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Living a Healthy Gluten Free Life – The Gluten Free Diet

Living a gluten-free lifestyle, on a gluten free diet, can have its challenges. In order to successfully follow a gluten free diet, it is essential to have a good understanding of which foods and ingredients contain gluten. Unfortunately, there is considerable misinformation published about what constitutes a gluten-free diet. As a result many individuals are often confused and needlessly avoid certain foods and ingredients, thus limiting the variety in their diet which can lead to nutritional imbalances

Below are resources to support a healthy Gluten-Free diet.

What Not to Eat

You need to avoid any food that contains the protein from wheat, rye, or barley. Here is a list of these foods:

* These are all types of wheat

** Fu is a dried gluten product derived from wheat that is sold as thin sheets or thick round cakes. Used as a protein supplement in Asian dishes such as soups and vegetables.

*** Oats are contaminated with wheat and barley, unless they are specially grown, harvested and processed. More information.

**** Seitan is a meat-like food derived from wheat gluten used in many vegetarian dishes; sometimes called “wheat meat”.

Source: Adapted with permission from Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide 2008 by Shelley Case, Dietitian.

Foods to Eat (including Questions to Ask to Ensure Safety)

Category Food Products Notes
Milk and Alternatives Cheese spreads or sauces (e.g. nacho), seasoned (flavoured) shredded cheese May be thickened/stabilized with wheat flour or wheat starch.
Seasonings may contain hydrolyzed wheat protein, wheat flour or wheat starch.
Flavoured or frozen yogurt May contain granola, cookie crumbs or wheat bran.
Grain Products Buckwheat flour Pure buckwheat flour is gluten-free. Sometimes buckwheat flour may be mixed with wheat flour.
Rice and corn cereals May contain barley malt, barley malt extract or barley malt flavouring.
Buckwheat pasta Some “Soba” (Japanese noodles) contain pure buckwheat flour which is gluten-free but others may also contain wheat flour.
Seasoned or flavoured rice mixes Seasonings may contain hydrolyzed wheat protein, wheat flour or wheat starch or have added soy sauce that contains wheat.
Multi-grain or flavoured rice or corn cakes or rice crackers Multi-grain products may contain barley and/or commercial oats. Some contain soy sauce (may be made from wheat) or seasonings containing hydrolyzed wheat protein, wheat flour or wheat starch.
Meat and Alternatives Baked beans Some are thickened with wheat flour.
Imitation fish products (e.g. surimi, imitation crab) May contain fillers made from wheat starch.
Seasoned or dry roasted nuts or seeds May contain hydrolyzed wheat protein, wheat flour or wheat starch.
Processed meat products: deli or luncheon meats, hot dogs May contain fillers made from wheat. May contain seasonings made from hydrolyzed wheat protein, wheat flour or wheat starch.
Meat substitutes (e.g. vegetarian burgers, sausages) Often contain seasonings made from hydrolyzed wheat protein, wheat flour or wheat starch.
Vegetables and Fruits Dates May be dusted with commercial oat flour, dextrose or rice flour.
French fried potatoes Often cooked in the same oil as gluten-containing products resulting in cross-contamination.
Soups Canned soups, dried soup mixes, soup bases and bouillon cubes May contain wheat flour or hydrolyzed wheat protein. May contain noodles or barley. Cream soups are often thickened with wheat flour. Seasonings may contain hydrolyzed wheat protein, wheat flour or wheat starch.
Fats and Oils Salad Dressings May contain wheat flour, malt vinegar or soy sauce (made from wheat). Seasonings may contain hydrolyzed wheat protein, wheat flour or wheat starch.
Cooking Spray Some types have added wheat flour or wheat starch.
Desserts and Sweets Cake icings or frostings Wheat starch may be added.
Snack Foods Seasoned potato chips, taco (corn) chips, nuts and soy nuts. Some potato chips contain wheat starch. Seasoning mixtures may contain hydrolyzed wheat protein, wheat flour or wheat starch.
Beverages Flavoured or herbal teas or flavoured coffee Some flavoured or herbal teas, coffee substitutes and other drinks may have barley malt flavouring. Some specialty coffees may contain a chocolate chip-like product that contains cookie crumbs.
Other Baking Powder Most brands contain cornstarch which is gluten-free but some brands contain wheat starch.
Specialty mustards, mustard flour and curry paste Some brands contain wheat flour or wheat starch.

Source: Adapted with permission from Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide 2008 by Shelley Case, Dietitian.

 

Enriching Gluten-Free Foods in Canada

Background

Most gluten-free flours, breads, pasta products, breakfast cereals and baked goods available on the Canadian market are much lower in vitamins, mineral nutrients and fibre than the gluten-containing products they replace. As a result, people with celiac disease, who must consume a strict gluten-free diet for life, may not be receiving optimum nutrition from their diets.

The Good News

Canada’s Food and Drug Regulations allow the enrichment of gluten-free foods sold in Canada. The Regulation [D.03.003] states that in order to qualify for enrichment, all three of the following conditions must be met:

 

For the purpose of these Regulations, individuals with celiac disease are not regarded as the “general public”. Therefore, gluten-free foods may be advertised in magazines, newsletters, etc., that is targeted to individuals with celiac disease or others requiring a gluten-free diet.

Enrichment Levels

Health Canada recommends that if cereal-based gluten-free foods are enriched, they should be enriched to the same levels as similar non-gluten-free products, e.g., gluten-free flours be enriched to the same levels as enriched flour; gluten-free breads to the same levels as enriched bread, etc. Bakery products and snack foods should have levels of enrichment corresponding to the amount of flour replaced. Enrichment levels for standardized wheat flour, bread, alimentary pastes (such as macaroni, spaghetti, noodles, etc.), and breakfast cereals are attached as an appendix.

Labelling Requirements

Gluten-free products that have been enriched must be labelled “gluten-free”. This statement must appear on the principal display panel in close proximity to the common name of the food, e.g., “enriched rice bread”, “gluten-free”, or as part of the common name, e.g., “gluten-free enriched rice bread”. If rice flour were fortified “gluten-free enriched rice flour” would be an acceptable common name.

All vitamin and mineral nutrient preparations added to a gluten-free products must be identified by their correct common names in the ingredient list, and all of the nutrients must be declared in the nutrition panel as a percentage of the Recommended Daily Intake. Information on acceptable sources of fibre and the claims that can be made for them may be obtained from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.

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