by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein in wheat, barley, rye, and other foods with these items. It can also be found in many nonfoods, such as medicine and lipstick.
Why Should I Follow This Diet?
People with gluten intolerance or celiac disease may have cramping, bloating, gas, and diarrhea when they eat gluten. The only way to treat it is to not eat foods with gluten. This can reverse damage and nutrient problems.
Gluten must not be eaten. Any amount can cause harm to the small intestine. Learning how to eat this way can be hard. Gluten is found in many common foods, such as cereals, breads, and pasta.
Gluten is also found in foods you would not expect to have it, such as frozen yogurt, soy sauce, and beer. There are many gluten-free items you can have instead. You can still eat well-balanced foods that you like.
Here is a list of foods that you can eat, foods that you should question because they may have gluten, and foods that you should not eat. This is not a full list of all the foods that can or cannot be eaten. Work with a dietitian to learn which foods can be a part of your food plan.
*These are foods that may have gluten. Many of these products have gluten-free versions. Read food labels with care.
**Uncontaminated oats may be eaten in limited amounts. Your care team will tell you whether they are safe for you.
Shopping for Gluten-Free Foods
When shopping for foods, it can be hard to figure out which items are gluten-free. Start by loading up on fresh foods that are naturally gluten-free, such as fruits and vegetables, milk, unprocessed cheese, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts, and tofu. Then, add gluten-free sources of grain, such as rice, corn tortillas, and grits. These foods should be the staple of your diet. You can then add snack foods, sweets, condiments, and special gluten-free items.
Read food labels with care. In the US and Canada, items must list whether they have common allergens, including wheat.
What About Oats?
Until recently, people with gluten intolerance were told not to eat oats. But recent research shows that uncontaminated oats are well-tolerated when eaten in moderation. Regular, commercial oats are often contaminated with gluten-containing grains. Pure, uncontaminated oats, can be ordered from some companies. Talk to your care team about whether oats are safe for you.
Celiac Disease Foundation
Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Canadian Celiac Association
Canadian Dietetic Association
Celiac disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114570/Celiac-disease. Updated July 19, 2018. Accessed June 14, 2019.
Celiac disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease website. Available at:
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Accessed June 14, 2019.
Wheat. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: https://www.ebscoh.... Updated April 20, 2018. Accessed June 14, 2019.
Last reviewed June 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
Last Updated: 6/14/2019
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