Food Sensitivities to Monitor if you have Celiac Disease

Food Sensitivities to Monitor if you have Celiac Disease

If you have celiac disease and you are struggling to find relief, it might be because you have unaddressedfood intolerances (learn why following a gluten-free diet isn’t enough to support someone with celiac disease here). So if your body is telling you something still isn’t right after living gluten-free, here are some other food sensitivities to monitor if you have celiac disease.

I want to emphasize that these are just potential food sensitives to be aware of when you have celiac disease and might not be the cause of your continued symptoms. As always, if you’re concerned about your symptoms, be sure to consult your doctor or dietitian to help rule out other causes and certainly don’t attempt elimination diets on your own. Because a gluten-free lifestyle is already so restrictive, you don’t want to unnecessarily restrict further if you don’t have to.

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What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease an autoimmune disease that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is consumed. Specifically, when someone with celiac disease eats gluten, the body attacks and damages the villi in the small intestine. Yes, you read that right, the body attacks itself when gluten is consumed in people with celiac disease.

With that said, you might be wondering, do people with celiac disease have a gluten sensitivity? The answer to that is that no, not exactly. It’s not the same because people with non-celiac-gluten-sensitivity don’t experience small intestinal damage like people who have celiac disease do.

So do people with celiac disease have a gluten allergy? Again, not really. The mechanisms are different. However, I do encourage people to treat gluten avoidance due to a celiac diagnosis like they would a food allergy. While not exactly the same as an allergy, the same care should be taken when preparing foods. Meaning, people should limit cross-contact and consumption of gluten like they would if they had a peanut allergy.

While gluten exposure when you have celiac disease isn’t as deadly as exposure to an allergen, it still can have harmful impacts. Exposure still results in an overactive immune response which causes measurable damage to the body. This damage just isn’t as immediate or obvious as immune responses caused be exposure to food allergies.

What is a Food Sensitivity

A food sensitivity is when the body has trouble digesting certain foods. This can be because of multiple reasons. Additionally, food sensitivities aren’t always permanent. Some people might find that they can tolerate foods after eliminating and reintroducing them, it depends.

The key point here is that food sensitivities involve the body having trouble digesting certain foods. Furthermore, food sensitivities can result in chronic inflammation, bloating, gas, stomach pain, acne, diarrhea, etc.

What’s tough about food sensitivities is that their symptoms often can present like celiac disease, making it hard to tell if it’s gluten exposure or something else. Sometimes someone might mistake a symptom to be related to their celiac disease rather than unaddressed food sensitivities (or other problem).

This is why it’s important to keep food sensitivities on your radar just in case they might be the missing puzzle piece to your problems. It’s also why it’s important to consult your doctor or dietitian before trialing elimination diets or going on a food “witch” hunt. Trust me, walking these paths alone can be dangerous and damaging.

Your doctor and/or your dietitian can be a great resource in helping you find out what is really going on.

A Food Sensitivity vs. a Food Allergy

The difference between a food sensitivity and a food allergy is that a food allergy involves an overactive immune response to a food that could result in hives, trouble breathing, or even immediate death. A food sensitivity is not deadly but still is stressful to the body and mind.

Is a Food Sensitivity the same things a Food Intolerance?

A food sensitivity is another way to say food intolerance. So yes, the two terms can and often are used interchangeably.

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Food Sensitivities to Monitor if you have Celiac Disease:

Now that we know what celiac disease is and how it differs from food sensitivities, let’s talk food sensitivities. Here’s a quick list of potential food sensitivities to monitor if you have celiac disease.


Dairy is often a frequent food sensitivity that accompanies celiac disease. More specifically, it’s lactose intolerance. Lactose is a sugar found in milk that requires the enzyme lactase to break it down. Some people are deficient in this enzyme and thus are lactose intolerance.

A dairy intolerance or lactose intolerance can be fairly easy to monitor by simply paying attention to how dairy foods make you feel. Keeping a food diary simply to track how you feel can be a great way to see how it impacts you. With that in mind, even simply checking in with yourself after meals can be helpful too.

Foods with “Gluten Cross-Reactive Proteins”

I wrote a whole blog post about gluten cross-reactive proteins and whether or not people with celiac disease should avoid them. Essentially the idea is that certain foods have proteins so similar to gluten that they trigger a similar immune response.

You might want to pay special attention to them if you continue to struggle with persistent symptoms following going gluten-free.

I want to note that there isn’t a lot of science supporting the theories of cross-reactive proteins. If you check out my blog post on cross-reactive foods I talk more about the science (or lack thereof) supporting cross-reactive foods.

That being said, if avoiding these foods makes you feel better, it shouldn’t matter whether or not it’s because they are cross-reactive gluten proteins or not. What matters is that avoiding them provides you relief.

The following foods are considered cross-reactive:

  • Dairy Products
  • Oats
  • Brewers/Baker’s yeast
  • Instant Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Millet
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Rice
  • Potato
  • Teff
  • Hemp


For those who have IBS, IBD, or any other form of unresolved GI upset, following the low-FODMAP elimination diet could be helpful. This elimination diet is fairly difficult and absolutely should be done with the guidance of a dietitian.

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides and Polysaccharides. Essentially these are fibers that are found in certain foods that when eaten in certain amounts (or sometimes at all) can cause digestive upset.

The low-FODMAP elimination diet involves limiting these foods and reintroducing them after a few weeks to see which foods are actually triggering you (if any at all). It’s important to note that this diet is 100% an elimination diet and is not meant to be maintained for long periods of time.

If you’re eating low-FODMAP you’ll definitely want to try my low-FODMAP Peanut Butter S’mores Fudge Bar! You’ll also learn more about the low-fodmap diet in that recipe post as well.


I wrote a whole post on whether or not people with celiac disease should also avoid nightshades. With that said, nightshade foods are foods that belong to the nightshade family.

You might know plants in the nightshade family to be considered poisonous. However, the foods that are from the nightshade family have such trace amounts of this “poison” that it’s safe to eat.

Despite these foods being absolutely safe to eat, some people find that they react poorly to them. Thus, you might want to keep this sensitivity on your radar.

Foods from the Nightshade Family

  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes (not sweet potatoes)
  • Eggplant (aubergines)
  • Peppers 
  • Gooseberries
  • Ashwagandha
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Chili Pepper Flakes
  • Curry Powder
  • Paprika
  • Goji Berries

My Own Food Sensitivities and How I Manage them Personally

When I was diagnosed with celiac disease I followed the AIP paleo diet immediately after diagnosis as a way to identify other potential trigger foods. After using this diet as an elimination diet, I found that corn and soy did not sit well with my stomach.

When I realized I not only had to avoid gluten but potentially these other ingredients, I was overwhelmed. I realized that the avoidance of these foods was unrealistic in certain situations. I mean come on, corn in soy are in practically everything, espeically gluten-free alternative foods.

So what do I do? Personally, I manage my food sensitivities to corn and soy along with my celiac disease by keeping things simple. When I am at home, I don’t bring in any foods that contain soy, corn, or gluten (aside from the occasional package of Drizzilicious because, omg, so good).

When I dine out, however, I focus on sourcing safe gluten-free foods first. IF there also happens to be corn-free or soy-free foods where I am dining too, then great. If not? No stress. Worrying about being GF when dining out is honestly enough for me, I’m okay with the slight headache I might get from soy or corn if it means I get to maintain a somewhat normal social life.

This however, might not be a method that works for you. Again, we are all unique and react to our food sensitivities differently. Perhaps you food sensitivities trigger severe symptoms that you just can’t fathom accepting ever. Perhaps you’re like me and can live with them on occasion.

Ultimately, it’s up to you. You know best.

Closing Thoughts…

This is just a list of a few food sensitivities to monitor if you have celiac disease. Keeping a food journal or following an elimination diet (with the help of a registered dietitian) can be helpful in helping you identify what might be triggering uncomfortable reactions. Not only can a food journal help, but so can eating intuitively.

Eating intuitively can help you be mindful of what your body is asking for and how those foods make you feel. Definitely, a helpful tool to use on your journey to finding out the source behind your continued symptoms.

This post is not to take the place of medical diagnosis or medical care. This post and all posts found on my website,, are merely to serve as sources of information. Always be medically cleared before enduring any significant changes to your diet or lifestyle.

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