What is Gluten?

October 1st, 2015

Q. What is gluten exactly?

A. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Oats are usually avoided too, because of the risk of cross-contamination with gluten-containing grains during harvesting and processing.

Q. Why can’t ASD children have gluten?

A. Research shows that people with ASD have an abnormal immune response to the protein in gluten (as well as the proteins in casein and soy.)  Whether or not your child tests positive on IgE or IgG tests to gluten, it must be removed to be on the GFCFSF diet.

Q. Is gluten intolerance the same as celiac disease?

A. No. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the ingestion of even a small amount of gluten damages the small intestine and leads to malnourishment. ASD children can have celiac disease, or may have gluten intolerance. The best test for celiac disease is a biopsy during endoscopy.

Q. What are the most common foods that contain gluten?

A. The common foods are: bread, cereal, pasta, cake, donuts, flour, some alcohol, bouillon, some vinegar, and sauce thickeners. It is also very common in medicines, vitamins, lotions, and lip balms.

Q. Does it matter if the flour is organic?

A.  No. Gluten is gluten, organic or not, and is therefore not allowed.

Q. Do oats really contain gluten?

A. Yes and no. Oats themselves do not contain gluten but are almost always grown with and/or processed with wheat, and therefore are tainted with gluten. Bob’s Red Mill offers a gluten-free version of oats but it’s recommended you wait 6-12 months on the GFCFSF diet before trying them.

Q. Don’t kids need grains to be healthy?

A. No. You will have to unlearn the food pyramid you learned in school when it comes to your ASD child. What’s good for some kids is disastrous for others. Think about diabetics – sugar is ok for most, but to a diabetic, it’s deadly.

Q. Why are prepackaged mixes almost always a no-no?

A. Sauces are commonly thickened with gluten, so even a boxed rice mix will likely contain a gluten-based thickener. Taco Bell’s meat is thickened with gluten, as are most chili and seasoning mixes. Bouillon and canned/boxed broth usually contain gluten and MSG, so check the package or make your own.

Q. What are the most common ingredients that contain gluten?


Abyssinian hard (wheat triticum duran)
Alcohol (spirits - specific types, unless distilled)
Baking powder (verify ingredients)
Baking soda (verify ingredients)
Barley flour
Barley hordeum vulgare
Barley malt
Bleached all-purpose flour
Bouillon cubes or powder
Bread flour
Broth, prepackaged
Brown flour
Bulgur (bulgur wheat/nuts)
Caramel color
Cereal binding
Cereal extract
Chorizo (read label)
Coffee creamer substitute (grain based)
Cracker meal
Durum, durum flour
Edible starch
Einkorn wheat
Enriched flour
Fu (dried wheat gluten )
Glutamate (free)
Glutamic acid
Gluten flour
Graham flour
Granary flour
Gravy cubes
Gravy mixes (unless homemade with cornstarch)
Ground spices (some contain gluten)
Gum base
Hard triticum
Hard wheat
Herbs with wheat fillers
High gluten flour
High protein flour
Hydrolyzed oat starch
Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP)
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein HVP
Job's Tears (aka pearl barley)
Kamut (pasta wheat)
Malt extract
Malt flavoring
Malt syrup
Malt vinegar
Modified food starch (source is either corn or wheat)
MSG (made outside USA)
Mustard powder (some contain gluten)
Oat flour
Oats (Oats themselves do not contain gluten, but are almost always processed with gluten)
Pearl barley
Potassium caseinate
Rice malt (contains barley or Koji)
Rice syrup (unless specified GF, it contains barley enzymes)
Rye semolina
Sauce mixes (read labels carefully, often contain wheat)
Semolina triticum
Shoyu (soy sauce)
Small spelt
Soba noodles
Sodium caseinate (contains MSG)
Soy sauce (unless specified GF)
Spelt triticum spelta
Spices with wheat fillers
Spirits (specific types, distilled is GF)
Starch (outside USA)
Stock cubes (many contain gluten)
Strong flour
Suet in packets
Teriyaki sauce
Triticale X triticosecale
Udon (wheat noodles)
Vegetable starch
Vital gluten
Vitamins (some contain gluten)
Wheat bran
Wheat durum triticum
Wheat flour
Wheat germ
Wheat gluten
Wheat malt
Wheat nuts
Wheat oats
Wheat pasta
Wheat starch
Wheat triticum aestivum
Wheat triticum mononoccum
White flour
Whole-Meal flour

The following labeled ingredients may indicate the presence of wheat protein:

  • Gelatinized starch
  • Natural flavoring
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Modified food starch
  • Modified starch - check with company
  • White grain vinegar
  • White vinegar
  • Vinegar

Common items made from wheat flour:

All of the items listed below contain unacceptable ingredients. Most of these food items can be found without gluten, casein and soy ingredients. Check the GFCF Food list alternatives.

  • NO biscuits
  • NO bread
  • NO bread crumbs
  • NO cake flour
  • NO cake & cake mixes
  • NO chow mein noodles
  • NO coffee creamer (all kinds)
  • NO cookies
  • NO cookie mixes
  • NO croutons
  • NO crackers
  • NO doughnuts
  • NO flavored prepackaged rice
  • NO flavored prepackaged pasta
  • NO flour tortillas
  • NO flavored instant coffee
  • NO flavored instant tea
  • NO ice cream cones
  • NO pasta
  • NO pizza
  • NO pretzels


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3 Responses

  1. […] Diet is the removal of gluten (wheat, oats, barley, rye), casein (dairy products) and […]

  2. […] Gluten is more than just wheat – it’s the protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. Casein is the protein found in all things dairy – more specifically, anything juiced from a mammal – including cow’s milk, sheep, goat and human breast milk. Soy needs to be removed too. Labels that say “wheat-free” do not necessarily mean gluten-free and certainly not GFCF. Dairy-free isn’t casein-free. Lactose-free isn’t casein-free either, since lactose is milk sugar. Organic doesn’t mean GFCF. Organic milk still comes from a cow and organic wheat is still wheat. Reading labels and understanding the difference is crucial. Going gluten-free also includes avoiding grains that do not have gluten in them, but are either grown alongside grains containing gluten or processed in a facility with them, contaminating them, such as millet and oats. […]