Most people who have an allergy to wheat are actually allergic to gluten, which is a protein found in wheat. The symptoms of wheat allergy are atopic dermatitis (eczema), and asthma. If severely allergic to wheat, the individual eating wheat could go into anaphylaxis. About 6 percent of children, age 3 and under, are allergic to wheat. People who have celiac disease are also allergic to wheat, because their digestive systems cannot process gluten.
Most people who have wheat allergies can eat other grains, but the problem lies in the possibility that other grains have been cross contaminated with wheat. Aside from gluten, there is another protein that could be causing wheat allergies in some individuals. The other protein that causes wheat allergy is gliadin. If you are allergic to gliadin or gluten you must avoid eating wheat. If you have celiac disease, you must avoid wheat and barley.
Wheat allergies are quite common; in fact, allergies to wheat rank in the top 8 food allergies. Because wheat allergies are so prevalent, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that every food containing wheat must include the word “wheat” in the list of ingredients. If you or someone in your family is allergic to wheat you have to be very careful to read labels. Reading labels on foods may be inconvenient; however, it could save your life, or the life of someone in your family.
Foods that include wheat are:
- Baked goods (unless prepared with non-wheat flour).
- Pizza crust.
- Spaghetti, macaroni, and other pastas.
- Most foods fried in batter.
- Canned or jarred soups and chili.
- Hot and cold cereal.
- Gravies, sauces, and casseroles that contain flour.
- Salad dressings.
- Barbecue sauce.
- Salad dressings.
- Any food that contains bread crumbs.
When eating out, you must always be cautious about what you order, because most foods contain wheat. Most Italian cuisine will be off limits, but you can eat risotto and polenta. You will also need to be careful in French restaurants. You will be okay if you just stick to grilled meats, sauted meats and vegetables. You can also eat potatoes if they are served plain, with no gravies or sauces. Asian restaurants are about the safest to eat in if you have wheat allergies. Check the label on the soy sauce to be sure that it does not contain wheat. You might want to bring your own soy sauce to be sure that you are safe. Avoid the ponzu sauce. Latin American and Mexican restaurants are okay to eat in, as long as you don’t eat the fried food and you avoid flour tortillas.
Wheat allergy should not be confused with celiac disease. Many people believe that if you have a wheat allergy that you have celiac disease. Not everyone who has an allergy to wheat has celiac disease, but all people with celiac disease cannot eat wheat. If you have celiac disease you cannot eat many other grains as well.
Many of your larger supermarkets have health food isles, where you can find wheat free foods. If you live in an area where foods for special needs are not available you can find many places online. The Whole Foods Market can be found online; if you need a reliable source for wheat free/gluten free foods, you can visit this online store. You can purchase wheat-free pastries, wheat-free bread, pizza crusts, and other great foods and treats. Another place you can go to buy wheat-free foods is to the Gluten-Free Mall. There are other places you can go online also. Just type in the words “gluten free foods” or “wheat free foods” into the search engine, and you will find many websites to choose from. There is no need to feel deprived when you have an allergy to wheat. You can purchase many of great foods and beverages, including beer, at many of the specialty stores online.