Rhonda’s Cooking


What in the World is Gluten-Free?

Posted by rhondascooking on August 9, 2008

Perhaps you have seen these words or even heard your friends or associates say that they are on a gluten-free diet.  Do you know what gluten is or where does gluten come from?  Is it just another fad or marketing scheme? 


Gluten is a by-product of two proteins, gliadin and glutenin, that are found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley.  In bread baking when water is mixed with wheat based flours and yeast and then kneaded several times, gluten is formed and causes the dough to rise.  Gluten is an important component in cooking, especially for baking.


So, if gluten has purpose in cooking, then why in the world would anyone want to eat gluten-free?  I’m glad that you asked!  The most common reason why a person might eat a gluten-free diet is because he/she may have Celiac (See lee ak) Disease, which is an autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestines whenever a person eats anything with gluten. Table 1 shows some of the signs/symptoms of Celiac Disease.  Some of these can also imitate other bowel disorders, so to be certain, please consult with your doctor and get tested if you have experienced any of these.


Symptoms of Celiac Disease (one or more)

Recurring bloating, gas or abdominal pain

Infertility male & female

Chronic diarrhea or constipation

Spontaneous miscarriages

pale, foul-smelling stool

Canker sores inside mouth

Unexplained anemia

Tooth discoloration or loss of enamel

Bone or joint pain

Vitamin K Deficiency

Behavior changes/depression

Failure to thrive (infants)

Missed menstrual periods


Hereditary (2nd degree relatives–aunts, uncles, cousins)

Table 1.Some symptoms of Celiac Disease (source celiac.org)


Another reason why people may choose to eat gluten-free is if they have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorders) or autism.  Many claims have been made that when people with these disorders have eliminated gluten (as well as dairy), they have improved tremendously!  Also people who suffer with arthritis can benefit from a gluten-free diet (see past article “Can Food Help Arthritis?”). 


Now that you understand the basics about gluten, are you curious about what foods to eat that are gluten-free?  There are several foods that are available on the market that you can eat which do not contain gluten.  Just look for “gluten-free” on the package and the food ingredients label.  Make certain to beware of foods that are labeled as “no wheat” because sometimes that item may contain gluten!  So, the best way to determine if a product is truly gluten-free is to carefully read the food ingredients label.  Table 2 shows a list of foods to eat and avoid for a gluten-free diet and Table 3 indicates what foods that may contain gluten.


Grains to Eat

Grains to Avoid

brown rice









drum wheat








wheat starch


wheat/rye/barley hybrids



Table 2 Grains for a gluten-free diet (source: livingwithout.com)


Foods that May Contain Gluten


imitation seafood


malt, malt flavorings



coating mixes



processed meats

communion wafers



soy sauce

energy bars

soup bases

cereal/cereal products


imitation bacon


Table 3 Foods that may contain gluten (source: livingwithout.com)


I know that this may be a little overwhelming; Rhonda’s Cooking is here to help you through the challenge!  Because I am on a gluten-free, dairy-free and anything-artificial-free diet, I have a number of recipes in my upcoming cookbook that will be beneficial for you.  So, just send an email to info@rhondascooking.com to put your name on the list.  


4 Responses to “What in the World is Gluten-Free?”

  1. Welia Dawson said

    This artical was very beneficial and informative. I was diagnosed with RA one year ago. I am 47 years old and I don’t want to continue taking all this medication. Hopefully I can pick up helpful tidbits from you newsletters and cookbook.

    You are a blessing!

    Vanessa from Detroit

  2. Hi, Vanessa, thanks for sharing and I am glad that you found value in this article. Make sure that you read the past article on “Arthritis” because there’s a whole list of foods that trigger inflammation.

    Let me know if you want to be added on my upcoming cookbook list.

  3. energy bars gives me the energy i need specially during heavy workouts_

    • Hi, thanks for the comments. After a heavy workout, I mix up a quick trailmix for my after workout protein snack. 1 TBSP pumpkin seeds, 1 TBSP Sunflower seeds, 1 TBSP hemp seeds, 1/2 TBSP raw cacao nibs…yummy and filling! I have other trailmix recipes in my new cookbook also.

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