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Your doctor or dietitian may recommend a trial on a wheat free diet to see if your symptoms are caused by a wheat intolerance.
How to trial a wheat-free diet
There is no diagnostic test for wheat intolerance. In order to see if wheat is causing your symptoms, completely exclude it from your diet for 4 weeks. Make a note of any improvement in your symptoms during this time and continue on a wheat free diet until your next appointment. If, however, taking wheat out of your diet has made no improvement to your symptoms, you can reintroduce it back into your diet after the trial period.
Wheat allergy or wheat intolerance?
If you have a wheat allergy, symptoms such as rash, wheezing, itching occur, usually within minutes of eating wheat. You would need to avoid even the smallest traces of wheat in your diet. If you have a wheat intolerance, symptoms such as bloating, cramps, diarrhoea tend to develop more slowly and can occur up to hours after eating wheat. You may be able to include small amounts of wheat in your diet without getting any symptoms at all.
What is the difference between wheat-free and gluten-free?
A wheat-free diet excludes wheat and any foods made with wheat. People with a diagnosis of coeliac disease need to follow a gluten free diet, excluding all foods containing even traces of gluten. Gluten is found in wheat, but also rye, barley and any foods made with these grains, including some manufactured products.
Wheat Free Products
Many wheat-free products are available in supermarkets, health food shops and online, and are suitable alternatives for a wheat free diet. Some products labelled ‘gluten-free’ may still contain small amounts of wheat starch and therefore would not be suitable for a wheat free diet, so check the ingredients labels. Unfortunately, wheat-free products for a wheat allergy or intolerance are not available on prescription.
Ingredients to check for on food labels
Some manufactured and processed foods contain small amounts of ‘hidden’ wheat. The list below includes the ingredients to check for and avoid on the ingredients list.
Suggested meal plan:
Porridge or Corn Flakes with milk
Wheat-free bread with marmalade or boiled egg
Piece of fruit and a yoghurt
Oat cakes or Rice cakes with cheese, sliced meat or tinned fish and salad
Sandwiches made with wheat-free bread
Jacket potato with baked beans or tuna and salad
Soup (check ingredients list) with wheat-free crackers or roll
Piece of meat or fish with potatoes and vegetables
Wheat free pasta with a sauce (check ingredients list if from a jar) and salad
Stir fry with chicken, beef or plain Quorn® pieces and vegetables with rice or rice noodles
Stew with potatoes; Curry or Chilli with rice
Puddings and Snacks
Fruit, rice pudding, dried fruit and nuts, plain popcorn, meringue, cheese and rye crackers, carrot slices and humous, yoghurt, jelly.