Gluten-Free Diet: What to Eat & Avoid (with Meal Plan & Recipes)

Updated in March 2024

A gluten-free diet consists of avoiding foods that contain this protein. Gluten can be found in food that contains wheat (such as bread, cookies and cakes), processed meats (such as sausages and hamburgers), and bechamel sauce, for example.

A gluten-free diet is recommended for people with gluten intolerance and celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that is caused by total gluten intolerance. Consuming gluten with this condition triggers an immune system response that causes inflammation and damage to the intestine.

Although the gluten-free diet is popularly used to lose weight, it is important to remember that gluten itself does not cause weight gain. Instead, weight gain is associated with excessive calorie intake, which can occur with food that may or may not contain gluten. 

Imagem ilustrativa número 1

How to start

To follow a gluten-free diet, you are advised to replace foods that contain this gluten with other options without this protein.

You should avoid foods that may be contaminated with gluten, such as soy sauce and processed meats. You should check food labels, which should disclose “contains gluten” or “does not contain gluten”.

What to eat

Foods that you can eat in a gluten-free diet include:

  • Proteins, such as beef, chicken, turkey, eggs, seafood, fish
  • Dairy products, such as cheese, yogurt, milk and cream
  • Bread, cakes and cookies, made with rice flour, corn starch, tapioca or soy
  • Legumes, such as black beans, chickpeas, lentils and white beans
  • Grains, such as rice, corn, quinoa, sorghum, amaranth and arrowroot
  • Tubers and derivatives, such as potatoes, cassava, cassava flour, tapioca and cassava flour
  • Fresh fruits, such as apples, plums, tangerines, oranges, papayas, avocados and melons
  • Vegetables, such as tomatoes, lettuce, onions, cucumbers, jiló, green beans and chayote
  • Fats and seeds, such as olive oil, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds
  • Nuts, such as Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts
  • Drinks, such as water, coffee, teas and natural juices

You can also use natural herbs and spices, such as coriander, parsley and black pepper, as they do not contain gluten. Check-out a list of gluten-free foods that you can eat.

Pure oats that indicate "gluten-free" on the label can be safe for consumption in moderate amounts by most people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. They are particularly well-tolerated by those who have celiac disease without any active symptoms. It is important to speak to a registered dietitian before adding oats to your diet gluten-free diet.

Also recommended: Gluten Intolerance Symptoms: 7 Common Signs (with Symptom Quiz)

Food to avoid

Foods that you should not eat in a gluten-free diet include:

  • Wheat and similar grains, such as wheat germ, semolina, triticale, bulgur, rye and barley
  • Dough and flour made with wheat, such as pizza, lasagna, ravioli and cannelloni
  • Breaded snacks, such as nuggets and fish or meat with Panko
  • Oats and derivatives that are not noted to be “gluten-free”
  • Sauces, such as bechamel, salad dressings, soy sauce and teriyaki

It is also important to pay attention to the labels of plant-based drinks, ready-to-eat meals, jams, sausages, ice cream, cocoa and chocolate, as they may also contain gluten in their composition. Learn more about other foods with gluten that you should avoid consuming during a gluten-free diet.

Meal Plan

The following table outlines a sample 3-day meal plan for a gluten-free diet: 

Meal Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Breakfast 2 slices of gluten-free bread + 2 slices of white cheese + 1 cup of milk Tapioca with cheese and eggs + 1 cup of black coffee Greek yogurt + 1 chopped pear + 1 tablespoon of honey 
Morning snack Smoothie made with milk, strawberries and almonds 1 chopped banana with cinnamon + 2 brazil nuts 1 apple + 6 walnuts
Lunch Rice + grilled fish fillet + salad made with lettuce, tomatoes and arugula, seasoned with olive oil and vinegar + 1 slice of watermelon Mashed potato +  ground beef with homemade tomato sauce + red bean salad with tomatoes, onions and cucumber + 1 slice of melon  Spaghetti squash and carrots with homemade tomato sauce + 1 grilled beef + salad made with lettuce, tomato and onoion + 1 tangerine
Afternoon snack 1 Greek yogurt + 1 teaspoon with honey + 1 tablespoon with sunflower seeds 4 corn cakes + 2 tablespoons of guacomole made with avocado, tomatoes, onion, lemon juice, salt and pepper 1 cup of black coffee + 10 rice crackers
Dinner 1 grilled fish fillet + 2 boiled potatoes + salad with stir-fried broccoli, cauliflower and carrot 1 serving of soup made with pumpkin, tomatoes, cabbage, sweet potato and beef Chicken breast with tomatosauce + 3 tablespoons of rice + 2 tablespoons of beans + salad made with spinach, tomato and cucumber

This meal plan is just an example, as each person may have individual food preferences and healthy histories. To start a gluten-free diet, you should speak to a registered dietian, who will perform a complete assessment to customize a meal plan that meets your health needs and goals.

Gluten-free recipes

Some gluten-free recipes are

1. Gluten-free cookies


  • 1/2 cup of hazelnuts
  • 1 cup of corn flour
  • 2 tablespoons of rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1/2 cup of milk or plant-based drink
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil


Place the hazelnuts, sugar, honey, olive oil and milk in a blender, and mix until you have a homogeneous cream. Mix the flours in a separate bowl and then add the cream, mixing well. Form small balls with your hands, then flatten the balls into a disc and place on a tray lined with parchment paper. Place in a preheated oven at 180 to 200 ºC (350 to 390 ºF) for 30 minutes. Wait for it to cool and serve.

2. Gluten-free bread


  • 1 cup of almond flour
  • 1 cup of sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • Dried basil to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of water


In a bowl, combine the sunflower seeds with the almond flour, basil and salt. Then, mix the honey with the lemon juice and add it to the blender with the other ingredients, adding water when necessary. If necessary, you can knead the bread with your hands, using a little almond flour to prevent it from sticking.

When the dough is homogeneous and fluffy, place it in the preheated oven at 68ºC for 1 hour. Remove from the oven, cut the dough into slices and return to the oven at 180ºC for another 30 minutes.

3. Gluten-free apple cake


  • 5 eggs
  • 2 apples cut into cubes
  • 2 cups (tea) of brown sugar
  • 1.5 cups of rice flour
  • 1/2 cup of cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
  • 1 pinch of salt


Beat the eggs with a mixer for about 5 minutes. Then add the oil and sugar and continue beating. Add the rice flour, cornstarch, yeast, salt and cinnamon powder and beat.

Pour the dough into a greased baking dish, spread the chopped apple, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and then bake in a medium oven preheated to 180ºC (or 350ºF), for about 30 minutes or until golden.