The supermarket doesn't have to be daunting even when you are new to the gluten-free diet. Here are some tips to help you fill your shopping cart with safe foods:


Produce

This is usually the first section of the grocery. That's a good thing because you can eat almost everything here. All plain fruits and vegetables are gluten free. Load up on your favorites and treat yourself to the more exotic items.


Dairy

This is also a gluten-friendly spot. Many products in the dairy department are gluten free, including milk, butter, eggs, real cheese, and most yogurts.


Meat, poultry and fish

Plain meats, poultry and fish are gluten free. Avoid products that are breaded and read the label on any that have been marinated or seasoned. If wheat or malt flavoring is used it will most likely say so on label as the USDA has a policy of always labeling gluten.


Deli

Many cold cuts are gluten free and more are putting "gluten free" on their labels and on display case signs. This includes Boars Head and Thumans. You can check the gluten-free status of many brands on the Internet before going to the store.


Processed food

These aisles present the real challenge because many processed foods contain gluten. The key to finding safe foods is to read every label carefully.

Start with foods that are likely to be gluten free.This includes plain canned fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, plain white (including enriched) and brown rice, juice,soda, unflavored coffee and tea, salad dressing, canned tuna fish, tomato sauce, corn tortillas and tacos, peanut butter and jam.

Snacks

Concentrate on pudding, Jell-O, fruit snacks, candy (avoid licorice and candy with cookie pieces or rice crisps) and plain nuts, popcorn, rice cakes and corn and potato chips.


Natural or Health Food

More regular supermarkets now have health or natural food sections. You will find specialty gluten-free products there. Lookfor gluten-free flours, baking mixes, rice and corn based pasta, cereal, snack and protein bars, and ready-made cookies, crackers and pretzels. Occasionally you will also find gluten-freeitems in the regular aisles.


Frozen foods

Most frozen foods are also processed, so read the labels. Ice cream, frozen yogurt and ice pops are often gluten free. Frozen plain fruits and vegetables are gluten free. Some processed meals are gluten free.

Celiac disease is a serious, lifelong, gastrointestinal disorder that can cause a wide spectrum of clinical symptoms such us diarrhea, abdominal distension, weight loss, malnutrition and skin disorders due to permanent intolerance to gluten, a complex mixture of proteins found in wheat, barley and rye.