About Celiac Disease
The Gluten-Free Diet
A gluten-free diet means avoiding all foods that contain wheat (including spelt, triticale, and kamut), rye barley (malt), and possibly oats. In other words, avoiding most grain, pasta, cereal, and many processed foods. Despite these restrictions, people with celiac disease can eat a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods, including breads and pasta. For example, instead of wheat flour, people can use potato, rice, soy or bean flour. Or, they can buy gluten-free bread, pasta, and other products from special food companies.
Whether people with celiac disease should avoid oats is controversial because some people have been able to eat oats without having a reaction. Scientists are doing studies to find out whether people with celiac disease can tolerate oats. Until the studies are complete, people with celiac disease should follow their physician or dietician's advice about eating oats.
Plain meat, fish, rice, fruits, and vegetables do not contain gluten, so people with the disease can eat as much of these foods as they like (see our link to safe and forbidden foods).
The gluten-free diet is complicated. It requires a completely new approach to eating that
affects a person's entire life. People with celiac disease have to be extremely careful about
what they buy for lunch at school or at work, eat at cocktail parties, or grab from the
refrigerator for a midnight snack. Eating out can be a challenge as the person with celiac
disease learns to scrutinize the menu for foods with gluten and question the waiter or chef about
possible hidden sources of gluten. However, with practice, screening for gluten becomes second
nature and people learn to recognize which foods are safe and which are off limits.
A dietician, a health care professional who specializes in food and nutrition, can help people
learn about their new diet. Also, support groups are particularly helpful for newly diagnosed
people and their families as they learn to adjust to their new way of life.
Next... What are the Complications of Celiac Disease?
What is Celiac Disease?
What are the Symptoms?
How is Celiac Disease Diagnosed?
What is the Treatment?
The Gluten-Free Diet
What are the Complications of Celiac Disease?
How Common is Celiac Disease?