Gluten-Free Diets – What to Eat

Gluten Free Foods – What You CAN and CAN’T Eat

The Key to Success of Gluten-free Diets?

You must know where gluten resides as well as where it hides!

Gluten is present in many grains and starches, as shown in the following table:


Contains Gluten Gluten-free


Wheat germ

Wheat grass






Graham flour









Oat bran*

Oat fiber*
















Nut flours

* controversial due to contamination

Foods That Often Contain Gluten:

  • Malt, typically from barley or corn
  • Malt vinegar – contains barley
  • Breading
  • Broth
  • Coating Mixes
  • Communion Wafers
  • Crab cakes
  • Croutons
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein- label will say “wheat”
  • Imitation Bacon
  • Imitation Seafood
  • Marinades
  • Meat Balls
  • Meat Loaf
  • Meat substitutes (Tofurky and others)
  • Monosodium glutamate
  • Pastas
  • Processed Meats
  • Rice Dream-processed w/ barley
  • Roux – a sauce base
  • Sauces
  • Sausages (some)
  • Seitan
  • Self-basting Poultry
  • Soup Bases
  • Soy-based veggie burgers
  • Soy sauce
  • Stuffings
  • Tamari
  • Textured vegetable protein- label will say “wheat”
  • Thickeners
  • Vital wheat gluten found in imitation meats


Beer is made from grains and thereby contains gluten.

Most other alcohols such as scotch, rye, and vodkas while made from grains that are glutinous, are distilled, which removes the gluten thereby making them safe to consume.

Do keep in mind that alcohol when mixed with gluten in food in the sensitive individual, seems to magnify the reaction and therefore should be avoided.

Further, many patients who have celiac disease or who are gluten sensitive have intestinal infections that creates a poor reaction to alcohol.

Always Read the Label

The key to understanding the gluten-free diet is to become a good ingredient label reader.

Foods with labels that list the following ingredients are questionable and should NOT be consumed unless you can verify they do not contain or are not derived from prohibited grains.

Remember you need to be gluten-free, not just wheat-free.

In the past, many products said they were gluten-free while having questionable ingredients. Today’s labeling laws have made that a distant memory fortunately. The biggest problems patients run into is “thinking” that a product “shouldn’t” contain gluten and thereby failing to read the label.

Don’t be fooled and compromise your health – always read the ingredient list carefully.

If in doubt, write to the company on-line. Most companies are very forthcoming with such information.

Below are some foods that frequently come up as a source of confusion for patients. This is the current information we have but ultimately it’s always about reading that label carefully:

• Blue Cheese – check with the company; many are fine but not all.

• Bran -while brain should be okay,  I would never eat wheat or oat bran unless the label specified that it was gluten-free.

• Brown Rice Syrup – frequently, but not always, made from barley and therefore not gluten-free.

•Caramel Color – infrequently made from barley, therefore usually safe.

• Dextrin – usually made from corn but may be derived from wheat – if so the label will state it clearly.

• Dry roasted nuts – processing agents may contain wheat.

• Emergen-C – raspberry and mixed berry flavors contain some gluten, the other flavors are fine.

• Flour or Cereal Products – all dependent on the source of the grain(s).

• Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP), Vegetable Protein, Hydrolyzed Plant Protein (HPP), Hydrolyzed Soy Protein or Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)- label will say “wheat” it if was made from it, otherwise it’s safe.

• Malt or Malt Flavoring -usually made from barley, therefore not safe.

• Malt Vinegar – this definitely contains gluten unless; watch for this in certain chips. Occasionally it’s made from corn, but typically it’s barley or a barley/corn blend, neither of which is okay. Apparently there are some manufacturers that distill their vinegar. A distilled product would be safe, but I have never yet seen it on a label. This is a tricky one because malt potato chips will not have gluten listed on the ingredient list.

• Modified Food Starch- label will say “wheat” if it’s made from it.

• Ricola cough drops – our most recent check had the company unable to verify a gluten-free status.

• Starch- label will say “wheat” if it is made from it, otherwise it’s safe.

• Soy Sauce or Soy Sauce Solids – these do contain gluten, wheat-free is available however.


Soy is considered an acceptable food for those who are gluten sensitive.

Traditional soy foods such as tofu, edamame, soy pods and some types of miso and tempeh are gluten-free.
Do read the label as grains or wheat-containing soy sauce can be added to miso and tempeh.

Unfortunately soy has some negative characteristics.
Soy foods are frequently genetically engineered plus are one of the most common sources of hidden gluten.
Seitan and most soy-based veggie burgers contain “vital wheat gluten” – the ingredient that gives these foods the texture and taste of meat. Soy sauce contains wheat and many Asian dishes have added soy sauce. Wheat-free tamari is available however for when you cook at home.

Further, despite being gluten-free, soy beans often provoke digestive bloating, gas and allergic symptoms.

This may be a true allergy or an intolerance created by genetic engineering.

Evaluate your tolerance to soy and if acceptable choose high-quality organic products (preferable fermented) and eat them in moderation.


Oats can be an area of confusion when trying to avoid gluten.

Many companies are advertising oats as gluten-free.

And there are some gluten free societies which will get quite impassioned when defending their ability to eat oats.

Others don’t recommend oats due to the problem of unacceptable levels of contamination.

Oat fields frequently have wheat or rye growing in them and therefore most oats, when assayed, show gluten contamination. And if the contamination doesn’t happen in the fields then it occurs in transport or at the manufacturing facility.

While we all agree that oats contains a different protein from wheat, rye and barley and is therefore not classically gluten, in practicality when a gluten intolerant person consumes “regular” oats they often react to them the same as if they were consuming gluten due to contamination.

So please only consume oats from a dedicated facility that guarantees they are gluten-free.

Fortunately there are some companies which recently started offering certified gluten-free oats. Bob’s Red Mill, Creamhill Estates and Gluten-free Oats all offer certified gluten-free oats. Bob’s Red Mill is found most easily in health food stores while the others are available on-line only at this time.

One caution with Bob’s Red Mill is that they offer gluten-free oats as well as oats that are NOT gluten-free. So ensure that the package you buy states specifically that it’s “gluten-free”.

Dentists & Hygienists

You may wonder what your semi-annual teeth cleaning has to do with your gluten-free diet. It turns out that the polish that a hygienist uses on your teeth as the final step to a cleaning often contains gluten.

I only discovered this after discussing my gluten intolerance with a very smart hygienist who knew that gluten was an ingredient in her polish. The good news is that there is a gluten-free polish. But you will need to remind your hygienist or dentist before you arrive to ensure they have it on hand.

The Final Word on Gluten-Free Diets

Certain ingredients have gotten a “bad rap” in the past and continue to appear on various sites as gluten-containing. We try to give you the latest information here so that you can have a reliable resource. This site is updated regularly to reflect changes as they occur.

To clear up any lingering confusion let’s review a few different ingredients that have gotten poor reviews, mostly unnecessarily:

• Mono and diglycerides – these are fats made from oil, usually soy, and act as emulsifiers. They are gluten-free.

• Maltodextrin – despite beginning with the word “malt” it is gluten-free, usually made from corn, unless stated otherwise. e.g. “wheat maltodextrin” or “maltodextrin (wheat)”.

• Glucose syrup and citric acid – even when derived from wheat these are highly processed with the final product being gluten-free. Both are usually made from corn.

• Modified food starch – in the past this was a source of gluten but currently, like maltodextrin, if it contains wheat the label will say so. Once again this is usually made from corn.

• Seasonings and spices – spices are pure and therefore gluten-free but seasonings are made from several ingredients and wheat can be one of them. It must be on the label however so read carefully. There have been more than a few run-ins with taco and chile seasoning packets that have created misery for patients that weren’t careful label readers.

• Dextrose is made from starch and is highly processed so even if it was made from wheat there would be no gluten remaining in the finished product.

Want “Cutting Edge” Information on Gluten?

We have a gluten blog where the latest information in the world of celiac disease and gluten intolerance is discussed.

Furthermore, we’ve written a book, “The Gluten Effect“, and we host an annual Gluten Sensitivity & Celiac Forum from which DVDs are produced.

We are here to educate and inform.

Please contact us for more information or to receive a free initial consultation.

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