IF YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO WHEAT…
What does a wheat allergy mean?

Wheat allergy occurs when there is an allergic reaction to gluten (the protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats). Gluten refers to a group of proteins that are difficult for humans to digest. One group of proteins called gliadin is thought to do most of the damage to the intestinal lining. Glutenins are another group of proteins found in gluten and thought to be associated with autoimmune skin diseases and asthma. Gluten proteins are extremely resistant to intestinal digestion, despite grinding, cooking, processing and digestion.

Gluten causes damage to the intestinal lining by eroding the villi and microvilli essential for digestion and absorption processes. This damage then increases the likelihood of partially digested gluten proteins passing into the bloodstream. Certain proteins cause our immune systems to react. Undigested partial proteins found in gluten cereals have morphine-like properties once they enter the bloodstream, suggesting an origin for the phrase ‘comfort foods’ and its addictive nature. Once an immune response has been initiated, inflammatory reactions can cause a whole host of wheat allergy symptoms. A gluten/wheat allergy may not always be a severe frequent reaction but can result in many digestive symptoms – flatulence, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, pain etc. – and may aggravate a host of other symptoms:

  • tiredness
  • skin rashes
  • cramps
  • acne and boils
  • sweating
  • headaches
  • migraines
  • psoriasis
  • arthritis
  • eczema
  • anxiety
  • depression

Wheat is more likely to cause an allergic reaction than any other grain. Modern wheat has been developed to contain higher gluten levels for the manufacture of bread and other products, and our digestive systems were not designed to cope with the indigestible proteins. Some people with a wheat allergy find they can tolerate oats, however it is important to note that oats are often processed and stored alongside other grains.

WHEAT

Read Labels Carefully! Here is what you will find on labels.

Common Names of Wheat and gluten containing products / Always contains it

Gluten / Vital Gluten
Durum wheat
Triticale (wheat and rye blend)
White flour
All-purpose flour
Wholewheat flour
Semolina (refined durum flour)
Couscous (cracked wheat)
Kamut
Spelt
Graham flour
Bulgar (partially cooked and toasted cracked wheat)
Wholemeal flour
Plain and self-raising flour
Barley (extract, flavour, flour, malt)
Farro
Farina
polenta

Wheat can be found in many food products in different forms:

  • Food starch
  • Starch / modified starch
  • corn starch
  • food starch
  • special edible starch
  • Cereal filler / extract
  • cereal binders
  • cereal protein
  • cereal starch
  • edible starch
  • wheat protein
  • wheat starch
  • wheat berries
  • wheat bran
  • wheatmeal
  • thickening agent / thickener
  • hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
  • MSG
  • Binder
  • Rusk

Common Sources / Foods Containing Wheat

Bread – pitta, Chapatiis and naan bread
Most kinds of rye bread (unless states 100% rye)
BAKED GOODS – Cookies, Pastries, Buns, scones, cakes, muffins
Pizza
Battered or breaded products
Pastas
Baking powder
Packet sauce mixes
Seasonings
Dressings and sauces
Condiments
Vinegar (if derived from wheat grains)
Tinned soups
Most breakfast cereals
Some rye crispbreads
Crumpets, pancakes (buckwheat pancakes unless states 100% buckwheat)
Pies
Sausages
Ice cream
Taramasalata (contains breadcrumbs)
Mustards and mayonnaise (check labels)
Stock cubes
Beer, vodka, gin
Soy sauce
Ready-made foods, sauces
Most muesli’s
Candy

Alternatives…a guide to getting started.

Today there are many wheat-free alternatives for a wide variety of traditional wheat products.
These days it is a lot easier to cope with a wheat allergy as there are many wheat free alternatives available in the supermarket, and health stores including flours, bread and pastas, cookies and snacks. There are also many wheat-free ready mixes (eg. For pastry, cakes and cookies) available, taking the hard work out of preparing a mixture of wheat-free flours.

Below are other alternatives that you can experiment with.

  • CORN: flour, pasta, cornflakes, crispbread, chips, polenta, bread, nachos, tortillas, popcorn. – cornflour is one of the best thickening agents (ensure the corn flour is 100% corn flours with no added wheat flour)
    • cornmeal can be prepared as polenta
  • MILLET: flour, pasta, flakes
    • millet grains are boiled as rice and are very nutritious – good in soups and casseroles
    • millet flakes are great for making your own muesli
  • BUCKWHEAT: also called ‘kasha’ – flour, pasta
    • despite it’s name, buckwheat is NOT related to wheat at all
    • buckwheat oats are also great for making your own muesli
    • Japanese soba noodles are made from buckwheat (check labels on supermarket brands)
    • Buckwheat flour is useful for making blinis, pancakes and other baking recipes. (check label to ensure it is 100% buckwheat)
  • RICE: flour, pasta, flakes, cakes, bread
    • basmati or brown rice is best
  • QUINOA (pronounced ‘keen-wa’): flour, flakes, pasta, quinoa puffs
    • a ‘complete’ protein, very nutritious – can be called the perfect food
    • quinoa grains are boiled as rice
    • can be used as an alternative to couscous
  • AMARANTH, TAPIOCA (from the cassava plant), ARROWROOT, GRAM FLOUR (from chickpeas), LENTIL FLOUR
    • useful for thickening agents
    • gram flour can be used to make wheat free popadums.

If you are avoiding wheat only and can tolerate oats, rye, and barley then the following may be options for you to explore:

  • OATS: oatmeal, flour, oatcakes
    • oats make a great breakfast, raw with fruit and chopped nuts
    • oatcakes are a good substitute for crackers
    • make your own flapjacks or biscuits for a delicious wheat-free treat!
  • RYE : bread, flour, crispbread
    • ensure bread and crispbread are 100% rye by checking labels
  • BARLEY: flour
    • useful for pancakes

What About SPELT?

Spelt is an ancient grain related to wheat that was used as a staple food in early Europe . However spelt is now being cultivated again. It is more nutritious than wheat, but still contains gluten (a protein found in wheat.) Compared to wheat though, it is more easily digestible, rich in complex carbohydrates and fibre, and has a higher protein content than wheat. Some people with a wheat intolerance can tolerate spelt, but it is best AVOIDED during the initial stages of wheat free diet. If you have a wheat allergy, consult your doctor before eating spelt.

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