Wheat Free Diet

Bread was also basic to the Roman diet that the world was synonymous with food. Most of us today still eat bread or a similar grain food at least two or three times a day. Cereal, toast, muffins or pancakes for breakfast. A sandwich for lunch. Noodles, pasta or breaded fish or chicken for dinner. Plus crackers, cookies and cakes.

And a flaky crusted pie or quiche now and then. Wheat, by far, is the most popular grain in Western countries like the United States, where people put a premium on light, springy baked goods and pasta. However, gluten – the elastic protein in wheat that makes baked goods springy and light – is a prime cause of wheat allergy.

Some people are sensitive not only to wheat but to grains low in gluten allergy are: eczema; abdominal problems like indigestion, cramps, colitis, bloating, gas and diarrhea; and respiratory problems like asthma and hay fever.

Wheat and gluten sensitivity is now being recognized as a possible cause of headaches, depression and even symptoms resembling neurosis and schizophrenia. (Celiac disease, a food related illness that responds to the elimination of grain from the diet, is not an allergy.)

Table shows foods you can eat freely on a wheat free diet. As you can see, much of the problem can be solved by cooking foods yourself rather than buying prepared foods. To sidestep wheat or gluten completely, however, you have to know a few tricks. Commercial bread and baked goods labeled ”wheat free” or ”gluten free” don’t always hold their word.

Getting bread to rise without gluten is like trying to make a fluffy soufflĂ© with too few egg whites. So some bakeries add just a little wheat anyway. Others bakers and food manufacturers may list wheat in a disguised form. Look out for products that list not only the obvious – flour, wheat flour, wheat starch, gluten flour or cracked wheat – but also graham flour, monosodium glutamate, hydrolyzed, vegetable protein or durum flour.

Malt is derived from barley or other grains and is a hidden source of gluten. Most dry breakfast cereals and baked goods contain malt in some form. Start a wheat free diet by eliminating just wheat. If you still experience symptoms, eliminate wheat plus barley, oats and rye.

If you have the time to take bake your own bread and baked goods, avoiding wheat and gluten is less of a guessing game. The box, Cooking without Wheat, tells you how to substitute low gluten or gluten free starches like rice and rye in baked goods and offers some basic recipes to help you get started.

Food Category Foods You Can Eat, unless Allergic Foods to Avoid
Meat, poultry, fish and vegetable protein Beef, veal, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, fish*, shellfish, liver, dried beans and peas, nuts, nut butters Any commercially prepared products containing cereals; luncheon meat, frankfurters, meat loaf, sausage, meat or fish patties, and gravies usually contain one or more grains and should be avoided unless made from pure meat

Beware of casseroles made with grain flour, and canned or frozen foods with thickened sauces

Dairy products Milk, butter, margarine, cheese Milk drink mixed with malt, cheese spreads with cereal fillers
Eggs Hard or soft cooked, fried, poached, scrambled Eggs in grain thickened sauces
Grain products Barley, corn, oat, rice and rye cereals, if tolerated Check labels for cereal grains not tolerated; avoid wheat, wheat gluten, wheat flakes, wheat germ, shredded wheat and bulgur (cracked wheat)
Wheat free breads made from rice, potato starch, potato flour, lima bean flour and gluten free wheat starch: bread made from barley flour, cornmeal, oat flour, 100% rye flour and soybean flour, if tolerated Wheat flour bread; dumplings; commercially prepared biscuits, pancakes, doughnuts, waffles, pastries, cakes, pies, crackers or pretzels made from wheat flour, wheat gluten or grains not tolerated; communion wafers+; melba toast; zwieback; bread crumbs and croutons, unless from tolerated grain
Gluten free pasta Noodles pasta
Soups Broth; homemade soups made from foods allowed; creamed soup with potato thickener, but not flour Bouillon cubes, commercially prepared soups thickened with grain
Vegetables Fresh or frozen vegetables are recommended, although canned are allowed* Vegetables cooked with grain thickened sauces; casseroles or puddings containing flour, bread or crumbs as ingredients
Fruit Fresh, frozen or dried fruit is preferred, but canned is allowed* Check labels for grain based thickening agents
Desserts Gelatin desserts, tapioca pudding, homemade ice cream Commercial ice cream
Sweets/sweeteners Chocolate candy, candy bars; cane sugar, molasses
Beverages Fruit juice, herbal tea (except lemongrass tea) Coffee substitutes made with grains; instant mixed beverages with malt or cereal added; beer, ale, whiskey, vodka, gin±, lemongrass tea
Condiments Salad dressing without grains Commercial salad dressing thickened with grain, soy sauce
Miscellaneous Apple cider vinegar; wheat free, corn free baking powder (see recipe Cooking without Wheat, on following page) White vinegar, baking powder, chewing gum (read labels)

Source: Adapted from Basics of Food Allergy, by James C. Breneman (Springfield, III.: Charles C Thomas, 1978). The Elimination Diets, by Albert Rowe, Jr., Colin E. Sinclair and Peter H. Rowe (Oakland Calif.: Holmes Book Co., 1976).
* See also sections on sulfur additives and sugar.
+ Ask about ingredients.
± See also section on alcohol.

Cooking without Wheat

If you’re sensitive to wheat but no other gluten grains, you can use any of the substitute flours mentioned below. If you are sensitive to all glutens, stick to potato, rice, soy or tapioca flours.

Baked goods made with these substitute will tend to be heavier and more crumbly than those made with wheat flour. Potato flour and soy flour are best used in combination with other flours, such as rice or tapioca. Rice flour gives a certain graininess to baked goods. Rye flour has more distinct flavor.

Flour Amount to replace 1 cup of wheat flour
1¼ cups
11/3 cups
¾ cups
¾ cups
11/3 cups
11/3 cups
1 cup

Source: Adapted from Baking for People with Food Allergies, Home and Garden Bulletin No. 147, by Lois Fulton and Carole Davis (Washington, D.C.: Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1975).
Note: Some doctors say that although buckwheat is not related to wheat, it tends to cause allergies, too. Other doctors, however, say virtually the opposite – that buckwheat is a safe alternative for their wheat allergic patients. You’ll have to try it.
* Potato flour is made from cooked potatoes. Potato starch is made from raw potatoes. They are necessarily interchangeable.
± Tapioca is starch from the root of the cassava or manioc plant.

Wheat Free Egg Free Spaghetti

If you and your family are big spaghetti eaters, stock up this wonderful vegetable in season, cook and freeze. Or better yet, grow your own. Spaghetti squash is one of the easiest foods to grow, even for beginning gardeners.

2 medium spaghetti squash Cut squash in half lengthwise. Steam until tender (about 30 to 35 minutes). Heat the tomato sauce.
3 cups of your favorite tomato sauces Remove squash from heat. Separate strands with a fork and remove from shell. Serve topped with generous scoops of tomato sauce.

Wheat Free, Corn Free Baking Powder

Baking powder is a general term for certain leavening agents consisting of a carbonate, an acid and some kind of starch of flour. Wheat sensitive and corn sensitive people must avoid wheat based or corn based baking powder. Dr. Albert Rowe Jr., an allergy doctor in San Francisco, suggests the following grain free baking powder.

¾ cup cream of tartar
9 tablespoons bicarbonate of soda
6 tablespoons potato starch
Sift three times, mixing well each time. Store in an airtight jar.

Source: Elimination Diets, by Albert Rowe, Jr., Collin E. Sinclair and Peter H. Rowe (Oakland, Calif.: Holmes Book Co., 1976).

Wheat Free Waffles

1½ cups cooked short grain brown rice
4-5 tablespoons butter
¼ cup honey
¾ cup milk
2 eggs, separated
1½ cups brown rice flour
2 teaspoons Wheat free, corn free baking powder (see above)
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
In a 4 quart saucepan, heat rice, 3 tablespoons butter, honey and milk together until butter melts. With a wire whisk, beat the egg yolks until frothy and add to rice mixture. Remove from heat.

In a small bowl, mix flour, Baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg and add to the rice mixture. Let stand while beating egg whites until stiff. Fold in egg whites. Melt a small amount of the remaining butter on a heated waffle iron.

Spread 2/3 cup of batter on waffle iron. (Batter will be thick) Cook waffles approximately 10 minutes. Use a small amount of butter to coat iron before making each waffle. Keep waffles warm and serve with maple syrup.
Yield: Five 8 inch waffles
Note: Because these waffles take a little longer to cook than conventional wheat waffles, we suggest you put them hot until all the waffles are done.

Potential Sources of Hidden Corn

Corn sensitive people may have to be extra vigilant in order to eliminate all traces of corn. Processed foods often contain corn sugar (dextrose). Read labels carefully to locate corn-free items in each.

Aspirin (and other tablets)
Baking mixes
• Biscuits
• Doughnuts
• Pancake mixes (Aunt Jemina’s)
• Pie crusts
Batters for frying meat, poultry, fish
Beets, Harvard
Beverages, carbonated
Bleached wheat flours
Breads and pastries
Cereals, ready to eat
• Cheerios
• Corn flakes (all brands)
• Corn Toasties
• Kix
• Post Toasties
• Rice Krispies
Chop suey
Coffee, instant
Corn Soya
Cough syrups
Gelatin desserts
Glucose products
Graham crackers
Grape juice
Gum, chewing
Gummed papers (envelopes, labels, stamps, stickers, tapes)
Hams (cured or tenderized)
Ice creams
• Bath powders (including talcum)
• Cooking fumes of fresh corn
• Popcorn odor
• Starch for ironing
Leaving agents (baking powders, yeasts)
Limit (laundry starch)
Pies, cream
Plastic food wrappers (the inner surfaces may be coated with cornstarch)
Puddings (blancmange, custards, royal pudding)
Salad dressings
Salt (salt shakers in restaurant, A&P Four Seasons salt)
Sandwich spreads
Sauces (for fish, meats, sundaes, vegetables)
Sausages (cooked or table ready)
Soups (creamed, thickened, vegetable)
Soybean milks (except Mull Soy and Neo Mull Soy)
String beans, canned or frozen
Sugar, powdered
Syrups, commercially prepared
• Cartose
• Karo
• Puretose
• Sweetose
Tea, instant
Toothpaste (certain brands)
Vinegar, distilled
Whiskey (including bourbon)

Source: Albert Rowe, Jr., Colin E. Sinclair and Peter H. Rowe, The Elimination Diets (Oakland, Calif.: Holmes Book Co., 1976).

The less processed and sugar laden your diet, the easier it will be to avoid corn in its many guises. In addition, follow these general rules.

  1. Read labels carefully. Avoid any food listing not only corn, cornstarch, corn oil and corn syrup, but the sugars: glucose, dextrose, dextrin, dextrimaltose and fructose. Corn is also a major source of sugar. Any sugar not specially marked ”cane sugar” or ”beet sugar” may contain corn.
  2. Most common table salt contains corn sugar (plus sodium silico aluminate and iodide). To eliminate corn, use no salt or plain sea salt.
  3. Cough syrups, cough drops, lozenges pills, tablets and suppositories often contain corn. ”If your allergy pills contain cornstarch,” Dr. Falliers told us, ”they may actually make you sicker.” If you must take medication, ask your pharmacist for a corn free product. Consult your doctor before changing or stopping any medication.
  4. Vitamin and mineral supplements may also be corn based. See the Appendix for a list of corn free nutritional supplements.
  5. Arrowroot or tapioca may be substitute in recipes calling for cornstarch as a thickener.

If you’re puzzled because you can eat corn on the cob but not commercial canned or frozen corn, you may be allergic to the sulfurdioxide used in corn processing rather than the corn itself.