Getting started on the gluten-free diet can be easy. Here are some simple steps to guide you:

Concentrate on the familiar foods you can eat. These include:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Meat and fish that have not been breaded, marinated or processed
  • Rice, corn and potatoes
  • Eggs,nuts (in shells or unshelled), beans and legumes
  • Fruit juices, unflavored milk, whole and ground coffee beans, unflavored tea
  • Oils, including canola oil

Plain does not have to mean bland. Plain spices and herbs are gluten free so use them to add flavor to your food.

Learn which grains to avoid. These contain gluten and are not safe:

  • Wheat. This includes spelt,kamut, triticale, semolina (durum wheat), farina, einkorn, bulgar, couscous, graham, modified wheat starch, wheat starch, wheat germ, wheat bran, whole wheat, cracked wheat, cake flour, matzo flour and matzo meal. Buckwheat is gluten free (see below). Wheat will be clearly labeled on all packaged food regulated by the FDA.
  • Rye. This grain is mainly used in bread. Except for rye flavoring, there are few, if any, ingredients made from rye.
  • Barley. In addition to the grain, barley is often used to make malt flavoring, which you have to avoid. Although not required to do so by law, many companies clearly label malt flavoring.
  • Oats do not contain gluten but are usually cross-contaminated by wheat. Only oats specifically labeled "gluten free" are safe.

Learn which grains are gluten-free and how to include them in your meals. These grains are versatile and nutritious.

  • Rice
  • Montina
  • Corn
  • Quino
  • Amaranth
  • Teff
  • Buckwheat (kasha)
  • Sorghum
  • Soy (Soy sauce fermented from wheat is not gluten free)

Learn about gluten-free flours.

All the gluten-free grains are ground into flour. Gluten-free flour is also made from potatoes, tapioca, nuts and beans. You can buy them in health foods stores and increasingly in supermarkets and on the Internet. There are numerous gluten-free cookbooks and you will find gluten-free recipes in cookbooks you already use. Some of your old recipes may already be gluten-free or easily adapted to be gluten free.

There are also easy-to-use gluten-free baking mixes for breads, cookies, cakes, muffins and other baked goods. Specialty companies even offer ready-made baked gluten-free products including bread, cookies, cakes, muffins, bagels, tortillas, pizzas and many more.

Don't count out pasta! A variety of gluten-free pastas are now available including those made from rice, corn, quinoa and buckwheat. (Buckwheat noodles are also called Soba noodles. Read the label to make sure they are 100 percent buckwheat and do not include any wheat.)

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.