We’ve discussed what you can eat: what can’t you eat?

Short answer: wheat, oats, barley and rye.

Medium answer: wheat, barley and rye – recent studies indicate that some coeliacs can tolerate contamination-free oats in small portions. Best to check with your consultant or dietician, and perhaps get fully back to normal before trying oats. We’re not giving oats to our daughter yet – though she’s been diagnosed for 10 years.

Long answer: look out for the following ingredients …

  • barley
  • pot barley
  • scotch barley
  • bran
  • breadcrumbs
  • bulgar
  • cereal extract
  • couscous
  • cracked wheat
  • durum wheat
  • farina
  • flour
  • gluten
  • kamut
  • malt
  • modified starch
  • oat bran
  • oats
  • oatmeal
  • porridge oats
  • rolled oats
  • rusk
  • rye flour
  • semolina
  • spelt
  • triticale
  • vegetable protein
  • vegetable gum
  • vegetable starch
  • wheat bran
  • wheat germ
  • wheat flour
  • wholemeal flour
  • whole-wheat
  • wheat

Most of these items are rarely seen on ingredients labels. You will quickly get used to what is and what isn’t going to be OK to eat. Sausages, for instance, almost always contain rusk. Burgers sometimes do. And labelling is getting better.

And then there is malt. Malt extract is widely used as a flavouring – especially in breakfast cereals – and is only present in tiny amounts. It comes from barley, and you should definitely avoid pure malt extract, or malted drinks. But you may be OK to eat malt extract in the tiny amounts in – for example – breakfast cereals. If you are unsure, avoid it.

Some people must also avoid wheat – not just the gluten within the wheat. Wheat free is not the same as gluten free! Rye bread, for instance, might be wheat free because there is no wheat in it, but not gluten free, because there is gluten in rye.

Some gluten free breads and other products contain wheat with the gluten removed to CODEX Alimentarius standards (i.e. very low amounts remaining – less than 200 parts per million). If you must be wheat free, you should avoid these CODEX products because they still contain wheat. It is possible, if your symptoms are not disappearing, that you are a sensitive coeliac and should also avoid these CODEX products.

The list of things you can eat is much longer than the list of things to avoid. Unfortunately, the bad things are widespread, and you must check everything until you are used to the diet. And then check some more, because things change:

New! Improved! New Recipe! Now 90% fat-free!

isn’t always a good thing.