If you recently started a gluten-free diet, you might be confused about which foods are safe to eat and which are not. The gluten-free diet is one of the most complicated regimens around, especially since gluten can sneak up on you through the most unexpected ingredients. Generally, there is a long list of foods you should avoid, but there is also so much you can eat. Below, we have prepared the ultimate Gluten Free Food List for every food category.
Fruit and Vegetables
All fruits and vegetables are gluten-free, with very few exceptions. Processed fruits sold in jars can contain unsafe ingredients added during preservation, so you should check the ingredients. If your local store cuts up fruit and packs it into containers, confirm that the preparation is not done on the deli counter. This area creates a risk of cross-contamination from deli products like sandwiches. Here is a list of some vegetables and fruits you can safely enjoy on your gluten-free diet:
- Green beans
- Bell peppers
- Citrus fruits
- Starchy vegetables like squash, corn, and potatoes
- Greens, like kale and spinach
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower
Generally, fresh fish and meat are safe to consume on a gluten-free diet. This means you can eat fresh cuts of fish, turkey, chicken, lamb, pork, and beef as long as you source them from a local and trusted butcher or grocery store. That said, you should avoid poultry and meats that contain additional ingredients designed to make them ready to eat or ready to cook. The ingredients could contain gluten, especially when a store uses bread crumbs for this purpose. If a turkey or chicken contains a broth whose aim is to plump it up, it may not be safe for you.
Tip: Fresh meat could get contaminated when a butcher uses the same slicing machine to cut deli meats. Opt for pre-packaged meats instead of slabs sliced behind the counter.
Meat aside, all legumes are safe to eat, including all nuts and seeds. Here is a breakdown of the foods you can incorporate into your diet from this category:
- Fresh poultry, including turkey and chicken
- Traditional soy foods
- Legumes like peanuts, peas, lentils, and beans
- Fresh red meat, including bison, lamb, pork, and beef
- Nuts and seeds
- Seafood like shellfish, scallops, and fresh fish
Other Meat Products
By the 20 parts per million standards set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), many hams are considered gluten-free. However, only several of the offered options in the US are labeled gluten-free. Many hot dogs are also safe, including those produced by Applegate Farms, which come with a gluten-free label. This company also produces gluten-free bacon.
When it comes to sausage, however, you need to be very careful with the ingredient labels. Some companies use bread crumbs as a filler, contaminating the otherwise gluten-free pork.
Tip: Even sausage that does not contain gluten ingredients might have been manufactured using equipment that also produced gluten-containing sausage. You are safer buying sausage with a gluten-free label.
Ice Cream and Cheese
Most ice creams should be gluten-free but avoid flavors that contain dough or cookie chunks. It is probably best to avoid names like ‘Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough’ or ‘Cookies and Cream’ unless the label specifies that the ice cream is gluten-free.
Most cheeses are safe except for ‘beer-washed’ options and bleu cheese made with wheat as a catalyst. You can confirm the latter with the manufacturer.
Milk and Dairy Products
Most milk and dairy products are gluten-free, but you should be wary of flavored milk. Plain milk is always gluten-free, whether it is heavy cream, skim, or regular, but flavored options can contain unsafe ingredients. In this category, you want to avoid malted milk products since malt is produced with barley, which is a gluten grain. Safe products in this section include:
- Ghee and butter
- Cottage cheese
- Sour cream
- Plain yogurt
Note: Some yogurts contain granola and cookies, which contain gluten, so keep an eye out for these ingredients.
Breads and Snacks
When shopping for bread, look for brands with gluten-free labels on them. You can also find several gluten-free cookies, frozen waffles, and bagels in your local grocery store. Some companies like Kettle produce gluten-free potato chips, which should be labeled as so.
Very few whole grains contain gluten, but you should still read the label before making a purchase in this category. Sometimes, a naturally gluten-free whole grain becomes contaminated with gluten due to being processed in the same factory as gluten-containing foods. Whole grains that you can eat include:
- Oats (labeled gluten-free)
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
Oils and Spices
While most oils are naturally gluten-free, some specialty oils can contain gluten. This is why you should only use plain oils (which you can flavor at home if you need to). In terms of spices and herbs, all fresh offerings sold in the produce section of your local grocery store are safe. You can also check the labels for gluten-free dried spices if you prefer those. Okay, items in this category include:
- Ghee and butter
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
- Seed and vegetable oils
- All fresh herbs and spices
Naturally, most condiments are gluten-free. However, some may contain flavor enhancers, stabilizers, or emulsifiers created from gluten-rich ingredients. Such ingredients include wheat flour, malt, maltodextrin, and modified food starch. The following condiments, however, should be safe:
- Apple cider vinegar, distilled vinegar, and white vinegar
- Coconut aminos
Most popular sodas – including many PepsiCo and Coca-Cola offerings – are listed as gluten-free to 20 parts per million. Fresh fruit juices are also a go as long as they are prepared from 100 percent real fruit. Fruit drinks, however, may contain gluten ingredients, so it is best to proceed with caution. Most teas, including flavored teas, are gluten-free, although flavored coffees could be unsafe. Generally, drinks that you can consume safely on a gluten-free diet include:
- Unflavored coffee
- Fruit juice
- Gluten-free beer
- Energy drinks, soda, and sports drinks
Note: While wine is generally considered gluten-free, some flavored wines may contain gluten.
Many establishments sell gluten-free beer, which is what you should consume. Wine is generally safe unless you are sensitive to even the tiniest traces of gluten. If an alcoholic beverage contains a gluten grain like barley, it is best to stay away from it.
As you can see from our Gluten-Free Food List, many natural foods are gluten-free, including legumes, vegetables, fruits, fresh meat, and certain dairy products. You will need to stay away from foods with barley, wheat, and rye because they are choke-full of gluten, as well as foods processed near these ingredients. Otherwise, it all comes down to carefully reading ingredient labels and consulting the seller or manufacturer of a product when you are unsure of its gluten content.