Having an allergy to wheat can be challenging because it's an ingredient found in everything from bread to cereal to pizza. But if you know what you need to avoid ahead of time, you may have an easier time making food choices.
Wheat vs. Gluten
A wheat allergy is most often seen in children and can cause symptoms as mild as hives to life-threatening anaphylaxis. Having an allergy to wheat is very different from gluten intolerance, which is seen in people with celiac disease. A wheat allergy is an immune response triggered by a protein in wheat, while celiac disease is a digestive disease that causes the immune system to attack the small intestines when gluten is consumed.
In both cases, wheat needs to be eliminated from the diet, but those with gluten intolerance also have to eliminate barley, rye and sometimes oats. People with wheat allergies may also be allergic to other grains, but that needs to be determined by a doctor.
All Those Starches
Packaged foods that contain wheat will list it as an ingredient. These include most breads, rolls, pasta, cereals, crackers, pretzels, pancakes and waffles. Corn and potato bread may also contain wheat. Farina is a wheat-based hot cereal. Wheat is also found in dumplings, stuffing and popovers. Some packaged and processed grains may also be a source of wheat, such as scalloped potatoes and flavored rice.
Many flour-based sweet treats are also a source of wheat. This includes doughnuts, sweet rolls, muffins, cookies and cakes. Wheat may also be found in ice cream, sherbet, pudding and frosting. Chocolate and chocolate made with malt may also be sources of wheat; this also includes hot chocolate mixes.
Protein and Dairy
Some protein and dairy items also contain wheat. Any breaded meat may be a source of wheat, as may sausages, hot dogs, meat patties and veggie burgers. Deli meats may also contain wheat. Seitan is a meat substitute made from wheat protein.
Malted milk drinks and cottage cheese with modified starch are also wheat-containing foods.
Other Wheat-Containing Foods
Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and monosodium glutamate may also contain wheat. Surimi, an imitation crab meat, is made with wheat. You also need to be careful with gravies, which may be made wheat flour. If you're a beer drinker, many varieties also contain wheat.
Fresh meats, fruits and vegetables are all naturally wheat-free. Wheat-free grains include rice, oats, barley, millet and quinoa. You can also find breads, cereal and pasta made from other grains such as rice and quinoa, which are safe to eat on a wheat-free diet.
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.