Step 1. Eat naturally gluten-free.
The safest and probably best value for money method to stay healthy is by eating only naturally gluten-free foods. Of course, that could become very limiting and boring, so branch out to ready-made products and baking your own when you learn what's safe to eat and can avoid being 'glutened' unknowingly.
Foods, unprocessed, that are naturally gluten-free do not need to be labelled.
Naturally gluten-free foods.
- Beans, legumes, and pulses.
- Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt etc.)
- Fish & seafood
- Poultry & eggs
- Spices (beware of additives, de-clumping agents & cross contamination)
Learning to cook these foods will bring back the joy of eating. Check out our 700+ gluten-free recipes created for you for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cooking gluten-free is different so learn by trying out our specially formulated recipes -- a great way to pick up tips, tricks and balancing ingredient proportions.
Naturally Gluten-Free Beans, Legumes & Flour Substitutes
Try these foods whole or ground into flour in favourite recipes.
For baking, they don’t behave the same way as grains with gluten, so you’ll have to experiment and add ingredients like gums and stabilizers and starches to create elasticity and texture.
- Buckwheat (kasha)
- Chick Peas
- Nut & nut flours
- Oats (only if designated gluten-free protocol)*
- Potato/Sweet Potato
There’s lots of discussion whether oats are ok or not for people with Celiac disease. Because oats are naturally gluten-free, science says most people with Celiac disease can tolerate small amounts of oats. Anecdotally, many Celiacs say they can’t. Practically, because oats are often grown and processed on the same farms or equipment used for wheat, contamination is very possible. It’s extremely difficult to source clean 100% gluten-free non GMO oats, which is why we don’t use them in our products.
You can buy certified gluten-free oats in small quantities however to cook porridge, for baking and to make granola.
Gluten-free All-Purpose Flour Blends
If you want to make life easy and you love baked goods, try using gluten-free flour blends with all the ingredients already added (flour, stabilizer, starch, gums) and balanced that together mimic flour with gluten.
Gluten-free flour blends take the guess-work out and you can focus on getting the recipes right for your favourite desserts, breads and baked goods. Keep your cookbooks and swap in our All-Purpose Flour Blend (hyperlink) 1:1 in all your best recipes.
Because of how most food is mass produced and packaged these days, there is a risk of cross-contamination with traces of gluten even in grains, beans, nuts and pulses. Risk depends on what they are grown and processed alongside, so dedicated farms, processing & manufacturing plants are always best. Buy product labelled gluten-free if possible or wash it thoroughly until the water runs completely clear. Even that is no guarantee.
For this reason, buying in bulk from bins is probably best avoided because cross contamination is possible.
Step 2. Read the Label. Every time.
As soon as you enter packaged food territory the game changes.
You really must read every ingredient label every time because additives and flavour-enhancers may contain gluten.
You’ll learn to recognize them after a while and shopping becomes easier. Today there’s also a gluten-free app for that. We’ll list some of the best later, but it’s really important you know where gluten hides in packaged foods and restaurants so you can avoid being ‘glutened’.
On packaged foods, certification by a verifiable organization is enough to ensure the product is gluten-free. Usually designated by a symbol and the certifying organisation’s logo.
By law, a gluten-free label on packaged goods means the manufacturer has tested the product to contain less than 20 gluten parts per million. In Canada and the US the Gluten-free Certification Proram, GFCP, is the most widely endorsed certification organization.
If there is no gluten-free certification on the product by a reputable agency, you will need to identify any gluten-containing ingredients in the product.
Look out for the usual suspects. Anything containing wheat, barley, rye, spelt, triticale and kamut etc. are obviously a no-no, but getting to know their derivatives is also vital. Wheat-free does not mean gluten-free. Semolina, farro and farina (cooked cereal), all contain wheat protein, which means gluten.
Gluten is also ‘hidden’ in ingredients like malt-extract, and malt-flavouring, made from barley.
Which foods contain gluten?
If you see any of these on a label or ingredients list, it contains gluten and should not be eaten by those with Celiac disease or gluten-intolerance.
- Brown rice syrup
- If made with barley enzyme it’s not gluten-free.
- Bulgur wheat
- Durum/Durum Wheat
- Faro (Spelt)
- Graham flour
- hydrolysed what protein
Which products contain gluten?
Gluten may be hidden in some products/ingredients listed below so check the label according to the rules outlined above. If the product does not display a gluten-free symbol and you are in any doubt at all, call the manufacturer to double check if any ingredients are derived from gluten-based grains.
Candy and candy bars
- Can contain all sorts of gluten proteins, malt or brown rice syrup that can have a barley-based enzyme added to it. It is most often not labelled as such. Call to check.
Energy/protein bars/granola bars
- Wheat as usually listed as an ingredient so it’s obviously not safe, but double check for non-protocol oats or barley-enzyme brown rice syrup.
- Make sure the batter isn’t made from wheat or other gluten-containing flours.
- Ever more popular plant-based alternatives are on the rise. But beware if they are made from the gluten-containing flours. Seitan is made from wheat gluten and flavoured to resemble the taste and texture of meat. It’s often used in vegetarian burgers & sausage, imitation bacon & seafood. Avoid.
- Watch out for seasonings & spices which may contain malt vinegar or wheat starch.
Processed lunch meats/sausages
- Fillers may contain wheat or other gluten.
Salad dressings and marinades
- Look out for malt vinegar, soy sauce, gluten flours.
- Spices may contain gluten as an anti-clumping agent.
- Many soups, especially cream-based, use wheat flour or barley as a thickener.
- Made from fermenting wheat. Tamari is ok, it’s made from soybeans.
- Gluten is sometimes added as an anti-clumping agent; especially in the most common spices, cinnamon, turmeric, curry powder and blends.
Starch or dextrin
- Check what type of grain it’s made from. Wheat, barely, rye etc. you can’t eat it.
Tortilla chips or tortillas
- Tortilla are fine when made of pure corn but flavourings and added grains in multi-grain varieties may hide gluten.
- Some contain flavour enhancers or preservatives that may contain gluten.
May Contain Statements
May contain: wheat/rye etc. or Processed in a facility with wheat/rye etc. statements are voluntary advisory statements placed by the manufacturer to warn people of potential allergens.
If the manufacturer has labeled the product both May contain: and also, gluten-free that means it has been tested to less than 20 ppm of gluten, so it is safe for people with Celiac disease. If the product has a May contain: statement but is not labelled gluten-free it is not safe for people with Celiac disease to eat.
If you are ever unsure about a product, call the manufacturer. The contact info. must by law be printed underneath the ingredients list.
There’s a gluten-free app for that!
Imagine what it was like 30 years ago being Celiac when no one even knew what is was. Today there’s gluten-free apps for reading labels which should cut down shopping time and reduce the risk of ingesting hidden gluten.
The most popular are on the Apple App Store or Google Play for Android, where you can download them.
- The Gluten Free Scanner
- Is That Gluten Free?
- Sift Food Labels
- ShopWell Diet, Allergy Scanner
If you’re still not sure what you can and can’t eat, take a look at 700+ gluten-free recipes on our website with ingredients listed. As you work your way through everything from appetizers to desserts, you’ll learn how to cook safely and pick up lots of tricks and tips.
Which drinks are gluten-free?
Drinks like fruit juices, soda, fizzy and sports drinks usually are. Read the label to see if there's been anything added, where gluten might hide.
Wine and cider are generally considered gluten-free. Some dessert wines may have added flavours made from barley malt and should be avoided. Similarly, wine coolers are unsafe.
Hard liquor is usually gluten free. Even scotch and bourbon made from barley and rye, which is usually off-limits to those with Celiac Disease, are ok because the gluten proteins are broken down in the distillation process and will not cause an auto-immune reaction.
On the other hand, most beers, ales, lagers, malt beverages, and malt vinegars made from gluten-containing grains DO contain gluten protein. The beer/vinegar-making process is by fermentation, which leaves the gluten-protein intact and will trigger an auto-immune response if you drink it.