How to Get Started With a Gluten-Free Diet

Updated on December 27, 2019
Chin chin profile image

My name is Chin chin. I have a BS degree in food technology. I like to share important information about health and food-related topics.

Know the Rules of a Gluten-Free Diet

If you just found out from your doctor that you have celiac disease, or you are gluten-intolerant, you may be asking, "What now? What’s the next step?"

One thing is definite—you need to get started on a gluten-free diet. There’s no excuse as some patients report that even small amounts of gluten make them sick for days.

So, how do you do it? First off, you should know the basic rules of the gluten-free diet. Of course, the main rule is to avoid gluten at all times.

Foods You Can't Eat on a Gluten-Free Diet

To avoid eating gluten, you need to know which foods contain gluten. For many who are quite familiar with different food ingredients, this may be easy. But for some who are not, you may need help in identifying them. Here’s a short list of foods containing gluten:

  1. Avoid foods containing wheat, including triticale, kamut, spelt, durum, cake flour, semolina, couscous, and matza.
  2. Avoid foods mentioning the use of wheat starch, hydrolyzed wheat protein, and modified wheat starch in the ingredients.
  3. Avoid foods containing barley as well as malt, malt syrup, malt flavoring, malt vinegar, and malt extract. Watch out, beer-drinkers!
  4. Avoid foods containing rye, such as rye bread.

Examples of Products That Typically Contain Gluten

Some samples of products which definitely contain wheat, barley, or rye unless labeled as gluten-free include:

  • pasta
  • bread
  • breading
  • pizza
  • sweet pastries
  • crackers
  • cereals
  • beer
  • gravies and sauces
  • licorice
  • marinade
  • stuffing

There are other products which may contain gluten, such as flavorings, soy sauce, and seasoning mixes. It will be very helpful if you read labels carefully.

Watch for Cross-Contamination

It is possible that no gluten ingredients were used in the product, but since it was processed using equipment which also handles wheat products, cross-contamination may have occurred, even in very little amounts. This is usually indicated on the food label.

Gluten Free Aisle. Image by Whatsername? CC BY-SA 2.0
Gluten Free Aisle. Image by Whatsername? CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

Ingredient Substitutions

Now that you know which foods to avoid, you should also know how to substitute them in case you need to use these ingredients in your cooking. This way, you can make gluten-free versions of your favorite dishes.

Here’s a short list of ingredient substitutes you can use for gluten-free cooking. You can either make them yourself from scratch or you can purchase them in specialty stores or order them online.

  1. Flour for Baking: Use gluten-free flour instead of wheat flour for your baking needs. Some choices include corn flour or cornstarch, rice flour, arrowroot flour, tapioca flour, soy flour, and potato flour. There are also baking flour blends or baking mixes readily available in the market. Just experiment using any of these to find out which is best for your recipe.
  2. Binders and Thickeners: Instead of using flour as binder or thickener, you can use egg, gelatin, xanthan gum, guar gum, and some gluten-free flour (tapioca starch or cornstarch).
  3. Breadcrumbs: If you need some breadcrumbs as breading or coating, then just help yourself in crumbling some gluten-free bread or crackers. You can also toast them for extra crunchiness.
  4. Pasta, Pastries, and Pizza: Many food products naturally made with wheat such as pasta, pastries, and pizza have gluten-free counterparts nowadays. Just look for them in the store or online.

Helpful Tips When Planning a Gluten-Free Diet

You are about to make a big change in your life. You may be doubtful about it, but you are not the only person who ever felt that way. Think that going gluten-free is impossible? Do not lose hope. Below, you will find some helpful tips for people who need to eliminate gluten from every food they eat.

1. You Need a Plan

If you’re not used to planning your day-to-day menu, then it’s time to do something about it. You need to plan ahead what you would be having for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also, include the snacks in your menu plan. Having this thought out in advance will help you make sure that you can buy all the right ingredients when you go shopping.

2. It's Okay to Repeat Meals

This structure of having the same breakfast or lunch for a few days will help make food preparation easy, less stressful, and probably more cost effective.

3. Follow a Nutritionally Balanced Meal Plan

For starters, you need to talk to your doctor or dietitian to know which foods you are allowed and not allowed to eat. Of course, as mentioned above, you need to avoid wheat, barley, and rye and their products (bread and pasta, etc.) as these are the naturally rich sources of gluten.

Included in the foods you are allowed to eat are foods found in nature devoid of gluten, such as meat, fish, poultry, fruits, and vegetables.

4. See What Products Are Available to You

There are many food products sold in the market today labeled as gluten-free, including breads, pasta, ready-to-eat meals, and snacks. These products were manufactured using substitute ingredients like gluten-free flour (brown rice flour, arrowroot flour, buckwheat flour, or gluten-free flour mixes) and additives like xanthan gum or guar gum to improve flavor and texture and make them comparable to the products originally made using wheat.

Be sure to choose what you buy as many of these so-called gluten-free products are considered junk foods—high in sugar and fat and likewise lacking in vitamins D, minerals (iron), and fiber.

5. Check out the Available Resources

If you have limited ideas to start with a gluten-free diet, you don’t have to worry because there are plenty of available resources. Many are even free.

Doing a quick search online will reveal many websites, blogs and forums that present gluten-free diet plans, with recipes and even shopping lists. You can see some samples from sites such as and

I hope these five tips will be helpful to you and give you a head start as you begin your gluten-free lifestyle.

Betty Crocker Bisquick Baking Mix, Gluten Free Pancake and Baking Mix, 16 Oz Box (Pack of 3)
Betty Crocker Bisquick Baking Mix, Gluten Free Pancake and Baking Mix, 16 Oz Box (Pack of 3)
This is a versatile gluten-free baking mix; it's not just for making pancakes. Check out Betty Crocker's website for recipes using gluten-free baking mixes. To get a fluffier and tastier pancake or baked goodies, soak the base mix in milk for 15 minutes first before adding the other ingredients and cooking.

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • Chin chin profile imageAUTHOR

        Chin chin 

        3 years ago from Philippines

        Hi BlossomSB. This is the first time I've heard of the FODMAP diet. I looked it up on Google. I hope you're doing much better after finding out your condition. Diets are indeed somewhat limiting, but with a change in mindset, we become open to options that help improve our health.

      • BlossomSB profile image

        Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

        3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

        Thanks for an interesting article. I agree with what you have written - although I'm not celiac, I'm on a FODMAP diet and that includes gluten-free. At first the diet can seem limiting, but there's really still a wide range of foods available and more and more products seem to be coming onto the market, too. I've lived with pains in my tummy after meals for so many years I just wish it had been found out earlier.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)