Celiac disease and adopting a gluten-free diet

Certainly you’ve already heard about someone who has a gluten intolerance or maybe celiac disease. However, to diagnose it thoroughly some tests are necessary.

Once diagnosed, the best treatment is to adopt a gluten-free diet. Gluten causes inflammation in the small intestine in people with celiac disease. Eating a gluten-free diet helps to control the signs and symptoms and prevent complication.
People who do not suffer from celiac disease may also experience the same symptoms when they consume gluten-rich food and may therefore also benefit from a gluten-free diet.

Gluten is a vegetable protein which is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and oatmeal. Some gluten-rich foods are easily identified: bread, pasta, cakes and biscuits.

These foods are forbidden in a gluten-free diet. However, it is sometimes difficult to identify whether certain food contains gluten or not. The reason being that gluten-rich grains are not only used as a basic ingredient, they can be added during food processing or preparation. That is why it is extremely important to read all food labels carefully.

There is a specific symbol on food labels to identify gluten-free products.

The following table identifies food containing gluten, food that possibly contains gluten and gluten-free food.

Some medication and vitamin supplements use gluten as a binding agent, so beware.

People with celiac disease should also be careful of cross-contamination, which occurs when gluten-free food comes into contact with food that contains gluten, as sometimes occurs during the production process, when the same equipment is used to prepare various meals.

It can also occur at home if food is prepared on a common surface or with utensils that weren’t thoroughly cleaned after being used to prepare gluten-containing food.

Using a common toaster for gluten-free bread and gluten-rich bread is a major source of contamination. Salt containers should not be common for preparing gluten-free food and gluten-rich food. The cook’s hands can also be a source of cross contamination if gluten-rich products are prepared at the same time as gluten-free meals.

When going out for a meal confirm beforehand that there are choices which are truly gluten-free, including the whole preparation process.

Starting a gluten-free diet may be a big change. However, many gluten-free products such as bread, biscuits, cakes or pasta are now available in supermarkets. These products are made for people with celiac disease.

If you are just trying to lose weight by going onto a gluten-free diet, but are not diagnosed as being gluten intolerant, these products are not the best option, as most of them are high in calories.


Forbidden Gluten Rich Food: Wheat and its by-products (farina, graham flour, durum flour, kamut, semolina, spelt, couscous) barley, rye, oatmeal. All pastas, croutons, bakery products, flakes, mueslis produced from these grains.

Risky Food possibly containing gluten: Semi-prepared foods (mashed potatoes), chips, puffed rice

Allowed Gluten-free food: Potatoes, rice, corn, buckwheat, quinoa, carob, tapioca, manioc, millet, soy, amaranth. *Confirm if the factories produce only gluten-free products to avoid cross contamination


Forbidden Gluten Rich Food: Some Portuguese dishes containing both pulses and grains (e.g: “Rancho”- chickpeas and pasta), breaded or floured pulses

Risky Food possibly containing gluten: Semi-prepared foods with pulses

Allowed Gluten-free food: All unprocessed pulses with skin (beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas, broad beans)

Fish, Meat, Eggs

Forbidden Gluten Rich Food: Crumbed or in batter meat, fish or eggs. Processed sea food

Risky Food possibly containing gluten: Semi-prepared fish, meat or egg dishes, sauces, charcuterie

Allowed Gluten-free food: All fish, meat and eggs


Forbidden Gluten Rich Food: Crumbed or vegetables in batter

Risky Food possibly containing gluten: Semi-prepared soups and their bases, vegetables in sauce

Allowed Gluten-free food: All fresh vegetables


Risky Food possibly containing gluten: Nuts

Allowed Gluten-free food: All fresh fruit

Dairy products

Forbidden Gluten Rich Food: Yoghurt with added cereal or muesli, milk or cheese with any grains

Risky Food possibly containing gluten: Semi-prepared desserts, milkshakes, processed cheese or cheese products, Roquefort cheese

Allowed Gluten-free food: Milk, plain natural yoghurt, cream, fresh cheese, cottage cheese, plain mozzarella, mascarpone, emmental, parmesan, gouda or edamer


Forbidden Gluten Rich Food: Semi-prepared sauces with any gluten-rich ingredient

Risky Food possibly containing gluten: Stock cubes, soya sauce, gravies

Allowed Gluten-free food: Plain butter, margarine, oils, vinegar, salt, pepper, plain spices, seeds in natural form


Forbidden Gluten Rich Food: Chocolate containing cereals

Risky Food possibly containing gluten: Chocolates, ice-cream, chewing gum, cacao

Allowed Gluten-free food: Sugar, honey, plain jams


Forbidden Gluten Rich Food: Beer, malt whisky, instant coffee or substitutes containing barley or malt (e.g: “Mokambo” “Bolero”, “Pensal”), oat milk

Risky Food possibly containing gluten: Chocolate milk, milkshakes

Allowed Gluten-free food: Water, tea, plain coffee, cola, lemonade, plain fruit juices