Recently diagnosed, and wondering what you can or can’t drink?

You know you can’t eat gluten … but what is in your mug? There are many drinks that you can enjoy, whether hot, cold, alcoholic or not.

black coffee

  • water – whether tap, mineral or flavoured should be fine. There’s no gluten in pure water, and we should all be drinking more of this
  • pure fruit juice – no gluten in this – just flavour and vitamins (and, sadly, calories from the sugars). Be careful about smoothies – these are usually just fruit juice and yoghurt, but do sometimes have other ingredients, so just check
  • milk is gluten free. If you’re lactose intolerant, or avoiding dairy for other reasons, try soya milk or rice milk. You may be able to handle goat’s milk
  • probiotic drinks are a new trend. Check them, but they should be fine if you can handle dairy products
  • plain tea is gluten free, as should be any milk or sugar that you add, but be wary of drinks from vending machines, as there may be cross-contact (see Make Mine Gluten Free for a discussion of the difference between cross-contact and cross-contamination)
  • herbal or fruit teas and infusions should all be gluten free
  • plain coffee is gluten free (and so are milk and and sugar) but be careful of flavourings and other additions (e.g. some chocolate toppings to go on cappuccinos, lattes, etc). Again, be careful about using vending machines
  • coffee substitutes, such as chicory blends or decaffeinated drinks may contain gluten. I had an email from the SoyCoffee; people to promote their gluten free coffee substitute – but I haven’t tried it.
  • pure instant chicory is gluten free
  • chocolate drinks: pure cocoa powder is gluten free, but check drinking chocolate because this can contain wheat
  • savoury drinks, such as Bovril and Marmite should be checked (particularly if you are not in the UK, as I understand that non-UK Marmite may not be gluten free)
  • most fizzy drinks are gluten free, but be alert to ‘cloud’ – this can be wheat-based
  • most fruit squashes are gluten free, but don’t drink the ‘fruit and barley’ squashes. It’s obvious, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to miss this!
  • avoid malted drinks (because of the malt). The only example I can think of is Ovaltine, but no doubt there are others out there. Malt extract and malt flavouring are made from barley, and widely used in breakfast cereals, pre-prepared meals, sweets and snacks. Small amounts of malt extract can be tolerated by many coeliacs, but not everyone, so check, and be careful. Even if you can handle a bowl of Rice Krispies, you may tip yourself over the ‘safe’ limit if you eat malt repeatedly throughout the day
  • cider, sherry, port and liqueurs are gluten free – and so, presumably is perry. Some fortified wines and sherry may contain caramel colour, which may be derived from wheat starch, but doesn’t contain detectable gluten, and is considered to be gluten free
  • wine should be gluten free, whether still, fizzy, sweet or dry, but we have had reports that some Australian wines are treated with hydrolysed wheat gluten as part of the fining process. Again, the level of gluten is not detectable in the final product, and it is considered to be gluten free
  • spirits are gluten free as long as no gluten product is added after distillation. Yes, including malt whiskies, because of the distillation process. But be careful of cocktails, which may have a gluten-containing product in them …
  • most beer, lager, stout and ale contain gluten, so avoid these. There are a growing range of gluten free beers of all varieties available.

I hope that helps. I’m just going to put the kettle on …