How to Live With Allergies to Wheat

Wheat allergies are a common problem with people whose bodies cannot process the proteins in gluten. About 1 percent of the population has Celiac disease, a genetic condition that causes the lining of the intestines to be damaged when gluten is ingested. A larger group are allergic to gluten, meaning they cannot adequately process the protein in wheat products but do not suffer intestinal damage or inflammation. Another condition is gluten sensitivity, in which eating gluten causes some gastrointestinal symptoms or headaches. Allergic reactions include nausea, asthma, and skin problems; a common sign of a wheat allergy is the appearance of a distended abdomen after eating wheat. In addition, longer-term problems such as stunted growth and iron deficiency can result from steady consumption of wheat by someone with Celiac disease, as the small intestine's lining is damaged and cannot adequately take in nutrients like calcium. The only way to treat Celiac disease or to avoid symptoms from a gluten allergy is to adhere to a non-wheat diet. This guide will lead you through the steps of researching, establishing, and sticking to a gluten-free routine.


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    Research and make a list of the basic food ingredients that include gluten, including ingredients that are not directly produced from wheat.
    • Ingredients produced directly from wheat include flour (white and whole wheat), semolina, bulgur, barley, and rye. Other ingredients like vegetable starch and vegetable gum often have gluten in them.
    • Consult websites like and for reliable lists of products that have gluten. Organizations that provide additional information and support for people with Celiac disease or gluten allergies and sensitivity include the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America.
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    Investigate which common food products and dishes include these ingredients. Pay special attention to foods that you were accustomed to consuming.
    • Some of the most common food products that include gluten are: bread, pasta, beer, cereal, pizza, crackers, baked goods, and soy sauce.
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    Become familiar with lesser-known ingredients and products that include gluten. Check for these on all food products you buy.
    • Some more obscure gluten-rich names or ingredients are durum, frumento, gelatinized starch, and hydrolyzed vegetable protein.
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    Make a list of common foods that are gluten-free and healthy for you to eat.
    • These include all fruits and vegetables, corn, potatoes, rice, milk, eggs, nuts, meat, fish, and most oils.
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    Research common gluten substitute products. Many of these are especially designed for people with Celiac disease, while others are natural products that can easily replace wheat.
    • Substitutes for flour include sorghum and cornstarch. Common non-gluten grains include buckwheat and quinoa. For cooking, look to products like xantham gum to use as thickeners or binders. In addition, there are a variety of breads, pastas, flours, and cereals specifically marketed as gluten-free.
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    Consult your local supermarkets and retailers to see what non-wheat products are readily available. Many stores, especially health food outlets, now have entire gluten-free sections.
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    Learn recipes that do no call for wheat, or for which non-wheat products can easily be substituted. Build up a library of recipes for all types of meals, snacks, and desserts.
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    Design a diet using the recipes and food products you have researched. Be sure to include enough calories in your daily intake, and vary the types of produce and meat you are eating.
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    Stick to your gluten-free diet even as symptoms begin to subside.


  • Consult a professional nutritionist for help with crafting a gluten-free diet that conforms to your tastes and habits.
  • Always have a conscious plan about what you'll be eating, and be sure to constantly consult the lists of wheat-rich and non-gluten products you've compiled. Given its prevalence, accidentally ingesting wheat is easy. Stay informed and aware of your diet.
  • Most symptoms from Celiac disease should start to go away within a few weeks of starting a strictly gluten-free diet. Even if you can ingest a bit of gluten without feeling sick, it's important to stay on a strictly non-wheat diet: non-obvious side effects, such as lowered bone density, can result from continuing to ingest even small amounts of gluten.


  • A more serious type of wheat allergy, refractory Celiac disease, cannot be treated simply by refraining from eating gluten. If you continue to experience symptoms after several weeks of a non-wheat diet, consult a physician.

Things You'll Need

  • Ready access to gluten-free foods

Article Info

Categories: Allergies and Immunization