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. "

Avoid gluten contamination when you cook.

It is important to not contaminate gluten-free foods with foods that contain gluten during cooking and food preparation. Contamination can occur if foods are prepared on common surfaces or with utensils that are not thoroughly cleaned after preparing gluten-containing foods. Spreadable condiments in shared containers may also be a source of contamination--when someone dips into a mayonnaise jar a second time with the knife used to make a sandwich, the condiment becomes contaminated with breadcrumbs. Likewise, deep-fried foods cooked in oil shared with breaded products will become contaminated and should not be eaten.

Be careful when eating out.

Having gluten intolerance or celiac disease doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a meal out; you just have to use caution and plan ahead. It’s best to allow extra time to discuss your needs with your host or the restaurant before you go. Many restaurants, including many national chains, now offer gluten-free options, so it’s worth doing a little research online or making a telephone call first.

Fast-food, quick-service restaurants and those with a standard menu may have little time to thoroughly check ingredients, and the styles of food preparation can present a particular challenge to those following a gluten-free diet. You may have to bring your own bread/rolls/pizza crust as a backup, to be confident that your food does not contain gluten.

The chefs at finer-dining restaurants are generally aware of gluten and can be very helpful in accommodating your needs. Call the restaurant the day before or earlier the same day and speak to the chef to discuss your meal options. It also helps to time your meal earlier or later than the busiest meal time, so you’ll have more time and easier access to the people who can help you.

Sip smart.

Distilled alcoholic beverages, such as vodka, gin and whiskey, are gluten-free (as, by the way, are distilled vinegars). Even though they may be made from gluten-containing grains like barley, research suggests that the harmful peptide portion of the gluten is too large to carry over in the distillation process. Wines are also gluten-free but beers, ales and lagers and malt vinegar are not; all contain small amounts of gluten and must be avoided.

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