What do you associate with the term gluten? If you, like most people, believe that gluten is synonymous with wheat, then you are wrong. Gluten is not wheat, nor is it only found in wheat. Gluten is a protein present in wheat as well as rye and barley, while wheat is a grain used in the production of flour, pasta, bread, etc. That is to say, if you are on a gluten-free diet, you are on a wheat-free diet at the same time. However, if you are on wheat-free diet, you don't have to avoid gluten, because you can get it from rye and barley.
Wheat Free vs. Gluten Free: Target Group
Now that you are in agreement that wheat free and gluten free are not synonymous, let us find out what kind of people fall within each segment.
1. Who Needs a Wheat-Free Diet?
People who suffer from wheat allergy need to eat a wheat-free diet. Wheat allergy presents with skin itch, swelling in the throat, teary eyes, breathing difficulties, congestion and sometimes anaphylaxis. A large portion of children suffering from allergy to wheat outgrow the condition by the time they are three to five years old. But some people suffer allergy to wheat throughout their lives.
2. Who Needs a Gluten-Free Diet?
People who suffer from gluten intolerance need to eat a gluten-free diet. The worst form of gluten intolerance is celiac disease, a condition where a gluten intolerant individual who continues to eat gluten suffers an autoimmune attack against the small intestines. This causes serious inflammation, bloating and diarrhea, which will lead to weight loss and malnourishment in the long run. Besides those who suffer from celiac disease, studies indicate that six percent of the population has gluten sensitivity. It makes people to experience uncomfortable symptoms whenever they eat food containing gluten.
Wheat Free vs. Gluten Free: What to Avoid
As with all the allergies, intolerance and sensitivities, the best way to stay clear of the symptoms is to avoid the specific foods.
1. Foods to Avoid in a Wheat-Free Diet
If you are allergic to wheat, you need to stay away from the cause of your allergy. This means avoiding wheat and other products containing wheat, including:
- Wheat berries
- All wheat flours and flours having wheat as an ingredient
- Breads including whole wheat and white bread
- Processed foods containing wheat, including some brands of ice cream, potato chips, hot dogs, play dough, turkey patties, rice cakes, imitation crabs and surimi – read labels to rule out wheat ingredients
- Other products containing wheat or wheat derivatives include beer and ale, batter-fried foods such as cereals, pasta, crackers, energy bars, pizza dough, salad dressing, processed meats, soup, sauces, baked goods and baking mixes such as cookies, cakes and muffins, waffles, pancakes, etc.
More foods containing wheat:
- Vital wheat gluten, wheat gluten
- Wheat grass, wheat sprouts, sprouted wheat
- Wheat starch
- Wheat germ, wheat germ oil
- Wheat malt
- Wheat bran
- Cereal extract
- Club wheat
- Bread crumbs
- Wheat protein, hydrolyzed wheat protein
- Matzoh, matzah, matza meal
- Glucose syrup
- Starch including modified, gelatinized and vegetable starch
- Soy sauce and Shoyu
2. Foods to Avoid in a Gluten-Free Diet
The essence of wheat free vs. gluten free diet is that a person who cannot properly digest gluten needs to eliminate all the above wheat products and additionally avoid the following products which may contain gluten:
- Barley, rye, barley malt, malt extract, malt syrup, malt vinegar and malt flavoring
- Wheat floured or breaded meat, poultry, vegetable and seafood products
- Vegetables, meat, poultry if the marinade or sauce contains gluten
- Fried foods prepared using the same oil as floured or breaded products
- Licorice and other candies containing wheat, barley or their derivatives
- Chicken broth, barley malt, veggie burgers and some salad dressings unless these are specified to be gluten-free
Wheat Free vs. Gluten Free: Alternative Foods
1. Alternative Foods to Eat in a Wheat-Free Diet
Since a gluten-free diet tends to be stricter and have fewer food choices, the alternative foods to eat in a gluten-free diet will be explained in detail here. You can choose your wheat-free foods from this shop list.
2. Alternative Foods to Eat in a Gluten-Free Diet
Healthy and naturally gluten-free alternatives include:
- Fresh eggs
- Fresh meat, poultry and fish which are not flour-coated, batter-coated, breaded or marinated
- Unprocessed beans, nuts and seeds
- Many dairy products
- Vegetables and fruits
It is always important to confirm that these foods are unprocessed and free from gluten. The following grains and starches don't contain gluten.
- Corn and cornmeal
- Gluten-free flour such as soy, corn, potato and bean