Gluten-Free Diet: Eating at Home vs. Away

Young women's version of this guide
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Gluten FreeHow do I shop for gluten–free foods at the grocery store?

Many grocery chains carry gluten-free brands. These products are commonly found in the aisles that contain natural and organic foods or they may even have their own section, labeled “gluten-free foods.” It’s also important to remember that most of the fresh foods found along the perimeter of the store (outside aisles) including fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, and dairy are naturally gluten-free. Rice, beans, peanut butter, nuts, cooking oils, and corn and rice cereals are also typically gluten-free.

Watch for possible gluten cross-contamination. This means foods that have gluten in them come in contact with gluten-free foods. Be aware of gluten cross-contamination at deli’s, buffets, and salad bars.

Gluten–Free Grocery Lists:

Dairy

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Plain Yogurt

Fruit

  • Plain fresh or frozen fruit (without any added ingredients)

Vegetables

  • Plain fresh or frozen vegetables (without any added sauces or breaded toppings)

Grains

  • Brown Rice
  • Gluten-free Cereal
  • Quinoa flakes (very similar to oatmeal)
  • Gluten-free Break
  • Gluten-free Waffles
  • Quinoa
  • Rice/Corn/Quinoa pasta

Proteins

  • Gluten-free frozen entrees, soups/chili
  • Gluten-free frozen chicken nuggets
  • Beans: black beans, chickpeas, northern beans
  • Gluten-free luncheon meats
  • Canned Tuna
  • Ground 100% Beef
  • Fresh or frozen poultry
  • Plain tofu
  • Whole fresh eggs

Snacks and Desserts

  • Gluten-free snack bars
  • Corn tortilla or potato chips
  • Gluten-free crackers
  • Nuts: Plain almonds, walnuts, soy nuts
  • Popcorn

Condiments and Seasonings

  • Salsa
  • Peanut Butter (Note: reduced-fat may contain gluten)
  • Jelly
  • Ketchup
  • Maple Syrup
  • Hummus

How can I stay gluten–free while eating away from home?

The best way to stay gluten-free when away from home is by planning meals and snacks ahead of time. That may sound hard, but following these tips can make it easier:

  • Eat breakfast at home or pack a gluten-free breakfast to eat at school or on-the-go.
  • Work with your parents, nutritionist, or school nurse to find gluten-free foods on the school breakfast and lunch menus.
  • Pack your lunch in an insulated bag to eat at school or on-the-go.
  • Keep gluten-free snacks such as fruit, cheese sticks, trail mix, snack bars, popcorn or nuts in your backpack for times when you need a quick snack.

Gluten-Free Restaurant Label

Eating at a restaurant

If you’re planning on eating at a restaurant, go to one that has a gluten-free menu or talk with the restaurant manager to find gluten-free menu items before ordering. Remember to tell the manager or chef that both the meal AND its preparation must be gluten-free. More and more restaurants are becoming gluten-free friendly and making it known on the menu. However, because “gluten-free” in some instances is seen as a trend rather than a medical necessity, it is important to tell the server or manager your level of sensitivity rather than just ordering something labeled gluten-free.

Some restaurants are easily able to make modifications to meals even if they do not have a separate gluten-free menu. When in doubt, always ask, even if the meal appears to be gluten free on the menu; usually not all ingredients are listed on a menu.

Hidden sources of cross-contamination at restaurants include using the same pans and utensils to bake gluten-free bread, using the water from boiling pasta to steam vegetables, and adding bread or flour to thicken soups.