Foods to avoid if you have celiac disease
So you or someone you know has been diagnosed with celiac disease, and you’ve been told (hopefully) to avoid gluten, but why? What is gluten? Why do you need to avoid it? What foods can or can’t you have? In this post, I’ll tell you what foods to avoid if you have celiac disease, why, and more.
Why avoid gluten if you have celiac disease:
If you are diagnosed with celiac disease, that means your body launches an immune response against itself every time you consume gluten. This causes damage to your small intestine and puts your health at risk.
Avoiding gluten when you have celiac disease can help prevent:
- uncomfortable trips to the bathroom
- frequent trips to the bathroom
- malnutrition and malabsorption issue
- certain cancers
- bone density issues
- additional autoimmune diseases
- and more…
Avoid gluten when you have celiac disease can promote:
- gut health
- bone health
- easy/easier bowel movements
- quicker trips to the bathroom
- overall general health
- and more…
Foods to enjoy if you have celiac disease:
So what should you eat if you have celiac disease? What does a celiac disease diet look like? See the table below!
|Animal protein||Meats that are plain (uncured, unseasoned, not in broth etc.) are gluten-free.|
Lunch meats/deli meats, frozen meat, seasoned meat, cured meat, etc. all need to be checked to make sure they are safe.
|Fat||Enjoy olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, butter, and a lot of other fats.|
|Produce||Fruits and vegetables are gluten-free. Enjoy them as much as you want without worrying about gluten.|
With that note, if it has a label (like canned vegetables or frozen fruit), read it. Make sure there is no risk of cross-contact or unsafe additives.
|Gluten-free grains/flours||Gluten-free grains and flours are always safe because they are gluten-free (wink wink).|
Think coconut flour, almond flour, buckwheat flour, rice four, and more.
Be extra cautious with oats and oat flour as they are typically at high risk for cross-contact. Make sure you’re buying certified gluten-free oats or purity protocol.
|Herbs and spices||Spices and herbs are naturally gluten-free and a great way to add flavor to gluten-free food. My tip for buying safe herbs and spices? Take it on a case by case basis or only buy from one brand. I personally like McCormick spice because they state all of their single spices/herbs are gluten-free.|
Make sure to watch out for spice blends that might have non-gluten-free additives, and always check the label for may contain statements.
|Nuts and seeds||Nuts and seeds are naturally gluten-free. As always, watch out for cross-contact and any unsafe additives.|
|Beans||Beans are naturally gluten-free, just be cautious with dried beans because there can be a higher chance of cross-contact. And of course, always check the food label.|
Ingredients to avoid if you have celiac disease:
If you have celiac disease, remember the acronym “BROWS”. This stands for Barley, Rye, Oats (sometimes), Wheat, and Spelt, all of which are gluten grains that you need to avoid. The list and graphic below also helps define and dive into some specific foods to avoid if you have celiac.
Foods/ingredients to avoid if you have celiac disease:
- Bread (made from gluten grains)
- Pizza (made from gluten grains)
- Pastries (made from gluten grains)
- Beer (even if it’s gluten “removed”)
- Anything with wheat, barley, rye, oats (that aren’t certified gluten-free) and spelt. (“BROWS”).
- Graham flour
- Bread crumbs
- Brewer’s yeast
- Barley malt
- Malt vinegar
- Malt flavoring
Foods that can have hidden gluten:
|Sauces / salad dressings||Sauces and salad dressings often have gluten hidden in them. Flour can be used to thicken sauces and dressings making them unsafe. Additionally, they can have questionable or unsafe ingredients, meaning always read the food label.|
|Fried food||Fried food is often a big source of gluten cross-contact. Why? Because often things that are fried share the same oil. Meaning they could have fried breaded onion rings in the same fryer and oil as your french fries.|
Take home message: be careful and ensure your fried food is coming from a dedicated fryer.
|Soups||Soups can have a lot in them that make them unsafe but one of the biggest culprits is flour. Thick creamy soups often made thick and creamy with the help of flour. Always check the label or ask if the soup was thickened with flour.|
|Packaged meat (meat with a nutrition label)||Any meat that comes in a package with an ingredient label should be checked. Look to see if there is a gluten-free claim, if not, check for questionable ingredients like dextrins, starches, soy sauce, spices, broths, and smoke flavoring.|
|Seasonings||Sometimes seasonings and spice blends can have gluten-containing ingredients. Things like smoke flavor can be made with barley for example. Always check the label.|
|Brown rice syrup||Brown rice syrup can be made with barley so be sure to check.|
|Distilled alcohol||Distilled alcohols with no additives are considered to be celiac-safe but always check to make sure nothing was added back in.|
|Soy sauce||Soy sauce is often fermented with wheat, making it not gluten-free. Make sure to get gluten-free soy sauce or tamari.|
|Plant-based protein||A lot of plant-based protein contain gluten and gluten grains. Seitan, for example, is a plant-based protein made entirely of gluten. Always check the label when buying meat alternatives or make your own (like I do with tofu)!|
|Broth||Broths can be gluten-free but also can not be gluten-free. Always check the food label for unsafe or questionable ingredients.|
|Barley Malted foods||Malted foods are made with barley and not safe (even if it has a gluten-free claim). This includes barley malt, barley malt extract, and barley malt syrup.|
A starting point…
Hopefully, this post serves as a good starting point for helping you determine what is and isn’t safe to eat if you have celiac disease. As always, working with a dietitian who specializes in celiac disease can really help with building your confidence and tailoring your diet to your needs. Lastly, please don’t ever skip out on reading a food label. Reading food labels is so important for staying safe with celiac disease.
Lastly, often people with celiac disease have food sensitivities as they are recovering their small intestine (and sometimes beyond that). Keep in mind that not everyone’s gluten-free diet will look the same and working with a Dietitian to determine if you have any food sensitivities can be so helpful.