What Can I Eat on a Gluten Free Diet? That’s a common question for someone who is new to this lifestyle or is supporting someone who has to go gluten free. The answer is – PLENTY! Instead of focusing on what you have to give up, take a look at what you already love that is naturally gluten free, starting with this Gluten Free Food List!
These days, many people are adopting a gluten free diet. Whether it is you or a family member or friend that you are supporting, I’m going to show you that being gluten free doesn’t have to be hard because there are so many things you CAN still eat!
So whether you or a loved one recently received a celiac disease diagnosis, found out about a gluten allergy or intolerance, or were advised by their doctor to remove gluten from their diet to help manage an autoimmune disease or another medical condition…
This is the resource for YOU!
What Can Gluten Free People Eat?
There are so many gluten free products on the market today. BUT that comes at a cost. Products that are specifically made and marketed as gluten free are often more expensive.
And just because these foods are gluten free does not mean that they are healthy.
In fact, in order to achieve the flavors and textures of traditional food items, they often have to add more salt, sugar, fat, starches, gums, fillers, and other ingredients that you don’t necessarily want to eat MORE of just because you are trying to eat LESS (or NO) gluten! They can also be low in fiber and other vitamins and minerals.
Instead, let’s focus on foods that are naturally gluten free. Things like fruit and vegetables and meats and beans and nuts and the list goes on and on.
These whole foods are good for anybody. And when you focus on them, you are nourishing your body. And you can feel like you are just eating FOOD, not being stuck with eaiting weird or special or different or expensive GLUTEN FREE FOOD.
In fact, this post contains a HUGE list of naturally gluten free foods, so keep reading!
Besides that, many of the other things that have been part of your regular diet have always been gluten free. Corn tortilla chips and salsa. Olive oil and all of those spices in your cabinet. Pasta sauce. Maybe even your favorite barbecue sauce (mine is!).
So as long as you know what to look for on the labels, you can check if you can still enjoy all of your favorites. You’ll just need to be more familiar with some of the words that indicate foods with gluten, and be sure to check the labels for some of these key phrases and warnings.
Food labels and allergy warnings:
Typically you CAN have any items with the following words on the label:
- “Certified Gluten Free” – to have this label, the FDA requires that manufacturers use an independent, third-party certification to prove that the food contains less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. The Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) is a top certification program and tests that foods contain less than 10 ppm of gluten. Other programs are the BRCGS Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP) and NSF International.
- “Gluten Free” – note that this is not regulated, so foods that are naturally gluten free, do not have any gluten-containing ingredients can carry this label, or have less than 20 ppm of gluten, but this does not have to be verified by testing. Some companies can use this for marketing by putting it on naturally gluten free foods like produce or water.
AVOID anything with the following words on the label:
- “Contains wheat”
- “May contain traces of wheat”
- “Made on shared equipment with wheat ingredients”
USE CAUTION and consult with your healthcare provider to understand your level of sensitivity when the label contains:
- “Manufactured in a facility that also processes wheat ingredients”
- “Wheat free” – these may contain other forms of wheat, like spelt, or gluten-containing grains like barley and rye.
Note: this is NOT a complete list, and is meant to serve as a guide. If you are not completely sure, it is best to contact the company directly and consult with your healthcare provider.
Gluten Free Food List
Fruit and Vegetables
Whole fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten free. When purchasing any processed and packaged varieties, you will need to check the labels based on the information above, particularly if there are added sauces or flavorings.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables – you won’t find any labels on these, but rest assured, if you are picking up whole, fresh apples, bananas, cauliflower, broccoli, greens, sweet potatoes, carrots, and everything else in the rainbow, they will be gluten free. CAUTION: if you are buying pre-chopped produce, verify that it was prepped in an area without cross-contamination
- Frozen or canned fruits and vegetables – if they are plain, produce from the freezer section or packaged in cans is typically gluten free. CAUTION: be sure to read the labels on any fruit or veggie mixtures packaged with a sauce, seasoning, or smoothie blend.
- Dried fruits and vegetables – again, these are usually gluten free. CAUTION: be sure to read the labels to be sure they were not manufactured in such a way that they may be cross-contaminated.
Your basic plain dairy products are naturally gluten free. When purchasing any flavored varieties, you will need to check the labels for the phrases listed above to be sure no gluten-containing ingredients have been added.
- Milk, cream, half and half, etc. (this includes most non-dairy milk, also) – plain varieties are gluten free. CAUTION: read the labels on any flavored milks and creamers.
- Cheese – basic cheeses like cheddar, American, Swiss, etc. are gluten free. CAUTION: beware of processed cheese sauces and spreads which may have gluten-containing thickeners or flavorings.
- Yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream – all plain and even many flavored varieties are gluten free, but be sure to read the labels.
Plant- and animal-based proteins are naturally gluten free food, so choosing fresh varieties will be safe. Potential issues may arise with meats packaged with flavoring, marinades, or sauces that contain gluten, or from the sauces served with these proteins. And processed meat may contain gluten in their fillers.
- Fresh red meat, poultry, and seafood – these are all naturally gluten free. CAUTION: check that no flavorings or marinades that contain gluten have been added.
- Processed meats – while many things like hot dogs, lunch meats, sausages, and other processed meats MAY be gluten free, use CAUTION because they can contain fillers or flavors or additives with gluten.
- Beans, lentils, and other legumes – whether dried or canned, these are gluten free as long as no other ingredients have been added.
- Nuts and seeds, including nut butters – these are a naturally gluten free source of protein. CAUTION: check that the labels indicate that they were not handles in a manufacturing facility where there could be cross-contamination.
Grains – whole grains, flours, and products made with grains
This is where things get tricky. On a gluten free diet, you must avoid wheat, barley, and rye. And those can be called by a number of names. However, grains are often processed in the same facilities, and, particularly in the case of oats, there is a risk of cross-contamination.
Many of these grains are also processing into flours that you can use for baking, or to make the packaged products you find in the stores, like gluten free bread, cookies, pasta, etc.
The following is a list of gluten free grains, but I will CAUTION that you should ALWAYS read the labels on these:
- Rice – white, brown, or wild
- Oats – rolled, quick, steel-cut, as long as you confirm they are gluten free on the label.
- Gluten free flours and starches – individual flours and starches, or gluten free flour blends and mixes.
- Gluten free breads, baked goods, snacks, pasta, etc. – made from these gluten free grain flours and starches
Fats, Oils, Spices, Sauces, Condiments, and Other Ingredients
When it comes to fats, oils, and spices, as long as they aren’t flavored or part of seasoning mixtures, you can feel confident that they are gluten free.
Most vinegars, with the exception of malt vinegar, are gluten free as well.
Sauces can be tricky, as it depends very much on how it was manufactured. Even a seemingly “single-ingredient” sauce like soy sauce is fermented with wheat. So you must ALWAYS read the labels on these.
- Butter, ghee, olive oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, seed oils, coconut oil, etc. – as long as they aren’t flavored, they are naturally gluten free. CAUTION: check your cooking sprays. Some contain flour to prevent baked goods from sticking, or other additives.
- Spices – in most cases, single dried herbs and spices are gluten free. The following is a list of gluten free grains, but I will CAUTION: some brands add gluten-containing fillers to spice blends for flowability. And seasoning mixes often sold in packets may contain flour.
- Vinegars – white, balsamic, rice, apple cider, red wine, and most other non-flavored vinegars EXCEPT malt vinegar are usually gluten free.
- Sauces and condiments – while there are a great number of sauces and condiments completely free from gluten on the market, such as barbecue sauce, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, tomato sauce, salsa, and more, you do need to check this on the labels. The following is a list of gluten free grains, but I will CAUTION: soy sauce and many Asian sauces that contain soy are not gluten free. You will need to look for gluten free tamari or soy sauce or substitute coconut aminos for soy sauce.