Gluten free foods: 12 foods to *add to basket*, if you're coeliac or intolerant

Plus, we answer all your questions - like are yogurt, avocado, and sweet potatoes gluten free?

Gluten free foods: Avocado toast
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Plus, we answer all your questions - like are yogurt, avocado, and sweet potatoes gluten free?

If you've recently found out you're coeliac or intolerant, you might be doing your research on gluten free foods to scope out what foods you can eat.

Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley and rye and, while thankfully the no no-gluten diet fad has now passed, there are many individuals who, for medical reasons, can't eat it. Stats from Coeliac UK show that one in 100 people have the condition in the UK, though only 30% have a proper diagnosis; one in four coeliac adults are initially diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

If you're not familiar, according to the NHS, the autoimmune condition causes diarrhoea, abdominal pain and indigestion reactions when the person eats gluten. while intolerance will cause lesser but similar symptoms.

Considering cutting out gluten when you haven't been medically advised to do so, or wondering, is gluten bad for you? Nutritionist Libby Limon warns against cutting out arbitrary food groups for the sake of it. "No diet should rely too much on one food, such as gluten grains, but there is no evidence to show gluten is generally harmful to us," she explains.

For the coeliac or intolerant among you - keep scrolling for our expert-led guide to gluten free foods. We've spoken to qualified nutritionist Libby Limon, clinical performance nutritionist Martin MacDonald, and nutritional therapist Madeleine Shaw. Don't miss our guides to what to eat after a workout, vegan protein sources, the best protein powders for women, while you're here.

12 gluten free foods: are yoghurt, avocado, and sweet potato gluten free? 

Is yoghurt gluten free? 

Answer: yes

"Some yoghurt products contain additives that make them unsafe for those following a gluten-free diet," says MacDonald. "Total Greek yoghurt only contains two ingredients, milk and yoghurt cultures. It’s also a great source of protein."

Are sweet potatoes gluten free? 

Answer: yes

Do make sure you include some gluten-free grains and starches in your diet, including sweet potatoes or beans, advises Limon.

Are avocados gluten free? 

Answer: yes

Avocados are a great diet staple for those going gluten-free as they're a great source of filling and healthy fats. "Research also shows that eating one avocado a week can help to balance hormones and prevent cervical cancer," explains Shaw.

Gluten free foods: A bowl of yoghurt

Is oily fish gluten free?

Answer: yes

"If you need to eat gluten-free for medical reasons, you'll need to add lots of healthy fats into your diet to keep you full, energised, and to load your body with beneficial nutrients," says Shaw. "Salmon and mackerel are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which ensure healthy immune function."

Is rice flour gluten free? 

Answer: yes

"Rice flour is a great gluten-free flour alternative," says Limon. "Use it for baking bread or cakes, and to thicken soups and sauces."

Is quinoa gluten free?

Answer: yes

"Quinoa is a great option to replace pasta and bread in meals, without changing the feel of the meal too much," says MacDonald. "It is slow digesting and therefore gives you more stable energy levels, keeping you fuller for longer."

Gluten free foods: A salad

Is meat gluten free? 

Answer: yes

MacDonald advises you load up on one particularly - ahem - unique met, too. "If you reduce cereal consumption, it’s important to seek out key vitamins and minerals such as iron," shares the expert. "Liver is an excellent source of iron and many other micronutrients."

Are walnuts gluten free? 

Answer: yes

"Walnuts contain more omega 3 fatty acids than any other nut," explains Shaw. "Eating them will keep you feeling full, and omega-3 also boosts your brainpower."

Are brown rice and brown rice pasta gluten free?

Answer: yes

All of the experts recommend it as a great gluten-free alternative to wheat pasta. It’s high in fibre and contains around the same amount of calories as normal pasta.

Plus, fun fact: all rice — that is, white, brown, or wild — are gluten-free.

Gluten free foods: a woman eating pasta

Are eggs gluten free?

Answer: yes

Shaw recommends including eggs in your gluten-free diet. Why? Because they're a great source of protein and the yolk contains Vitamin D, an essential nutrient.

Are mussels gluten free? 

Answer: yes

"Mussels are an excellent source of zinc, which can become low in a gluten-free diet that does not contain fortified foods," says MacDonald.

Are oatcakes gluten free?

Answer: yes, if you opt for the gluten free option, but no, if not

Oatcakes make a great snack or lunch option. Our nutritionists love eating with mackerel, hummus, or peanut butter.

Gluten free foods: An egg breakfast

EXAMPLES OF GF FOODS Quinoa Rice Buckwheat (despite the name, it is not related to wheat and it is actually a seed) Oats (as long as certified gluten free due to cross-contamination) Corn Teff Amaranth Tapioca Millet

Is couscous gluten free?

Answer: no

Did you know, cous cous is actually a pasta? Hence why those following a gluten-free diet should avoid it, as it's made from gluten-containing durum wheat.

Is pasta gluten free?

Answer: no

As above, pasta is made from durum wheat flour, which contains (yep, you guessed it), gluten. Do keep an eye out for gluten-free pastas, most of which are readily available now in supermarkets.

Is cereal gluten free? 

Answer: no

Another grain high in good old gluten is barley, which most cereals are made from. It sits at around 8% gluten. If you really love cereal for breakfast, we recommend opting for a gluten-free alternative, instead.

Gluten free foods: noodles with soy sauce

Are oats gluten free? 

Answer: no

Bear with us—while oats, ingredients wise, are technically gluten free, the problem arises from where they are processed. Most oat packets indicate that they're handled in facilities that also process gluten, meaning they run the risk of carrying some, too.

Plus, oats do contain avenin, which is a protein not the same but similar to gluten.

Is beer gluten free? 

Answer: no

Rye is in lots of products, including beer, and sadly, all contain secalin, a specific type of gluten protein, shares MacDonald.

Is soy sauce gluten free? 

Answer: no

An unexpected one, but one to be wary of nonetheless, says Limon. "It's made by combining soy and crushed wheat. However, most products are generally labelled now - just remember to check."

What other foods aren't gluten free?

Three grains can't be eaten on a gluten-free diet: wheat, barley and rye. There are hundreds of products containing these, but above are a few of the main ones.

What happens if I'm coeliac and don't follow a gluten-free diet?

Aside from the pretty dire sounding side effects mentioned up there? You'll damage your gut lining, and likely become nutrient deficient.

"Common secondary effects include anemia, micronutrient deficiencies, hormone imbalance, mood swings and, in drastic cases, organ damage," says Libby.

Gluten free foods: A woman with stomach ache

What happens if I'm gluten intolerant and don't follow a gluten-free diet?

In cases of non-coeliac intolerance, you may suffer from slightly less clear symptoms, but ones that indicate a gluten intolerance nonetheless. Libby says you could experience anything from gut issues, to brain fog, to lethargy.

If you are bloating regularly, she recommends taking probiotics (ideally above a dose of 10 billion). Her favourites are Link Nutrition's—they help support your gut microflora, leading to a balanced digestive system and less bloating.

Going down the gluten-free track (whether you're coeliac or not) can seem daunting and the menu options slim, but you'd be surprised – there's actually a lot of good gluten-free ingredients to choose from. Read for what the foods experts recommend consuming more of, and what to avoid.

If you are concerned about the symptoms of coeliac disease, do speak to your GP or a qualified professional.

Ally Head
Senior Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Senior Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, nine-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She's won a BSME for her sustainability work, regularly hosts panels and presents for events like the Sustainability Awards, and is a stickler for a strong stat, too, seeing over nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.