What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in the cereals wheat, rye and barley. When it’s mixed with water gluten forms stretchy, sticky strands that bind mixtures together and trap bubbles to form the light and airy structure of bread and cakes. Cooking without gluten therefore requires different ingredients and methods.
What foods contain gluten?
- Breakfast cereals
- Gluten can also be found in foods such as soups, sauces, ready meals and processed foods such as sausages.
What are the benefits of eating gluten-free?
Many people who are not Coeliacs but have a minor or medium intolerance to gluten can benefit from cutting gluten out of their diets. Although scientists are still testing exactly what it is that makes gluten cause some people to feel bloated, there are thousands of people who do not have Coeliac Disease but feel better, healthier and have more energy when following a gluten-free diet.
What does gluten-free actually mean?
People have different levels of sensitivity to gluten, and whilst most people can tolerate a low level of gluten without it affecting their health, some unfortunately cannot.
Whilst the term 'gluten-free' implies no gluten, in reality tests aren’t sensitive enough to detect a zero level of gluten. Previously, the standard for gluten-free food products was set at a level of 200mg gluten/kg or 200 parts per million (ppm), but labelling legislation has recently changed. As a result, only foods that contain less than 20ppm can be labelled 'gluten-free', which allows those who have a high sensitivity to gluten to able to eat such foods with confidence.
You'll be delighted to hear that all Genius foods are gluten free, as well as being wheat free.
What foods can I eat?
As well as all the yummy gluten-free Genius foods, there are lots of naturally gluten-free foods. These include meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and meat. Although, remember foods such as sausages, burgers and meatballs contain breadcrumbs and so are not gluten free. You can make your own though using Genius breadcrumbs, check out our gluten-free recipe section for ideas.
Rice, potatoes and lentils are also naturally gluten free and so make great healthy meal accompaniments.
When starting on a gluten-free diet it can be very daunting and seem like there is very little choice however don't concentrate on the food which you can't have, there is a lot of great tasting gluten-free food on the supermarket shelves.
What do I need to look out for on food labels?
It's important to read the ingredients list and allergy box when starting on a gluten-free diet, as gluten can be found in the most unexpected places such as in soy sauce and cooking sauces. UK law means that all foods must say if they contain any allergens and so you'll be able to see straight away whether something contains gluten.
A lot of processed foods contain gluten, so if you're used to popping a ready meal in the microwave why not try a few quick and easy gluten-free dishes from our recipe section?