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.

The Basics

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.

Gluten-Free Eating

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.

Food Foods You Can Eat Foods You Should Question * Foods You Should Not Eat

Grains and Starchy Veggies

  • Amaranth
  • Arrowroot
  • Buckwheat
  • Bean flours (garbanzo, fava, romano)
  • Cassava
  • Corn
  • Flax
  • Kasha
  • Hominy
  • Indian rice grass
  • Jobs tears
  • Mesquite flour
  • Millet
  • Montina
  • Nut flours and meals
  • Pea flour
  • Potatoes, potato flour/starch
  • Quinoa
  • All forms of rice (such as white, brown, jasmine, wild)
  • Sago
  • Sorghum
  • Soy flour
  • Tapioca (manioc, cassava, yucca)
  • Teff
  • Uncontaminated oats **
  • Yucca
  • Baked products made with buckwheat (Buckwheat is sometimes blended with wheat flour in baking mixes.)
  • Cereals (may have barley malt flavoring or barley malt extract)
  • Communion wafer
  • French fries
  • Matzo
  • Rice mixes, rice pilaf
  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Chapatti flour
  • Couscous
  • Cracked wheat
  • Dinkel
  • Durum
  • Einkorn
  • Emmer
  • Farina
  • Faro
  • Fu
  • Gluten, gluten flour
  • Graham flour
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Kamut
  • Malt
  • Matzo flour/meal
  • Oats (most commercial brands) **
  • Orzo
  • Panko
  • Rye
  • Seitan
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Triticale
  • Udon
  • Wheat (wheat flour, wheat bran, wheat germ, other wheat products)

Veggies

  • All plain fresh, frozen, and canned veggies
  • Veggies in sauce
  • Breaded veggies

Fruits

  • All plain fresh, frozen, and canned fruits
  • Dried fruits (may be dusted with flour)
  • Thickened fruits

Milk

  • Milk, buttermilk, and cream
  • Plain cheese, cream cheese, cottage cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese sauces and spreads
  • Flavored cheese
  • Malted milk

Meats and Beans

  • All plain, fresh meat, poultry, and fish
  • Eggs
  • Legumes
  • Nuts, nut butters (such as peanut butter)
  • Seeds
  • Tofu
  • Cold cuts, hot dogs, salami, sausage
  • Imitation seafood
  • Flavored tofu
  • Meat marinades and flavorings
  • Seasoned nuts
  • Poultry basted or injected with broth
  • Breaded meat, poultry, or fish

Oils

  • Vegetable oils (such as canola and olive)
  • Margarine (choose trans-free margarines)
  • Mayonnaise

Sweets and Snack Foods

  • Cakes, cookies, and pastries made from gluten-free flours
  • Corn and rice tortillas
  • Egg custards
  • Gelatin desserts
  • Plain popcorn
  • Plain rice cakes or rice crackers
  • Plain corn chips or corn crackers
  • Whipped toppings
  • Candy
  • Ice cream, sherbet, sorbet, and popsicles
  • Potato chips
  • Seasoned or flavored snack chips
  • Chocolate bars and candy that have barley malt flavoring or wheat flour
  • Ice cream made with gluten-containing items (such as cookie dough, brownies)
  • Ice cream cones
  • Icing and frosting

Drinks

  • Distilled alcoholic drinks (such as rum, gin, whiskey, vodka, wine, and pure liqueurs)
  • Coffee
  • Juices
  • Soft drinks
  • Tea
  • Cocoa drinks
  • Flavored alcoholic drinks (such as ciders and coolers)
  • Flavored teas and coffees
  • Nondairy soy, rice, potato, and nut beverages
  • Undistilled alcoholic drinks (such as beer, ale, lager)

Other (Condiments, Baking Ingredients, Soups, Sauces, and Gravies)

  • Aspartame
  • Baking soda
  • Butter, lard, and shortening
  • Carob chips and carob powder
  • Corn syrup, maple syrup, and sugar (brown, white, and confectioners)
  • Cream of tartar
  • Homemade broths
  • Honey
  • Jams, jellies, marmalade
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Pure cocoa, baking chocolate, and chocolate chips
  • Plain pickles and relish
  • Pure herbs and spices
  • Pure black pepper
  • Salt
  • Vanilla
  • Vinegars (such as apple, balsamic, cider, distilled white, grape, wine, spirit)
  • Yeast
  • Baking powder
  • Bouillon cubes
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Gravy and sauces
  • Soups and broths
  • Salad dressings
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Malt vinegar
  • Soy sauce
  • Teriyaki sauce

*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 veggies, 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.

Eating Tips

  • Focus on foods that are naturally gluten-free, such as fresh produce, fresh meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, milk, nuts, and cooking oils.
  • Read food labels with care to make sure items do not have gluten.
  • Ask about ingredients and food preparation when you eat out.
  • Avoid cross-contamination with gluten-containing products when you prepare foods.
  • Work with a dietitian to make a gluten-free meal plan.