Jefferson University Hospitals

Gluten-Free Diet Tips

The gluten-free diet is used for patients with gluten-sensitive enteropathy, which is referred to as nontropical sprue, celiac sprue or celiac disease, and for patients with dermatitis herpetiformis. Tropical sprue, a similar diarrheal disease, is not responsive to a gluten-free diet.

People with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye and barley. The only treatment for celiac disease is to follow a gluten-free diet – that is, to avoid all foods that contain gluten. For most people, following this diet will stop symptoms, heal existing intestinal damage and prevent further damage. Improvements begin within days of starting the diet. The small intestine often completely heals, though it may take up to two years for older adults. The gluten-free diet is a lifetime requirement.

Tips for Living Gluten Free

The Jefferson Celiac Center has a full-time dietitian who stays abreast of the latest stores, restaurants and manufacturers offering gluten-free products. Here, we've compiled just a sampling of such resources. Comprehensive lists are available from our dietitian.

  1. Read food labels carefully and do not use anything that contains the following grains: wheat, rye and barley. Talk with your physician about whether or not you can consume oats.
  2. These foods do not contain gluten and can be eaten in any amount: corn, potato, rice, soybeans, tapioca, arrowroot, carob, buckwheat, millet, amaranth and quinoa.
  3. It is important to make sure that your medication is gluten free. For each drug you take, check the filler and coating. Contact your pharmacist or the drug company to find out this information.
  4. Think about cross-contamination, which occurs when a gluten-free food or kitchen instrument is shared by others who are not eating gluten free. One way to avoid this is to maintain separate condiments, such as mayonnaise. Additionally, do not share utensils and pots that are likely never completely gluten free, such as a colander or pasta pot.
  5. Read the additives in foods.
  6. Additives that contain gluten:
    • Malt flavoring
    • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
    • Wheat starch
  7. Additives that could contain gluten:
    • Caramel color - safe in the U.S.
    • Caramel flavor - safe in the U.S.
    • Dextrin
    • Dextrinmaltose
    • Texturized vegetable protein
    • Yeast/yeast extracts
  8. Additives that are usually safe:
    • Annatto color
    • Distilled alcohol
    • Modified food starch
    • Maltodextrin
    • Mono and di-glycerides
    • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
    • Natural and artificial color
    • Starch (when listed by itself)
    • Skin products
    • Vegetable gums
  9. Keep a food diary and write down foods that give you symptoms.
  10. See a dietitian to help devise an individual meal plan.

The Jefferson Celiac Center has a full-time dietitian who stays abreast of the latest stores, restaurants and manufacturers offering gluten-free products. Here, we've compiled just a sampling of such resources. Comprehensive lists are available from our dietitian.

Area Supermarkets that Sell Gluten-Free Products

  • The Foodery
  • Haars Health Food Center
  • ShopRite
  • Trader Joe's
  • Wegman's
  • Whole Foods Market

Area Bakeries That Sell Gluten-Free Products

  • Mr. Ritt's Gluten-Free Bakery
  • Sweet Christine's Bakery
  • Sweet Freedom Bakery
  • Virago Baking Company