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Gluten-Free Diet for Celiac Disease

Content provided by: Better Medicine from Healthgrades

You’ve been told that you have celiac disease. This means that you are sensitive to a protein called gluten. Gluten is found in certain grains. When you ingest gluten, your immune system causes harm to your intestines. The treatment for celiac disease is to avoid foods and products that contain gluten. You will need to do this for the rest of your life. Avoid the temptation to “cheat.” Even a small amount of gluten can cause symptoms to return. And it can do harm to your body. This sheet gives you the basics about a gluten-free diet. If you need help, a registered dietitian (RD) can teach you what foods and other products have gluten and how to avoid them.

Always Read Labels!

Many foods may contain gluten, even if you think they don’t. Get into the habit of reading ingredient labels before you eat.

Choosing Foods

The most common source of gluten is wheat flour (this includes “white” flour). Wheat flour is used to make many baked goods, including breads, pastas, cereals, pastries, and pizza dough. But gluten is found in many foods that you might not think would have it. You will need to read food labels to look for gluten in everything you eat. But your diet does not need to be boring. Many foods are naturally gluten-free. And many foods commonly made with wheat flour now come in gluten-free forms. But keep in mind that if something is labeled “wheat-free” it may not be also gluten-free.

Foods to Avoid

Foods You Can Eat

Bread, cereals, pasta, pastries, couscous, or pizza dough made with wheat flour (this includes white flour and semolina)

Bread, cereals, pasta, pastries, or pizza dough made with rice flour, almond flour, beans, potatoes, or other substitutes

Foods containing rye, barley (including malt), spelt, kamut, or bulgur

Foods containing corn, rice, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, or tapioca

Processed meats

Fresh meats and seafood (beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, pork, fish, shellfish)

Some dairy products with additives

Many plain dairy products

Many sauces, gravies, dressings, and condiments

Vinegar, oils, and gluten-free substitutes

Some granola bars and energy bars

Gluten-free granola bars and energy bars

Some beers and spirits

Wine, and gluten-free beers and spirits

Some soups

Gluten-free soups

Foods that are fried or breaded

Fresh fruits and vegetables

Many packaged foods


Oats (check with your healthcare provider)


Communion wafers


Avoiding Accidental Exposure to Gluten

Staying gluten-free means always being aware. Even if you are very careful, mistakes can happen. Your food can’t come into contact with gluten. Your meals must be made with utensils that have not touched foods that contain gluten. Shared knives, cutting boards, toasters, and storage containers are risks for gluten exposure. Shared condiments may have crumbs that contain gluten. At restaurants, parties, and other places where you eat food prepared by others, ask how the food was made. Gluten can also be found in some non-food items. Some medications contain gluten. So do some vitamin supplements. Ask your pharmacist before taking a medication or supplement. Also, some shampoos, lotions, makeup, glues, soaps, and other products contain gluten. It can be possible to ingest some gluten when using these projects. This is called cross-contamination. For example, this can happen if you use a lotion that has gluten and then touch food you eat. Also note that Play-Doh and similar products have gluten. Any adult or child with celiac disease should wash their hands after handling these.

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