Simply put, gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye and barley. Those who have Celiac’s disease, cannot properly digest this protein in foods. Here is a very thorough article on gluten if you want an in depth explanation.
What is the difference between a gluten-free diet for Celiac’s and a wheat-free diet?
Those who have the disease, Celiac’s, cannot eat anything with wheat, rye, barley and in some cases, oats. This is from day one of diagnosis for the rest of their lives.
Those who have a wheat allergy, are still allowed the barley, rye and oats. They may also grow out of this wheat allergy and not be tied to it for the rest of their lives.
***This is especially important to those of you who have Celiac’s Disease. When you are purchasing a product, you have to watch your labels a little more closely. Those with just a wheat allergy may look at a label and see that there is no wheat ingredients and be able to purchase. Those of us with Celiac’s Disease must thoroughly read the label to make sure there is the absence of wheat, barley and rye.
What does it mean when I hear the words “cross contamination”?
Cross contamination, as a Celiac is very important to understand. Cross contamination is safe food coming in contact with the allergen. (This can also be a serious problem for anyone allergic to any of the other allergens as well). A person with Celiac’s Disease cannot tolerate even the smallest crumb. It is hard to understand that a small crumb can cause such problems, but it can. It can make a Celiac extremely sick. So, when cooking or baking for a celiac, you must be sure that the cooking area is completely free from any crumbs or sticky wheat residue.
Let me give you several examples:
Sticking a knife back into peanut butter, butter, mayo, etc., after it has once been spread on wheat bread.
Putting gluten free bread in a toaster that has had wheat items in it.
Using a collander for gluten free pasta after it has been used for wheat pasta (even if it has been washed)
Pizza cutters, whisks, baking pans, etc..need to be gluten free.
Cooking and baking with wheat items can leave a sticky residue that can contaminate your gluten free items. The same goes for the other allergens too, especially with oils, starches, and flours; other liquids are easier to clean up.
More to come…