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HealthInfo Canterbury

Gluten-free diet for coeliac disease

People with coeliac disease have a permanent intolerance to gluten (a protein that's in wheat, rye, barley, and oats).

If you have coeliac disease, gluten damages the lining of your small intestine (also called your small bowel) and you can't absorb food properly. The lining of the small intestine normally has finger-like projections, called villi, which help you to absorb food. In people with coeliac disease, these villi partially or completely disappear. (Gluten doesn't cause this damage in people who don't have coeliac disease.)

Coeliac disease treatment

There's no cure for coeliac disease, and the only effective treatment is to follow a gluten-free diet, which you'll need to do for the rest of your life.

By not eating gluten, you remove the cause of the disease, so your small intestine lining can heal, and any symptoms you have will get better.

It's important to eat a gluten-free diet even if you don't have any symptoms, as you can still damage your small intestine by eating gluten.

Gluten-free diet

A gluten-free diet means avoiding foods that contain gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, oats, dinkel (also called dinkel wheat and spelt) and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).

Foods you can eat

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

Foods to include

Foods to avoid






Rice flour, ground rice, rice bran

Wheat and kibbled wheat

White and wholemeal flour


Buckwheat flour

Semolina, couscous

Bran, wheatgerm, bulgur

Maize (corn)

Maize cornflour or cornmeal


Wheaten cornflour, wheat starch


Millet flour, polenta

Dinkel wheat or spelt

Dinkel flour


Arrowroot, soy flour


Rye flour, rye meal


Tapioca flour, pea flour, potato flour

Barley (+ kibbled barley)

Barley flour


Quinoa flour


Oat flour, 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, long-life), goat's milk, rice milk, almond milk

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

Butter, cheese, fresh cream, sour cream, 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, 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, or chicken coated with breadcrumbs or cooked in batter or bought already marinated

Most sausages, cherrios, 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, Bisto



Tea, coffee, fruit juice, cordials, and fizzy drink

Cocoa, most drinking chocolate, carob

Wines, gluten-free beer, whisky, gin, rum, vodka, sherry

Horlicks, Milo, Ovaltine, Bournvita

Commercial milkshakes, thickshakes, lemon and barley cordial




Gluten-free baking powder, baking soda, 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, tahini

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

Some commercial baking powders

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

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

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

Some flavoured potato and corn chips

Some filled chocolates and chocolate bars

Ice cream cones, communion wafers, most icing sugar

Some medicines – check with your pharmacist

*See Coeliac New Zealand's Crossed Grain Gluten Free Shopping Guide or Allergy Well's Food Finder 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 the Christchurch Branch of Dietitians New Zealand. Endorsed by GP liaison, Gastroenterology, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed July 2017. Last updated May 2019.


See also:

Should you be gluten-free?

Page reference: 24377

Review key: HICOA-25716