Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, oats and rye. It is found in no other foods unless it is put there in cooking or by accidental association. By accidental association husks or other minute specks are left over in the processing equipment and this potentially can contaminate other grains such as corn and rice.

To be completely on the safe side when shopping for gluten-free food read labels on all boxed, bottled, frozen or canned items. The law now requires accurate labeling and if no wheat is mentioned it is a safe bet there is none.

However, accurately reading labels takes time and experience. Acquaint yourself with the precise wording that describes ingredients to watch for when selecting salad dressings, sauces, and be extra careful with soups. Most will have that dreaded word modified food starch and that most often is wheat.

Specialty Stores

To get a good selection of gluten-free foods search out the specialty health food stores. Most larger cities have several of these. Also, the large chain stores usually have shelves devoted to gluten-free products and each year the flavor and quality seem to improve.

On the Internet there are several stores where you can order gluten-free food and the selection is tempting. Of course expect to pay more but if you are a mother and want some special treats for your child, no price is too much. Also, while there checking out the foods learn all you need to know about the illness and about latest scientific breakthroughs in diagnosis. There is no treatment other than total elimination of gluten.

Ordinary Foods Without Gluten

Meats, such as beef, chicken and pork, and sea foods do not have gluten. But beware of the preparation when eating out. Insist that your steak, or chicken or pork be broiled or at least prepared without flour, rye, oats or barley. The crispy chicken that is coated with scrumptious golden crust is made from flour. (Unless of course you buy a gluten-free coating mix from a specialty store or concoct your own from rice, potato, bean flour flour and spices, forget about this delightful past food ingredient.)

Fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten-free. Make these the greater part of your meal plan. Even frozen foods are now becoming suspect. They are being prepared with sauces that most likely contain gluten. Be wary and buy only frozen foods that are simply that, frozen foods.

Finding Your Own Substitutes

Even yogurt - that much acclaimed health food - is only gluten-free when plain. Beware of those little containers with fruit. To get something resembling that flavor, buy plain yogurt and before serving add your own fruit. This is not such a bad idea since you have the option of adding a sugar substitute if you also need to limit your carbohydrates.

Once you have acclimated yourself to living without do-nuts, cakes and cookies, pizza and sandwiches you are nearly home free. For birthdays bake gluten free cakes from prepared mixes which are almost as good as those made with wheat; but not quite. As a sandwich substitute try lettuce wraps for broiled burgers and chicken.

Another option, if you have some skill in the kitchen, is to cook your own special gluten free foods. There are tons of recipes available in gluten free cookbooks and online at gluten free websites. A great example is this gluten free bread recipe. Most gluten free recipes like this will require you to have some special ingredients on hand, such as soy or rice flour, or xanthan gum, so make sure to take a trip to the store and pick up what you need beforehand.