Whats the difference between gluten and wheat? Why does it matter? Can you eat one and not the other? To some this may seem like a stupid question, while to others gluten and wheat is a mind field of confusing terms and foods.
Yes there is a difference between gluten and wheat, and some people may be able to eat some foods that others can not.
To simplify: there is a misunderstanding when it comes to wheat and gluten.
Gluten: Gluten is the protein that is present in wheat, barley and rye. If you are told to avoid gluten, this means avoiding these things, along with along with pasta, breakfast cereals, pastries, other flour-containing foods, such as pizzas and certain sauces, and oats.
Always check labels on processed foods for gluten. I find the easiest way to avoid gluten is to try eat fresh foods, that are unprocessed, and if you are eating out, you need to check vigilantly what is in your meal.
If I explain how sick gluten can make me and the almost instant side effects to a waiter of chef, they tend to pay more attention to my food allergy needs.
Wheat: People who are not gluten intolerant or coeliac may still find comfort in avoiding wheat, but they can still tolerate oats, barley, rye and so on. This is when wheat, not gluten is the cause of any health issues. Try, for instance, having the occasional slice of rye bread to see how your body reacts to it.
What Does It All Mean?
Basically staying gluten free means cutting out more foods then just wheat, while wheat free may mean just avoiding foods which are high in wheat flour. Always check packaging, and make sure you know what is going into your food. With processed goods its amazing to look at a packet and see just how many chemicals and ingredients you are ingesting.
* Always check the packet, if it says it contains gluten do not eat it, watch out for flavored rice!