The gluten-free diet is a treatment for celiac disease.
If you’re just starting with a gluten-free diet, it’s a good idea to consult a dietitian who can answer your questions and offer advice about how to avoid gluten while still eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Many healthy and delicious foods are naturally gluten-free:
Beans, seeds, nuts in their natural, unprocessed form
Fresh meats, fish and poultry (not breaded, batter-coated or marinated)
Fruits and vegetables
Most dairy products
It’s important to make sure that they are not processed or mixed with gluten-containing grains, additives or preservatives. Many grains and starches can be part of a gluten-free diet:
Corn and cornmeal
Gluten-free flours (rice, soy, corn, potato, bean)
Avoid all food and drinks containing:
Barley (malt, malt flavoring and malt vinegar are usually made from barley)
Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
Avoiding wheat can be challenging because wheat products go by numerous names. Consider the many types of wheat flour on supermarket shelves — bromated, enriched, phosphated, plain and self-rising. Here are other wheat products to avoid:
Avoid unless labeled ‘gluten-free’
In general, avoid the following foods unless they’re labeled as gluten-free or made with corn, rice, soy or other gluten-free grain:
Cakes and pies
Cookies and crackers
Imitation meat or seafood
Processed luncheon meats
Sauces, including soy sauce
Seasoned rice mixes
Seasoned snack foods, such as potato and tortilla chips
Soups and soup bases
Vegetables in sauce
Certain grains, such as oats, can be contaminated with wheat during growing and processing stages of production. For this reason, doctors and dietitians generally recommend avoiding oats unless they are specifically labeled gluten-free.
You should also be alert for other products that you eat or that could come in contact with your mouth that may contain gluten. These include:
Food additives, such as malt flavoring, modified food starch and others
Medications and vitamins that use gluten as a binding agent
Watch for cross-contamination
Cross-contamination occurs when gluten-free foods come into contact with foods that contain gluten. It can happen during the manufacturing process, for example, if the same equipment is used to make a variety of products. Some food labels include a “may contain” statement if this is the case. But be aware that this type of statement is voluntary. You still need to check the actual ingredient list. If you’re not sure whether a food contains gluten, don’t buy it or check with the manufacturer first to ask what it contains.
Cross-contamination can also occur at home if foods are prepared on common surfaces or with utensils that weren’t thoroughly cleaned after being used to prepare gluten-containing foods. Using a common toaster for gluten-free bread and regular bread is a major source of contamination, for example. Consider what steps you need to take to prevent cross-contamination at home, school or work.