gluten free guide what to eat

Gluten Free Guide – What you can eat and what to avoid when going Gluten Free

Written by: Dr. Michelle Dillon, with informative inserts by: Jillian Kubala, MD

Going gluten free can be confusing with all the different information out and about on both the internet and social media sites. SO I figured a handy resource would be most helpful.

But first we should talk about the reasons people go gluten free and why I suggest it to most of my patients.

Reasons to go gluten free:

  1. GLUTEN, the protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and spelt, is an inflammatory grain. It promotes inflammation. AND inflammation is the seed that GROWS the disease process.
  2. GLUTEN these days – IS NOT the same gluten that our beloved grandparents ate. HECK it’s not the same gluten that we ate back in the 80s when we were kids!

WHY? Well, it’s called, genetic modification, AND it’s effective in growing more and more wheat crops. BUT it comes with a negative health result.

You see farmers found that when they ‘genetically alter’ their crops to yield a larger better crop, that is fabulous for their profit margins.

The negative is – the wheat is more and more genetically altered. AND as a result, our bodies DO NOT recognize it AT ALL.

If our bodies do not recognize what we eat, then our bodies will not have the enzymes needed to break down this food.

IF food is not being broken down properly – then we have digestive issues.

AND digestive issues – will cause overall HEALTH issues.

So bottom line: Stay way from gluten- or other GMO or genetically modified foods/ organisms.

3. THYROID issues? If you have any sort of chronic thyroid issue, it is imperative that you steer away from gluten. WHY?

Well gluten is as I said above, quite inflammatory to the body. AND thyroid issues usually stem from underlying inflammatory conditions. SO, if you continually eat gluten, you continually increase inflammation, which perpetually makes the thyroid issue worse.

OK- so here is a guide to help you know what foods you should AVOID when you are gluten free:

1. Gluten-containing grains

Grains that contain gluten include:

  • heat
  • barley
  • rye
  • triticale
  • farina
  • spelt
  • kamut
  • wheat berries
  • farro
  • couscous

Note that oats are naturally gluten-free but may be contaminated with gluten during processing.

2. Most breads, crackers, and wraps

Most breads, crackers, and wraps contain gluten. The only way to know for sure is to read the ingredient list and check to see which grains are used.

If you have a gluten intolerance, avoid the following:

  • white bread
  • whole wheat bread
  • potato bread
  • rye bread
  • sourdough bread
  • wheat crackers
  • whole wheat wraps
  • flour tortillas
  • flatbread
  • bagels

3. Certain condiments

Although condiments seem like unlikely sources of gluten, many popular ones harbor gluten. These include:

  • soy sauce
  • barbecue sauce
  • salad dressings
  • marinades
  • cream sauces
  • spice blends
  • gravy mixes
  • malt vinegar
  • ketchup

As an alternative, you can make your own condiments from gluten-free ingredients or purchase ones that are certified gluten-free.

4. Most baked goods

Baked goods are typically made with wheat flour or other gluten-containing grains. As such, people with a gluten intolerance should largely avoid these foods:

  • cakes
  • cookies
  • pastries
  • soft and hard pretzels
  • doughnuts
  • muffins
  • pancakes and waffles

5. Wheat-based pastas

dry whole wheat pasta noodles

Pastas are a staple food in many cultures. Although gluten-free alternatives exist, most traditional pastas are made with gluten-containing grains:

  • noodles
  • spaghetti
  • gnocchi made with wheat flour
  • dumplings

6. Some snack foods

Snack foods are a common source of gluten. Gluten-containing snacks include:

  • pretzels
  • granola bars
  • cereal bars
  • chips
  • energy bars
  • cookies
  • snack mixes
  • candy bars

7. Certain beverages

Some drinks are made with ingredients that contain gluten, so it’s important to read labels. Beverages that may contain gluten include:

  • beer
  • bottled wine coolers
  • premade coffee drinks
  • drink mixes
  • commercial chocolate milk

8. Several processed foods and other items

Many processed foods and other popular items may also harbor gluten. These include:

  • meat substitutes, such as veggie burgers and hot dogs
  • prepared lunch meats
  • processed cheeses
  • egg substitutes
  • canned soups and soup mixes
  • puddings and instant dessert mixes
  • certain ice creams
  • breakfast cereals
  • french fries and other fried foods
  • flavored tofu


Foods that contain gluten include breads, pastas, crackers, baked goods, many grains, and several beverages and processed items.

Foods to EAT when Gluten FREE

Foods to eat when Gluten FREE

Though it may seem as if most foods are off-limits when you’re intolerant to gluten, many delicious and healthy foods are naturally gluten-free. Plus, quality gluten-free breads, pastas, and crackers are available in most grocery stores.

If you’re gluten intolerant, you can enjoy the following foods.

1. Fruits and vegetables

raw heads of cauliflower and broccoli on a cutting board

Fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten-free. However, keep in mind that certain products, such as battered vegetables and candy-coated fruit, may contain gluten. The following are some options:

  • apples
  • avocados
  • berries
  • bananas
  • citrus fruits
  • plums
  • peaches
  • spinach
  • kale
  • onions
  • sweet potatoes
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • carrots
  • peppers
  • butternut squash
  • zucchini
  • Brussels sprouts
  • mushrooms

2. Legumes

Beans and lentils are gluten-free, which is why they’re commonly used to make pasta alternatives and other gluten-free products. They include:

  • red lentils
  • black beans
  • chickpeas
  • kidney beans
  • cannellini beans
  • pinto beans
  • peas
  • adzuki beans

3. Gluten-free grains and grain products

Although many grains are off-limits for people with a gluten intolerance, some grains are gluten-free. They include:

  • quinoa
  • buckwheat
  • millet
  • sorghum
  • oats
  • millet
  • amaranth
  • wild rice
  • corn
  • teff
  • brown rice
  • gluten-free breads, crackers, and other baked goods made from these grains

To reduce the risk of cross-contamination, be sure to only buy products that have been certified gluten-free.

4. Animal proteins

Animal proteins like the following are naturally gluten-free:

  • eggs
  • meat
  • poultry
  • fish
  • shellfish
  • dairy products like yogurt and cheese

5. Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are gluten-free and provide a nutrient-rich source of fat. What’s more, they can be made into gluten-free flours. Good choices of nuts, seeds, and their butters include:

  • pumpkin seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • cashews
  • almonds
  • peanut butter
  • macadamia nuts
  • walnuts
  • almond butter
  • pecans
  • hazelnuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • pistachios

6. Certain seasonings and condiments

The following seasonings and condiments are safe for those following gluten-free diets:

  • apple cider vinegar
  • fresh herbs like basil, rosemary, and cilantro
  • pesto
  • most salsas
  • most dried herbs and spices
  • coconut aminos
  • hummus
  • guacamole
  • sauerkraut
  • tahini
  • mustard

7. Healthy fats and oils

olive oil being drizzled over slices of avocado

Most sources of healthy fat, such as the following, are gluten-free.

  • full fat yogurt
  • cheese
  • olive oil
  • avocado oil
  • nuts, seeds, and nut butters
  • avocados
  • unsweetened coconut, as well as coconut oil


Foods that are safe to eat if you have a gluten intolerance include nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, fish, poultry, dairy products, gluten-free grains, and legumes.

Tips for eating out when gluten free

Many restaurants don’t offer gluten-free meals, so it’s important to know what’s safe to order if you have gluten intolerance and are going out to eat.

If you have celiac disease, NCGS, or a wheat allergy, it’s important that you inform the waitstaff. The restaurant is much more likely to take your condition seriously if they know you can’t have gluten for medical reasons.

In general, you should stay away from pasta, bread, and grain dishes unless the restaurant offers gluten-free options like brown rice pasta or gluten-free grains.

You’ll also need to steer clear of bread baskets. Instead, ask the waitstaff to bring a gluten-free appetizer like edamame, a caprese or simple salad, or crudités plate with hummus.

Fried foods, such as french fries, fried chicken, fried fish, and mozzarella sticks usually contain gluten, so you should avoid these foods as well.

When choosing a meal, keep it simple and use the following steps to create a gluten-free meal:

  • Choose a protein source: fish, shrimp, chicken, beef, beans, plain tofu, lentils, etc.
  • Choose a gluten-free starch or grain: potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, amaranth, quinoa, brown rice, etc.
  • Choose a non-starchy vegetable: broccoli, cauliflower, pepper, mushrooms, zucchini, spinach, green beans, etc.

Customizable salads and gluten-free grain bowls make great meal choices.

If you don’t trust the salad dressings or sauces used at restaurants, you can bring your own from home. Simply pour a small amount into a portable glass jar or bottle.

To ensure that you’ll have gluten-free options, it’s advisable to scan the menu before choosing to eat at a restaurant. You can also call ahead to discuss your options with the staff.

The bottom line

If you’re intolerant to gluten, you must avoid all gluten-containing foods.

Foods with gluten include many grains and most breads, pastas, and baked goods. Numerous condiments and processed foods harbor gluten as well.

It’s best to focus on the many delicious, healthy foods that you can eat. These include veggies, fruits, eggs, fish, dairy, nuts, and seeds, as well as gluten-free grains.

Would you like more guidance on your health journey?

Call today! 704-543-5540

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