After being told you need to remove gluten from your diet, it’s not uncommon to walk into a grocery store and burst into tears. At least that’s what I did. 5 years and a nutrition certification later I’m here to help break down gluten-free grocery shopping for beginners.

What is Gluten?

Before you go grocery shopping, it’s helpful to know what is gluten. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, barley, rye, and crosses of those ingredients. It’s commonly found in bread, pasta, cereal, and grain-based products but gluten is hidden in a lot of places you wouldn’t expect.

While it has no basic nutrients, gluten provides elasticity and structure. Therefore removing it does not change the nutritious value of a food but it does change how it looks and potentially tastes.

It’s important to know that while many people avoid gluten, it is not inherently bad for you. Gluten is considered an inflammatory food, so it’s not uncommon for people to need to avoid it. Those who are gluten-sensitive or have celiac disease need to make sure they are on a gluten-free diet.

Finding Gluten-Free Foods

Part of gluten-free grocery shopping for beginners is getting to know what foods are gluten-free. Some foods are naturally gluten-free, some will have the gluten removed and others will not be safe to eat.

Doing your research and knowing ahead of time what is and isn’t safe will help make your grocery trip a lot easier.

Naturally Gluten-Free Foods

Whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten-free. They contain one ingredient and that ingredient is not gluten. When you are on the hunt for a snack, fresh produce will always be a good option.

However, if you are relying on frozen or canned produce, watch out for preservatives and sauces that might contain gluten.

Reading Food Labels

When reading ingredients, it’s not as simple as just looking for wheat, barley, and rye. Unfortunately, there will also be other ingredients that are made from those ingredients that contain gluten.

A few big ones to watch out for:

  • Graham
  • Spelt
  • Malt
  • Brewers yeast

The Celiac Disease Foundation has a great list to reference if you are concerned about gluten in your food.

The Certified Gluten-Free Logo

Your safest solution will be to look for the certified gluten-free logo. When it comes to gluten-free grocery shopping for beginners, this logo will be a safety net. If this logo is on the packaging, it means that “the GFCO certification mark stands for the independent verification of quality and integrity, and products that carry the mark represent unmatched reliability for meeting the strictest of gluten-free standards.”

Certified Gluten-Free

Gluten-Free Grocery Shopping For Beginner Tips

For starters, it’s okay to have a breakdown in the middle of the aisle. You won’t be the first person or the last person to do so. However, we like to avoid that as much as possible so here are some tips to help make that first trip easier.

  1. Give yourself time. The first trip to the grocery store while shopping for gluten-free foods is going to be overwhelming. There’s no way around it. Have a plan to spend extra time at the store reading ingredients, looking for food you like and new things to try. Over time your trips will be faster and shorter but up front, give yourself time to start.
  2. Know that you won’t find everything in one place. Unless the store is a specialty store or focuses heavily on the gluten-free lifestyle. You likely will not find everything in one place. Know that it might take two or three stores to find what you need.
  3. Don’t hesitate to shop online. ThriveMarket can be a lifesaver for those who do not have access to a lot of in-store grocery items.
  4. Go in with a plan. Having a grocery list and a plan of what to buy will help you know what to look for and where to start. Without a plan, you will find yourself buying every gluten-free item available, even if it’s something you don’t like. Do I speak from experience? Yes.
  5. Having a grocery list will be crucial to success at the grocery store. Grab our gluten-free grocery list for beginners to help you plan your trip and know exactly what to buy.

Gluten-free grocery shopping for beginners is something we all go through. The tears are normal but there are ways to avoid the overwhelm. Learning to read labels and looking for the certified gluten-free label will help keep you on the right track. Give yourself time at the grocery store and don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Inside the eBook Going Gluten-Free: Making Your Grocery List, we not only give you a grocery list to start with but teach you how to expand on it. Download your copy now to rock your first gluten-free grocery trip. 

Going Gluten-Free: Making Your Grocery Shopping List

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Kristin Longacre

Hey There, I’m Kristin, a gluten-free nutrition coach helping gluten-free families adjust to their new lifestyle.

Gluten-Free Grocery Shopping For Beginners