Our Beginner’s Guide to Gluten-Free Eating

Going gluten-free? We’ll show you what to eat, what to avoid and more to help you navigate this diet.

You’re about to try a gluten-free diet, but you’re not sure where (or how) to start. What is gluten, anyway? And what can you eat? Worry not — we’re here to help with resources that will set you up for success.

What is gluten-free?

Gluten is the mixture of protein fragments found in common cereal grains like wheat, rye and barley. If you follow a gluten-free diet, that means you avoid all foods that contain gluten. On a plate, gluten-free means vibrant zucchini noodles topped with garlic-butter shrimp — or soft, chewy peanut butter cookies made with sorghum flour. (Yum.)

Why choose a gluten-free diet? Some people suffer from a condition known as Celiac disease, for whom consuming gluten can be potentially serious. Others give up gluten simply because of a desire to change up their eating preferences.

What can you eat?

An easy way to know if a food is gluten-free? Check the ingredient list. As you’re shopping, get into the habit of reading ingredients and choosing foods with “gluten-free” on the label. Foods with a gluten-free certification on their labels have been third-party tested to meet the requirements for gluten and food labeling opens in a new tab set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Here’s which foods get the green light, plus which ones are off-limits.

What to Eat

  • Fruits and vegetables

  • Meat and poultry

  • Eggs

  • Dairy (milk, cheese, butter)

  • Some whole grains (quinoa, sorghum, buckwheat, amaranth, teff, corn, brown rice)

  • Gluten-free pasta and bread

What to Avoid

  • Wheat

  • Wheat-based ingredients (wheat bran, wheat flour, bulgur, durum, graham, kamut, spelt, semolina)

  • Barley

  • Rye

  • Triticale

  • Malt

  • Brewer’s yeast

Unexpected Gluten Sources

This is where things can get a bit tricky. Some foods are unexpected sources of gluten, either due to potential cross-contamination during processing or specific ingredients. Here are several to watch out for during shopping.


Although oats do not contain gluten, they can be cross-contaminated with gluten-containing grains during harvest, storage or processing. Look for oatmeal that is certified gluten-free on the label.

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is made with soybeans, salt, water and a surprising ingredient — wheat. Instead, look for tamari, a gluten-free variety that is typically made without wheat.

Malt Vinegar

While most varieties of vinegar (distilled, balsamic, apple cider, red and white wine) are gluten-free, malt vinegar is not. It contains malted barley, which contains gluten.

Salad Dressing

Bottled salad dressing may contain gluten in the form of malt vinegar, soy sauce or even flour. Look for a gluten-free certification on the label — or whip up your own with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Anything Labeled “Wheat-Free”

“Wheat-free” doesn’t necessarily mean gluten-free. Check the ingredient list, as foods that are labeled as "wheat-free" may also contain barley, rye or spelt.

For a more detailed list of gluten-free foods at Whole Foods Market, check out our gluten-free shopping list.

How do I get started?

You know the ins and outs of gluten-free — so let’s jump right in. Explore our resources to help you jump-start this way of eating.

The information provided on this website is not intended as medical or healthcare information or advice. Please consult your healthcare professional(s) regarding all matters related to your diet and health.

Since product formulations change, always check product packaging for the most recent ingredient information.

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