Can you eat gluten-free when pregnant?

In this article, we are going to answer the questions: can you eat gluten-free when pregnant, what is gluten, what are the benefits of eating gluten-free, and what diet you should follow. 

Can you eat gluten-free when pregnant?

Yes, you can eat gluten-free when pregnant but it is not always a good idea. For women with celiac disease and gluten intolerance, it’s a must to stay away from gluten. If you are completely healthy there is no need to eat gluten-free. 

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein that is found in many grains that we use in our daily life. They include rye, barley, and wheat. Almost everything we eat nowadays has gluten. 

Gluten can be included naturally in some foods but also it can be added to products to add protein, texture, or flavor, that is why almost every pre-packaged food can have gluten. Here is a list of where you can find gluten. 

Wheat

  • Bread
  • Baked goods
  • Soups
  • Pasta
  • Cereals
  • Sauces
  • Salad dressings

Barley

  • Malt
  • Food Coloring
  • Soups
  • Beer
  • Brewers Yeast

Rye

  • Rye Bread
  • Rye Beer
  • Cereals

Gluten helps food maintain its shape and gives volume, it acts like glue that helps food keep its form. 

Oats naturally don’t have gluten but because oats are processed with other food they may contain gluten.

What are gluten intolerance and celiac disease?

Gluten intolerance and celiac disease are two different diseases in which people can’t eat gluten. These conditions are similar but they can react differently in every person.

 If you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, and you eat gluten when pregnant, the production of antibodies, immunoglobulin IgG, and inflammatory cytokines can cross the placenta and interfere with the neurodevelopment of the baby. 

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that causes damage to the small intestines of people that are allergic to it. With time, the small intestine lining becomes damaged. Without a diagnosis, people with celiac disease have malabsorption because of the inability of the small intestine to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream. 

Symptoms of celiac disease 

  • Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss
  • Bloating and gas
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting 
  • Itching skin
  • Headaches and fatigue
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Acid reflux and heartburn
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Seizures

Celiac Disease is a serious illness, you need to be careful with cross-contamination. If you are pregnant and eat gluten with celiac disease it can be fatal for the baby and the mom. 

Gluten Intolerance

Gluten Intolerance is a mild disease with no autoimmune response. When you consume gluten it will cause short-term bloating and stomach pain. Unlike celiac disease, gluten intolerance has mild or short-term harm to the body, and celiac disease impacts the long term.

Symptoms of gluten intolerance

  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Stomach ache
  • Nausea
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle pain

What are the benefits of eating gluten-free when pregnant?

  • It can help to keep diabetes away. Gluten-free food usually doesn’t contain high sugar as other foods that contain gluten. If you stay away from prepackaged food it will help.
  • A gluten-free diet can help avoid heartburn and constipation. Gluten may cause heartburn and constipation in some people. If you want to add some fiber to your diet, you can add more fruits and vegetables instead of bread, pasta, or cereal. 
  • If you go gluten-free, you can choose a more healthy, unprocessed food diet. It will help you to get all the nutrients you need from real food and also, you can keep your weight gain under control. 

What diet should I follow to eat gluten-free when pregnant?

Don’t get scared. There are a lot of gluten-free options. You just need to check all food labels for gluten and look for certified gluten-free products if you are buying prepackaged food. 

Fruits and vegetables are free of gluten, so the cleaner your diet, the farther from gluten you can be! 

  • Avoid barley, rye, and wheat. Look for gluten-free options for baking, it needs to be gluten-free certified.
  • Be careful with rice, oats, and corn. They need to be gluten-free certified because factories can manufacture wheat, rye, or barley too, and can have cross-contamination.
  • You can use potato, rice, soy amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, bean flour, sorghum, arrowroot, and cornflour as well as tapioca. 
  • Choose high-quality protein, avoid pre packaged deli meat, and double-check labels. 
You CAN eatDouble-check 
GrainsQuinoa, brown rice, Wild rice, buckwheat, sorghum, tapioca, millet, amaranth, teff, arrowroot, oats (labeled as gluten-free)Wheat and all varieties, rye, barley, triticale
Fruits and vegetablesAll fruits and vegetables in original formPre-chopped fruits and vegetables, dried fruits and vegetables, frozen fruits and vegetables, canned fruits and vegetable
Proteinslegumes, nuts and seeds, red meat, poultry, seafood, and traditional soy foodsProcessed meats, meat substitutes, lunch meats, and cold cuts, ground meat, ready-to-eat proteins
Dairy productsMilk, butter, ghee, cheese, cream, cottage cheese, sour cream, yogurtFlavored milk, and yogurtsProcessed cheese productsIce cream 
Fats and oilsGhee, olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil or vegetable oilCooking spraysOils with added flavors or spices

Here is a list of gluten-free recipes.

Conclusion

In this article, we answered the questions: can you eat gluten-free when pregnant, what is gluten, what are the benefits of eating gluten-free, and what diet you should follow. 

Citation

https://www.fraserhealth.ca/news/2017/Mar/gluten-free-diet-and-pregnancy#.YnWq3RPMI 1g

https://www.babymed.com/food-and-nutrition/gluten-free-gluten-tolerant-during-pregnancy
https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/celiac-disease/pregnant-with-celiac-disease

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.