I have celiac disease, and I find it difficult to get enough grains in my diet. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer From Michael F. Picco, M.D.

Because people with celiac disease must avoid gluten — a protein found in foods containing wheat, barley and rye — it can be challenging to get enough grains.

Grains are an important part of a healthy diet. A good source of healthy carbohydrates, various vitamins and minerals, and fiber, they're also naturally low in fat. When possible, choose foods made with enriched flours for added vitamins and minerals. Whole grains are even better for you. These include brown, black or wild rice, quinoa, amaranth, pure buckwheat, corn, cornmeal, popcorn, millet, gluten-free oats, sorghum and teff.

Many large grocery stores and specialty food stores carry ready-to-eat gluten-free grain products. The labels on such products will say "gluten-free." Consider the suggestions in the chart below for adding gluten-free grains to your diet.

Gluten-free grains and grain products* Serving size
*Products vary by manufacturer, so be sure that the brand you purchase is gluten-free
  • Breads, English muffins and bagels ready-made from rice, potato, bean, soy, corn, sorghum, teff or other flours
  • Frozen, gluten-free waffles
  • Gluten-free pizza crust made from a mix or frozen ready-made
  • Homemade breads, biscuits, pancakes, waffles, muffins or quick breads made from gluten-free flours
  • Corn tortillas
1 slice or piece
  • Cooked cereal made from corn (hominy, grits), rice, pure buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa or gluten-free oats
  • Gluten-free puffed rice
  • Gluten-free cornflakes, rice flakes, amaranth flakes or other dry cereals
  • Gluten-free granola
1/2 to 1 cup
  • Crackers or crispbreads made from rice or corn
  • Popcorn
  • Rice cakes
  • Pretzels made from gluten-free flours
  • Corn chips
1 oz. (check label)
  • Brown, wild or white rice
  • Pasta made from rice, corn, amaranth, quinoa or pure buckwheat
  • Kasha made with pure buckwheat
  • Corn
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
1/2 to 1 cup

Oats may not be harmful for most people with celiac disease. However, oat products are frequently contaminated with wheat. If your doctor or dietitian is okay with your trying oats, be sure to look for oats that are labeled gluten-free.

Most gluten-free grain products aren't fortified with vitamins, so it's a good idea to take a vitamin supplement.

Grain products that are not gluten-free include any type of wheat (including farina, graham flour, semolina and durum), barley, rye, bulgur, kamut, matzo meal, spelt, triticale, couscous, emmer and einkorn. These should be avoided.

Sept. 15, 2020