Savvy Gal Spotlight: Seven Facts About Eating Gluten-Free

By Andrea Stark, RD ~

Eating gluten-free is simpler than it used to be. Not everyone needs to follow a gluten-free eating plan. However if you need to follow a gluten-free plan, start with these basics:

1)   “Wheat-free” does not necessarily mean gluten-free. Gluten refers to the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. A product can be called “wheat-free” and still contain rye, barley, or cousins to wheat such as Kamut, Spelt, Titicale (a cross between wheat and rye), Atta, Fu.

2)   Oats, oat bran, oat flour, oat groats, oatmeal are not allowed on a strict gluten-free diet.  Oats are typically contaminated with wheat and/or barley. For those diagnosed with Celiac disease, oats are to be avoided.

3)   Gluten can be a “hidden ingredient” in sauces, marinades, gravies, salad dressings, soups, prepared meats such as deli meats, hot dogs, hamburger patties), candy(such as licorice), some potato chips, flavored coffee and teas, some medications, some make-up (such as some lipsticks). Label reading is a must.

4)   Distilled alcoholic beverages and wine are allowed; Avoid beer, ale and lager made from barley.  Even though whiskeys, gin, many vodkas and bourbon are distilled from gluten-containing grains, the distillation process removes the gluten from the final product.

5)   Rice and corn are allowed on a gluten-free plan.

6)   Pure buckwheat flour is gluten-free. However some buckwheat flour may be mixed with wheat.  Read the label.

7)  Following a strict gluten-free eating plan is a must for those diagnosed with Celiac disease, also known as Celiac Sprue. When individuals with Celiac disease eat grains wheat, rye or barley, the small intestine surface is damaged, which can lead to poor health.  Celiac disease can occur at any age.  The only definitive test for diagnosing Celiac Disease is the small intestinal biopsy. Other tests are not 100% accurate.

Andrea Stark,RD, is a Consulting Nutritionist in Thousand Oaks. Contact her at


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