The gluten-free diet, also known as the celiac disease diet, the celiac disease gluten-free diet or the celiac sprue diet, is becoming more and more well-known. Unlike many other diets, this diet isn't about losing weight—it's a necessity due to a serious medical condition called celiac disease.
While going gluten-free might seem difficult, it's essential for those who suffer from celiac disease. Fortunately, as more is learned about the disease and more people are given the proper diagnosis, gluten-free foods and products are increasingly in demand and are now being stocked on more grocery store shelves.
What Is Gluten?
By definition, gluten is a protein-based substance that can be found in wheat and other grains. If you think of making a loaf of bread, gluten is the substance that makes the bread dough so stretchy when you're kneading it.
The reason gluten-free diets are sometimes known as celiac disease diets is that people who suffer from this condition have a gluten intolerance. This intolerance can present itself at varying levels: some people might have very few symptoms when they eat gluten, while others have severe reactions; some may occasionally be able to eat gluten, while others must rule it out completely.
Common symptoms of celiac disease include weakness, bloating, diarrhea, sudden weight loss and nutrient deficiency.
For those who suffer from celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is a must. This can be difficult, as many foods contain gluten, including cookies and cakes, breads and cereals—essentially anything made with most of the most popularly used grains.
Finding substitutes for these foods can be tough, but as recognition and understanding of celiac disease grows, so does the number of gluten-free foods popping up on store shelves. Many bakeries also offer gluten-free bread and cakes, and even restaurants are starting to offer gluten-free dishes for celiac sufferers who are dining out.
If you're looking to do gluten-free cooking at home, there are many lists of safe and unsafe foods online, or you can ask a doctor or nutritionist. Gluten-free recipes and cookbooks are also plentifully available to help people who suffer from celiac disease (or who simply want to go gluten-free) cook conveniently.