So, you’ve gone gluten free. Whether it’s medically necessary or by choice, it’s a daunting task.  But all is not lost.  No need to bid  farewell to fluffy cakes, chewy cookies, waffles, pancakes and other beautifully flour-laced delicacies, because these days, there’s a gluten-free option for almost every vice. Just be sure to eat your fruits and veggies.  Although eating gluten-free will surely help you to feel better, a diet based too heavily on rice-based breads and treats is far from healthy.  A great place to start is by reading our Frequently Asked Questions FAQ to learn important definitions used in this article.

Let’s start by determining the basics of what you can and cannot eat.

First, a list of foods that commonly contain gluten:
  • Bagels
  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Flour
  • Flour Tortillas
  • Matzo
  • Pita bread
  • Couscous
  • Cake
  • Cookies
  • Pie crust
  • Muffins
  • Most other baked goods and pastries
Second, a list of foods and grains that are inherently gluten free:
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Meat and poultry
  • Fish and seafood
  • Dairy
  • Beans, legumes, and nuts
  • Rice
  • Cassava
  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Potato
  • Tapioca
  • Beans
  • Sorghum
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat groats (also known as kasha)
  • Arrowroot
  • Amaranth
  • Teff
  • Flax
  • Chia
  • Yucca
  • Gluten-free oats
  • Nuts
  • Nut flours

You will be relieved to know that most yogurts, ice cream, and other dairy products are naturally gluten free. You should always double-check the ingredients before consuming, however, as there can be gluten lurking in both additives and ingredients. More information on that below.  If you are sensitive to both gluten and dairy, your diet requires a little more thought and research.  But all is not lost.  There are some delectable gluten-free and dairy-free foods and baked goods available right here in Connecticut that can satisfy even the most discerning gluten-free foodie.  Our restaurant database and blog provide more information on where gluten and dairy-free options are available.

Those afflicted with celiac disease cannot tolerate cross-contamination, meaning they cannot safely ingest tiny amounts of gluten.  Their foods must be prepared in dedicated gluten-free kitchens and facilities. Regardless of your particular gluten sensitivity or requirements, if you are concerned about cross-contamination, due to preparation, processing and/or transport, only purchase those that are tested for the presence of gluten, and contain less than 20 parts per million(.02%).   According to the FDA, an item is considered gluten free if it meets this gluten level of 20 ppm or less. (celiac.com)

Side Dishes and starches that are usually gluten-free:
  • Plain white rice
  • Polenta
  • Grits
  • Potatoes
  • Gluten-free pasta
  • Rice stick noodles from an Asian grocery
  • Corn tortillas
  • Bush’s vegetarian baked beans
  • Plain canned or dried beans
  • Quinoa
Popcorn, Nuts and Chips

All nuts are inherently gluten-free, and a healthy way to eat protein. So go ahead and indulge in sensible servings of these deliciously satisfying unsaturated fats.  Nut butters and spreads (hello, Nutella) are gluten-free as well, but always check ingredients, just to be certain.  Popcorn is gluten-free.  It’s healthiest to pop it the old fashioned way on the stove, but store-bought or microwave style work. Again, check for additives. Tortilla chips and salsa are nearly always gluten-free, and a go-to party snack for all types of gluten-free  eaters. If you can access the chip bag to check ingredients, it can’t hurt to take a peek.  The same goes with potato chips.

Candy

Sugar is gluten-free. So jelly beans, lollipops, Nerds, Starburst, and similar sugary treats are always ok.  They’re addictive and will rot your teeth, but they won’t cause any gluten-consuming symptoms. Chocolate is also gluten-free, but, as always, check the label, just to be sure.  Healthy Fact: Given the choice, chocolate is preferred by most dentists, as it rinses off the teeth faster.

Gluten Free Cereals
  •  All varieties of Chex cereal (box is labeled gluten-free)
  • Stop and Shop generic chex cereal (Box is also labeled Gluten-Free)
  • Gluten Free Rice Krispies
  • Fruity Pebbles
  • Cocoa Pebbles
  • Gluten-free Cornflakes (health food section)
  • Cheerios (Controversial; don’t eat Cheerios unless you can tolerate cross contamination above 20 ppm.)
  • Grits
  • Oatmeal (must be labeled gluten-free)
Foods and additives that contain gluten:
  •  Barley
  • Brewer’s Yeast
  • food starch
  • hydrolyzed wheat protein,
  • malodextrin
  • Malt
  • Malted barley flour
  • Malted milk
  • Malt extract
  • Malt flavoring
  • Malt vinegar
  • Modified food starch
  • Brewer’s Yeast
  • Wheat
  • Varieties and derivatives of wheat such as:
  • wheatberries
  • durum
  • emmer
  • emulsifier
  • semolina
  • faro
  • spelt
  • flour
  • farina
  • graham
  • KAMUT® khorasan wheat
  • einkorn wheat
  • Rye
  • Triticale
Non-Edible Items That May Contain Gluten
  • Stamps & envelopes
  • Toothpaste
  • Lipstick
  • Hairspray & Shampoo
  • Detergents
  • Pet Food
  • Medications & Vitamins
  • Lotions
  • Play-dough
  • Makeup

For those who can tolerate some cross-contamination, dissecting the package labels of seemingly gluten-free snacks and cereals may not always be necessary.  For others, it may be critical. It can take a while to fully understand your own tolerance for gluten-containing ingredients and cross-contamination.  But it won’t take long to notice how much better you feel after you’ve kicked gluten to the curb.

For a comprehensive list of foods and additives that may contain gluten: http://www.celiac.com/articles/182/1/Unsafe-Gluten-Free-Food-List-Unsafe-Ingredients/Page1.html