Gluten Substitution Chart
Sample Gluten Free Foods
Sample Foods That Contain Gluten
Pay attention to digestive symptoms, like bloating and stomach pain. Stomach issues are some of the most common symptoms of gluten sensitivity. They’re also a major component of celiac disease. If you feel gassy, bloated, and just plain icky after eating a meal, think back to what you ate and whether it had gluten in it.
Some people may also experience symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, or heartburn.
If you often have these kinds of symptoms, start keeping a diary to track them. Write down what you ate and how soon after your meal the symptoms began.
Stomachaches have a lot of harmless causes, like eating too fast or overdoing the spicy foods. But if you get bellyaches frequently after eating, it’s a good idea to get it checked out.
Watch for tiredness after you eat foods containing gluten. It’s normal to feel a little sleepy after a big meal, while your body works to digest the food. But if you’re sensitive or intolerant to gluten, eating foods that have gluten in them may leave you feeling really fatigued or exhausted. Keep track of how you feel after eating and look for patterns, like worse fatigue after eating foods with gluten.
When you’re gluten intolerant, your immune system triggers inflammation in your intestines any time you eat gluten. This can make you feel exhausted, faint, or dizzy.
Unlike the occasional normal post-meal lethargy that may occur from time to time, you may feel completely exhausted after a meal if you have gluten intolerance.
Make note of changes in your mood after eating gluten. Feeling down a lot? Your diet might have something to do with it! If you’re sensitive or intolerant to gluten, eating foods with gluten in them may affect your mood. Watch out for feelings of depression, irritability, or anxiety after you eat foods made with wheat or other grains that contain gluten.
Irritability may be related to fatigue, or it can occur as a result of feeling run down in general, similar to how you feel when you’re sick with a cold or the flu.
Some people with gluten intolerance report having a “foggy mind” right after they eat. In other words, they easily lose their train of thought and find concentration difficult.
The good news is that these symptoms often improve quickly once you go to a gluten-free diet.
Check for headaches that develop after a meal. Headaches are a common symptom of gluten intolerance or sensitivity. Next time your head starts throbbing, think about what you last ate. Did it have gluten in it?
An occasional headache after a meal might be coincidence, so keep track of your headaches for a while and look for a pattern. Write down what you ate and how soon afterwards the headache started.
Look out for numbness or pain in your joints and extremities. Gluten intolerance or sensitivity can affect more than just your stomach and intestines. You might also struggle with achy joints or tingling and numbness in your fingers and toes. If you start feeling a lot of unexplained aches, pains, or numbness, check to see if these symptoms get worse after you eat foods with gluten in them.
Aches, pains, and numbness can be symptoms of a lot of different conditions, so don’t assume gluten is the culprit. For example, numbness and pain in your hands and wrists can also be caused by carpal tunnel syndrome.
Make note of unexplained weight loss. Gluten sensitivity or intolerance makes it harder for your body to absorb the nutrients you eat. Over time, this can cause you to lose weight, even if you haven’t changed your eating or exercise habits. If you’ve noticed that you’re losing weight and you aren’t sure why, think about whether you have other symptoms of gluten intolerance, such as digestive symptoms, fatigue, or joint pain.
Both celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity can cause unexplained weight loss.
It’s always a good idea to see your doctor about unexplained weight loss, no matter what other symptoms you might be having. They can help you figure out what’s going on and whether it’s anything to be concerned about.
Pay attention to prolonged changes in your mental status. Gluten intolerance can have a major impact on your mood, but it goes beyond just feeling a little irritable after a meal. People who can’t digest gluten properly are more likely to have long-term mood disorders, like depression and anxiety. Keep notes about any mental health symptoms you’ve experienced and whether they seem to get worse when you eat certain things.
Gluten intolerance can also cause symptoms like “brain fog,” or difficulty concentrating.
If you have both gluten intolerance and ADHD, eating gluten can make your ADHD symptoms worse.
Fortunately, if you have a mood disorder or mental health condition related to gluten intolerance, changing your diet can make a major, positive difference in how you feel.
Keep detailed notes about any rashes that develop, including eczema. Some people with gluten intolerance may develop itchy, bumpy, burning rashes that appear in clusters on their elbows, knees, or back. These rashes may eventually scab over. If you notice one of these rashes developing, take a photo of it and send it to your healthcare provider. They may be able to tell you if it is a characteristic gluten intolerance rash.
This kind of rash is called dermatitis herpetiformis. It’s possible to get the rash without having other gluten intolerance symptoms, such as bloating or an upset stomach.
Once you switch to a gluten-free diet, this type of rash will typically clear up. Your doctor can also prescribe medications to help get your itching under control.
Keep track of women’s health issues. Women and people assigned female at birth face their own special challenges with gluten intolerance. You may develop issues such as irregular menstrual cycles, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), severe menstrual cramping, miscarriage, or infertility. Let your doctor know if you deal with any of these issues along with other symptoms of gluten intolerance, such as digestive problems or chronic fatigue.
Some doctors now routinely investigate the possibility of a gluten sensitivity in couples who are unsuccessfully trying to conceive and are suffering from unexplained infertility.
Make an appointment with your doctor to check for a wheat allergy. Wheat allergy isn’t the same as gluten intolerance, but the symptoms can be similar. Call your doctor if you’ve noticed symptoms of a wheat allergy.
Symptoms may include:
Itching, swelling, and irritation around or in the mouth
Itchy rashes or hives
Nasal congestion and itchy eyes
Problems with the teeth (especially in small children)
Stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
Wheezing or difficulty breathing.
In rare cases, a wheat allergy can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis. Call emergency services if you have symptoms such as swelling of the mouth or throat, chest pain or tightness, severe difficulty breathing, pale or clammy skin, and dizziness or fainting.
Ask your doctor if you might have celiac disease. When you have celiac disease, your immune system goes into attack mode whenever you eat gluten. Eventually, this reaction can damage the villi (tiny, hairlike structures) in your small intestine, so that your body doesn’t absorb nutrients properly. If you have symptoms of gluten intolerance, such as stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, brain fog, and joint pain—especially after eating foods that contain gluten—ask your doctor to test you for celiac disease.
Your doctor may recommend blood tests to look for certain antibodies and genetic markers that are associated with celiac disease.
If the blood tests show that you might have celiac disease, your doctor will do an endoscopy, which involves inserting a tiny camera into your intestine through a tube that goes down your throat. This may sound scary, but don’t worry—you’ll be given anesthetics and sedatives to help you relax and make the procedure pain-free.
Speak with your doctor about gluten sensitivity if you don’t have celiac disease. If you don’t have celiac disease or a wheat allergy, then non-celiac gluten sensitivity might be the cause of your symptoms. Unfortunately, there’s no simple test to check for a gluten sensitivity. However, tell your doctor about your concerns and ask if they can evaluate you based on your symptoms.
The only sure way to identify a non-celiac gluten sensitivity is to eliminate gluten from your diet and see if your symptoms improve.
Eliminate all gluten-containing foods from your diet for 2 to 6 weeks. If your doctor thinks you have a gluten sensitivity, they will likely recommend an elimination diet. Work closely with your doctor or a dietitian to eliminate any foods that they think might be causing your symptoms. Pay attention to whether your symptoms disappear or improve during this time.
After a few weeks, you can start adding foods back into your diet one at a time and see if your symptoms return.
You’ll need to avoid any foods that contain sources of gluten, such as wheat, barley, rye, triticale, and oats that have been processed with other grains.
You’ll be able to eat foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds, eggs, lean meats, and most dairy products. You can also eat foods made with gluten-free grains, such as corn, flax, arrowroot, and buckwheat.
Keep a symptom tracker journal during the elimination period. Use the journal to note any changes that occur over the course of the diet. Revisit the pages where your symptoms are listed and notice whether any of the symptoms have improved or disappeared since eliminating gluten from your diet.
Write down what you eat each day along with any symptoms, and keep track of the times of both your meals and the symptoms.
For instance, you might note that you started day 2 with a mild headache, but that it was better by the early afternoon. Be sure to indicate whether the headache started before or after breakfast, and list exactly what you ate.
Your doctor or nutritionist may provide or recommend a symptom diary that you can use.
Reintroduce gluten into your diet after the elimination period has ended. Your doctor or nutritionist will give you instructions on how to add the foods that you eliminated back into your diet. Pay attention to how you feel when you begin eating gluten again. If any symptoms return after you reintegrate gluten and you feel worse than you did when you were on the elimination diet, you may have confirmed a gluten intolerance.
If you’re testing for multiple different types of food sensitivities—such as dairy as well as gluten—you’ll need to be extra careful and systematic about how you add foods back into your diet. Otherwise, it will be hard to tell which food might have been causing the problem.
If you confirm your gluten intolerance after re-introducing gluten into your diet, you will have to re-eliminate gluten-containing foods from your diet so that you can keep feeling better!
Eliminate gluten permanently if you have a likely gluten intolerance. To correct the problems that develop as a result of a gluten intolerance, you will need to eliminate the cause and not just treat the symptoms. Unfortunately, this means you’ll have to go permanently gluten-free. The good news is that there are plenty of delicious and nutritious alternatives that will help you get all the nutrients you need—plus you’ll feel a million times better!
Replace gluten-containing foods such as wheat, barley, rye, semolina, and spelt with ingredients that do not contain gluten, such as arrowroot, peanut flour, quinoa, rice flour, and soy flour. Try these tips from the National Institute of Health to learn what you can and can't eat: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/celiac-disease/eating-diet-nutrition
Unlike a wheat allergy, which may improve eventually over time, a general intolerance to gluten is a permanent condition in most people.
Find out which foods contain gluten protein. In order to eliminate gluten from your diet, you’ll need to be aware of which foods have gluten protein in them. Gluten is particularly common in a wide variety of Western foods, including:
Breads, crackers, muffins, cakes, and other baked goods
Pasta and pizza
Many fried and breaded foods
Some soups and processed meats
Potato chips and French fries
Some sauces and dairy products
It may even be used in certain types of cosmetics (e.g., some lipsticks) and as filler in medications.
Determine what foods you can eat. Learning which foods are safe for you when you have gluten intolerance or sensitivity can be a trial and error process. But by paying close attention to what you eat and how you feel, you’ll soon figure out what works for you. Keep a food diary and record every meal or snack (including beverages). If you ever experience troubling symptoms after a meal, note them in your diary.
Gluten-free sources of starch include potatoes, rice, corn, soy flax, and buckwheat (which, despite its name, is not a true wheat). Buckwheat can be used to make pancakes, porridges, baked goods, and pasta (such as Japanese soba noodles).
Read food labels carefully to make sure that they have not been prepared with ingredients that contain gluten proteins. For example, some corn chips contain wheat flour.
If you’re ever unsure about whether a food is safe for you, reach out to your doctor or dietitian. They can help you make good choices so you can keep on healing and feeling better!