Do you eat gluten free because of celiac disease (or gluten intolerance) or gluten gluten sensitivity? It may sometimes be difficult to distinguish which products are truly gluten free. The official Free symbol creates clarity.

In this article I’ll tell you more about the gluten free label. In addition, I have listed which grains are gluten free and which grains contain gluten. Moreover, I give tips on what to be aware of when avoiding gluten.

[highlight color=”orange”]Grains containing gluten[/highlight]

Let me start by listing which grains contain gluten. This is in most grains, namely:

  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Spelled
  • Kamut
  • Couscous
  • Bulgur

Then there is a number of grain produces and cereal products containing gluten:

  • Triticale
  • Wheat flour
  • Semolina
  • Wheat Malt
  • Bran
  • Groats
  • Seitan
  • Rye flour
  • Barley flour
  • Pearl barley
  • Most muesli’s
  • Most granola’s
  • Most pasta, vermicelli, macaroni, spaghetti and noodles
  • Bread-crumbs

Products in which these cereals or cereal products are processed naturally contain gluten.

[highlight color=”orange”]Gluten-free grains[/highlight]

Fortunately, there are plenty of grains that are naturally gluten-free. The following grains are gluten free by nature:

  • Quinoa
  • Amaranth
  • Millet
  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Buckwheat

Products made from these grains are also gluten free. These are, for example:

  • Rice cakes
  • Puffed quinoa
  • Popcorn
  • Puffed rice
  • Buckwheat flour
  • Quinoa
  • Granola
  • Muesli
  • Spaghetti

This doesn’t mean that you can eat these grains without any concern. I will explain why.

[highlight color=”orange”]Cross-contamination[/highlight]

Cross-contamination with gluten means that gluten from product A contaminate product B. Cross-contamination with gluten occurs when a gluten-free grain is contaminated with gluten from gluten-containing grains. This can happen when you order a gluten-containing sandwich and the sandwich is prepared on the same cutting board and with the same knife that are used to prepare a gluten containing sandwich. In addition, there may be sense of cross-contamination when a gluten-free grain is processed in a factory where gluten containing grains are processed.

[highlight color=”orange”]How to eat gluten free[/highlight]

  • There are several things you should look out for to ensure that you eat gluten free or have a gluten free product in hand. These are the most important things to look out for:
  • When ordering a gluten free dish, make sure the kitchen prepares gluten free dishes separate from other dishes.
  • Are you the only at home eating gluten free? Make sure you have your own workspace in the kitchen and use your own plates, pans and kitchen utensils.
  • Avoid using packaged food and go for fresh products.
  • If you do use packaged food, check the ingredient list carefully. Products that contain grains and grain produces are better not bought.
  • Check whether the product carries the official gluten-free label. If it does, the product is safe to eat.

[highlight color=”orange”]Gluten free label[/highlight]

The gluten free label can be found on the packaging of gluten free products. This is what the European label looks like:

Het glutenvrijlogo datin heel Europa geldt
The gluten free logo that counts for Europe

When a product doesn’t have the label, there is no absolute guarantee that the product is gluten free. The gluten-free certification applies throughout Europe. For gluten free food in the US, please check Celiac Central.

Note that products with the official gluten free label may not be 100% gluten free. This is because a product wearing this label may by law contain up to 20 ppm (parts per million) gluten. Does that sound strange to you? The Dutch Celiac Association explains this with its statement that it has been proven that some people with celiac disease respond poorly to products with more than 20 ppm gluten (source).

[highlight color=”orange”]Exceptions[/highlight]

That, for example, a tomato, lettuce and avocado have no gluten free label, does not mean that they contain gluten. The gluten-free label therefore in general doesn’t apply to fresh products. 

An exception are for example eggs; especially celiac patients may respond to a eggs from grain fed chicken. If you respond to grain eggs, substitute these eggs with eggs from corn fed chicken.

[highlight color=”orange”]Availability[/highlight]

Gluten-free products were previously only available at health food stores. They are still available at those places. In addition, gluten-free products are nowadays becoming increasingly available in mainstream supermarkets. Just look at the organic corner and the freezer.

Now what?

With the information I have given above, I have hopefully clarified which types of grains and grain produces are safe for you to eat as a celiac patient or someone with gluten sensitivity. In order to ensure that you don’t incorporate gluten, it is important to take into account the following set of ‘rules’:

  • Product has the official gluten free label
  • Gluten-free workplace and utensils in the kitchen at home
  • Gluten-free workplace and utensils in the kitchen at the restaurant
  • Preference for fresh products
  • Check the ingredients list for gluten
  • Check my recipes for home made gluten free dishes (all recipes are gf)


Do you have any additions to this article or suggestions? Share them in the comment form at the bottom of this article.

PS: my next blog post will be filled with lots of gluten free breakfast ideas en tips. Subscribe to my articles and get notified when it is available online!


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About Author

Hey! I'm Angela; a 30-something mommy and a now REAL #fitchick, digi nerd, photo & film shooter hobbyist, MSc specialized in Health Education, marketingspecialist and an international fashion model for 20 years. I've worked for eg. Viktor & Rolf, Nivea, Escada, Elle, Vogue and Glamour.

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