Gluten: What is it and Which Foods Contain It?

Did you know that all of our meals at Prep’d are gluten-free? It wasn’t initially in the plan, but as we began to build our menu from scratch, it just happened on accident. Of course, we aren’t here to tell you that gluten is bad or good, but instead to educate you on what it is and what to look for while shopping if you’re trying to avoid it. Keep in mind, a gluten-free lifestyle isn’t for everyone; we all are unique and our bodies react differently to a variety of products and ingredients. Always speak with your doctors and do your own research to determine what is best for you and your body!

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein that is often found in wheat products and wheat byproducts. Primarily, it acts as a glue to help hold it all together. It also helps give shape and strength to food products like bread. For some, gluten is intolerable. They may develop a severe gluten sensitivity or an autoimmune disorder called Celiac Disease. If not treated correctly, Celiac disease can lead to small intestine damage and weight loss due to malnutrition.

Which Foods Contain Gluten?

There are several foods in the grocery store that contain gluten, but you’re more likely to find them in the frozen section and the middle isles of the store. While grocery shopping, you’ll want to read the labels carefully to determine if the product you wish to buy includes gluten. If you see critical words like wheat, barley, durum, farina, panko, orzo, rye and semolina, there is gluten in the food. If you plan to dedicate yourself to a gluten-free diet, take the time to educate yourself on all of the terms to look for as manufacturers utilize a variety of names to disguise the gluten.  

Several gluten-free products also provide a gluten-free label on their packaging. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the “gluten-free” label is a “voluntary claim that manufactures may elect to use in the label of foods (2018).” Brands that choose to use this label must contain, “…a gluten limit of less than 20 parts per million (ppm).”

As we’ve already mentioned, all of Prep’d’s delicious menu is gluten-free, allowing folks with gluten sensitivity and Celiacs Disease to eat without concern. But, choices aren’t always that easy, which is why we’ve composed a brief go-to list for your reference :

  • Fresh fruit
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Butter, milk, margarine, aged cheeses
  • Eggs
  • Applesauce
  • Canned fish (tuna, salmon, etc.)
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Chickpeas
  • Sunflower seeds and nuts
  • Potatoes

If you’d like to learn more about foods that should be avoided while living a gluten-free lifestyle,  you can check out this comprehensive list provided by Healthline. Keep in mind that these lists are not the end all, you should always read labels to be 100% sure.

What are the Health Benefits of a Gluten-Free Diet?

As we’ve mentioned above, gluten is like glue. Now imagine that glue inside your body; for some, it can be quite difficult to digest. In fact, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) tells us that, “removing gluten from your diet will improve symptoms, heal damage to your small intestine, and prevent further damage over time” (NIDDK, 2018). Other potential benefits include but are not limited to reduction of symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Iron Deficiency
  • Mood Disorders
  • Reproductive Health Issues
  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis

Wow! Isn’t it amazing to see how our food choices can impact our health? Do you live a gluten-free lifestyle or have a gluten sensitivity? Share your experiences or your favorite gluten-free foods with us below; we’d love to hear from you.

Author: tayloramoore7@gmail.com

Taylor is the founder and CEO of Prep'd.

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