Coeliac disease

People suffering from coeliac disease must follow a gluten-free diet, avoiding foods that contain wheat, oats, rye and barley.

Factfile: 10 things you should know

  1. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease.
  2. It affects about one in 100 people in the UK.
  3. Symptoms are triggered by consuming a protein called gluten.
  4. Gluten damages the small intestine, preventing the body from absorbing all the nutrients it needs from food.
  5. It is found in the cereals wheat, rye and barley and sometimes oats.
  6. Symptoms can vary and can occur at any age - they include diarrhoea, stomach pain and indigestion.
  7. If left undiagnosed, it can lead to malnutrition and can prevent children from growing normally.
  8. Coeliac disease can only be confirmed by a medical diagnosis, so if you have any concerns it is important that you consult a doctor before changing your diet.
  9. Although the condition is permanent, by avoiding gluten you can limit the damage to the intestine and stop the symptoms.
  10. Many foods contain these cereals, but by finding gluten-free alternatives, sufferers can enjoy a life free of symptoms.

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Foods I can have

The foods below are naturally gluten-free. They can be made into flour and used in gluten-free dishes:

  • Rice
  • Corn/maize
  • Polenta
  • Potato
  • Buckwheat
  • Soya
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Pulses (beans, peas and lentils)

Tip box:

Pulses can be made into gram flour and urd flour. They do not rise well when baked, but with a little experimentation they can be used effectively.

Which foods should I avoid?

  • Wheat and grains made from wheat, such as bulgar wheat, semolina, cous cous, spelt
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Oats

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Common Myths

Wheat glucose syrup, wheat dextrose and maltodextrin should be avoided on a gluten-free diet. Although these ingredients are made from cereals which contain gluten, they have been processed (hydrolysed) so no gluten remains.
Buckwheat is a form of wheat and so should be avoided. Buckwheat is actually a herb, not a form of wheat and is tolerated by most coeliac sufferers.
Semolina is gluten-free. Although semolina comes from the outer coat of wheat, it does contain gluten. Most pasta is made from semolina.
I won’t be able to have bread or pasta again. Foods based on wheat, barley and rye can be made suitable for those with coeliac disease by removing the gluten. We stock a variety of gluten-free products, including breads, flour, cakes, biscuits, pasta, sausages and breakfast cereals.
I can’t drink spirits made from wheat. Spirits, where wheat is used, are gluten-free as all traces of gluten are removed during distillation.
All beer and lager is suitable for coeliac sufferers. Where wheat is used in brewing, small amounts of gluten may remain in the beer/lager, even after fining and may not be suitable for coeliac sufferers.
I have noticed that some gluten-free products contain malt extract or malt vinegar and thought these should be avoided. Some gluten-free products may contain small amounts of malt extract or malt vinegar and these are tolerated by most people with coeliac disease.
Spelt is suitable for coeliac sufferers Although spelt, which is a type of wheat, contains less gluten than other wheat varieties, it is not suitable for coeliac sufferers.

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How can Waitrose help?


All Waitrose-branded pre-packed products that contain gluten will highlight tihs on the back of the pack

Suitable products

  • Waitrose stock a variety of gluten-free products, including breads, flour, cakes, biscuits, pasta, sausages and breakfast cereals.
  • To help with your shopping we can supply you with a list of all our own-label foods that are free from gluten, which excludes any food containing wheat, oats, rye and barley. For a copy contact:

Nutrition Advice Service
Waitrose Ltd
Doncastle Road
RG12 8YA
Tel: 0800 188884

Other useful contacts

Coeliac UK
3rd floor
Apollo Centre
Desborough Road
High Wycombe
HP11 2QW
Tel: 0845 305 2060 (this link opens a new window)

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