A gluten-free diet can vastly improve health, especially for those with celiac disease or digestive trouble. Here are some top must-haves when making the switch

If you've ever wondered what gluten is, it is, in fact, a "family of proteins found in grains" that often cause health problems in people with celiac disease, wheat allergies, or gluten sensitivity. While most people have no trouble digesting gluten, a rising trend in the gluten-free diet has drawn attention towards its many health benefits. Some studies have shown that a gluten-free diet may help in reducing inflammation, boosting energy, and even in weight loss. If you're planning on restricting or totally avoiding gluten, we suggest filling your pantry with these easy-to-eat food items that are completely gluten-free!

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Select whole grains

Glutens are found primarily in grains, therefore it's best to avoid those such as rye, wheat, and barley. However, that doesn't mean you have to toss out all grains. Some of them are naturally gluten-free; these include brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, and sorghum, all of which make great alternatives for everyday carbohydrates as well. Be sure to always check the label before purchasing though. While these grains are naturally gluten-free, they can contain the said protein if processed in the same facility as gluten-containing foods. Always choose products from trusted shops and manufacturers. 

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Fresh fruits

Fresh fruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, and grapefruits are the perfect gluten-free sweet treats to have at home. Keep them for when you're feeling a might peckish. Make sure however, that these fruits are fresh. Dried, canned, or frozen fruits may contain gluten if there are emulsifiers or malt-based ingredients. 

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Fresh cheese

Freshly made cheese from your local fromagerie is a fantastic pantry option for the gluten-free dieter. They can serve as snacks, or even as an added ingredient to recipes and sandwiches. Feta cheese, goat cheese, Swiss cheese, and parmesan cheese are most always gluten-free. Read the labels on cottage cheese and bleu cheese to check for added ingredients or processes that may turn them into gluten products. Additionally, avoid processed cheeses such as cheese spreads or sauces as they will most likely contain gluten. 

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Cooking oil

Oil is among the most controversial pantry items there are. If you've been a loyal adherent to "healthier" oils such as olive oil and avocado oil, we suggest you stick with it. Coconut oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, and canola oil are also possible choices. However, make sure that these items are not processed in the same facility as gluten-containing products to avoid cross-contact. The same goes for restaurants: ensure that there is a dedicated fryer or kitchen appliance for gluten-free products and non-gluten-free products. 

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Meats can be tricky when included in a gluten-free diet. The most important thing to remember is to always choose fresh cuts, be it red meat, seafood, or poultry. Soy foods are also easier to double-check when it comes to whether or not they contain gluten. It's also better to stick to these than to frozen vegetarian alternatives found in supermarkets or even seitan, which is a common ingredient in vegetarian or vegan kitchens. 

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