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8 Gluten Foods to Avoid

8 Gluten Foods to Avoid On A Gluten Free Diet

Have you been trying to figure out what foods to avoid for gluten intolerance? Then you are in the right spot. This blog post will explain why gluten is harmful for those with celiac disease. For those just getting started on a gluten free diet, the task can be very daunting. Identifying what to avoid and what not to avoid is where most people get stuck or frustrated. We understand, it’s tricky. Below we have put together a video and a list of some of the most common foods that will get you into trouble while following a gluten free diet.

1. Grains

Grains are the number one food to avoid with a gluten allergy. As part of the gluten free “Golden Rule”, grains should be avoided to prevent reactions to gluten. The most common items are bread, pasta, cereals, muffins, bagels, cookies, and cakes. But there are many more food items on this shortlist that commonly contain grains – gravies, croutons, bread crumbs, biscuits, rolls, pita, batter-fried foods, noodles, tortillas, ice cream cones, bran, wheat germ, dumplings, pancake mixes, pies, pumpernickel and rye breads, cornbread, vermicelli, doughnuts, buns, pretzels, spaghetti, waffles, and pastries. The good news is that many companies have started making gluten free versions of these products. With a gluten intolerance, you have to be extremely careful, even if the label says “gluten free”. Other grains like corn and rice are commonly used as alternative safe substitutes despite the research showing their detriment. Still have questions? For more on this, you can view our comprehensive page on food terms and gluten foods to avoid while eating a gluten free diet.

2. Condiments and Seasonings

Many common condiments and seasonings are foods to avoid with gluten intolerance. The reason is that many contain gluten and cause problems for those who are gluten intolerant. The following foods should be eliminated from the diet unless they plainly state on the label that they are gluten free: Worcestershire sauce, MSG, modified food starch, malt products, bouillon, barley malt, and soy sauce. Also, be aware that many gravies and salad dressings are thickened with gluten containing flours and grains. As an alternative, we recommend making your condiments and dressings yourself with gluten free ingredients. This will ensure that there are no gluten free ingredients that can cause you harm.

3. Alcoholic Beverages

Most forms of alcohol are made from grains. At the top of the list are beer and malted beverages like wine coolers. It’s recommended that you proceed cautiously with any of the grain-based alcohols such as whiskey, certain vodkas, and gin. Many claim that these are OK because they are distilled, but clinically, patients continue to have reactions to grain-based alcoholic beverages. Additionally, alcohol slows the healing process and can contribute to other health problems. If you are going gluten free because you are sick, drinking alcohol will not be beneficial to aid in your recovery. It is best to stop drinking alcohol altogether when you are gluten intolerant.

4. Processed Meats

Processed meat products are unhealthy. Additionally, the most common processed meats contain high levels of cancer-causing preservatives. There is some question as to whether meats coming from grain-fed animals create problems with gluten intolerant individuals. Processed meats including cold cuts, liverwurst, hot dogs, sausages, bologna, pepperoni, salami, and pate are high in gluten because various grains are used in their manufacture. With that said, it is important to avoid processed meats altogether.

5. Sweets and Treats

Being on a gluten free diet includes eliminating sweets and treats that may be made with flours and other substances containing gluten. Foods to avoid for those with gluten intolerance include all products made with malt, all chocolate and chocolate candy containing malt, ice cream, candies containing cereal extract, sherbets, commercial cake frosting, and root beer. Check labels, read the ingredients. When determining gluten foods to avoid, make sure you are thoroughly reading product labels and reading product ingredients.

6. Pasta and Noodles

There are many types of pasta available, and a large majority of them contain grains and other ingredients that can cause irritation and inflammation to those on gluten free diets, or with gluten sensitivities. However, there are some noodles that can be safe to eat if proper research is conducted. For the most part, the pasta that can be eaten will be marked with a gluten free certification. However, it’s important to research the brands to ensure the chance of cross-contamination is as minimal as possible. 

7. Meat Substitutes

If you’re vegetarian/vegan and gluten free, finding alternatives to meat can be very difficult. Most meat substitutes are made with seitan, which is wheat gluten. Other options, like tofu, are made with soy which can also cause inflammation and other issues for those with gluten sensitivities. Additionally, it is very likely that any meat substitute that is considered gluten free is likely to be marinated in ingredients that are not. Making them likely candidates for cross-contamination.

8. Miscellaneous

Many items that people get gluten exposure from are less obvious. Pet food, makeup, shampoos, and skin lotions are some common examples. It is important to remember that your everyday products can contain gluten and cause issues for your health if you have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant. For more comprehensive information on hidden gluten and cross-contamination, we recommend reading and watching this.

Beware of Cross Contamination

During product manufacturing, a variety of gluten free products come into contact with products such as grains containing gluten. This is where cross-contamination may occur. Just because a product is labeled as “gluten free” doesn’t mean it hasn’t been in contact with ingredients that include gluten. This is common in factories that process both regular and gluten free products and use the same machines for both. This process can cause major problems for people with gluten intolerance. The other place cross-contamination can occur is in the kitchen. It occurs most commonly when preparing meals and sharing the same kitchen tools and surfaces.

A recent study found that more than 40% of processed foods labeled gluten free still had enough gluten to cause damage to those with gluten intolerance issues. Use extreme care and have a backup cutting board that is only used for preparing gluten free items to avoid cross-contamination. On that same note, use extreme caution if eating out. Many restaurants will not have measures in place to prevent the cross-contamination of the food they are serving you.

What Foods Can I Eat On A Gluten Free Diet?

While there are foods to avoid with a gluten intolerance, there are plenty of excellent alternatives and foods that are completely gluten free! For example, fruits and vegetables, some nuts and legumes, animal proteins, etc. are options for those on a gluten free diet. For a more comprehensive list of foods that will make your gluten free lifestyle easier, read our How To Go Gluten Free Ultimate Guide. This guide will give you helpful tips and tricks for daily life, while also providing you with a wide variety of foods you can enjoy!

This post is meant to be a helpful guide on what is gluten free and on foods that need to be avoided. Don’t hesitate to ask us any questions about being gluten free.

61 Responses

      1. So much wrong infirmation. Why? For example, soy sauce is gluten free even if it contained wheat. The gluten is destroyed in the fermentation process. Also I would not say that most of the sausages etc. contained wheat. It is good to be careful but not to tell others be hysterical.

        1. Do spread false information. It’s just 1 Google search away, fermentation can break down a few gluten containing ingredients, but doesn’t fully get rid of it. And even when fragmented gluten can still affect celiac suffers like myself. A prime example is I was sent to the ER from drinking alcohol because it still had gluten in it. Is alcohol, the most fermented thing possible can contain gluten then everything can still have it after fermentation. Now I know to stick to my vodka. Also soy sauce is extremly dangerous, it’s one of the first things a doctor will tell you to not use.

  1. I have severe reactions to gluten. If I get even the tiniest bit, I have horrible aura migraines where I lose my site for a few minutes and vertigo, as well as severe stomach stabbing, cramps and discomfort. I never have vertigo or those type of migraines unless I accidently ingest gluten. I had only had severe and painful migraines before I removed gluten, but once I removed gluten, any type of accidents after removing it now causes the vertigo and aura migraine attacks. I originally removed it because of bloating, skin rashes and migraines, and now am so thankful because I did not realize what it was doing to my body. Luckily, 2 years after removing it from my diet, I am in excellent health…

    1. Hi Carrie. Thanks for sharing, sorry to hear about your difficulties !! I have been gluten intolerant for 10 years.. Sadly it does not get any better with time. I have had skin rashes lately, and headaches.. I am traveling for work, and for breakfast, the hotel I am staying in serves a great “grab and go” breakfast, and it contains sausage. Bad – Bad – Bad.. Headaches, bloating, skin rashes, digestive discomfort.. I am glad you’re healthy again ! Thanks for your post – take care

      1. You can eat Sausage, Jimmy Dean is fillet free, and Johnsonville, I believe.
        Yes I had the first Ocular migraine five years ago. They were coming in waves. Then I got severe Diarhea last year, with cramping and weakness. I finally figured it out. Gluten!
        I’m still trying to learn. K probiotics are very helpful. Liquid form.

  2. I have a vocal cord disorder called spasmodic dysphonia essential tremor that originates in the basal ganglia of the brain. There is no known cure for it and doctors don’t know what causes it. I have been wondering if going gluten free could help it? I have actually been doing it (gluten free)for a few months but no luck yet. How long does it take to reverse nerve damage?

      1. That’s false, most nerve ‘damage’ is not repairable buy the body. This is from someone that has dealt w/nerve issues for most of life. This is why when nerves are the center of an issue, get it addresses! Folks are to stubborn bout getting things checked…get it chk’d by the CORRECT doctor, a specialist is a must, general practitioners are taking ‘guesses’,
        Just a comment from a lifer, just put’n in my 2¢ worth. Y’all have a blessed day & take care of the only body ya get

        1. Hi Tootles,
          You are wrong on this. Neural plasticity is a proven phenomenon. Nerves do heal. If you are still struggling, I would highly suggest you get with a functional neurologist who can help you without the “guesswork”.
          All the best,
          Dr Osborne

          1. I have been gluten free for a year and grain free for a year in 2020 I went strict gluten and grain free after finding some transglutiminaseAntibodies. My only symptom of gluten intolerance/celiais small fiber nerve pain. For 15 years idiopathic. Can the small fiber autonomic nerves heal. I haven’t seen much improve my since my diet overhaul.

    1. Carrie, thank you for the information. I have just been told to eliminate Gluten and I too have had severe vertigo and headaches but didn’t put the two together until I just read your post. I don’t even know where to begin, there is so much information out there its overwhelming, I am actually afraid to eat because I don’t even know what to look for on the lables. I will research the web but as I said there is so much information out there. Where did you find your information and did you find this overwhelming as well. Thanks Michelle

  3. Folks why wait for money, or tests, just go on strict diet of vegan and fish & you will notice changes, yes the body system will correct itself, the body was created to behave, remember the whole body is made up of cells; that have a MEMORY, and once those cells are given the benefit of proper natural nutrients whoola memory will do the rest. It’s been proven time & again by many so why waste time, jump on the Vegan & Fish diet if you are serious. Yes it’s not an easy diet to change to, but the benefits are bountiful.Once you notice and will notice huge difference then have your nervous system checked by a Holistic Chiropractor Dr.

    1. I’m down to chicken and occasional steak. I can’t eat fish or eggs. Allergies. It’s getting to the point now where I’m going to need a nutritionist to design a diet. But seriously. Vegan diets are gross.

  4. Dear Dr Osborne, did the studies show if Hepatic Cavernous Hemangeomas are linked to Gluten please.
    I have 3.
    I suspect they are linked to Gluten. However both my Liver Surgeons and other Doctors do not agree.
    I have refused surgery at this stage as it is dangerous as they are vascular in nature.

    One is approximately 14 centimetres in diameter, causing a lot of internal pressure. I am on my own ‘Food Journey’ shrinking them through ‘food choices’.

    I have been told numerous times that it is not possible to shrink them… I would love to succeed :))

    You and I did briefly correspond a couple of years a go through email.
    May I please organise a consultation through skype?

    Thank you

      1. Dr. O.,
        I have recurring flare ups of erythema nodosum. While sarcoidosis is in remission for many years, e. n. Flares have become very stubborn and do not resolve as in past. I take a low dose of prednisone daily to manage the condition. This recent episode began in April and has continued to present. Otherwise,no issues.
        Have you any experience with e. Nodosum and can you advise. Thank you.

      2. Some vegans eat fish. But I think more to the point he meant stick to natural foods I call them God foods, what He gave us to eat without anything having been added by man, just my own take on it though.

        1. Just to be clear. If you eat fish, you are a pescatarian NOT vegan. Vegans eat only foods derived from plants. Fish are not plants. Neither are eggs or dairy. You can be a lacto-ovo vegetarian, where you exclude all meat and fish, but include eggs and dairy.

  5. Great information and as you mention that drinking alcohol is not a good idea, you haven’t mentioned wine, specifically white wine. Is it harmful to have a glass of Chardonnary an issue with a gluten-free diet?

    1. My doctor told me, all fermented drinks can cause trouble. My allergies to wine, Vodka, beer have become serious, very sick the next day. Just one glass, the mild headache begins, in six hours I have intestinal issues, headache. Bloat and nausea all day. I’m done with alcohol. Not worth it.

  6. I live in Australia, and have been ‘gluten free’ for several years now, but because of this site (thanks Dr Osborne) I am moving over to grain-free as well as minimal dairy (organic/gluten free yogurt in minimal amounts) and also avoiding sugar. I have found a g-f seed bread, which I eat infrequently (? 2-3 weekly) I am still fluctuating between having the g-f cake and coffee with friends and wanting something sweet at home, but I am getting to where I want to be. I think I could class my dietary habits as ‘Paleo’ now and am preparing whole foods/vegetables, organic (where possible) meat/chicken, and my many symptoms are decreasing in severity….fibromyalgia, peripheral neuropathy, u-active thyroid, psoriasis, high cholesterol, etc. It’s worth it to make a lifestyle change! I am looking forward to very healthy senior years.

  7. Is brown rice protein powder ok, like sun warrior or garden of life? These are gf, but the post warns against even rice consumption… However, are these powders ok

  8. Hi Dr. Osborne,

    I have been recently learning about herbs to facilitate healing, and have been making my own tinctures. Could the small amount of alcohol(vodka) in the tinctures,still cause problems if I am going gluten free? I could get the more expensive vodka made with potatoes.
    Thanks for your thoughts there. Have appreciated your site very much.

    1. Hi Judy,
      Although most experts would have you consume distilled alcohols without fear of gluten, I find that many patients have problems with grain based alcohols. I would recommend looking to potato or grape based vodkas.
      All the best,
      Dr. O

  9. Dr. Osborn what are your thoughts on eating beans. I guess these are gluten free. Are they ok to eat as I have cut out the grains or do beans cause the same kind of gut damage. Love to know your thoughts.

  10. In looking back over the past five years, the silver bullet for my autoimmune symptoms with Hashimoto’s disease was to go gluten free. From the start, the inflammation in my body slowly decreased. I now have more energy. Moreover, my rashes have stopped. Internally, my body is much more calm. It is like getting my life back. I now have vowed to be gluten free for the remainder of my life.

  11. I have hives that I can not seem to get rid of. I am going to do a detox and start a gluten free diet. Have you ever heard of such?

  12. I think in everyone has to chill, and take their meds. This Gluten thing has gone to far and into the heads of many.
    Chill out, a lot of,this is BS they feed you, your body needs a variety of foods to be healthy. Studies have
    Shown most people who totally avoid gluten end up sicker than those who don’t. It’s a said way of living.

  13. I have been having issues with my thyroid; when getting blood tests taken, tests will come back low, then normal, then very low, then high, I’m all over the place… I got tested for celiac years ago (blood and scope) and both tests came back “inconclusive”… I have a family history of celiac; grandma, aunt & two cousins on my dads side… Still have to do more testing on my thyroid, not sure if it’s hashimotos or if I’m celiac?… I have a lot of health issues; depression, extreme fatigue, migraines, occasional (and unexplained) seizures, I’ve gained 40lbs in 9 months, I have very bad stomach issues all the time… Not sure what to do… I’m meeting with an endocrinologist soon & hopefully I’ll get some answers… But in the meantime I wasn’t sure if maybe I should start a gluten-free diet or if that will mess with further testing they may do?

    1. Allison,
      No blood based lab test for gluten sensitivity is without major flaws. If you want a real answer to whether or not a gluten free diet is the right step for you, I would highly recommend genetic testing.
      All the best,
      Dr. Osborne

    2. @Allison
      Although eliminating gluten in your diet is not a panacea to ending all illness, given your family history, this would be my first order of business if I were you. There is no reason to wait another instant. Eating gluten-free is easier than ever.
      Most modern assays are just not that good at detecting gluten sensitivity (My RAST came back negative).

  14. Many Brain Disorders Are Associated With Gluten and Patients See Dramatic Improvements on a Gluten-Free Diet thanks for sharing this informative post .

  15. I am lead to believe that Rice and rice flour, rice oil, rice noodles etc. are totally fine.
    That is what Coeliacs Aus defines.

  16. I have been having issues with my left leg and now my right ankle. I get these bursts of pain when standing up to walk. I have had multiple tests, ultrasounds, ABI, etc. Docs can’t figure it out. I have dizzy spells at times and seem to be more tired than usual. My sister in law said I should try and change my diet. She thinks it could have to deal with Gluten. Docs just want to keep testing and give me muscle relaxers. I am not taking them though and so tired of shelling out all this cash.

  17. Ppl who can eat gluten tend to be skeptical of those of us who avoid it at all costs: we appear hypochondriacal in our hyper-vigilance and obsessive attention to what we eat. When I’m confronted by someone suggesting my behavior is attention seeking, or just plain silly, I counter with the acknowledgement that it is hard for ppl w/o food allergies to see this as a genuine medical condition. Then I tell them I would never have elected to give up pizza, bread, beer, liverwurst, pies, etcetera: But when I finally did, my (atypical) DH, ocular migraines, joint pain and chronic uni-hemispheric headaches disappeared within days. As I’ve aged, my sensitivity has grown in magnitude: two years ago a threshold was breached and I developed severe dermatitis herpetiformis (Misdiagnosed by my dermatologist (pitoriasis), my allergist (not a food allergy), my (former ) primary (idiopathic pruritis).
    To me it is very curious the incidence of gluten sensitivity has skyrocketed. Wonder if it has something to do with Western chemoagricultural practices??? The wide scale introduction of frankenfoods in to our diets? This is research that is being systemically avoided due to the huge influence of players like Monsanto and Siemens…

    Round Up
    Safe as Salt

    1. Yes I have had what I and MDs thought was shingles for 9 years, but has turned out to be dermatitis herpetiform. I have had major depression, migraines, stomach issues, fatigue, and feelings of hopelessness. This is week 2 of gluten free and I am amazed and excited. When I have messed up and consumed gluten I have definitely paid for it and remember how bad I have felt all of my 20’s.

  18. i am on a grain free diet for diabetes. however i have had diarrhea for about a year after a colon cancer surgery and chemo.

    it just got worse and worse and i was always wearing diapers.

    i went on the dr. Bernstein diabetes diet. basically Paleo i think. no grain or dairy.

    well i felt great! for the first time in my life prob i would wake up and JUMP out of bed.

    after breakfast of eggs and bacon or flax seed pancakes i would run up to 5 miles. i just had the energy and had to use it!

    my family got worried because i quit taking insulin. my blood sugar was almost perfect, way better than when i tried to balance carbs with insulin for sure.

    i lost weight and i have always been thin.

    my husband begged me to go back on insulin. my Dr said that i eat well and needed to do weight bearing exercises and i would gain muscle.

    finally i went back on grains and dairy. it felt like i had the flu for a week.

    a couple of years later was when i found the color cancer.

    i have not had a normal bowel movement or a good blood sugar reading since!

    i was looking for my Bernstein diet book and can no longer find it

  19. I am a whisky drinker
    And my gluten is elevated is that fine if I drink whisky or white wine
    And can I eat rice?

  20. My reactions seem to be an upset stomach acid reflux and huge mucus production and coughing. Could this be a gluten reaction.

  21. Hi Dr. Osbourne,
    For years I have been going to different doctors, I did about 4 scopes and nothing was found wrong. My stomach keeps getting bigger and very painful especially at nights I’m so bloated I can hardly sleep. it doesn’t matter how much fiber I ate I’m still constipated. I’m always tired weak and fatigue, having a lot of pain over my body, I find I’m more bloated and stomach pain if I had alcoholic beverages. There’s so much pressure in my stomach I feel it even in my pelvic area at times. A friend of mine told me to try a gluten free diet, is there a test to diagnose one with gluten intolerant. Thanks


    1. That sounds like a reaction to Gluten to me, Sandra.
      I was very sick. At it’s worst, I was at home for 9 months with extreme diarrhea. It was hellish. I hardly left the house for 9 months, and spent my time running to the bathroom. I was still eating lots of Gluten. Doctors were useless. I tried all sorts of things, and finally gave up Gluten. Even that wasn’t an easy diagnosis. I would try for a couple of days, and then eat gluten again. Just because quitting for a couple of days, made no improvement, and I was sick as a dog, so shopping was difficult, and food preparation was difficult, so I ate what was easy, or what was available. Then I would try going gluten free for a few more days, still see no results, and eat gluten again. Finally, I managed to stay away from gluten for a week or two, and started feeling a little better. Then I managed a couple more weeks, and improved more. I finally recovered. I was never diagnosed with gluten intolerance, or Celiac Disease, but I know wheat makes me extremely sick. I call it what I have Celiac Disease, just because it’s easier. I’m not interested in explaining myself to people, or getting involved in a gluten debate with people, I just know that eating gluten makes me very sick.

      The problem I had with discovering that gluten was the cause of my problems, was that I had to be off of gluten for a week or two before I started noticing a difference, and stay completely off it for a month before I was sure (and prior to that, my diet was probably 60% gluten – just cause it was so quick, and easy, and available, and that’s the lifestyle I was living). Recovery was slow. It took a month of not eating any gluten to be sure that gluten was the problem, but even after that, my stomach and digestive system was ravaged. That was about 4 or 5 years ago, and I’m not sure my stomach has completely recovered. When I was really suffering, bloating was definitely a problem – like suicide contemplating levels of bloating – or being afraid to leave the house for 9 months levels of bloating. My stomach is still sensitive, and my 6 pack is only a distant memory 🙁 Lol.

      I’m also diabetic, and have been for many years before I was so sick from gluten, and diabetes led to gastroparesis, another gastro intestinal disease, about 2 years ago – since I became intolerant to gluten. Gastroparesis basically slows down your digestive system, so food moves through my system very slowly. It’s manageable, but also leaves me bloated and my stomach feeling ravaged, so it’s hard for me to know now if my stomach is sensitive from gluten intolerance, or gastroparesis. For sure, my digestive system was still sensitive 3 years after quitting gluten. As long as I stayed away from gluten, I wasn’t sick anymore, but still sensitive. I think I had done so much damage to my stomach, and my gut biom sphere (or whatever they call it), that recovery took a long time.

      I, like everyone else, had a very difficult time quitting gluten. Five years later, I don’t know what was so difficult about it. The biggest difference in my diet, is my life style. I never go to fast food places anymore – fast food places are all about gluten. I do almost all my eating at home. In this day and age, it’s easy to eat gluten free at restaurants. If I’m at a restaurant, or a café, or pizza place, or pub, or whatever, with a group of people, and there are no gluten-free option, I just don’t eat – and it really doesn’t bother me. If I’m at a house party, and all the snacks, and all the delicious looking deserts and pastries, have, or might have, gluten, I just don’t eat. Fast food for me is fruit, or maybe trail mix (though you have to make sure the trail mix has no gluten – and nuts are difficult to digest, so it often doesn’t go well with my gastroparesis). If there is nothing for me to eat, I simply don’t eat. And it’s not a big deal. It’s more a lifestyle change than a diet change. And I feel much better for it. It still surprises me how much our lives revolve around food. My life doesn’t anymore, and I feel much better for it.

      Good luck, Sandra.

  22. after I was diagnosed as having celiac sprue from an endoscope and colonoscopy I became acquainted with gluten from all angles. as soon as I stopped gluten intake including hidden and contamination, I had no more seizures. all medical books and personal claim you stop epilepsy meds cold turkey you will have seizures. I stopped the seizure meds and had no seizures when I was avoiding gluten. if you look on the symptoms list of each of your suspected ailments you will see a list. on the celiac symptoms list, one name was seizures. when doctors are trying to find your sickness cause why don’t they look at the symptoms list of each suspected ailment instead of running a test or two a month?

  23. After having my thyroid removed 20 years ago I was recommended to start bio identical hormone therapy as I was immediately menopausal. To be short I still have very dry skin; low b12 anemia, osteopenia a constipation. Year ago I underwent candida protocol to rid body off bad bacteria and yeast. Followed low carb diet for few days and had even worse reaction of strain and blood in stool. Continued with mediterian diet and some improvement occured. I am taking many supplements, IF, but my symptoms are far from satisfactory. I am ready to give dr, Osborne No grain no pain recomendations a try as now even my BP and hernia is affected. I am hopeful this time I will have better outcomes, Thank God for finding you on UT.

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