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Diabetes and Celiac Disease: What's to Eat?

Updated: May 22, 2019

Posted April 12, 2019 ​

By Melissa Herrmann Dierks, RDN, LDN, CDE

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, approximately 6% of people with Type 1 diabetes are also diagnosed with celiac disease. So, if you have been diagnosed with both Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease, what’s to eat?

The good news is that many healthy foods are naturally gluten free. There are some instances where a gluten free option such as bread, cereal or pasta will be helpful, but start by shopping the perimeter of the store to fill your cart with items that are naturally gluten free.

Here are a few tips to help you get started at the supermarket:

All fresh fruits and vegetables are gluten free.

Many deli brands, such as Boars Head, have gluten free options.

All fresh fish and meats are gluten free, unless the item is breaded or in a gluten containing marinade. Look for products that have no additives in the ingredient list.

Fresh eggs are gluten free. Plain nuts & seeds and nut and seed butters are gluten free. Dried beans and peas are gluten free, but prepared varieties like baked beans may contain gluten.

Milk, buttermilk, butter, real cheese, cottage cheese and cream cheese are gluten free. Most yogurts are gluten free, check the label or the product website.

The trickiest foods to shop for when shopping for a gluten free diet are breads, cereals and pasta. There are more gluten free brands at the supermarket than ever before. Make sure that cereals, breads and pasta are gluten free, such as cereal brands from Bob’s Red Mill, or pasta made from rice, corn, potato or lentils, and make sure to measure them for correct carb counting. You can find gluten free bread in the bread and frozen sections of the supermarket. Read the label for correct carbohydrate information. In the baking aisle look for gluten free flours and mixes.

Many restaurants offer a gluten free menu, you just need to order a balanced meal, and count carbs correctly. Visit restaurant websites for details on gluten free offerings to plan ahead before dining out.

Once a person is diagnosed with celiac disease, it’s important to follow a gluten free diet carefully to prevent additional health problems in the future. Choose gluten free foods, and make sure to count the carbohydrate content into your meal plan. Check food manufacturers websites for more information on their gluten free food brands. One helpful resource is the “Gluten Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide” by Shelly Case, Registered Dietitian. Gluten free while meal planning for diabetes? You can do it.

For help with ideas on how to handle meals and treats at holidays, contact your local Certified Diabetes Educator or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist-they are happy to help!

Melissa Herrmann Dierks RDN, LDN, CDE is owner of Huntersville, NC based Supermarket Savvy, and has held a current Certified Diabetes Educator credential for over twenty years.

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