Help for Those New to the Gluten-Free Diet

You just found out you have celiac disease. It is overwhelming. You have a disease and you can’t eat wheat. You wonder, “What can I eat?” Food is near and dear to most of our hearts, but even if you’re not that fond of it, you still have to eat, so let’s talk about the gluten-free diet.

First, try to focus on what you can eat, rather than focusing on what you can’t eat. You can eat everything that does not contain wheat, rye, barley, and sometimes oats.

Fresh, unprocessed foods such as:

Fruits and vegetables (I won’t make a list, but that’s a lot of food!)
Fresh meat
Milk
Eggs
Plain rice

As for processed foods, learn to read labels. Wheat has to be declared in the list of ingredients or in an allergy line below the ingredients. That means that almost everything that contains gluten will say so on the label. Rye is pretty obvious in things such as rye bread. Barley most often comes up in malt flavoring, such as in cereals.

There are many gluten-free choices in the following categories, just check the label for the brand your store carries.

Canned fruits and vegetables
Frozen fruits and vegetables
Tomato sauces such as spaghetti sauce
Other pasta sauces
Canned beans and refried beans
Canned meats such as tuna and salmon
Condiments
Salad dressings
Seasonings
Chips (potato and corn based)
Juice and other drinks
Cheese
Yogurt
Hot dogs
Ham
Other processed meat

There are some great gluten-free pasta choices. Tinkyada and Pastariso are brands I particularly like. I can find Tinkyada in the health food isle of my local Giant grocery store. They also carry Enviro Kids cereals. Health food stores are a great resource and carry a selection of gluten-free pastas and cereals.

If you’re new to this, you’re probably wondering about oats. Pure oats are safe for most celiacs. According to Dr. Alessio Fasano, 5-6% of celiacs do not tolerate pure oats. Pure oats are those grown in such a way to avoid contamination with wheat. You can find oats labeled gluten-free at health food stores and on the Internet. Cream Hill Estates is a brand I have used. Oats found at a regular grocery store are likely to be heavily contaminated with wheat. That would also be true of processed foods containing oats, even if the other ingredients are gluten-free, unless pure oats have been used.

Are you new to the gluten-free diet? Leave a comment or send and email and let me know how it’s going for you.




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Comments

  1. Misc. Muse says:

    thank-you. ds son 29 has this, just diagnois last yr but I think he has had it since he was 5.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I want to thank you for this website. I have many friends with various allergies (lactose intolerance, allergic to milk protein, nut allergies, and more recently gluten allergies). I try to have a store of recipes on hand, and an awareness of everything I cook and every ingredient. I love food, and love having dinner parties. This website is very useful. I appreciate all you do to maintain it. Thanks!

  3. I love getting comments like that, so thanks for taking the time to leave one. It means a lot.

  4. Eleanor says:

    Hi Linda,
    Just wanted to thank you for this comprehensive site. I still don't know for sure what is up with my son (32 months old) and gluten but we noticed he was having issues with his nose and that it was always far worse when he was eating.

    So just a couple of days ago I got some basic supplies in (bread, pasta and flour) and have kept him off the gluten since Sunday night. He is sleeping better, his nose no longer bothers him and he's less grumpy too!

    I'm trying to get back to the doctor before Christmas so we can find out for sure one way or another but I really appreciated your explanation about the deal with oats (hence this comment.)

    I was a bit stuck for what to give him for breakfast yesterday so having been told that oats would be fine, I made him some porridge. I couldn't understand why this troubled him but it did. And thanks to what you wrote, I can now see why ;)

    Thank you again,
    Eleanor

  5. Eleanor, Thanks for your comments. It is such an encouragement to know that my blog helps people. I'm glad you are finding some answers for your son.

  6. sharlene says:

    I am trying to get new recipes and new ideas of where to find things my son can eat! Any tips are great!! Thanks

  7. Anonymous says:

    I am so excited that I found this site! My six year old daughter was just diagnosed with celiac disease a week ago. I have been scouring the web for a comprehensive site. I'm not sure how strict we need to be with the diet since she doesn't have any symptoms! We did a blood test on her because she is pretty skinny. No fat just pure muscle. The blood test came back positive with celiac. Gluten never gave her stomach problems, irritability,etc. We were shocked! Any idea on how to tackle this?. Can you test positive but not really have a problem with gluten? Or maybe lack of weight gain is her symptom?…
    Janna

  8. Janna, That's one of the interesting things about celiac disease. Some people don't have obvious symptoms and other people have lots of them. There is always an autoimmune reaction including intestinal damage going on, however. She should stick to a strict gluten free diet regardless of obvious symptoms (and yes, lack of weight gain is a symptom). Many times there are more subtle symptoms going on that don't show up for years such as osteoporosis. In addition, triggering an autoimmune reaction could make her more likely to develop other autoimmune diseases. I hope that helps, and good luck with the diet!

  9. Thank Heaven for you and your website! I have been voraciously reading your posts this am.
    I was tested for celiac disease about 4 weeks ago, because my youngest daughter is suspected of having it (waiting on her GI lab results after endoscopy) and since I carry many of the symptoms, I was tested also. My blood tests were neg. for the antibodies but my doctor recommended following a GF diet anyway because I am sensitive to breads, beer and most baking.
    I have been feeling better and better each day as I eliminate gluten. I find though, that I have been consuming the hidden glutens in products. It seems each subsequent exposure to increasingly smaller doses of gluten has me return to “less than health” much more rapidly than before. I hope to get this down pat before my DD starts her GFree diet!
    Thank you for all your tips, lists and links.
    Holly.

    • Holly, thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m so glad I can be of help to you. What I found was that when I went gf, I became much more sensitive to gluten. For several years I would react to the smallest amount. But after being very careful and staying gluten free, I then became less sensitive. Not that it is a reason to be less careful, but it’s nice that I don’t react so easily. My 20 year old son went gluten free last fall. Like you his tests were negative, but he definitely reacts to gluten. He is now the sensitive one and reacts easily.

  10. Tonya Craft says:

    Thank you so much for this website. I was diagnosed about 3 weeks ago. I had never heard of Celiac. This has really helped me understand what is going on with my body. Since going gluten free, there has been a huge decrease in my symptoms. While feeling better, I have eaten things with gluten several times each time the symptoms would come back. I have learned my lesson. But, it is so expensive to eat GF. I thought I needed to eat what I had first. Any suggestions on how to save money while eating GF? Once I give it time and heal, will I ever be able to just eat one meal with gluten? I am the first in my family to have this and no one knows anything about eating GF. I am trying to learn. However, being 41, I have a lifetime of habits to change. For instance, things to take for lunch has been challenging. I am a teacher and need something easy. Any suggestions? I use to eat sandwiches or frozen meals. Again, thank you for your website. I will visit it often.

  11. Iam new at this. I was very tired and could sleep all day, found out i anemic they ran me through all kinds of test {i have been like this for years} and nothing showed up . I was rather blunt with my doc about all the test and that they wanted to run more, he said sue i want you to go home and look up celiac or gluten intolerant and give it a chance. So i did. First i found it real expensive even though i was feeling better i slipped thinking it wasn’t that big of a deal, thats when i relized how important it was we have a little store that sells food in bulk and have a huge selection of gluten free items i have a cuboard full of differant flours and iam learning to bake it is kind of fun kind of like starting over and i feel good doing it . I have alot to learn .I need to learn more of how to read lables , and some of the names for gluten

  12. here is something i dont understand when i am making breakfast for my family i am not suppose to use the same knife to butter my toast as theres, also i should place it in a differant place than theres.although it made in the same toaster. I do believe in this ‘as this happened and i was blouted all night is this why? i need to understand this a little more on how carefull i need to be i like feeling good i havent had this for a long time so i need to know what to watch for please help thanks

    • Hi Sue. You want to avoid any way that crumbs from wheat bread could get on your gluten free bread. That means you should not use the same toaster, butter, jelly, mayonnaise, peanut butter, etc. I would start with getting a separate toaster and a separate butter dish. Condiments can easily be labeled. We use a Sharpie to mark GF on condiments that are not to be used with wheat bread. Another option is to have people use a clean knife or spoon to take what butter, mayo, etc. they will use and then NOT put that utensil back in after they have used it to spread on the wheat bread.

  13. Since I have started gluten free I do feel better ,but I am starving all the time I gained weight I dont want to do that . Am I doing something wrong ? Why am i so hungery?

    • Hi Sue. My guess is that you probably had intestinal damage that was keeping your body from absorbing all the nutrients it needs. As it heals, you are digesting your food better and your body is trying to catch up. You could also be gaining weight if you are buying gluten free baked goods which usually contain more calories than their gluten filled counterparts. Stick to nutritious whole foods as much as possible.

  14. Thankyou. there is so much to learn ,and i know i have to stick with this and my family is very supportive as long as i make my husband a regular good old choc cake once in a while. and you are probably right i have been eating more breads and baked goods i have been expermenting i will have to try something different instead of baked goods.

  15. Im so excited to find our website and am anxious to try some of the recipes. I got a neg blood test for Celiacs but the biopsy was positive. I’m very sick with an iron deficiency from the celiacs. I’m getting my daughter tested this week.

  16. I was feeling so good on this , but its hard to do when your the only one eating this way . I need to get back at it I feel sick again , and I know what I Ihave to do . I will have some time off work here and I need to start making my own bread , and many other things to help myself. My sugar counts have gone back up, I feel bulouted again, and I can sleep all the time what is the matter with me why cant I stay with something that makes me feel so good . I must really be lazy.

    • Sue, most people have to go through a grieving process when they lose something–even food. Sometimes it helps to simply recognize that and grieve so that you can let go and move on. It’s also hard to make the extra effort to eat gluten free when you are not feeling well. You might want to try looking for a support group in your area. I hope you are back on track and feeling well again soon!

      • i did some research on your site and found some recipies that my whole family will like . this i think will help . i thankyou so much its nice to have some to chat with , when your family trys to understand but they realy dont i seem to feel better from being on this only one day again i know i can do it

  17. why do you have to use all these different flours , rice , sorgum , potato ect. same with the starches you have tapioca , corn ect. and when and why do i know the time to use these expecially when i am doing a make over dish what will happen if i use the wrong flour or starch

    • Sue, no one flour works well as a replacement for wheat flour. Most recipes require a starch to help lighten it. Different starches work slightly differently. Using a combination of flours and starches works best because you get different benefits from different flours and combined they produce a good result. There is no exact science to it. Some times you just have to experiment. When starting out and converting old recipes it helps to use a flour mix. You can buy them or make your own. This post gives a couple of flour mix recipes that I have used successfully. http://glutenfreehomemaker.com/2009/03/gluten-free-flour-mixes/

  18. Iam back on track and feeling well. But Iam so exited i changed a regular recipie to gluten free and Oh my is it good.
    corn bread
    1 cup all pur gf flour 2 eggs
    1 cup tapioca starch 1 cup milk
    1 cup corn meal 1/3 cup oil
    2/3 cup sugar
    1 tsp sea salt
    3 1/2 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp xanthan gum
    pre heat oven 400* 10″ cast iron skellet coat with oil and put in the oven while it is preheating. In large bowl combine all dry ingredients then add wet ingredients mix just untill combined pour into hot cast iron skellet bake 20 to 25 min until golden brown center comes out clean with tooth pick
    I am real proud of this you can not tell the difference

    • the eggs milk and oil are your wet ingredients some how they got put up with the top sorry kind of new at computers but i am having fun

    • Great job converting the recipe! I love cornbread baked in an iron skillet. Having a food like cornbread to eat can make the adjustment easier.

  19. Melissa says:

    My 14 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with Celiac after a year of stomachs pains, headaches, extreme fatigue, dangerously low blood pressure etc. I kept searching for answers as to what was wrong with my baby. The Dr.s determined it was just extreme hypotension (to which she’s on medication). I wasn’t satisfied with just that answer. So, I started watching what she was eating about 2 months ago. Sure enough after two nights of pasta she was bed bound. I called the Dr.s office first thing in the morning and told them to test her for a wheat allergy. She eventually had an endoscopy which did confirm Celiac and Gastritis. We just started a GF diet and your site is so informative! I am grateful to you and for all the effort you put into this site. Thank you!

    • Melissa, I’m so glad you were observant and persistent with the doctors. I hope your daughter is feeling much better soon, and I’m glad that I can help!

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