Helpline: 09 820 5157

How to Eat Gluten Free

So you’ve been diagnosed, and told to eat a gluten free diet. What does that mean?

It means avoiding foods that contain:

or any of their derivatives. This seems like a daunting task at first, but once you know what you’re doing it becomes easier.

Examples of foods that contain gluten
Unless specified gluten free these types of foods are generally NOT gluten free: bread, burger buns, cakes, biscuits, croutons, stuffing, luncheon meats, sausages, beer, bagels, cheesecake, wraps, doughnuts, buns, spaghetti, pasta, breakfast cereals, dried packet soup, pizza bases, pies, crackers, gravy.

There are many other foods that contain ‘hidden’ gluten. For more information see the Common Sources of Gluten page.

The gluten free diet

There are many foods you can still enjoy on a gluten free diet. Gluten free food falls into the following categories:

Naturally gluten free foods
Many foods are naturally gluten free. These include: fresh fruit, vegetables, rice, potato, corn, plain meat (not sausages), fish, eggs, cheese, milk, most yoghurts, pulses (peas, beans and lentils), fats and oils. There are many grains that are naturally gluten free, for a full list see the Gluten Free Grains/Flours page.

Products labelled gluten free
Products manufactured in New Zealand and Australia, can only be labelled ‘gluten free’ if they contain 'no detectable gluten' (testing labs can currently test down to 3ppm). However there are many imported products which are not labelled under the New Zealand food labelling law.

Products that carry the Crossed Grain logo

Products displaying the Crossed Grain logo  are certified by Coeliac New Zealand, and are independently tested to be safe for people, with coeliac disease and those on a gluten free diet. So look for products that carry the Crossed Grain Logo when doing your grocery shopping, it provides assurance that a product is safe and will eliminate the need for label reading.

Products that are gluten free by ingredient
In New Zealand and Australia any ingredient in a product that is derived from wheat, rye, barley or oats, must be declared on the ingredients panel. Note though that this only applies to products that are manufactured in New Zealand and Australia.

Avoid cross contamination by avoiding products with statements such as ‘may contain gluten’.

Understanding food standards

There are two food standards endorsed by Coeliac New Zealand that are suitable for people with coeliac disease. The FSANZ (Food Standards Australia & New Zealand) gluten free standard, and the international CODEX standard.

FSANZ gluten free standard –  a product must contain no detectable gluten (currently up to 3 parts per million*), no oats, and no malted gluten containing cereals or their products. All products labelled GLUTEN FREE or with equivalent wording must adhere to this code.

The CODEX standard (international standard) - a product can contain up to 20 parts per million* (ppm) of gluten. This standard is considered safe for people with coeliac disease by our consultant Gastroenterologists.

*Please note that 'gluten free' does not necessarily mean zero gluten for manufactured products. However, these ppm (for both FSANZ and CODEX standards) are miniscule amounts and are safe to eat for people with coeliac disease and gluten intolerance. 

Next Steps

  • Learn to read food labels - see our Learn to Read Food Labels page.
  • Join Coeliac New Zealand – Our membership pack includes a booklet called ‘Reading Food Labels’. Membership gives you access to detailed fact sheets on living with coeliac disease, plus support groups throughout the country where you can talk to other people in the same situation as yourself – it can really help you find your feet!
  • Check out our Crossed Grain Logo shopping guide for certified gluten free products.
  • Talk with your GP about accessing gluten free products on prescription.
  • Ask your doctor or specialist to refer you to a dietitian as they will be able to give you individual advice tailored to your needs.
  • Check out local supermarkets, specialty health food stores and the internet for gluten free products. The range of available GF products has increased greatly over the last ten years, and varies between stores. Products may be kept in a special 'free-from' aisle, or placed among other foods, or sometimes even both - so make time to investigate.