Top 10 tips for a gluten-free diet

Worried you have a gluten-intolerance? Already living with coeliac disease? If you're gluten-free these top tips from Coeliac UK will help make the everyday a little easier...

Top 10 tips for a gluten-free diet

Coeliac disease is a lifelong, serious autoimmune disease caused by the immune system reacting to gluten - a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. The only treatment for the condition is a strict gluten-free diet for life.

For those newly diagnosed with the condition, the prospect of a strict gluten-free diet may seem daunting at first; but armed with the right knowledge, the gluten-free diet can be relatively easy to adapt to. Here are Coeliac UK's top 10 tips for everyday eating...

 

check labels

1. Get used to reading food labels when you shop.

All packaged food in the UK and the EU is covered by a law on allergen labelling, meaning you can tell whether or not a product is suitable for a gluten-free diet by reading the ingredients list. If a cereal containing gluten has been used as an ingredient in the product, it must be listed in the ingredients list (no matter how little is used).

The specific grain will be listed, so look out for mentions of wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, Kamut® or any other grain which has been made through breeding these together as these all contain gluten. Often, these ingredients will be highlighted in bold.

 

substitutes

2. Use gluten-free substitutes in place of gluten-containing foods

Pasta, bread and crackers all contain gluten, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy these foods in your diet.  Instead, switch to gluten-free alternatives of your favourite foods, which you will find in most supermarkets and health food stores. Gluten-free substitute foods include pasta, bread, crackers, bread rolls, cereals and more. Those medically diagnosed with coeliac disease can receive some gluten-free staple food on prescription from the NHS.

 

naturally gluten-free

3. Remember lots of foods are naturally gluten-free

Fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, cheese and eggs are naturally gluten-free, so use these as the basis to your meals.

 

Quinoa

4. Enjoy naturally gluten-free grains and cereals. 

The gluten-free diet doesn’t mean that all grains and cereals are off the menu. Quinoa, teff, amaranth, polenta, buckwheat, corn, millet and tapioca are just some of the naturally gluten-free grains which can be included in the diet. Just check the labels to make sure you are using uncontaminated versions. Try swapping traditional breadcrumbs for polenta crumbs, opt for gluten-free buckwheat or rice noodles and pasta and try baking with quinoa for gluten-free alternatives.

 

 

5. Know which alcohol to avoidalcohol

Gluten-free alcohol includes cider, wine, sherry, spirits, port and liqueurs, but remember that beer, lagers, stouts and ales contain varying amounts of gluten and are not suitable for a gluten-free diet. Gluten-free beers are available in some supermarkets and restaurants, but make sure you only drink those that are labelled in this way.  

 

restaurant

6. Remember you can still enjoy meals out with family and friends

Being on a gluten-free diet doesn’t mean that you can’t eat out – check out Coeliac UK’s online venue guide to see where you can eat out gluten-free.

 

 

7. Be aware of cross contaminationCross contamination

Even a tiny bit of gluten can be enough to cause symptoms for someone with coeliac disease, so make sure you minimise the risk of cross contamination with gluten-containing foods.  Do this by washing down kitchen surfaces before use, using separate butters, spreads and jams to minimise the spread of crumbs and  invest in some toaster bags to keep your gluten-free bread separate.

 

 

Gravy8. Avoid sauces containing gluten

Lots of pasta sauces, gravies, stocks and condiments contain wheat flour, and therefore gluten, so ensure you read the label and exclude anything that isn’t suitable. Instead, try making your own pasta sauces and gravies using cornflour, arrowroot or potato starch to thicken them for a gluten-free option.

 

 

9. Experiment in the kitchenflour

Finding the right gluten-free substitute for your usual gluten-containing ingredients is a matter of personal taste, so spend time in the kitchen getting used to gluten-free flours and baking aids.

 

 

Coeliac10. Remember, gluten-free meals can be just as delicious and healthy too

Once diagnosed with coeliac disease, you can start to make positive changes to your diet to improve your health. Join Coeliac UK for support to help you adjust, which includes a Food and Drink Directory listing products to help you get started in the kitchen.

 

Coeliac disease affects 1 in 100 people in the UK, yet only 10 to 15% of those with the condition have received a diagnosis. Coeliac UK is the national charity for people with coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) and offers help, advice and support.

Find out more about the work we do at coeliac.org.uk or call the Helpline on 0845 305 2060.

This article was last reviewed on 26th March 2015 by nutritional therapist Kerry Torrens.

Do you have coeliac disease or suspect you may have a gluten intolerance? Share your top tips for living gluten-free below...

 

Comments, questions and tips

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Sloeberry 77
12th Apr, 2016
Over the last couple of years Ive not really felt myself. Ive been getting water infections,depression, stomach pains, lack of energy and nausea. Ive been to the doctors several times but the cant find a problem. I decided to try not eating anything containing wheat this weekend and im amazed at how different I feel already. Problem is im also vegetarian and Im worried that if it is wheat that's the problem then im going to struggle to find a suitable diet for myself. Are there any tests that I could do to see if Wheat is the problem.
maggie101
25th Oct, 2016
It might also be worth getting your B12 levels tested. This is a simple blood test you can get done at the Dr's. Though if it comes back as normal ask for the actual reading as they are often unreliableI have had really big problems with fatigue, depression, IBS, anxiety, and other symptoms, and have been back and forth to the Dr's for years. They blamed it on Menopause. I was eventually diagnosed with CFS. after doing lots of research myself I disovered it was actually Pernicious Anaemia caused by B12 Deficiency. I have recently had B12 jabs and self medicate with Sublingual Methycobalamin(B12) daily (as the jabs are not enough to stop the symptoms. The reason for the deficency is malabsorbtion. Pernicious Aneamia can be very nasty as it progresses slowly and is often misdiagnosed. Also the blood tests are often sited as normal when they are not.
chaloa
17th May, 2016
Your GP should be able to do a simple blood test to see if you are coeliac (Coeliac is an autoimmune disease where gluten in food attacks the lining of the small intestine) So if you think you may be, definitely get yourself checked out. it may be that you have a slight gluten intolerance as most things with gluten in are man-made and therefore sometimes just don't agree with you! I've had all sorts of tests over the years to see what mine was and after trying gluten free, Paleo, Fod-map and all sorts it was actually found that I was PCOS! so ring your GP and make an appointment :)
S.J.V. Swailes.
24th Jan, 2016
As a newcomer to this site I will really appreciate all the tips and recipes as I am also a newcomer to the gluten free diet ! I have noticed that there are very few ORGANIC gluten free products on the shelves of (in the UK and France) supermarkets, nor indeed Health Food shops. I would be really interested to hear of other people's experiences of trying to find organics . Thank you.
febevaes
1st Dec, 2015
These are useful tips for people who have an intolerance to gluten or people who suffer from a wheat allergy. They remind you of the good things that you can do even if you follow this diet. I think it's a good forum. It offers you a positive outlook on the diet!
TheEightHours's picture
TheEightHours
8th Oct, 2015
Did you know October is National Celiac Awareness Month? We rounded up our favourite GF recipes: https://theeighthours.wordpress.com/2015/10/08/happy-celiac-month/
TheEightHours's picture
TheEightHours
8th Mar, 2015
Handy tips. I have recently been diagnosed with gastro-paresis and part of that includes living gluten free amongst other intolerances so it's been a big lifestyle change but we've found inspiration and fun recipes so you can still enjoy food. https://theeighthours.wordpress.com/2015/03/08/smash-your-avocado/
Dreamer13
3rd Sep, 2016
I've been suffering with stomach cramps bloating low energy and bubbling sensation I in my bowels for a long time I've switched to gluten free now mainly bread crisp breads and cereals I'm no longer in pain or bloat wondering if this was a sign that I have some intolerance this is new to me
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goodfoodteam
8th Sep, 2016
Hi there, thank you for your question. We cannot provide specific nutritional or health advice and would always recommend consulting a health professional to find the best diagnosis and treatment for any symptoms.
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