The Celiac Diet: What You Should Know

23 April, 2020
Celiac disease has a prevalence of 1% and is more common in women than men. The basic and fundamental treatment consists of following a gluten-free diet. In this article, discover what you should know about celiac disease.

Nowadays, the celiac diet is one of the most popular ones out there. Unfortunately, this isn’t because there’s a greater awareness of celiac disease, but due to the belief that it’s suitable for all people and even healthier than other diets.

Celiac patients suffer from an immune intolerance to gluten in barley, wheat, or rye. Said intolerance causes inflammation of the mucosa of the small intestine after they ingest it. In some cases, they may also be sensitive to oats, depending on their genetic history.

The treatment for this condition consists of permanently eliminating gluten from the diet because consuming it can cause diarrhea, fatty stools, and abdominal pain. To do this, it’s important to follow a series of guidelines we’ll explain below.

The foods to consume in a celiac diet

Foods that contain gluten

Gluten is a protein that’s found in wheat, barley, rye, oats, and their derivatives. Therefore, all foods that contain these cereals must be eliminated from the celiac diet. The most frequent are the following:

  • Bread and wheat flour, barley, rye, oats, or triticale (hybrid of wheat and rye)
  • Pasta – noodles, macaroni, spaghetti, lasagna sheets prepared using wheat
  • Processed foods that contain flour – instant mashed potatoes, prepared sauces, instant soups, etc.
  • Pastries containing wheat
  • Fermented drinks prepared from cereals – beer, lager etc.

Foods that may contain gluten

These foods don’t contain gluten in their natural state but, as they’re ultra-processed, they’re only allowed if the manufacturer assures the absence of this protein on the label.

  • Jelly beans
  • Fried or roasted nuts
  • Nougat, and marzipan
  • Instant sauces, seasonings, dressings
  • Canned meat or fish
  • Ultra-processed cheese – melted, light, portioned, etc
  • Dairy desserts. Cream caramel, custard, flavored yogurts, etc
  • Ice creams

Read more here: The Health Implications of a Gluten-Free Diet

Gluten-free foods

  • Milk and dairy products – natural yogurts, butter, cream, natural cheeses, etc
  • Also, fresh and frozen fish and seafood (without coatings)
  • Fresh and frozen meats (without coatings). Serrano ham, extra cooked ham, chicken breast, turkey breast, etc.
  • Likewise, legumes and derivatives. Lentils, chickpeas, beans, soybeans, etc.
  • Coffee, infusions, sugary drinks
  • Oil, salt, wine vinegar, spices
  • Natural nuts
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Rice and corn
  • And, finally, eggs.
Some fruit.

General recommendations

  • Don’t buy unlabeled foods. Manufacturers are obliged to indicate the presence of allergens in food products.
  • Before ordering in bars and restaurants, ask how they prepare the dishes you want to eat. Likewise, don’t order them if said information isn’t provided.
  • To follow a good celiac diet, you’ll need to reduce your consumption of ultra-processed foods.
  • Some drugs may contain gluten. Thus, it’s important to consult with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any treatment. Also, read the corresponding package leaflet and labeling.
  • It can be very useful, especially for newly diagnosed patients, to request information from celiac disease organizations.
  • Check the labeling and avoid consuming foods that contain the following ingredients: vegetable protein, malt, malt syrup, starches, semolina, fiber, aromas, yeasts, etc.
A woman reading food labels.

This article may interest you: Gluten-free Recipes Full of Carbohydrates for Celiacs

Recommendations for a celiac diet

To follow a celiac diet correctly, it’s essential to follow a series of recommendations from the way you handle foods to how you cook them. You must remember that improper food handling can cause contamination and trigger digestive discomfort.

  • Use different utensils when you’re simultaneously cooking dishes with and without gluten.
  • You shouldn’t fry gluten-free foods in oils where products that contain gluten or flour-based batter have been fried.
  • Also, they recommend adapting the preparation of dishes for the whole family in cases where only one member suffers from celiac disease. This way, you’ll avoid cross-contamination during cooking.

It’s very important to follow each and every recommendation your doctor gave you and avoid applying any measure without their approval.

On the other hand, if you haven’t been diagnosed but want to follow a celiac diet, you should know that, according to experts, it isn’t beneficial to avoid gluten-free foods if you tolerate and digest them well. If in doubt, we recommend seeing your doctor to get the necessary tests.

  • Wilczek MM., Olszewski R., Krupienicz A., Trans fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: urgent need for legislation. Cardiology, 2017. 138 (4): 254-258.
  • Schnabel L., Kesse Guyot E., Alles B., Touvier M., et al., Association between ultraprocessed food consumption and risk of mortality among middle aged adults in France. JAMA, 2019. 179 (4): 490-498.