Gluten intolerance

What does this mean?

If you have celiac disease, gluten is what you need to avoid. Celiac disease is an illness  where the ingestion of gluten leads to the immune system attaching to the small intestine, causing microvilli to not function properly potentially leading to malabsorption. 

Foods containing gluten when you are intolerant can be linked to many conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, autoimmune thyroid disease, depression, psoriasis, ulcerative colitis and many other health issues.

Gluten is a protein which we eat regularly when we eat wheat. Gluten is alson found in rye, barely and spelt amongst other things.

What else can I eat if I can’t eat gluten?

The main starchy alternatives to gluten are rice, potatoes and corn. There are pastas made from rice and corn and other alternatives in the supermarkets. Doves is a good and common brand. Buckwheat is gluten free, oats, if you are not intolerant to them and rice porridge is an option.


Whilst oats can be made gluten free, there are a couple of molecules, Gliadin and Avenin, that can have the same effect on the body as gluten. Gluten free oats may be processed in a factory that handles wheat, I cannot tolerate any oats but you maybe able to, if in doubt take it out and reintroduce after a month.

Brands to look out for and cooking tips:

The supermarkets including Marks & Spencers all do free from ranges now, which range in quality and taste and it will be personal choice and affordability. I personally like the Sainsburys own free from bread and also their bakery free from, which is limited in supply. I freeze mine and toast as they can be a bit crumbly. Marks & Spencers do a good range, their rolls are good and the bloomer is probably my favourite although more expensive. Marks & Spencers and Tesco also do ready made sandwiches which are ok if you need something to eat.  The best supermarket for free from is probably Ocado which is online, making it easier to check the ingredients as well. Doves farm are also recommendable. Genius, Warbuton and Schar offer a good range although watch the salt and sugar.

 I bought a range of flours such as: almond flour, buckwheat, tapioca, sorghum, potato, rice and polenta from Amazon, by buying in bulk you will get a cheaper per 100g price although the initial outlay will be higher. I tend to make my own blends using plain or self raising plus a mix of the above. Polenta is useful if you make biscuits to give a “crunch” but it is personal preference, trial and experiment. A useful tip I was given was to leave mixes to stand for at least ten minutes and add 10% more water / liquid. Normal recipes can easily be adapted to be made gluten free.

Ensure that pots and pans are washed out and do not drain glutenous food with the same drainer as gluten free, do the gluten free one first.

A lot of gluten intolerant people make pancakes out of the flours with eggs and (dairy free) milk which is simple to do and can be adapted to what you like. 

A simple sponge cake is: 2 eggs, 110 g gluten free self raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 110g caster sugar, 110g butter and vanilla essence. Cooked at about 175 degrees c and for around 20 mins for a fan oven according to your oven. 

It is vital to check the ingredients and depending how sensitive you are/ become watch for “made in a factory that handles wheat” as cross contamination in easy and can make you ill. Any processed food such as ready meals, seasoned foods, flavouring, sweets, chips, sauces, cakes, biscuits, crisps, salad dressing, soy sauce, soup and gravy mixes may contain wheat or gluten.

Some cheeses with hard skins or  cheeses that have a mould culture may be grown out of wheat or rye bread so the label must be checked; generally cheese should be alright although dairy free cheese may not be. If you buy cheese from a deli, the slicer may have been used to slice other foods that contain gluten.

Eating out

Eating out has become much better and easier in the last few years and staff are more aware of intolerances and cross contamination. You must tell the staff that you are gluten intolerant and they will advise you what you can eat. The bigger chains are better equipped to deal with intolerances and will typically send a manager to look after you. Equally gastro pubs are getting better at providing for intolerances.

Whilst pop corn should be gluten free, I would not recommend eating from the machine at the cinema owing to cross contamination risks.


Gluten in liquid can be even more damaging as it does not need to be digested and goes straight into your system. Cider and wine are generally fine. Beer and Whiskey are not as they contain barley and rye which contain gluten. Vodka, rum and gin might be alright although some brands are made from grains so you will need to check or refer to my website for a list.

Contains gluten Gluten free
Wheat Agar
Barley Almond
Malted barley Amaranth
Bulgur wheat Buckwheat
Couscous Carrageenan
Durum wheat Cassava
Einkorn Chestnut
Emmer/ faro Corn
Khorasan wheat Flax /linseed
Pearl Barley Gram
Rye Hemp
Semolina Hops
Spelt Maize
Tritticale Millet/ bajra
Pulses, peas, beans, lentils

Cows Milk

When you ingest cow’s milk your body reacts in a negative way. The symptoms are wide ranging and include bloating, eczema, constipation, diarrhoea, kidney stones, tonsillitis, asthma and even anxiety amongst many more.

Lactose is the sugar found in milk and milk products such as yoghurt, ice cream, cream and chocolate.

Casein is the protein in milk and whey which cause trouble for people who cannot digest it properly, it is thought to be addictive to those who are intolerant.


Cheese is made from fat and protein and over the fermenting process the caseins are changed and should be easier to digest. Lactose converts to lactic acid and should be tolerable.

Soft cheese is not, including brie, camembert, Philadelphia and other cheese spreads.


My children are casein intolerant and use goat’s milk as an alternative and their friends cannot taste the difference! The casein and lactose molecules are smaller than cow and therefore easier to digest. 

Alternative milks

You may prefer to try rice, coconut, almond, hazelnut or oat milk. Soya milk is an alternative for occasional use as it can interfere with hormones and thyroid.

You will likely to be able to withstand butter and hard cheese. Butter is mainly made from the fat of the cow’s milk and water. If you like soft cheese, feta from sheep or goat, Roquefort from sheep’s milk and buffalo mozzarella, not cow’s milk mozzarella. Pizza Express can provide buffalo if you ask for it.

Remember to check medication and supplements for lactose. Lacto free products come from cows but with an added enzyme and caseins which cannot be easily digested.

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“I don’t get any stomach pain now, have more energy & I’m losing weight”
I went to Phillippa as I was suffering terribly with my stomach. After she did the testing it became apparent that I was wheat intolerant. I have since given up wheat in my diet and I feel amazing! I don’t get any pains, I’m losing weight and I also have so much more energy than before. Thank you so much you’ve definitely changed my life as my “IBS” symptoms were controlling me.

Rebecca, Chatham