What Foods Can't People With Celiac Disease Eat?
People with celiac disease have to pay special attention to their diet. The inclusion of gluten in their diet produces irreparable damage to the intestinal epithelium of those who suffer from the disease. For this reason, this protein should be totally restricted.
However, a balanced and varied diet must be consumed. Despite the limitations, it’s necessary to follow guidelines with a wide variety of foods so that energy and nutritional requirements are covered on a daily basis.
What foods can’t people with celiac disease eat?
As we mentioned, celiacs can’t consume any product that contains gluten in its composition. This is demonstrated by a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. For this reason, the following foods should be eliminated from the diet.
Baked goods, especially those containing gluten
As a general rule, bakery products are made from wheat flour. This grain contains gluten, so it must be restricted in the diet of people with celiac disease.
However, these foods are also considered poor quality. Therefore, their presence should be reduced in any diet, as they have a large amount of simple sugar and trans fat inside.
Both elements can negatively affect pancreatic health, in addition to promoting a harmful inflammatory state. This is demonstrated by a study published in the journal Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome.
Bread, breadcrumbs, and breaded foods
Although some breads are made from corn, spelt, and other grains, they usually contain a portion of wheat flour inside. For this reason, they’re not suitable for people with celiac disease. In addition, they represent a supply of low-quality carbohydrates in the diet, as flours produce a significant increase in blood glucose.
The same happens as in the previous case. Most pasta is made from wheat flour or wheat semolina. However, a new line of pasta made from legume flour is expanding. This type of food, after reading the label carefully, could be included in the diet of a celiac person.
However, this class of products may have traces of gluten or cross-contamination with said protein. Therefore, it’s best to resort to those that have a gluten-free certification to ensure the health of people who have developed this disease.
Oats and oatmeal
Not all celiacs have a bad reaction to oats. In fact, a percentage of them tolerate it. Although this cereal doesn’t have gluten as such, it has a homologous protein inside it, avenin. This component can negatively affect people with celiac disease, although tolerance to the nutrient can be tested.
In the event that symptoms are experienced, the grain and all products made with it, such as oatmeal, should be restricted.
Unless the label expressly states that they can be consumed by celiacs, it’s important to avoid breakfast cereals in the gluten-free diet. Most of these products have wheat, oats, or barley inside, or they may have traces of the protein.
In addition, as a general rule, this type of food is characterized by concentrating large amounts of added sugars. Therefore, they’re not of good quality.
Few commercial brands make breakfast cereals that can really be included in the context of a healthy diet. Keep in mind that a regular intake of simple sugars has been shown to increase the risk of diabetes.
Within alcoholic beverages, celiac disease patients should avoid drinking beer. This is made from barley, a cereal that has gluten inside. There are varieties of beers lacking in protein, but we’re talking about special versions that are certified for people with celiac disease
Just the same, the truth is that it’s best to restrict the consumption of alcohol in any person. This element is toxic regardless of the dose consumed, so it can increase the risk of developing complex diseases in the medium and long term. This is demonstrated by an investigation published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
Foods That May Contain Gluten
There’s a group of foods that may contain gluten in their composition, although they don’t always have this protein inside. These are as follows:
Precooked or dehydrated foods
Many convenience foods are made with flours or sauces that contain grains. For this reason, the presence of protein is frequent, which makes it impossible to include them in a diet for people with celiac disease. Likewise, they may be made in a factory that produces other types of foods with gluten, so there’s a risk of cross-contamination.
For this reason, special care must be taken with packaged vegetable purees, potato chips, ready-made dishes, and jams.
Many dairy desserts also have gluten in them. Here, you have to make an important differentiation, as pudding isn’t the same as yogurt. Although both have milk inside, yogurt harbors probiotic bacteria inside, while pudding is usually characterized by a high amount of sugar.
Look for gluten-free certification on foods such as smoothies, cheeses, and ice creams on the label. Any of them are likely to contain traces of the protein, which damages the intestine of people with celiac disease.
Processed meats and sausages
Flours are often used to make products with processed meat and sausages. Examples are the cases of breaded meats and meatballs. Within processed meats, the most common products that may contain gluten are sausages.
However, it’s best to avoid, as a general rule, the intake of this type of food. The presence of processed meats in the diet has been linked to an increased risk of chronic disease, according to research published in the International Journal of Cancer.
At the same time, sausages usually contain nitrites and sulfites inside. Both preservatives are harmful to health when ingested regularly. There’s some evidence that they could increase the incidence of tumors related to the digestive tract.
Commercial sauces and soups
Special care must be taken with bouillon and soup cubes, as well as with these products when they’ve already been made and are packed in plastic containers. Also, some vegetable oils made with aromatic herbs may contain gluten inside, which makes them unsuitable for people with celiac disease.
Another example of foods that people with celiac disease shouldn’t eat is groceries marketed in bulk. In these cases, the gluten-free certification isn’t always visible, which makes it difficult to know whether or not the product may contain the protein inside.
Legumes, nuts, dehydrated fruits, and gummies or gum are usually sold in bulk. Some of these elements may present traces of flour as a result of their previous elaboration process. An example is chocolate-coated peanuts.
Juices, smoothies, or liqueurs can contain traces of gluten inside. Also, chocolate or vanilla preparations.
For this reason, it’s important to take special care when including them in the diet of people with celiac disease. What’s more, they contain a high amount of added sugars inside, so we’re talking about poor-quality products.
Beware of homemade preparations for people with celiac disease
Finally, we need to be clear about the need to take extreme precautions in homemade preparations when food is prepared for people with celiac disease. These individuals are very sensitive to cross-contamination through kitchen utensils, such as cutlery or pans.
The best thing to do is to avoid manipulating the food of people with celiac disease and those who don’t have the disease with the same utensils and elements. Otherwise, symptoms could develop and progressive damage to the intestinal level could be produced, which negatively conditions their state of health.
As a general rule, it’s best to always buy fresh products to prepare a menu for people with celiac disease. The cooking methods must always be a skillet, steam, the oven, or boiling.
Breaded and battered recipes are totally prohibited. Likewise, in prepared or lightly processed foods, always look for the gluten-free label.
It’s important to know what foods people with celiac disease can’t eat
When preparing a menu or a diet suitable for people with celiac disease, it’s important to have full knowledge of the foods that pose a risk to these people. Otherwise, their intestinal function will be reduced more and more, producing irreparable damage over time, which leads to the appearance of serious health problems.
If you follow the advice we’ve given you, and remove the mentioned products from the diet of those who suffer from celiac disease, there should be no problem. Remember that when in doubt, you can always consult a nutrition specialist. This professional will develop a nutritional guideline according to needs and conditions of the individual.
Finally, keep in mind that if you doubt whether something has gluten in it or not, it’s best not to include it in the diet of someone with celiac disease.
- Rubin JE, Crowe SE. Celiac Disease. Ann Intern Med. 2020 Jan 7;172(1):ITC1-ITC16. doi: 10.7326/AITC202001070. PMID: 31905394; PMCID: PMC7707153.
- Islam MA, Amin MN, Siddiqui SA, Hossain MP, Sultana F, Kabir MR. Trans fatty acids and lipid profile: A serious risk factor to cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. Diabetes Metab Syndr. 2019 Mar-Apr;13(2):1643-1647. doi: 10.1016/j.dsx.2019.03.033. Epub 2019 Mar 16. PMID: 31336535.
- Lean ME, Te Morenga L. Sugar and Type 2 diabetes. Br Med Bull. 2016 Dec;120(1):43-53. doi: 10.1093/bmb/ldw037. Epub 2016 Oct 5. PMID: 27707695.
- Peng B, Yang Q, B Joshi R, Liu Y, Akbar M, Song BJ, Zhou S, Wang X. Role of Alcohol Drinking in Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Mar 27;21(7):2316. doi: 10.3390/ijms21072316. PMID: 32230811; PMCID: PMC7177420.
- Diallo A, Deschasaux M, Latino-Martel P, Hercberg S, Galan P, Fassier P, Allès B, Guéraud F, Pierre FH, Touvier M. Red and processed meat intake and cancer risk: Results from the prospective NutriNet-Santé cohort study. Int J Cancer. 2018 Jan 15;142(2):230-237. doi: 10.1002/ijc.31046. Epub 2017 Oct 16. PMID: 28913916.
- Crowe W, Elliott CT, Green BD. A Review of the In Vivo Evidence Investigating the Role of Nitrite Exposure from Processed Meat Consumption in the Development of Colorectal Cancer. Nutrients. 2019 Nov 5;11(11):2673. doi: 10.3390/nu11112673. PMID: 31694233; PMCID: PMC6893523.