This site is intended to share the answers I found in my quest to understand celiac disease with family,  friends, and others who may be trying to find the answers I too have been seeking. This is a compilation of answers from various sources (clearly listed and linked prior to the quotes).

What is gluten?

(Source:  What Is Gluten?)

“Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Gluten can be found in many types of foods, even ones that would not be expected.”

Gluten explained on


What foods & other items are sources of gluten?

(Sources: Sources of Gluten & What Can I Eat?)

• Wheat
• Varieties and derivatives of wheat such as: (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt [dinkel], farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat, einkorn wheat)
• Rye
• Barley
• Triticale
• Malt in various forms including: malted barley flour, malted milk or milkshakes, malt extract, malt syrup, malt flavoring, malt vinegar
• Brewer’s Yeast
• Wheat Starch that has not been processed to remove the presence of gluten to below 20ppm and adhere to the FDA Labeling Law*

Additions from Canadian Celiac Association:
• Bulgar
• Couscous
• Oats (Most commercially available oats are contaminated with wheat or barley.)
• Oat Bran
• Wheat Bran
• Wheat Germ
• Pastas: raviolis, dumplings, couscous, and gnocchi
• Noodles: ramen, udon, soba (those made with only a percentage of buckwheat flour) chow mein, and egg noodles. (Note: rice noodles and mung bean noodles are gluten free)
• Breads and Pastries: croissants, pita, naan, bagels, flatbreads, cornbread, potato bread, muffins, donuts, rolls
• Crackers: pretzels, goldfish, graham crackers
• Baked Goods: cakes, cookies, pie crusts, brownies
• Cereal & Granola: corn flakes and rice puffs often contain malt extract/flavoring, granola often made with regular oats, not gluten-free oats
• Breakfast Foods: pancakes, waffles, french toast, crepes, and biscuits.
• Breading & Coating Mixes: panko breadcrumbs
• Croutons: stuffings, dressings
• Sauces & Gravies (many use wheat flour as a thickener): traditional soy sauce, cream sauces made with a roux
• Flour tortillas
• Beer (unless explicitly gluten-free) and any malt beverages (see “Distilled Beverages and Vinegars” below for more information on alcoholic beverages)
• Brewer’s Yeast
• Anything else that uses “wheat flour” as an ingredient
• Energy bars/granola bars – some bars may contain wheat as an ingredient, and most use oats that are not gluten-free
• French fries – be careful of batter containing wheat flour or cross-contact from fryers
• Potato chips – some potato chip seasonings may contain malt vinegar or wheat starch
• Processed lunch meats
• Candy and candy bars
• Soup – pay special attention to cream-based soups, which have flour as a thickener. Many soups also contain barley
• Multi-grain or “artisan” tortilla chips or tortillas that are not entirely corn-based may contain a wheat-based ingredient
• Salad dressings and marinades – may contain malt vinegar, soy sauce, flour
• Starch or dextrin if found on a meat or poultry product could be from any grain, including wheat
• Brown rice syrup – may be made with barley enzymes
• Meat substitutes made with seitan (wheat gluten) such as vegetarian burgers, vegetarian sausage, imitation bacon, imitation seafood (Note: tofu is gluten-free, but be cautious of soy sauce marinades and cross-contact when eating out, especially when the tofu is fried)
• Soy sauce (though tamari made without wheat is gluten-free)
• Self-basting poultry
• Pre-seasoned meats
• Cheesecake filling – some recipes include wheat flour
• Eggs served at restaurants – some restaurants put pancake batter in their scrambled eggs and omelets, but on their own, eggs are naturally gluten-free
• Lipstick, lipgloss, and lip balm because they are unintentionally ingested
• Communion wafers
• Herbal or nutritional supplements
• Drugs and over-the-counter medications (Learn about Gluten in Medication)
• Vitamins and supplements (Learn about Vitamins and Supplements)
• Play-dough: children may touch their mouths or eat after handling wheat-based play-dough. For a safer alternative, make homemade play-dough with gluten-free flour.
• Toasters used for both gluten-free and regular bread
• Colanders
• Cutting boards
• Flour sifters
• Deep fried foods cooked in oil shared with breaded products
• Shared containers including improperly washed containers
• Condiments such as butter, peanut butter, jam, mustard, and mayonnaise may become contaminated when utensils used on gluten-containing food are double-dipped
• Wheat flour can stay airborne for many hours in a bakery (or at home) and contaminate exposed preparation surfaces and utensils or uncovered gluten-free products
• Oats – cross-contact can occur in the field when oats are grown side-by-side with wheat, select only oats specifically labeled gluten-free
• Pizza – pizzerias that offer gluten-free crusts sometimes do not control for cross-contact with their wheat-based doughs
• French fries
• Non-certified baked goods e.g., “gluten-free” goods from otherwise gluten-containing bakeries
• Bulk bins at grocery stores or co-ops
• Oats -look for oats that are specifically labeled gluten-free
• Pizza –pizzerias that offer gluten-free crusts sometimes do not control for cross-contact with their wheat-based doughs
• French fries
• Non-certified baked goods – e.g., “gluten-free” goods from otherwise gluten-containing bakeries
If you see these vague words while reading labels, you will want to use caution since they can be from wheat or other sources. • Artificial color/coloring
• Dextrin
• Emulsifiers/emulsifying agents
• Filler
• Germ
• Glucose syrup
• Groats
• Hydrogenated oils
• Malt
• Modified food starch/modified starch [usually from corn in the US]
• Natural flavors/flavors
• Softener
• Rice
• Cassava
• Corn (maize)
• Soy
• Potato
• Tapioca
• Beans
• Sorghum
• Quinoa
• Millet
• Buckwheat groats (also known as kasha)
• Arrowroot
• Amaranth
• Teff
• Flax
• Chia
• Yucca
• Gluten-free oats
• Nut flours

** This list is not from the source listed above, but from The G Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide, by Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

[Important counter argument for some things on the Possible Red Flags list: Top 10 Ingredients You Really Don’t Need to Worry AboutDo your homework – look for the words “Gluten Free” on the package, Google the product with the words “Gluten free”, or scan it with one of the available apps.  I have called the company on some products.  I did learn that this article’s argument for the term “Spices” might not be accurate.  Some spice companies say that if they are mixed spices (not just one ingredient) that there might be fillers (which are natural from plants – sometimes wheat).]

Label Reading

“Products labeled wheat-free are not necessarily gluten-free. They may still contain spelt (a form of wheat), rye, or barley-based ingredients that are not gluten-free. To confirm if something is gluten-free, be sure to refer to the product’s ingredient list.” (To learn more see: Label Reading and the FDA)


What is a gluten challenge?

(Source: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital: FAQs)

“A gluten challenge is recommended when a person is on a gluten-free diet, but his/her doctor is unsure of whether or not the patient has celiac disease (CD). Genetic testing can resolve this question if celiac genes (HLA DQ2 and DQ8) are absent. If celiac genes are present a gluten challenge may be needed. In this case, gluten is reintroduced into the diet and after a period of time (ideally 6 to 8 weeks if the challenge can be tolerated for that long) blood tests and an intestinal biopsy are performed. If the gluten challenge is not tolerable for the full 8-week period blood tests and biopsy can be performed sooner but this can lead to a false negative result. People with confirmed CD do not need to have a gluten challenge .

“Note that patients should ONLY undergo a gluten challenge if instructed to do so by their doctor. Patients who have been following a gluten-free diet should not reintroduce gluten into their diet without talking to their doctor.”

Are there helpful mobile apps to find gluten-free items and restaurants?

Yes!  They aren’t perfect, but definitely helpful.


Are there lists that help identify which brands are gluten-free? (& other sites) have great lists to help know which brands & which items made by those brands are gluten-free.

Gluten-free foods {more lists I want to link to}

Gluten-free snacks – links to many lists including (by

Places to eat:

  • Restaurants
  • Frozen yogurt stores
  • Ice Cream Parlors [We went to Ben & Jerry’s on a vacation, and were so impressed that the employee went to the back rook and served my ice cream with a fresh scoop from an previously unused container, to make sure there was no cross-contamination.  So thoughtful!]

Products: [What do you use on your hands or lips that could be transferred when eating?  Vitamin E in products is often extracted from wheat.]

Prescriptions [not lists]


Good articles: