If you've been diagnosed with celiac disease, you'll need to avoid all foods that contain gluten. Ask your doctor for a referral to a dietitian, who can help you plan a healthy gluten-free diet. It's important to get enough vitamins, nutrients, fiber and calcium in your diet.
Here's an overview of foods that contain gluten and gluten-free foods that are safe to eat.
Avoid food and drinks containing:
- Graham flour
- Spelt (a form of wheat)
Packaged foods should be avoided unless they're labeled as gluten-free or have no gluten-containing ingredients. In addition to cereals, pastas and baked goods — such as breads, cakes, pies and cookies — other packaged foods that may contain gluten include:
- Imitation meats or seafood
- Processed luncheon meats
- Salad dressings and sauces, including soy sauce
- Self-basting poultry
Certain grains, such as oats, can be contaminated with wheat during growing and processing. Pure oats are not harmful for most people with celiac disease. In the United States, doctors generally recommend avoiding oats unless they have been specifically labeled gluten-free. Outside of the United States, different labeling laws for oats apply. Occasionally, even pure oats can be a problem for people with celiac disease.
Many basic foods are allowed in a gluten-free diet, including:
- Fresh meats, fish and poultry that aren't breaded, batter-coated or marinated
- Most dairy products
- Wine and distilled liquors, ciders and spirits
Grains and starches allowed in a gluten-free diet include:
- Gluten-free flours (rice, soy, corn, potato, bean)
- Pure corn tortillas
Carob is a potential substitute for gluten, but more research is needed about its effect on people with celiac disease.
Fortunately for bread and pasta lovers with celiac disease, an increasing number of gluten-free products are available. If you can't find any at your local bakery or grocery store, check online. There are gluten-free substitutes for many gluten-containing foods. However, be aware that processed gluten-free foods may contain excessive fat and calories.
It can be difficult, and stressful, to follow a completely gluten-free diet. Here are some ways to help you cope and to feel more in control.
- Get educated. Educate those around you — including family and friends — so they can recognize, acknowledge and support your efforts in dealing with the disease.
- Follow your doctor's recommendations. If you are diagnosed with celiac disease, it's necessary to maintain a totally gluten-free diet.
- Find a support group. It's helpful to know that you're not alone. You may find comfort in sharing your experience and struggles and meeting people who face similar challenges. Organizations such as the Celiac Disease Foundation, Gluten Intolerance Group, the Celiac Support Association and Beyond Celiac can help put you in touch with others who have had similar experiences and can understand what you're going through.