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Gluten Intolerance & Allergy Diet Guide

Updated on July 7, 2015
Chris Telden profile image

Living with food allergies - both her own and her family's - has driven Chris Telden's lifelong interest in diet, health and cooking.

This is a list of foods containing gluten for people with a gluten intolerance or allergy. You'll find foods to avoid and safe foods.

Eating a gluten-free diet is a challenge, and not just because as a person with a sensitivity to gluten, you're restricted in what you can eat. Sure, it's hard to avoid eating your favorite wheat-based foods, like wheat pasta and wheat bread. And keeping trace amounts of gluten-containing grains out of your recipes is difficult. But the real problem that stumps many celiac patients and sufferers of gluten intolerance is that "gluten-free" is not the same as "wheat-free."

There are other, less common grains you must avoid, many of which occur as hidden ingredients in prepackaged foods. Here you will learn which grains you can't eat, and the foods that are derived from those grains so you can avoid them, too.

Since gluten may "hide" in some prepared and prepackaged foods, you need to know the ingredients of everything you put in your mouth - which is hard when there is no label or when there are different labeling conventions in different countries and by different food manufacturers.

This List Doesn't Include Every Gluten-Free Product

This list of gluten-free foods and products you should avoid on a gluten-free diet is designed to help you make safe food choices. It's not exhaustive.

A complete list could fill up a book - like Living Gluten-Free for Dummies - which tells you pretty much all you need to know about what to stay away from and what is allowed. I've read it from cover to cover and found it very clearly written with some advice you wouldn't think of for surviving and even enjoying meals without gluten. I especially like that the author has personal experience with the subject. (This book wasn't a "reviewer's freebie" - I received it as a gift from my mother when we were exploring gluten free diets. If you are concerned about bias in this review, see my disclosure regarding compensation for this article.)

Rather than try to gather a complete list, which would be insanely long, I've included here some of the major categories of edibles and products a person with an intolerance, sensitivity or allergy should avoid. There are also tips on making sure the food you're eating is really gluten-free.

List of Foods to Avoid on a Gluten-Free Diet

Major Grains That Contain Gluten

  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Triticale
  • Spelt (a type of wheat)
  • Kamut (a type of wheat)
  • Semolina (a type of wheat)
  • Durham (a type of wheat)
  • Faro (a type of wheat)
  • Oats (Oats do not contain gluten naturally, but may be cross-contaminated with wheat due to being grown on the same farmland. Oats certified gluten-free, such as those by Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Oats, are stated to not have that risk.

Foods That Usually Contain Gluten-Containing Grains:

  • Bread
  • Cake
  • Crackers
  • Cookies
  • Pasta and Noodles
  • Pie
  • Cheesecake
  • Beer (contains malt)
  • Frozen meals
  • Candies (may be dusted with wheat flour)
  • Gravies
  • Oatmeal
  • Granola
  • Soy sauce
  • Teriyaki
  • Cheese or Alfredo Sauces
  • Pizza
  • Seitan
  • Breakfast Cereal (cold)
  • Malt (a product of barley and used as a sweetener in many products)

Foods to Be Wary Of: Check the Label or Ask for a List of Ingredients

  • food starch
  • modified food starch (though in U.S. is usually made with corn, it may be made with wheat)
  • ground spices (wheat may be used as a filler)

Baking Without Wheat: Gluten-Free Baking Flours

You can bake delicious gluten-free breads, pastries and desserts. Some of them won't taste any different from wheat-based recipes. Others--particularly shortbread cookies and yeast bread--may have a grainy texture or seem dense instead of light. Either way, you won't feel deprived.

Be sure to use gluten-free vanilla and other flavorings as well as gluten-free baking powder.

Baking without wheat is made possible by the use of gluten-free flour mixes. Gluten free flour mixes generally contain at least one base flour, such as rice flour, sorghum flour or bean flour, to form the body of the flour mix. Most mixes also contain a starch flour to lend tenderness, plus a binder such as guar gum or xantham gum to replace the binding quality of gluten in wheat.

The proportion should be just right for best results. Feel free to experiment. And there are many recipes for gluten-free flour mixes that you can use if you're on a budget.

Gluten-free Flour Recipe


  • 2 cups white rice flour (not the same as sweet rice flour)
  • 1/3 cup potato starch (not the same as potato flour)
  • 1/3 cup tapioca starch (tapioca flour is the same as tapioca starch).

Or, you can buy pre-blended gluten free flour mixes for the ultimate in convenience.

The types of flours that go into a gluten-free flour mix include:

  • brown rice flour
  • white rice flour
  • sweet rice flour (which is more starchy than white rice flour)
  • potato starch
  • potato flour (not the same as the starch--has a stronger flavor and more body)
  • water chestnut flour (can be found in some Asian grocery stores)
  • tapioca flour
  • corn flour (masa)
  • bean flour
  • sorghum flour
  • coconut flour (best used in small quantities, as it is very high in fiber and needs lots of liquid when used)

Poll: How Long Were You On a Gluten Free Diet Before You Knew?

How long were you (or the person with celiac disease or intolerant of gluten) on a gluten-free diet before you were sure the culprit was gluten?

See results

List of Foods Permitted on the Gluten-Free Diet

Foods you may wonder about, but are okay to eat, include:

  1. Glutinous rice (Despite the name, glutinous rice contains no gluten.)
  2. White rice flour
  3. Brown rice flour
  4. Sweet rice flour
  5. Sorghum flour
  6. Potato flour
  7. Potato starch
  8. Tapioca starch
  9. Water chestnut starch
  10. Cornstarch (although some people who are allergic to gluten are also allergic to corn)
  11. Garbanzo bean flour (and other legume-based flours)
  12. Coconut flour
  13. Brown rice pasta
  14. Rice noodles (the delicate vermicelli and ribbon noodles available in Asian grocery stores)

Do Food Labels Reliably Reveal Gluten-Containing Ingredients?

Food labels for products made by U.S. manufacturers and packaged by U.S. companies must comply with the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004. 

This means the labels must specify all the major allergens present in the product among them wheat.  There are strict rules about when "gluten-free" can and can't be applied. 

Still, other countries don't necessarily have the same laws and regulations.  And not every food comes with labels.  Food labels help, but aren't the definitive solution to eating gluten-free.

Poll: How Do You Stay Gluten-Free?

Do you prefer to make your own flour mix, or do you buy pre-packaged?

See results

Gluten-Free Breakfast Cereals

Cold breakfast cereals are another food oft missed by celiacs and those intolerant of gluten. 

You don't have to give up cold breakfast cereals, though.  With gluten-free oats, you can make your own gluten-free granola

And though they can be expensive, you can also buy gluten-free cold cereals that are quite good at the store.

Gluten-Free Cookies

Gluten-free cookies can be very good...or rather mediocre. They tend to be grainy. The best gluten-free cookie recipes are for cookies that are meant to be grainy and dissolve in the mouth, such as shortbread cookies.

Good gluten-free recipes for cookies call for flour mixes that use a substantial amount of starch and a gum such as guar gum or xantham gum.  They also usually require the addition of eggs to help smooth the batter and bind the cookies.

With a good gluten-free flour mix that contains a straight starch as one ingredient and guar or xantham gum as another, some cookie recipes can be converted from wheat-based to gluten-free without any changes in measurements. Buttery spritz recipes work very well.

As for gluten-free cookies that are pre-packaged, the author of this article adores Pamela's gluten-free cookies, but isn't so fond of gluten-free ginger snaps.

Gluten Intolerance and Allergy Diet

Those with celiac disease or an intolerance of gluten will benefit from slowing down, reading labels, and gaining control of their diets.  Avoiding gluten can be accomplished by fixing your own baked goods, choosing rice-based pasta, and generally paying attention to every single ingredient that goes into the foods you buy.  I hope this list helped you figure out how to feed you and your gluten-free family member.  Good luck, and enjoy your food!


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    • OTmommy profile image

      OTmommy 8 years ago from Southern USA

      What an informative hub! I am an OT who works with many children diagnosed with autism who are on a gluten-free diet. I will have to share this with some of my clients! Also, my own children have food allergies, so I am familiar with many of the foods you discussed. I also like the cake, pancake, icing, and cookie mix from Cherrybrook Kitchen (R), because they are gluten, nut, egg, and dairy free.