Ready for my simple guide to what to avoid and what to eat for gluten intolerance? Read more below!

Foods to Avoid

What foods are high in gluten? Whole grains definitely top the list. For decades, there has been a growing emphasis on whole grains in the American diet. We’ve always been told that they are full of fiber, nutrients and should be consumed multiple times every day. There are a few reasons why this is true: Whole grains are cheap to produce, shelf-stable, can easily be shipped and stored and are used to make various processed products that have a big profit margin.

All things considered, the nutrient density for grains is pretty low, especially when you consider the bioavailability of their nutrients. Many of the vitamins or minerals that are present in grains cannot actually be utilized by the body because of the presence of anti-nutrients, including gluten, described earlier.

While whole grains are a part of some of the healthiest diets in the world (like the Mediterranean diet), they’re also usually balanced by plenty of nutrient-dense foods including healthy fats (like beneficial olive oil), vegetables, protein and fruit. Grains can certainly play their role in a balanced diet, but overall they are somewhat of a suboptimal food source when compared to more nutrient-dense foods like grass-fed animal products, fish, vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts. Therefore, having them less often than other sources of carbohydrates (like starchy veggies or fruit, for example) is a smart idea.

When consumed in moderation by people without gluten intolerance, it’s possible that whole wheat diets can lower inflammation, may reduce all-cause mortality (death), are correlated with less risks for or deaths from heart disease, might lower the risk of diabetes and could support a healthy weight. 

Even grains that don’t contain gluten — like corn, oats and rice — do have proteins that are similar in structure to gluten, so even these can cause an immune response in some people. Many people feel better without any gluten, grains or legumes in their diets, but they wouldn’t even know this because they have never experienced an extended period of time without eating these foods. You may want to try a grain-free diet to test this, which involves removing all grains, gluten-free or not.

Wondering what foods to avoid with gluten intolerance? In addition to avoiding the more obvious grain culprits like wheat, rye and barley, there are also some unexpected places gluten can be hiding so check your labels:

  • Canned soups
  • Beer and malt beverages
  • Flavored chips and crackers
  • Salad dressings
  • Soup mixes
  • Store-bought sauces
  • Soy Sauce
  • Deli/processed meat
  • Ground spices
  • Certain supplements. Is glutamine gluten-free? Turns out, many glutamine supplements are derived from wheat.

Best Foods to Eat

In general, you’re going to want to look for foods that are labeled as certified gluten-free, as this ensures that a product is free from gluten as well as cross-contamination.

If you’re mostly healthy and do choose to eat grains, try to focus on eating gluten-free grains like rice, gluten-free oatsbuckwheat, quinoa and amaranth. It’s also a good idea to properly prepare grains (especially types that contain gluten) by soaking, sprouting and fermenting them. Sprouting grain helps improve nutrient bioavailability, reduces the presence of gluten and other inhibitors, and makes them more digestible. Look for sourdough or sprouted grain breads (like Ezekiel bread),which are better tolerated than ordinary wheat-flour breads.

These are some naturally gluten-free foods that are nutrient-rich and can help you consume a well-rounded diet while avoiding gluten:

  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Brown rice
  • Amaranth
  • Sorghum
  • Teff
  • Gluten-free oats
  • Millet
  • Nut flours (like coconut and almond flour)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Beans and legumes
  • High quality organic meats and poultry
  • Wild-caught seafood
  • Raw/fermented dairy products like kefir