Not many people fully understand celiac disease, but perhaps know a person or two who is suffering from or has been diagnosed with the disease. Moreover, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation, most people with celiac disease are undiagnosed or ignorant about the condition. While most people would tend to overlook the symptoms of this condition, it is advised to immediately seek treatment, as untreated celiac disease can lead to other health complications such as osteoporosis, anemia, and even lymphoma.
Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune disorder in which the lining of the small intestine (usually the inner one) is damaged due to the reaction of gluten -- a type of protein usually found in rye, wheat and barley. However, these foods are a staple, especially during breakfast. Furthermore, a lot of the available foods in the supermarket nowadays are packed with gluten. Hence, it is particularly important to be wary of the best foods and substitutes for celiac disease patients.
Unfortunately, there is still no concrete cure of this disease, but experts highly recommend a gluten-free diet to keep the symptoms at bay. Before you delve into the list of foods that you can incorporate in your diet, let’s get you familiarize the symptoms of the celiac disease first.
How to Know You have Celiac Disease?
Most symptoms appear in random situations and forms that most people would consider it a normal one-time allergy or discomfort. If you suffer from digestive discomforts like constipation, diarrhea, sudden weight loss or weight gain, and vomiting too often, then there is a high chance that you may have a celiac disease. Below are the telltale signs that you should look out for:
- Blistery, itchy skin rash
- Mouth ulcers
- Dental enamel damaged
- Constant headaches
- Joint pain
- Early signs of osteoporosis and osteomalacia
For children (2 years below), the symptoms below are common:
- Poor appetite
- Swollen belly
- Chronic diarrhea
- Weight loss
- ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder)
- Delayed puberty
Best Foods and Substitutes for Celiac Disease Diet
Most experts would recommend a patient suffering from a celiac disease to undergo a gluten-free diet. But if you ask people what foods have completely zero gluten, it would probably take quite a few minutes to name some. In fact, a lot of celiac patients are having a hard time scouting for a 100% gluten-free diet.
If you are among these people, then, fortunately, you have come to the right place. In this section, we have listed some of the best foods and substitutes for celiac disease patients.
If you want to keep your distance from gluten-packed foods, then you better stick to fruits. But knowing the right type of fruits to eat can certainly make a big difference in your diet. The following (but not limited to) are some of the fruits that you can add to your list:
- Passion fruit
- Fresh Pineapples
Please avoid canned fruits as they may contain gluten. Although some canned fruits use real fruit juice in the can, it is always better to be safe than sorry, right?
Aside from fruits, vegetables are also an excellent and safe addition to your gluten-free list. Not only are vegetables healthy and safe, but you can also create new recipes using various vegetables. For people who are diagnosed with celiac disease or those with gluten sensitivity, the following vegetables are safe to have in your diet:
- Bok choy
Some of the vegetables listed here are starchy. You might be wondering why starchy foods are included in the list. After all, starchy foods may have flour, and flour has gluten. However, potatoes and sweet potatoes have zero gluten unless they are cooked with gluten-packed seasonings. If you are on a gluten-free diet, it is safe for you to eat all of these vegetables.
3. Fresh Meat and Seafood
Meat is actually gluten-free, and animal meat is certainly safe for individuals with celiac disease according to Canadian Celiac Association (CCA). However, when they are mixed with seasonings and other ingredients that have gluten, then they are no longer recommended as one of the best foods and substitutes for celiac disease diet. You can eat:
4. Flour Alternatives
The word “flour” may be invisible to most gluten-free diet lists, but you shouldn't punish yourself too much by not eating the food you crave. Fortunately, there is already a way to satisfy your cravings for bread and other flour-based foods -- use flour alternatives for your gluten-free recipes.
- Almond- Almond flour is a great alternative for those celiac disease patients who are willing to spare time preparing baked goods.
- Corn Flour
- Cassava Flour
- Brown rice flour
5. Dairy Products
Dairy products like whole milk, cream, cheese, and yogurt are gluten-free as long as they stay plain and flavorless. To be safe, always check the label of the dairy products that you are about to purchase. Some brands claim to offer gluten-free products but are actually not. These are some of the dairy products you can have:
- Plain yogurt (no flavors, please)
- Sour Cream
- Whole milk
Best Foods and Substitutes for Celiac Disease Diet: Sample Menu
Remember to only used ingredients that are gluten-free. So, better check or scout for these ingredients beforehand. Avoid using soy sauce and oyster sauce since these are already processed and may contain gluten. Check for gluten-free alternatives instead such as coconut aminos for your homemade gluten-free recipes.
2 pieces of almond flour bread
2 eggs (scrambled with a pint of salt)
5 thin slices of Cucumber
1 small cup of plain white milk
Plain white rice
Homemade baked chicken with broccoli
1 serving of fresh pineapple and watermelon slices
1 glass of fresh fruit juice
Homemade steamed pork with rice flour and potatoes in small cubes
1 glass of fresh fruit juice or water
The Dark Side of the Gluten-Free Diet
Gluten-free foods are popular to people with celiac diseases, as well as to individuals with gluten-intolerance. However, some people choose to cut gluten from their diet due to personal reasons like maintaining weight. This sounds like an easy task; however, for celiac disease patients, following a strict gluten-free diet can be detrimental to their physical, emotional, and even social health.
Not eating the foods that you like because of the fact that they contain gluten can cause a type of psychological imbalance. According to an article published by Harvard Health Publications, every time your brain is deprived of good foods, including the ones you crave the most, this can worsen mood disorders, which can evolve into depression if not managed properly. The article strongly expresses that there is a connection between the food you eat and how you feel.
Moreover, keeping your food choices to narrow options would discourage attending parties and eat-outs with friends. This will make you socially awkward in the long run, thinking all the foods you eat outside may contain gluten. If truth be told, it is quite difficult to locate restaurants that offer 100% gluten-free menu. Also, you cannot expect your friends to go gluten-free just because you are.
Lastly, since a gluten-free diet also involves cutting out some foods from your diet list, it is not at all surprising why celiac disease patients also suffer from vitamin deficiency. This means that your body is not getting as many vitamins and minerals as people without celiac disease are getting. However, you can always find good alternatives such as supplements that will supply the lacking nutrients.
A gluten-free diet seems a bit difficult to pull off, especially for celiac disease patients who have no idea what the best foods and substitutes for celiac disease patients are. But, if you are armed with the right knowledge and awareness, then this should not be a problem. Do your research and don’t hesitate to visit your doctor for consultation. Hopefully, this article has brought you one step closer to making the best out of your gluten-free diet.
- Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged due to the intake of gluten - a type of protein usually found in wheat, rye and barley.
- A gluten-free diet is necessary for those with celiac disease.
- Eating starchy vegetables like potatoes and flour that is rice-based instead of wheat-based is key for those who can't eat gluten.