it.
I must add that I have experimented with all of the refined gluten-free grain replacements you mentioned, including cornstarch, potato starch, tapioca starch and white rice flour. Though these refined products can be helpful in baking everything from gluten-free pancakes to cakes and cookies, they have a very high glycemic index and should not be eaten very often. The whole grains you listed – brown rice, millet, and quinoa are the better option.
Great Article, but to say that you have difficulty believing that wheat, which has been a staple in the diet for over 6000 years is suddenly making us sick….all you have to do is understand why modern wheat is not the same as our ancestors. The beggining chapters of the book, “Wheat Belly,” by Dr. William Davis will give you all the information that you need to understand this transformation. Wheat has been genetically modified, and is not the same structure including the high gluten contain which is why it is making so many allergic/intolerant to it today. The food supply is not the same,including corn, which allergies to are also skyrocketing. Please read, “Wheat Belly” before your next post, and you will understand why it is not a modern health food.
Thank you for the Millet Porridge recipe. My girls and I loved it. Although we don’t avoid wheat or gluten, we do look for ways to add variety into our diet.
I am really looking forward to hearing more information about the dairy allergies specifically. My daughter has a dairy allergy and I am struggling to find real food substitutes for many things(butter, cheese, etc.)that are not completely fake and filled with chemicals. Many things claiming to be dairy free still have casein (the milk protein) in the particular food! Ugh… Thank you for you post! :)
We use this spread (http://www.earthbalancenatural.com/product/soy-free-buttery-spread/ ) and a lot of olive oil. We also use Earth Balance sticks for baking.
For yogurt we use WholeSoy (many others have dairy.) We don’t eat a lot of “cheese” but when we absolutely have to have some we use Daiya.
“The person who said anybody would develop a gluten intolerance after a month didnâ€™t quote any sources, and Iâ€™ve never heard that.”
I agree. Intolerance comes from exposure, not from absence. Doctors say children don’t get seasonal allergies until their 2nd or 3rd year because they haven’t been exposed enough to become allergic to pollen.
On the other hand, I have seen my sister react ever more strongly to the tiniest hint of gluten in her diet, negative for Celiac’s, but positively painful! But that reaction isn’t caused by the absence of gluten, it’s quite the opposite: she reached her threshold of exposure. For my sister it’s like the intensity of a peanut allergy, one lick and she’s in pain for days if not weeks.
I read Dr. Mark Hyman’s book “Blood Sugar Solution” and decided to eliminate wheat, dairy and (most) sugar from my diet. I’ve lost 25lbs since May (3 months) without any other change in activity. These were stubborn pounds before!! I just feel better too. The big adjustment is in the first few weeks of the elimination. It was much easier to continue after that because I saw and felt how it was paying off. Except for one cupcake, which I didn’t eat but really wanted to, I’m happy I made the switch!
At the risk of restating something, when you have celiac (which I have) the villi in your small intestine is flattened which causes you to not absorb nutrients. It also makes digestion of dairy products impossible. So while your intestine heals, you will present as lactose intolerant. Once it is healed, which takes about 4 months, you can safely eat dairy.
And I just wanted to mention that celiac disease is a genetic predisposition. So it is highly likely that if you or your spouse have celiac, your children will have it also. Plus the blood tests while accurate can be misleading. Since if you miss even having even one marker in the blood test, you can still have celiac.
I like this website and as with everything, I am happy to modify it to fit my family and our diets. The ideas are good.
About 3 weeks ago what I thought was a sratched eyeball turned out to be iritus, an auto immune disorder hat scarres the irus to the lenses of the eye. I was a day away from going blind! The eye doctor told me this is directly linked to 8 different auto immune disorder and a gene called HLB-A27. So far I have tested positive for the gene put myself on a GF free diet and anti inflammory diet. I have already noticed a decrease in my chronic migraines. The inflammation always starts in my neck.
I think things would have been worse years ago if I didn’t find this web site. I started reading and changing our family diet. I could possible have anklosing spondylitis or Crohn’s because of family history. It just has not presented because of healthy eating and exercise.
I share most posts with friends trying to educated them. Please if you have a red eye that is pain and watery go to the eye doctor! I got lucky.
Our family has been gluten free for nearly four months now and I can’t believe the changes. We went off of gluten to see if it would help my 5 y/o son, who had extreme ADHD symptoms and signs of deficiencies like Omega 3 deficiencies despite a healthy diet. He was very underweight, his skin was dry and bumpy, his face looked sallow, he had constipation a lot, etc. None of the rest of us *thought* we had issues but we went along with him and to see what would happen.
I was floored at how much all of our health improved over the next few months. The changes were slow so a brief GF period wouldn’t have done any good. I was about 20 pounds overweight and since turning 40 I couldn’t lose those pounds. The weight just dropped off of me and I am thinner than I’ve been since my early thirties. I’ve had daily migraines for over a decade and neurologists were unable to find a reason for them but they’ve virtually disappeared. My chronic neck pain is much improved (unless I “cheat” and have wheat). My husband has also lost so much weight that he reluctantly admitted “there must be something to this wheat belly thing.”
The person who said anybody would develop a gluten intolerance after a month didn’t quote any sources, and I’ve never heard that. Scientifically, it doesn’t make any sense. If a food isn’t harmful for you to begin with, your body is not so dumb that it can’t handle it after a month without it. That said, I think it’s highly likely that many people THINK they’re not gluten intolerant because they are so used to the fatigue, bloating, aches, pains, etc. that they live with that it’s normal to them and a month off of gluten is the minimum to see how it really makes you feel when you eat it again!
I also recommend “Wheat Belly” — if for no other reason than to know what others are talking about. I’m reading it now and find it fascinating. The history of the changes in wheat are especially interesting. For instance, modern wheat has been bred to be very short because the heads have been bred to be so giant that the traditional wheat stalks bent over and broke. The yields are now ten times per acre what they were even 100 years ago. The gluten content is through the roof compared to original wheat. The author of Wheat Belly (a cardiologist) did an experiment where he tested his blood sugar after ingesting bread made from organic whole wheat floor and bread made from an heirloom wheat grain close to the real wheat we ate for thousands of years. He had a very small spike in blood sugar after the traditional (nearly extinct) wheat, and a huge blood sugar spike after the modern whole wheat bread. Our modern wheat is virtually a new plant compared to the genetic makeup of the wheat our ancestors ate.
My son is healthy now and his behavior is dramatically improved. My other kids are still eating healthy, whole foods without gluten, and I’m confident that it’s a good change for all of us. I’m also so pleased with how much better I feel and the way my body looks now (after five kids and an 8 month old baby!) that I’ll happily stay gluten free from now on. :)
Maybe someone already mentioned this, but a lot of people after getting surgery due to being on antibiotics have digestive problems. My husband had the same issues. We put him on a really good probiotic (ther-a-lac) and has been fine ever since. I think a lot of people decide to go gluten free, dairy or soy and all they had to do was take a really good probiotic and that cleans out the gut.
Hi LIz. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Unfortunately the probiotic did not work for my husband, but, a great suggestion for others if they encounter a similar issue. Jill
“Could it really be that bread, a staple of Western civilization for 6,000 years, is suddenly making millions of us sick? I’m dubious.”
Wow. Can’t believe a “health expert” said this! The bread we eat today is NOT the same bread we ate 6,000 years ago…. so yeah, I can believe that it’s “suddenly” making millions of us sick. Gluten has been modified, altered, and processed so many times since its origin. He is misleading people by saying that gluten isn’t so bad. It’s just not true – many times people do not know they suffer from a sensitivity.
I’ve been gluten free for a year now and it has alleviated so many of my health issues.
Hi Molly. It may be that the wheat crop is different than it was 6,000 years ago as you state, but, I would imagine that it is not the only crop that has changed and that many crops are different than what our ancestors ate years ago. I don’t know that you can blame only the change in our wheat. I’m glad to hear though that going gluten free has helped to alleviate so many health issues for you. Jill
How fun to see your picture and read your post. I had no idea you were a part of 100 days blog. I LOVE it. Great post!!!!!
This is a link to a critique of the book Wheat Belly. Why anybody would glorify a book written about weight loss is beyond me, and it totally flies in the face of what 100 Days of Real Food is about. Anyway, I just wanted to back up Michael Pollan and his extremely logical and reasonable way of approaching food and what we should eat. This kind of rational thinking does not require one, doctor or not, to rearrange facts to suit one’s agenda. It sounds like Wheat Belly does a lot of this, as well as using correlations to represent fact and thus draw incorrect conclusions.
I look forward to the blog post about tree nut allergies. Keep up the good work!
Thanks for this link – I especially liked that the facts presented were on a GF blog. It is too bad that gluten-free diets are being proposed for weight loss. As the blogger noted, if your food absorption issues are resolved, you are likely to gain weight – and that is a good thing for people who’ve lost weight due to malnutrition! I also believe that if you have a typical Western processed-food diet and you switch to gluten-free, you are going to feel better because of all the junk food you have eliminated. In the absence of identified allergies, it might work to try a Real Food diet first,THEN try gluten-free.
That’s what I did and still felt a lot better. Almost all my grains were whole wheat and I made my own bread and avoid almost all processed snacks but after I switched I stopped over eating because I didn’t feel the urge to snack or eat more then I needed. Now if I have wheat I go from being not really hungry to need food now hungry. Just by dropping wheat I lost 5 pounds in a week because wheat was making me over eat..
I would like to see a post about tree nuts too. My son is allergic to wheat, eggs, and nuts. He is also dairy intolerant. This makes following a real food diet challenging.
Great information, Jill! And so wonderful that Rob is feeling better!
Thank you for sharing! I am considering going gluten-free for a while – not for me, but for the BF, who tends to suffer from really bad gastrointestinal problems. He says there is nothing wrong with his food, so if I want him to try it, I will have to do it for both of us, at least in the beginning. (He also did not believe me that licorice would ease his stomach cramps, or that sleeping is a great substitute for caffeine. Guys… )
Ginger tea will also help with stomach issues.