Gluten-Free Diet Guidelines

By EatingWell Editors

Learn about celiac disease and gluten intolerance, and get gluten-free eating tips and guidelines.

"The butter dish, toaster oven, mayo jar, jelly. Invisible crumbs = migraines. I need to be more vigilant. "

Safe starches.

People with celiac disease can safely enjoy a variety of grains and starches including amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, cassava, corn, flax, legumes, millet, potatoes, quinoa, rice, soy, sorghum, tapioca, wild rice, yucca and nut flours. Click here for a list of safe grains and starches.

Starches to steer clear of.

Foods to avoid include wheat (including einkorn, emmer, spelt, kamut), wheat starch, wheat bran, wheat germ, cracked wheat, hydrolyzed wheat protein, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). Click here for a list of starches to avoid and other terms for wheat.

Check with your doc about oats.

People with celiac disease are often counseled to avoid oats, due to the concerns of health professionals that most oats are cross-contaminated with grains containing gluten. But research indicates that pure, uncontaminated oats consumed daily in moderation (1 cup cooked, or about ½ cup or 2 ounces uncooked) are tolerated by most adults with celiac disease. It’s worth trying to work oats into your diet: besides being delicious, they add soluble fiber and other nutrients that are often lacking in the gluten-free diet. But the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America suggests you work closely with your health-care team before deciding to introduce oats into your diet.

Look for sneaky sources of gluten.

Wheat and wheat products are often used as thickeners, stabilizers and texture enhancers in foods that might otherwise seem wheat-free, like some salad dressings. Since the term "gluten" is rarely used on product labels, it is vital that a person on a gluten-free diet learn the typical places that gluten can hide. Thanks to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA), it is easier now to identify wheat-containing ingredients: if a food or an ingredient contains wheat or protein derived from wheat, the word “wheat” must appear clearly on the food label.

But processed foods may also contain other off-limits grains, such as barley or rye. Foods that may be made with gluten-containing grains include bouillon cubes, rice mixes, potato chips, hard candy, licorice, jelly beans, cold cuts, hot dogs, salami, sausage, communion wafers, French fries, gravy, imitation fish, matzo, sauces, seasoned tortilla chips, self-basting turkey, soups, soy sauce, vegetables in sauce, salad dressings and many low- or nonfat products. See a more extensive list of unsafe foods on

Some medicines and mouthwash also contain gluten, usually as an inactive ingredient. Look for the words 'starch' or 'stabilizer' in the inactive-ingredients list, and consult with a pharmacist if you’re not sure. If ingredients aren’t listed, you can check with the manufacturer of the product. The Wheaton Gluten-Free Support Group, based in Wheaton, Illinois, maintains a list of gluten-free medications.

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