Finding out you need to follow a gluten-free diet can be heart wrenching at first. It’s a hard adjustment. Luckily, it’s much easier now than ever before to eat gluten free. The market is expanding rapidly, resulting in many options for consumers. Becoming a master of gluten-free grocery shopping requires one thing: you must become a habitual label reader. Avoid foods that contain any form of wheat, barley, or rye. It sounds easy, but gluten can appear in even the most minimally processed foods. Sometimes it even pops up in unexpected places like chips (ever read a Pringles label?), gum, or mints. Natural foods are always the best choice, but occasionally packaged products are a quick and easy solution. The market for such products is constantly growing and changing. New brands appear frequently, but existing brands can change their ingredients. Remain diligent when it comes to label reading and contact companies directly if their labels need clarification. Read every label, every time. The following lists are not meant to be exhaustive, but a general overview. For more details, consult with a nutritionist specializing in gluten-free diets, or check out some of the wonderful links in the right-hand column. And of course all of the recipes on this site are gluten free.

EAT THIS

In following a gluten-free diet, I can’t stress enough the importance of home cooking, where YOU control what’s on the plate. In using minimally processed ingredients, as close to their natural state as possible, it’s much easier to avoid gluten. I refer to items below in their natural state; once you buy things with “flavor packets” and “sauces”, all bets are off.

You can eat:

Fruits
Vegetables
Fresh herbs
Meat (not necessarily deli meat)
Poultry
Seafood
Eggs
Beans/Legumes
Nuts and nut flours
Soy
Seeds (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, flax)
Non-Gluten Grains/Grasses (rice*, corn, quinoa, buckwheat*, millet, amaranth, montina, mesquite, teff, sorghum, wild rice)
Oats (certified gluten free only)
Tapioca (manioc, cassava, yucca)
Wine, sake, distilled spirits that contain no added flavoring or colorings

*Note: buckwheat and glutinous rice (also known as sweet rice) are gluten free, just unfortunately named.

DON’T EAT THIS

ANY processed food could contain gluten. Read every label, every time. You may be surprised how frequently it pops up.

Wheat in any form (includes white flour, all-purpose flour, wheat flour, pastry flour, cake flour, bread flour, spelt, emmer, farro, bulgur, durum, einkorn, couscous, wheat berries, farina, graham, kamut, matzo, semolina, wheat starch, triticale) and ingredients made from those items (bread, pasta, pizza dough, cakes, cookies, pies, breadcrumbs, croutons, etc). Soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and other wheat-based sauces, unless specifically labeled gluten free. Seitan also contains wheat.

Barley this includes the grain itself and products made from barley malt: malt vinegar, barley malt syrup, malted milk, etc.

Rye

Beer unless it’s gluten free

 

Oats oats don’t inherently contain gluten, but are often cross-contaminated. Try certified gluten-free oats if you can tolerate them.

BE SKEPTICAL

Once a food ventures from its original state, it is suspect. If there’s more than one ingredient listed on a package, read it. It may be perfectly safe, but you’ll need to do your homework before drawing that conclusion. Remember: the more additives, the harder it will be to decipher. Be on guard.

Examples:

Green tea is gluten free, but flavored teas could contain gluten, possibly in the form of barley malt sweetener.

A roasted turkey is gluten free. Sliced deli turkey could contain gluten as a binder.

Homemade salad dressing, made from olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh herbs is gluten free. Bottled salad dressings may contain gluten as a thickener.

Always check labels on soups and broths, candy, deli items, sauces and condiments, dairy products (ice cream, sour cream, buttermilk…can potentially contain gluten), anything packaged, processed, or “flavored”. Even prescription medications, vitamins, and supplements are at risk.

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