Living with a Wheat Allergy

Wheat allergy is primarily common among children, and is usually outgrown before reaching adulthood.  Wheat allergy is sometimes confused with celiac disease, which is a digestive disorder that creates an adverse reaction to gluten.  Individuals with celiac disease must avoid gluten, found in wheat, rye, barley and sometimes oats.  People who are allergic to wheat have an IgE-mediated response to wheat protein and may tolerate other grains.  Symptoms of a wheat allergy reaction can range from mild to severe.

wheat.png image on bigy.comA wheat allergy can present a challenge for the diet as well as for baking, because wheat is the nation’s predominant grain product.  Someone on a wheat-restricted diet can eat a wide variety of foods, but the grain source must be something other than wheat.  In planning a wheat-free diet, look for alternate grains such as amaranth, barley, corn, oat, quinoa, rice, rye and tapioca.

Read food labels carefully, even if you would not expect the product to contain wheat.  Wheat has been found in some brands of ice cream, marinara sauce, play dough, potato chips, rice cakes, and turkey patties, and at least one brand of hot dogs.

Baking

When baking with wheat-free flours, a combination of flours usually works best.  Experiment with different blends to find one that will give you the texture you are trying to achieve.

Try substituting 1 cup wheat flour with one of the following:

· 7/8 cup rice flour
· 5/8 cup potato starch flour
· 1 cup soy flour plus ¼ cup potato starch flour
· 1 cup corn flour

Commonly Asked Questions

What is the difference between celiac disease and what allergy?

Celiac disease and wheat allergy are two distinct conditions.  Celiac disease, or “celiac sprue,” is a permanent adverse reaction to gluten.  These with celiac disease will not lose their sensitivity to this substance.  This disease requires lifelong restriction of gluten.

The major grains that contain gluten are wheat, rye and barley.  These grains and their by-products must be strictly avoided by people with celiac disease (some also avoid oat, but now gluten free oats are available).

Wheat-allergic people have an IgE-meditated response to wheat protein.  These individuals must only avoid wheat.  Most wheat-allergic children outgrow the allergy.

Are kamut and spelt safe alternatives to wheat?

No.  Kamut is a cereal grain which is related to wheat.  Spelt is an ancient wheat that has recently been marketed as safe for wheat-allergic individuals.  This claim is unture, however.  Wheat-allergic patients can react to spelt as they do to common wheat.

Keep in Mind

How to Read a Label for a Wheat-Free Diet

All FDA-regulated manufactured food products that contain wheat as an ingredient are required by U.S. law to list he word ‘wheat” on the product label.  The law defines any species in the genus Triticum as wheat.

Avoid foods that contain wheat or any of these ingredients:
Bread crumbs
Bulgur
Cereal extract
Club wheat
Couscous
Cracker meal
Durum
Einkorn
Emmer
Farina
Flour (all purpose, bread, cake, durum, enriched, graham, high gluten, high protein, instant, pastry, self-rising, soft wheat, steel ground, stone ground, whole wheat)
Hydrolyzed wheat protein
Kamut
Matzoh, matzoh meal (also spelled as matzo, matzah, or matza)
Pasta
Seitan
Semolina
Spelt
Sprouted what
Triticale
Vital wheat gluten
Wheat (bran, durum, germ, gluten, grass, malt, sprouts, starch)
Wheat bran hydrolysate
Wheat germ oil
Wheat grass
Wheat protein isolate
Whole wheat berries

Wheat is sometimes found in the following:

Glucose syrup
Soy sauce
Starch (gelatinized starch, modified starch, modified food starch, vegetable starch)
Surimi