If you're new to a gluten free diet, it can be confusing which foods you can and can't eat. You'll soon find there is wheat hidden in a surprisingly large number of products, and then there's barley, semolina, rusk and rye to steer clear of too.
The Newburn Bakehouse range of fresh bakery products is dairy, wheat and gluten free, so everybody can enjoy it. But what other foods and ingredients are gluten free?
Foods suitable for a gluten free diet
- Fruit and vegetables - An important part of any balanced diet. Potatoes are also gluten free, but always read the ingredients on prepared products like frozen chips or crisps.
- Meat and fish - A great source of protein and flavour. Remember to avoid batter or breadcrumbs (unless homemade with gluten free bread), and be careful with processed meats such as sausages which sometimes contain fillers like rusk. Also check the label on meat, just in case the manufacturer has added wheat flour.
- Dairy - Milk, cheese, yoghurt and ice cream are all usually gluten free. However, many people with coeliac disease find they are also lactose intolerant, which is why we have removed dairy from our product recipes.
- Pulses - Many beans, chickpeas and lentils contain fibre and iron, which are important nutrients for those with coeliac disease. They're also a great protein source if you're vegetarian.
- Non-wheat grains - Rice is safe but can get a bit samey after a while, so try buckwheat, millet or quinoa – unusual grains are now readily available in larger supermarkets. Corn and items made from it (tortilla chips, polenta, popcorn) are often safe, but always read the label; they may have been produced on a line alongside gluten or wheat products, and will therefore highlight the risk of gluten cross contamination.
- Free from products - Gluten free pasta, cereal, flour and even pizza bases are available in many supermarkets, or as part of your allowance if you have a gluten free prescription.
- Treats - We all need to indulge from time to time, and the great news is many chocolate bars and sweets are gluten free; however, check chocolate carefully as some products do contain wheat, like Cadbury's Dairy Milk. Some free from brands make gluten free muffins, biscuits and cakes. You can also search our gluten free recipes collection for some irresistible pudding ideas.
Is it gluten free?
On UK packaged goods, check the ingredients list and look for allergens highlighted in bold. Alternatively, Coeliac UK members can check their comprehensive Food and Drink Directory. Updates are made monthly on their website, highlighting any new products not featured in the book, and any products that have been discontinued. Finally, one sure-fire way of checking it's safe is to look for the crossed grains symbol – products must go through stringent testing to earn this certification.
Planning gluten free meals
When it comes to a gluten free diet, planning ahead is essential. Start by planning your meals for the week, making sure all the food groups are covered, with plenty of nutritious fruit and veg. We all know variety is the spice of life, so make an effort to try something new every week to keep things interesting. Make a shopping list, and if you're not 100% sure about an item being safe, look it up online in advance or read the label carefully in-store; manufacturers must declare all the ingredients in the product on the label. Think about situations during the week where you might get peckish – at work, out running errands, or on a long journey – and stock up on emergency snacks to take with you in case there's nothing gluten free available.
Be especially wary of ready meals, which can contain lots of hidden ingredients, and takeaways, where there could be a risk of cross contamination; you may well find it's safer, healthier and tastier to make your own instead. Fortunately many restaurants now cater to dietary requirements – see our guide on eating out gluten free for more information.
Of course, starting a gluten free diet is never going to be easy. But with such an incredible variety of delicious gluten free foods out there waiting to be tried, we're sure you won't look back.