What is Gluten? In the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), gluten is a protein found in some grains such as wheat, barley, rye and malt. Children with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance cannot eat foods containing gluten. Gluten causes damage to the lining of the small intestine in individuals with celiac disease. Here are three tips on identifying gluten free foods:
- Check the ingredient statement. Avoid foods that contain wheat, rye, barley and malt. Other gluten containing ingredients to look for include durum, graham flour, hydrolyzed wheat protein, modified wheat starch, semolina and malt extract or syrup, among others. Quick tip: Ingredients can change over time so check the label for gluten containing ingredients every time you buy a product. You can also contact the manufacturer to confirm.
- Look for foods labeled as gluten free. Only foods that meet the Food & Drug Administration’s definition for gluten free can be labeled as gluten free. Quick tip: Wheat free does not mean gluten free.
- Know which foods commonly contain gluten. Many common foods such as breads, breaded meats, cakes, cereals, cookies, crackers, pasta and pizza often contain gluten. Other foods that may contain gluten but are not as obvious include taco seasoning, soy sauce, salad dressing or even hot dogs and deli meats. That’s why it is so important to check the ingredients!
Are there whole grains that are also gluten free? Serving at least one of the grain requirements as whole grain rich is still doable for a gluten free diet! Whole grains that do not naturally contain gluten include whole grain rich corn, brown rice, some oats and other grains that are less commonly eaten like sorghum, teff and quinoa. Foods that are generally gluten free are:
- Plain beef, pork, lamb and turkey
- Plain fish and shellfish
- Plain fruits and Vegetables
- Plain beans
- Some yogurts
- Nuts and seeds