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For those just getting started on a gluten free diet, the task can be very daunting.  Identifying what to and what not to avoid is where most people get stuck or frustrated.   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

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 short list 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.  Many companies have started making gluten free versions of these products.  Problem is – they are not TRUE gluten free.  Other grains like corn and rice are commonly used as alternative safe substitutes despite the research showing their detriment.  For more on this, you can view our comprehensive page on food terms to avoid while eating a gluten free diet.

2. Condiments and Seasonings

Many common condiments and seasonings 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.

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 serve as beneficial to aiding in your recovery.

4. Processed Meats

Processed meat products are unhealthy.  They most commonly contains 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.

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 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.

6. Miscellaneous

Many items that people get gluten exposure from are less obvious.    Pet food, make -up, shampoos, and skin lotions are some common examples.  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.  This is common in factories that process both regular and gluten-free products and use the same machines for both.  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 intolerance issues.  Use extreme care and have a back up 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.


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49 responses on “Top Foods To Avoid On a Gluten Free Diet

  1. Diana Thompson says:

    Thanks, I haven’t been dizzy in the kitchen or anywhere else for a week or so!

  2. carrie says:

    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…

  3. Norene Mackley says:

    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?

    • It can take two to three years for nerve damage to recover fully.

      • Tootles says:

        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

    • Michelle says:

      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

  4. Mebs W says:

    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.

  5. heal says:

    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

    • Hi Mandy,
      Please call my office at 281-240-2229. Ask for Debbie to organize a consult.
      All the best,
      Dr. O

      • Marina Grecs says:

        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.

      • DJ says:

        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.

  6. Nancy says:

    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?

  7. Susanne Fenech says:

    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.

  8. Betty says:

    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

  9. Judy Payne says:

    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.

    • 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

  10. Ron Hicken says:

    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.

  11. Brian Keyes says:

    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.

  12. Janice says:

    I was having reactions to wine. Did some research and found the sometimes wheat paste is used to seal wine barrels.

  13. Colleen says:

    Just started reading articles about gluten free diets. Thinking about going on this diet.

  14. Lisa says:

    Is it true there is a connection between depression symptoms and Gluten?

  15. Tamra says:

    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?

  16. Bill says:

    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.

  17. Allison says:

    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?

    • 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

    • Stewart says:

      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).

  18. Dry Fruits On Internet says:

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

  19. Anita says:

    I seem to handful like problems a lot could this be a sign ?

  20. Aussie, Down Under says:

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

  21. Wendy says:

    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.

  22. Stewart says:

    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

    • Crystal Fowler says:

      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.

  23. dianna horne says:

    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

  24. Vanshika says:

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

  25. Brian Hemeryck says:

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

  26. Krysta says:

    Hi there, is dizziness and lightheadedness a sign of gluten sensitivity?

  27. Sandra says:

    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


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