What is the diet?

Following a gluten-free diet involves avoiding wheat, barley, rye, and all foods made with these ingredients. There are many naturally gluten free foods including dairy, seafood, meat, fruits, vegetables, fats and many grains.

A nutritious gluten-free diet can help correct and prevent nutrient deficiencies that may occur in celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS).
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease triggered by gluten ingestion, which damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. NCGS is a condition in which individuals report improvement of symptoms following the elimination of gluten from their diet. This diagnosis is only given after both celiac disease and wheat allergy are excluded.

What conditions is the gluten-free diet used for?

Someone with Crohn’s disease who:
  • Celiac Disease.
  • Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS).

Why is the gluten-free diet being recommended?

A strict gluten-free diet is the only treatment available for celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. In a person newly diagnosed with celiac disease or not treated with a gluten-free diet, many nutrients from food are not absorbed.

  • Common deficiencies include iron, vitamin D, calcium, vitamin B12, folate, zinc, and vitamin B6.
  • Many gluten-free food substitutes are lacking in some nutrients such as fiber, folate, iron and riboflavin.
A nutritious gluten-free diet can help correct and prevent nutrient deficiencies that may occur in celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Food sources to optimize

Optimize Nutrient Intake and Prevent Nutritional Deficiencies:
Lean meats, seafood, beans, fortified GF cereals, oats, liver, buckwheat, amaranth, teff, quinoa, leafy vegetables, nuts, dried fruit
Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines), fortified cow’s milk and milk alternatives
Dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese), fortified milk alternatives, spinach, kale, canned fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel), edamame
Clams, liver, fortified GF cereals, trout, salmon, tuna, beef, milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, poultry, nutritional yeast
Edamame, sunflower seeds, blackeye peas, soybeans, peanuts, asparagus, hazelnuts, broccoli, potatoes, almonds, mango, spinach, brussels sprouts, feta cheese, kiwi
Oysters, beef, pork, beans, fortified GF cereals, chicken, pumpkin seeds, dairy products, nuts (cashews, almonds)
Chickpeas, liver, tuna, salmon, poultry, fortified GF cereals, potatoes, bananas

Choose whole, naturally gluten-free foods for a balanced plate

  • Fruits and vegetables

    All fresh fruits and fresh vegetables are 100% gluten free. Set a goal of trying one new fruit or one new vegetable every week to increase the variety you are eating on a regular basis. Check ingredient labels of dried, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables to ensure they are gluten-free.

  • Animal protein

    Unprocessed animal proteins are naturally gluten free, such as eggs, fish, shellfish, chicken, turkey, beef, pork, lamb and bison. Check ingredient labels of processed and cured meats, seasoned or sauced proteins, ready-to-eat foods and vegetarian substitutes.

  • Dairy

    Most dairy products do not contain gluten, such as milk, butter, ghee, unflavored yogurt, cottage cheese and unprocessed cheeses. Check ingredient labels of processed cheeses/cheese products, flavored yogurt, and flavored milks. Malted milk products contain barley and are therefore not gluten free.

  • Grains

    A common myth about the gluten-free diet is that it eliminates all grains. That is far from true! While wheat, barley and rye must be avoided, there are many other whole grains and starches that are excellent gluten free options, such as:

    • Almond flour/meal
    • Amaranth
    • Buckwheat
    • Cassava flour
    • Chickpea flour
    • Coconut flour
    • Millet
    • Potatoes
    • Quinoa
    • Sorghum
    • Tapioca flour
    • Teff


Now it is time to meet with a GI-expert dietitian. To get more information about this topic, find a dietitian in your area by searching the AGA Dietitian Directory.

Written by

Raquela Adelsberg, RD;

Reviewed by the DIGID Upper Gastrointestinal workgroup, March 2021.