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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Gluten-free diet for coeliac disease

Whiringa kai witi-kore, matenga witi-kore rānei

Illustration showing healthy villi (finger-like projections) and damaged villi with the finger-like projections cut offPeople with coeliac disease have a permanent intolerance to gluten.

Gluten is a protein that is in wheat, rye, barley and oats. Gluten is also in dinkel (also called dinkel wheat and spelt) and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).

If you have coeliac disease, gluten damages the lining of your small bowel (small intestine) causing inflammation.

The lining of your small bowel normally has tiny finger-like projections called villi. Villi help you absorb the nutrients from your food. When you have coeliac disease, your villi partially or completely disappear.

Gluten does not cause this damage in people who do not have coeliac disease.

Treatment for coeliac disease

There is no cure for coeliac disease. The only effective treatment is to follow a strict gluten-free diet. You will need to do this for the rest of your life. A gluten-free diet means avoiding foods that contain gluten.

By not eating gluten, the inflammation in your bowel goes away and the villi regrow. This means you can absorb the nutrients in food properly and any symptoms you have get better.

It is important to eat a gluten-free diet even if you do not have any symptoms. This is because you can still damage your small bowel by eating gluten even without symptoms.

Foods you can and cannot eat

Choose foods that are naturally gluten-free. For example, fresh and frozen vegetables and fruit. Rice, milk, yoghurt, cheese, eggs, nuts and seeds. Also, legumes (cooked dried beans, split peas and lentils) and unprocessed meat, fish and chicken.

Foods to include

Foods to avoid






Rice flour, ground rice and rice bran

Wheat and kibbled wheat

White and wholemeal flour


Buckwheat flour

Semolina, couscous

Bran, wheatgerm and bulgur

Maize (corn)

Maize cornflour or cornmeal


Wheaten cornflour and wheat starch


Millet flour and polenta

Dinkel wheat or spelt

Dinkel flour


Arrowroot and soy flour


Rye flour and rye meal


Tapioca flour, pea flour and potato flour

Barley (and kibbled barley)

Barley flour


Quinoa flour


Oat flour and oat bran


Amaranth flour




Teff flour



Sorghum flour


Baked goods

Baked goods

Gluten-free pasta* made from corn, rice, millet, buckwheat or legumes

Gluten-free bread, crackers, biscuits, snack bars and cake*

Most pasta, spaghetti, lasagne, fettuccine and so on

Most commercial breads, crackers, biscuits, snack bars and cake

Breakfast cereals

Breakfast cereals

Cereals made from millet, buckwheat, corn or rice. These include gluten-free muesli, porridge, cornflakes and rice bubbles*

Cereals made from wheat, rye, barley or oats, such as Weet-Bix, Honey Puffs, bran flakes, muesli and so on

Milk and milk products

Milk and milk products

Cow's milk (fresh, dried, evaporated or long-life), goat's milk, hemp milk, rice milk and almond milk

Some soy milks, most brands of yoghurt* and plain tofu

Butter, cheese, fresh cream, sour cream and most ice cream

Commercial milkshakes, thickshakes, frosty shakes, malted milk, oat milk and some soy milks

Some yoghurts, cream cheeses and some flavoured ice cream

Some sour cream, processed cheese and spreads

Synthetic cream

Vegetables and fruit

Vegetables and fruit

All vegetables and fruit – fresh, dried, frozen and most canned

Vegetable and fruit pies, vegetables or fruit in batter or breadcrumbs, some potato products, such as wedges and croquettes

Meat, fish and chicken

Meat, fish and chicken

Fresh beef, fish, chicken, lamb, pork, turkey and game

Smoked or cured pure meat, such as bacon or ham

Gluten-free sausages

Meat, fish and chicken coated with breadcrumbs, cooked in batter or bought already marinated

Most sausages, cherrios and luncheon sausage. Some salamis, meat pies and paste

Fish fingers, fish cakes, fish pies and paste and fish canned in sauce. Chicken pies and chicken stuffing

Soups, sauce, relishes and gravies

Soups, sauces, relishes and gravies

Homemade gluten-free soup, sauce and gravy

Tamari (wheat-free soy sauce – check label)

Some canned and packet varieties

Most soy sauce, some Worcestershire sauce and Bisto



Tea, coffee, fruit juice, cordials and fizzy drink

Cocoa, most drinking chocolate and carob

Wine, gluten-free beer, cider, whisky, gin, rum, vodka, port and sherry

Horlicks, Milo, Ovaltine and Bournvita

Commercial milkshakes, thickshakes, and lemon and barley cordial

Beer, ale, lager and stout



Gluten-free baking powder, baking soda and cream of tartar

Some custard powder, fresh and dried herbs

Vinegar (white, balsamic, wine and cider)

Plain or salted nuts and seeds (including linseed and chia seeds), peanut butter and tahini

Sugar (white, brown, raw, castor and some icing sugar), golden syrup, honey, molasses, oils and margarine, guar gum and xanthan gum

Some commercial baking powders

Wheaten custard powder, some mustard and curry powders, some spices and some stock powders and liquids

Malt vinegar, Maltexo, Promite, Marmite, Vegemite and packet suet

Some flavoured and dry-roasted nuts, liquorice, some sweets and wheatgerm oil

Some flavoured potato and corn chips

Some filled chocolates and chocolate bars

Ice cream cones, communion wafers and most icing sugar

Some medicines – check with your pharmacist

*See Coeliac New Zealand's Crossed Grain Gluten Free Shopping Guide for a suitable variety. FoodSwitch also has a filter you can set to see only gluten-free foods.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed November 2023.


See also:

Should you be gluten-free?

Page reference: 24377

Review key: HICOA-25716