Wheat is a natural grain found in foods like bread and pasta. Some people are allergic to wheat. Wheat also contains a protein called gluten which is added to foods for taste and texture. Some people, such as those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, avoid both wheat and gluten for health reasons. But finding foods that do not contain these ingredients can be challenging.
When a food is labelled as "wheat-free," it does not necessarily mean that the food is also gluten-free. Products may contain wheat in hidden amounts that can make you sick if you have a wheat allergy or gluten intolerance. If you need to avoid wheat in your diet, this printable shopping list can help you play it safe.
Wheat Free vs. Gluten Free
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, people with a wheat allergy have an allergic reaction when exposed to wheat. So they must eliminate all wheat and wheat-containing products from their food plan. To stay wheat-free they must read labels on food, but also on skin care products and cosmetics.
Even when you're eating foods that should be wheat-free, check labels to be sure no wheat or wheat by-products have been added as a filler or additive. For example, legumes are wheat-free, but when you buy baked beans, wheat may be an added ingredient. Cheese is wheat-free, but cheese sauce may not be.
A gluten allergy is an allergic reaction to foods containing a protein found in grains. These two allergies are not the same. Gluten allergy is also distinct from celiac disease, which is a digestive condition.
If you try to avoid gluten due to an allergy or a digestive condition, you'll need to avoid foods that contain wheat but you also need to avoid foods that contain gluten. Wheat-free foods may be exposed to gluten during processing. According to the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a food that is labelled "gluten-free" cannot contain more than 20 parts per million of gluten.
Wheat-Free Foods Shopping List
There are plenty of choices at the market if you follow a wheat-free diet. This printable list can help guide you to foods that are compliant with your eating plan. The list of wheat-free foods also indicates foods that contain or could potentially contain gluten. However, if you are on a gluten-free diet, you'll want to look for the gluten-free label to be sure.
Nearly all of the produce section in your local grocery store should be free of wheat and able to be consumed. Most fruits and vegetables are also gluten free, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.
- Citrus fruit
Much of the dairy section of your grocery store should also be free of wheat. Safe wheat-free options available in the dairy section include:
- Cheese (avoid shredded cheeses unless they are labeled, "Gluten Free")
- Cottage cheese
- Sour cream
- Yogurt (avoid yogurts with additives such as cookie crumbs)
Wheat-Free Meat and Fish
Nearly all meats without additives are wheat free. Watch out for whole turkeys, however, which may be brined with a liquid mixture that could contain wheat. Double check the ingredient labels to be sure. Meat selections for you to try out include:
- Fish (avoid pre-made, breaded fish selections)
Wheat-Free Deli Selections
Your deli counter can be a major pitfall if you are seeking wheat-free foods. Many deli meats contain wheat or gluten, which makes them unsafe for consumption. Look for the following brands to make sure your deli meats are safe:
Wheat-Free Canned Goods
There are numerous types of canned goods available in your grocery store that do not contain any wheat. You can find everything from canned meat to canned sauces, fruits, and vegetables. This is a small sampling; make sure to check the label each time to be sure the food is wheat-free, since sauces and meats can have hidden ingredients.
- Tuna fish
Wheat-Free Grains and Pasta
There are numerous wheat-free grains and wheat-free pasta products on the market. Look for any of the following in either whole, ground, or noodle form, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. Keep in mind that some of these options do contain gluten, even while they are wheat-free.
- Nut flours
- Gluten-free oats
- Rye (contains gluten)
- Spelt (contains gluten)
While most cereals do contain some form of wheat, there are some hot and cold cereals available that are wheat-free. As with all products, these cereals may still contain gluten. If you're gluten-sensitive, be sure to research the options thoroughly. Wheat-free cereals include the following options:
If you are in the learning process of making your own bread or other baked goods, you can use any of these wheat-free flours. If you require help, consider using pre-packaged gluten-free (thus, wheat-free) flour blends until you get the hang of cooking without wheat. Beyond Celiac lists several different wheat-free flour options.
- Chickpea/garbanzo bean
- Oat (may or may not contain gluten)
There are numerous wheat-free snacks on the market for your eating pleasure. Some of these products may contain trace amounts of wheat, depending on how they are manufactured; always double-check the label to be sure. In addition to the ones on this list, look for any manufacturer who specializes in gluten-free snacks and baking, such as Glutino. Stanford Medicine Children's Hospital provides a list of gluten-free snacks.
- Bean chips (may contain gluten additives)
- Corn chips (may contain gluten additives)
- Dried fruit
- Frozen fruit pops
- Ice cream (avoid varieties containing cookies, dough or the word "crunch" in the title)
- Italian ice
- Potato chips (may contain gluten additives)
- Pudding (may contain gluten)
- Rice crackers
- Soy crisps (may contain gluten additives)
- Vegetable chips (may contain gluten additives)
Wheat-Free Beverage Options
Most beverages do not contain wheat. Avoid or check the label on any drink mixes, such as powdered hot chocolate mix, as these may contain some wheat. Safe beverages include these options:
Tips to Avoid Wheat
Learning to avoid wheat and wheat products takes knowledge, determination, and dedication. You can find a wealth of information by reading books about wheat-free living, but if you are in doubt as to whether or not a food contains wheat, avoid it. For more help with your wheat-free diet, talk with your health care provider or nutritionist.