Gluten sensitivities affect approximately one in seven people, according to the Tri-County Health Department in Colorado (see References). Gluten is the protein in wheat, rye, and barley that can cause everything from abdominal cramping to eczema, among many other symptoms, including miscarriage and infertility. It is possible to eat a healthy and delicious gluten-free diet, though. As with other food allergies, some alteration of popular recipes is all that is necessary in some cases, though you will need to cut out other foods entirely.
The standard hearty breakfast includes many foods that a person sensitive to gluten needs to avoid. Processed meats such as sausage may contain hidden forms of gluten. Eggs are a good choice, along with gluten-free pancakes and bacon. Vegetarians and vegans are limited further in their diets but fresh fruit, cooked quinoa or brown rice, and a glass of rice milk is a tasty, vegan and gluten-free meal that satisfies.
Lunch and Snacks
Fast food is out of the question for a person with a gluten allergy or sensitivity, as are sandwiches and most condensed soups. There are tasty, easy alternatives, however---just make sure to check labels vigilantly. White corn tortillas are an excellent substitution for making wraps with gluten-free olive-oil mayonnaise and fresh veggies like lettuce, peppers, and cucumbers. Those with food allergies can also make delicious soups ahead of time, then package and store smaller quantities in the freezer. Black beans, carrots, celery, onion, and garlic along with a little salt and pepper in a vegetable broth make a delicious, allergy-free soup. Be especially careful of any processed foods at the grocery store, as many contain hidden sources of gluten such as malt, modified food starch, MSG, and many artificial flavors and colors (see References). Many companies offer gluten-free potato chips and rice crisps for snacks or an accompaniment to lunch.
Dinner and Dessert
Dinner is one meal that is fairly easy to alter to fit a gluten- and allergy-free diet. Meals like spaghetti may seem off-limits, but if you use gluten-free noodles made with rice flour you can still enjoy many of the same recipes. Shrimp sautéed in olive oil with garlic cloves, salt, and pepper can be served with seasoned rice and salad. Make your own dressing to ensure it is gluten-free. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixed well make a tasty allergy-free dressing. A sweet tooth can be indulged in a variety of ways. Fresh berries heated and drizzled over gluten-free soy or rice ice cream is a creamy finish to any dinner, as are crisps made from homemade fruit filling with a gluten-free oat-and-brown-sugar topping. Even if you do not have a dairy allergy check all ice cream labels, as some types do contain gluten.
Plan all meals in advance to avoid tempting forbidden foods, like take-out pizza, when you are hungry and tired. While an allergy-free diet requires vigilance and change, it can be at least as delicious as a standard American diet of fast food and processed convenience. Maintaining a diet free of all of your allergens is a healthy way to treat your body kindly.