8 Naturally Gluten Free Foods
When first diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, many people distress over the number of foods they have to cut from their diet. While foods made with wheat, barley, and rye products may now be on the unapproved list, there are still plenty of foods you can enjoy safely. We’re not just talking about gluten-free convenience foods, either.
The fact is that there are many naturally gluten free foods you can safely enjoy without putting your health at risk. Keep reading to learn about some delicious and nutritious foods that are naturally gluten free and how to include them in your diet.
These Eight Food Groups Are Naturally Gluten Free
As someone with celiac disease, when you go to the grocery store, you may head straight for the gluten free section. What you might not realize is that you’re walking right past some of the best gluten free foods in the store. You may be surprised to learn that while many grain-based foods are not gluten free, there is a long list of other foods that are. In fact, there are eight entire food groups that are gluten free:
- Meat and poultry
- Fish and seafood
- Dairy products
- Healthy fats
- Beans and legumes
- Nuts and seeds
Fruits and vegetables are entirely gluten free as long as they are in their original form. You need to be careful when buying canned or processed produce as well as frozen vegetables made with sauces and flavorings. The same is true for meat, poultry, fish, and seafood. These foods are naturally gluten free but check the label for added ingredients that might contain gluten. You need to be particularly careful of processed meats like hotdogs, hamburgers, and sausages because they may be made with gluten-containing ingredients like soy sauce, malt flavoring, or breadcrumbs.
For the most part, milk is gluten free and many dairy products are as well. Flavored milks and malted milk products need a second glance at the ingredients list, but plain milk and many dairy-free milks are naturally gluten free. Double-check the ingredients list for products like yogurt, cheese, and ice cream but know that eggs and butter are naturally gluten free. The same is true for most fats including things like olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil. Check the ingredients list for cooking sprays and oils that contain added flavors, but most oils and fats are safe.
Finally, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds are all naturally gluten free. Beans and legumes are an excellent source of vegetarian protein, though you should be careful about purchasing products that have been flavored or cooked in sauce or soup. Nuts and seeds are also gluten free naturally, but it is still a good idea to check the label to be sure. Anything that is not included in the eight categories above is not necessarily a gluten-containing food, but the risk is higher, so you need to be extra careful.
Gluten Free Grains You Can Enjoy Safely
Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. If you’re going to cut gluten out of your diet, you’ll need to avoid these three grains as well as the foods that are made with them. Fortunately, there are a variety of grains and grain-like foods that are naturally gluten free.
Here is a quick list of gluten free grains, starches, and grain-like foods you can enjoy safely:
- Brown Rice
- Chia Seeds
- Nut flours
- Potato starch
- White Rice
Remember, just because the foods listed above are naturally gluten free doesn’t mean you don’t still need to be careful. Some of the grains on this list are frequently processed on shared equipment with wheat - oats are a good example. To be completely sure the food you are eating is gluten free, look for a certified gluten free label on the product or test it yourself.
Foods to Double-Check or Avoid Entirely
While there are many naturally gluten free foods such as the eight foods groups and the gluten free grains listed above, there are still some foods you should double-check or avoid entirely. Obviously, anything made with wheat, barley, or rye should be avoided but there are some foods and food products that contain hidden sources of gluten.
Here are some foods you should check for hidden sources of gluten:
- Canned fruit and vegetables
- Frozen fruit and vegetables
- Dried fruit and vegetables
- Processed meats
- Meat substitutes
- Lunch meat and cold cuts
- Ground meats
- Artificial seafood (like fake crab)
- Soups and stews
- Sauces and sauce mixes
- Ready-to-eat meals
- Flavored milk and yogurt
- Processed cheese products
- Ice cream and frozen yogurt
- Malted milk drinks
- Cooking sprays
- Flavored oils
- Beverages with added flavorings
- Distilled liquor
- Premade smoothies
- Beer, ale, and lagers
- Malt beverages
- Condiments and sauces
- Soy sauce and teriyaki sauce
It is your responsibility to keep yourself safe when it comes to gluten free foods. The longer you’ve been following the gluten free diet, the more severe your reaction is likely to be if you accidentally ingest a gluten-containing food item. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Remember our motto, “when in doubt, go without”.
As the gluten free diet continues to be the only way to truly treat celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, gluten free foods items are becoming more readily available. If you haven’t taken a look around your grocery store lately, take a minute to explore – you just might find a few new gluten free offerings to try!