Gluten-Free Diet Basics
If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease you have undoubtedly been told you must follow a gluten-free diet for the rest of your life. This question and answer sheet was developed to help you successfully get started on the diet until you can schedule an appointment with a dietitian.
Q: What foods must not be eaten on a gluten-free diet?
A: You can not eat any food that contains the ingredients wheat,
barley, rye, malt, brewer's yeast and, in most cases, oats.
Q: How do I know if a food contains these ingredients?
A: Read the ingredients list and in the case of wheat the Contains statement looking for the
words wheat, barley, rye, oats (unless gluten free), malt, and brewer's yeast (brewer's yeast is often a by-product of beer
brewing and as such will be contaminated with malt and grain). If you do not see these words on the label of a food regulated
by the Food and Drug Administration the food is most likely free of gluten-containing ingredients. For foods regulated by the
United States Department of Agriculture (meat products, poultry products, and egg products) you also are looking for the
ingredients modified food starch and dextrin. For more information on labeling laws and ingredients, please see the
newsletter, books and articles,
and resources pages at
Q: What foods contain these ingredients?
A: These ingredients are found in foods that you typically think of as containing flour or grain,
such as most regular brands of bread, pasta, breakfast cereal, cracker, and cookie products as well as products containing malt,
such as malt vinegar and malted milk. These ingredients also are commonly found in many other processed foods, including soups,
gravies, sauces, stock, bouillon, seasoned rice mixes, seasoned nuts, seasoned tortilla and potato chips, and vegetables in
sauce. You must therefore read the ingredients list and Contains statement of all processed foods.
Q: Does this mean I can no longer eat bread, pasta, or breakfast cereal?
A: Fortunately there are many manufacturers of gluten-free food. Gluten-free products are typically
carried by health foods stores. However, an increasing number of gluten-free products may be found in your
local grocery store especially if it is a large chain with a natural foods section. If neither of these is an option for you,
many products can be mail-ordered. To familiarize yourself with the variety of manufacturers and products available visit the
web sites www.glutenfreemall.com and
Q: What grain foods can I purchase in my grocery store that are naturally gluten free?
A: There are plenty of grain foods you can buy in a regular grocery store that do not include any
gluten-containing ingredients. These include certain brands of rice cakes and rice crackers, brown rice, enriched white rice,
polenta, corn tortillas, plain tortilla chips, popcorn, and 100% rice noodles (generally found in the Asian
food section). Remember to always check labels to make sure products are free of gluten-containing ingredients. If at all
possible, it is best to choose varieties of these products that are labeled gluten free.
Please note: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice and is intended for informational purposes
only. The gluten-free diet is much more involved than what is presented here. It is very important that you schedule an appointment
with a dietitian familiar with the gluten-free diet as soon as possible. For a state-by-state listing of dietitians who counsel
persons with celiac disease, see the newsletter page.