Gluten-free waffles with berries on wooden table
Gluten-free foods are becoming more popular and easily available

All You Ever Wanted to Know About Gluten-Free Foods

6 minutes

Diets come and go, but one food trend that you might have heard a lot about recently is to “go gluten free”. Some do it for dietary reasons and others as a way to lose weight. With this growing interest in gluten-free foods, it’s becoming easier to find gluten-free options in grocery shops and on restaurant menus.

Table of content

What Is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale, which is a cross between rye and wheat. 

This gluey, sticky protein holds food together and helps to maintain its shape.

It can be found in many foods and products. For example, gluten can be found in barley, which is used to make malt, so malt vinegar also contains gluten. The flour used to thicken sauces also often contains gluten. This means that these products aren’t suitable for a gluten-free diet. 

Bread is often not consumed in a gluten-free diet
Gluten holds food together and helps to maintain its shape.

Are There Any Naturally Gluten-Free Foods?

Yes! There are many naturally gluten-free foods, and these can be easily incorporated into a healthy diet. These foods are a great way to eat healthily whether you are intolerant to gluten or not.

Naturally gluten-free foods include:

  • fresh (non-processed) meat
  • fresh (non-processed) fish
  • fruits and vegetables
  • nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes in their natural forms (non-processed)
  • eggs
  • most low-fat dairy produce

It's important to remember that gluten is often used in processed foods, so some of the foods listed above may not be gluten-free unless they are fresh and unprocessed.

 Fresh vegetables in salad: part of gluten-free diet
There are many naturally gluten-free foods, like vegetables and fruits

Who Should Follow a Gluten-Free Diet?

Many people follow a gluten-free diet because they suffer from celiac disease. It’s an autoimmune disorder where the gluten causes an immune response that damages the small intestine. For celiacs, eating gluten can lead to symptoms like bloating, vomiting, diarrhoea, and stomach pain. The immune response damages the intestine, which can affect how well the body can absorb the nutrients in food.  The only way to treat celiac disease is to eliminate gluten from the diet.

Other Reasons People Follow a Gluten-Free Diet

  • Some people are sensitive to gluten without being celiacs. In this case, consuming gluten produces similar symptoms, like abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhoea, but there’s no damage to the small intestine. 
  • Wheat allergy is another reason that some people stick to gluten-free foods. When there’s a wheat allergy, the immune system creates antibodies to gluten or other wheat proteins, which causes allergy symptoms like shortness of breath.
  • Some adherents to a gluten-free diet who haven’t been diagnosed with celiac disease or wheat allergies claim that avoiding gluten can improve overall health and promote weight loss as well as increase energy levels. However, more research on this is needed.

What Foods Come in Gluten-Free Versions?

Is rice gluten-free? Questions like this are common when people first try to eliminate gluten from their diet.

As well as naturally gluten-free foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, there are more and more gluten-free options available when it comes to processed foods. Manufacturers are becoming more aware of the gluten-free market, and thus it’s becoming easier to find gluten-free bread, flour, pasta, and biscuits

Gluten can also be present in food you might not expect to find it in, like sauces, soups, and ready meals, but there is a growing range of celiac suitable foods nowadays. And, in case you were wondering, rice is indeed gluten free!

Is rice gluten free? Yes!
Rice, a gluten-free food easy to find and cook

How Can Celiacs Ensure They Follow a Gluten-Free Diet?

Knowledge is power. The best way for celiacs to avoid uncomfortable symptoms is to make sure their diet is gluten-free. Eating natural, unprocessed food is a great idea anyway, and the more fresh fruits and vegetables you can get into your diet the better. 

Search for Gluten-Free Options and Check the Ingredient List

When it comes to eating out in restaurants, always check whether the food or dish is gluten free. Many restaurants now list possible allergens for each dish, and you can always ask your server if in doubt. 

These days it’s easier to find gluten-free restaurants in London, Manchester,
Birmingham, Bristol, or other cities in the UK,
so you can relax and not worry about checking all the ingredients. It takes the stress out of dining out. 

In terms of your grocery shop, there are many more gluten-free options these days, from bread and cereals to sauces and soups. Check out which shops have gluten-free sections or ranges.

 Gluten-free options for a tasty snack
Gluten-free foods are easy to find or to make: here, a tasty snack

Store Gluten-Free Food Away from Other Foods

Another important consideration for anyone following a gluten-free diet for health reasons is cross contamination. It's a good idea to store gluten-free foods separately from other foods that may contain gluten, especially if you're the only celiac in the house. 

Some foods don’t contain gluten but can still pose problems for celiacs. 

For example: oats don’t contain gluten but are sometimes grown near wheat and barley, which may cause cross contamination. Oats also contain a protein called avenin, which can affect some celiacs in a similar way to gluten. Check whether your oats are certified gluten-free to be on the safe side.

Plate of gluten-free pasta: for people following a gluten-free diet
Example of gluten-free food: pasta made with rice or white corn flour

Whether you’re a celiac or interested in gluten-free options for other reasons, there’s much more awareness these days. If you want to follow a gluten-free diet for health reasons, it’s important to know what foods you can eat and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle while avoiding products that typically contain gluten. 

There’s a wide range of naturally gluten-free foods, all of which stand as cornerstones of a healthy diet. As a result, lots of people who need to avoid gluten are experimenting with flexitarian and plant-based diets because of their emphasis on fresh, unprocessed ingredients. And now it’s easier than ever to eat out, with more and more gluten-free restaurants―even our Insider ones!

Discover gluten-free burger options in London 

More about Gluten-free foods!

Apart from foods which would naturally contain gluten but have been made with alternatives, there are also lots of naturally gluten-free foods like fruits and vegetables, quinoa, polenta, buckwheat, fresh meat, fresh fish, and eggs.

People on a gluten-free diet for medical reasons can't eat any food containing gluten. This includes products made with wheat, barley, or rye such as bread, pasta, cereals, biscuits, cakes, and pastry and some sauces thickened with ingredients containing gluten.

Potatoes in their raw form or cooked simply are gluten-free. But not all potato products are gluten-free. There may be cross contamination or other ingredients containing gluten may be used in the cooking process.

Click to share
Copy the link