Woman with notebook tracking what foods to avoid with celiac disease

What foods to avoid with celiac disease

Medically reviewed on June 14, 2022 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Did you know that nearly 1 in 100 people may suffer from celiac disease [1]? If you’re one of these people, you know that the symptoms can be painful and interfere with your quality of life.

However, the good news is that much more is now known about celiac disease. This means it’s far easier to manage your symptoms and eat foods that won’t aggravate the body.

This guide will walk you through the basics of celiac disease and which foods to avoid if you’ve been diagnosed. (Not sure if you have celiac disease? Consider taking a screening test at home with the Everlywell Celiac Disease Screening Test.)

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is more than just gluten intolerance. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack the small intestine when gluten is consumed [2]. The disease is genetic, meaning that if someone in your family has celiac disease then you are more likely to have it, as well.

There are three separate conditions bunched under the category of gluten-related disorders, including:

  • Celiac disease
  • Wheat allergies
  • Nonceliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS)

Each of these conditions involves an adverse reaction to gluten and is treated by eliminating gluten from the diet. However, celiac disease presents the most severe consequences if left undiagnosed or untreated. Because celiac sufferers have trouble absorbing and utilizing necessary nutrients, they are at risk for [1]:

  • Iron deficiency
  • Osteoporosis
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Fertility problems
  • Pancreatic insufficiency
  • Intestinal cancers
  • Central and peripheral nervous system disorders

For this reason, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider if you have digestive problems when you consume foods that contain gluten. Celiac disease can develop at any age, so if you seem to have a new gluten sensitivity, you should investigate.

What foods to avoid with celiac disease

The simplest way to avoid adverse reactions in the gut is to avoid the foods that will irritate the digestive tract. Here's a list of ingredients to look out for.


Because celiac is a reaction to gluten, you must avoid foods that contain gluten. Some of the main foods you shouldn’t eat include [3]:

  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Malt
  • Brewer’s Yeast

Most bread, pasta, baked goods, and cereals should be avoided. Furthermore, stay away from all of the wheat varieties that masquerade under different names, including:

  • Durum
  • Farro
  • Spelt
  • Graham
  • Semolina
  • Farina
  • Wheat germ
  • Wheat bran

Often, you’ll need to read food labels carefully to spot these wheat varieties on the ingredient list.

Processed foods

Label reading is also critical to spot gluten in surprising places. Often, gluten creeps up unexpectedly in:

  • Sauces
  • Salad dressing
  • Soups
  • Processed meat
  • Meat alternatives
  • Soy sauce
  • Beer

Yes, even beer contains gluten. However, some gluten-free beers are available in the United States and abroad.

Snack foods

Finally, gluten might be lurking in some snack foods. While you expect to find gluten in processed baked goods, you might be surprised that the following products are not always gluten-free:

  • Energy bars
  • Potato chips
  • Candy
  • Chocolate bars
  • Granola bars
  • Tortilla chips

Non-food items

Gluten may also be found beyond the grocery store’s food and beverage aisles. Check the ingredients labels of common products such as:

  • Lipsticks
  • Medications
  • Dental care products
  • Herbal supplements

You must always be cognizant of the ingredients before using a new product.

What foods can you eat with celiac disease?

We know these lists may seem a little scary, but there are plenty of foods you can eat without triggering celiac symptoms. A healthy diet for celiac sufferers can contain the following [4]:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Meat and poultry
  • Eggs
  • Some dairy products
  • Beans and legumes
  • Nuts
  • Gluten-free oats
  • Rice

You can even enjoy baked goods, bread, and pasta made from gluten-free ingredients. There are many gluten-free alternatives available now that weren’t possible in the past. This is excellent news for celiac sufferers who want to be able to enjoy a slice of toast or a tasty bowl of pasta.

How do you know if you have celiac disease?

The only way to know if you have celiac disease is by diagnostic testing with a healthcare provider, such as endoscopy. This procedure allows your healthcare provider to observe what’s going on in the digestive tract [5]. Your healthcare provider will be able to observe structural changes in the digestive tract that indicate damage caused by exposure to gluten.

Screening tests, like the Everlywell Celiac Disease Screening Test, can be a helpful initial step in understanding whether celiac disease may be affecting your health. Because the results of screening tests alone cannot diagnose celiac disease, it's important to follow up with a healthcare provider.

How to know if you have celiac disease

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1. What is Celiac Disease? Celiac.org. URL. Accessed June 14, 2022.

2. Rubin JE, Crowe SE. Celiac Disease. Ann Intern Med. 2020 Jan 7;172(1):ITC1-ITC16.

3. Sources of gluten. Celiac.org. URL. Accessed June 14, 2022.

4. Gluten-free Foods. Celiac.org. URL. Accessed June 14, 2022.

5. Caio G, Volta U, Sapone A, Leffler DA, De Giorgio R, Catassi C, Fasano A. Celiac disease: a comprehensive current review. BMC Med. 2019 Jul 23;17(1):142.

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