For coeliacs and those with a gluten intolerance, even small amounts of gluten can result in lots of pain (and worse). But it’s not always obvious which foods you should avoid. That’s why I created a list you can easily check and download.
Here’s my guide to gluten-free food, and a printable gluten-free food checker to help you out. As always, if I’ve missed anything or you just want to get in touch, please do – I’d love to hear from you.
Foods that could catch you out
Lots of people wonder if they can eat oats, barley, buckwheat, rye and spelt on a gluten-free diet. Here’s a list you can refer to easily (I’ve bookmarked this so I can get to it whenever I need to check something):
- Amaranth – gluten-free
- Barley – contains gluten
- Buckwheat – gluten-free
- Bulgur – contains gluten
- Corn – gluten-free
- Couscous – contains gluten
- Gluten-free oats – should be fine for most coeliacs
- Millet – gluten-free
- Oats – contain a protein similar to gluten, so treat with caution
- Quinoa – gluten-free
- Rice – gluten-free*
- Rye – contains gluten
- Sorghum – gluten-free
- Spelt – contains gluten
- Teﬀ – gluten-free
- Wheat – contains gluten
*Glutinous rice does not contain gluten, despite the confusing name, but you still may be sensitive to it.
Convenience foods and takeaways
Of course, bread, pizza, naan, and cakes contain gluten. But there are several things that could catch you out when you’re not expecting it.
Look for soy sauce, battered and breaded food, pastry, glutinous rice (glutinous rice does not contain gluten, despite the confusing name, but you still may be sensitive to it), flour tortillas, flatbreads (including rotis / chappatis) and doughs when you’re eating out.
Always check – even if the menu says ‘gluten-free’.
I recently found out that the ‘coeliac’ fish and chips I’ve been buying locally is sometimes cooked in the same oil as the regular batter.
Beers, ales and lagers often contain barley, and therefore gluten. Look out too for malted drinks and barley water.
Vodka and gin may cause sensitivity, despite assertions that distillation removes the gluten. It’s best to choose certified gluten-free drinks.
Sauces and condiments
Soy sauce often contains gluten, but the good news is that you can buy gluten-free tamari to use at home. I’m addicted to this stuff; I add it to miso soup and Thai-style curries, roast veg, and salad dressings for a salty kick.
Cheese sauce, and other sauces with a roux (flour and fat) base, such as parsley sauce and white sauce, are a definite no-no when you’re eating out. At home, you can make a perfectly serviceable roux with gluten-free flour.
Tortillas and wraps usually contain gluten, although corn tortillas and tortilla chips typically don’t contain gluten (corn is gluten-free). Check the label or ask the cook.
Gravy often contains gluten, particularly when you’re eating out. At home, you can make your own wonderful veg-based gravy, which is delicious and easier to make. Be careful when you’re eating out, though.
Other foods to watch out for
Stuffing, nut roasts (and meat loaf) and vegetarian sausages typically contain gluten.
Yorkshire puddings and toad-in-the-hole will almost certainly contain gluten, and sometimes stews are thickened with flour.
Miso sometimes contains gluten or wheat – check the label.
Oats are worth buying certified gluten-free if you’re sensitive.
Malt vinegar contains barley, and therefore gluten.
Watch out for anything labelled as ‘crispy’. Hash browns, veggie burgers and falafel may be bound together with wheat flour. Ask the cook about anything crispy and fried, e.g. onion bhajis, and flaky treats such as baklava.
Don’t worry – gluten-free food is delicious!
Being gluten-free isn’t a fad. It can be a big pain (literally and figuratively) in the butt. It means checking everything you eat when you’re out, and it’s easy to accidentally poison yourself at home. Hopefully my gluten-free food checker will help!
I’ve listed quite a few delicious foods that you can’t eat if you’re gluten-free. But don’t worry! There’s lots of lovely food you and your loved ones can eat. After a while, I promise you won’t even miss it.
Gluten-free cooking is delicious, and I find that cooking gluten-free alternatives at home gives me the opportunity to consciously choose quality ingredients – such as dates and nuts instead of processed sugar and flour – for my dishes.
Check out my recipes for gluten-free alternatives. I never cook with gluten – and I don’t miss it!
Have you quit gluten? Let me know! I’d love to hear from you.