Gluten intolerance

Gluten intolerance

Gluten is a protein found in numerous cereals, especially wheat and rye, which helps bread to rise well, makes a malleable dough and is increasingly becoming a hot topic!

Many people are either intolerant or hypersensitive to it. It's all about digestive enzymes…

Let's find out about this complex molecule: intolerance or allergy, what's the difference? The gluten-free diet and its daily application… and a few simple, original and tasty recipe ideas.

What happens when you are hypersensitive to gluten?

Completely harmless to most of the population, gluten can pose a real problem for some people: this is known as intolerance or hypersensitivity which affects nearly 30% of the population.

Over the past century numerous cereals have been subject to transformation, conversion and selection, resulting in a higher concentration of gluten to which the body, and especially the digestive enzymes, are unable to adapt. The intestines are then weakened by gluten protein causing digestive discomfort such as heaviness, bloating, nausea and mucus in the stools.

Unlike gluten intolerance, allergy or coeliac disease is an immune system reaction generally diagnosed very early on in childhood, between 6 moths and 2 years after the introduction of gluten.

Via an auto-immune response, gluten causes lesions in the intestinal wall which is no longer able to correctly absorb nutrients, vitamins and minerals. This is followed by problems associated with poor absorption: fatigue, transit difficulties, weight loss…

The solution is to adopt a gluten-free diet: no wheat, oats, rye, barley, spelt, kamut and triticale (synthetic hybrid of wheat and rye). The previously assumed "toxicity" of oats has now been disproved, but continues not to be recommended in a gluten-free diet by most specialists.

So the following foods are not recommended: bread, pasta, pizzas, quiche, cake, processed pastry, breadcrumb coatings and beer… to mention just a few. Gluten (from the Latin for 'glue') is in fact used as a binder in numerous industrial food products. Read the label!

Status of cereals and starches for those with a gluten intolerance of allergy

YES (gluten-free)

NO (contains gluten)






barley = malt

chestnuts and derivatives


pulses: lentils, chick peas, beans


corn and derivatives (flour, semolina, flakes)


cassava and derivatives (tapioca)


sweet potato










soya and derivatives




Legumineuse Riz

Foods that may be consumed by those with a gluten intolerance

Permitted "yes" cereals or those without gluten or starch (see table above) and derivatives: corn flour, potato starch. All products based on "no" cereals containing gluten
(see table above): wholegrain or white flour, bread, crispbreads, melba toasts, Swedish crispbreads, flat breads, gingerbread, breadcrumb coatings, all pasta, couscous, semolina, vermicelli, biscuits, pancakes, waffles, quiche, pizza, pastry.
All foods containing unadulterated animal protein: eggs, meat, fish, seafood. All non-homemade dishes (prepared foods, restaurant meals, catering food) which may contain breadcrumbs (fish), sausage meat (mixed with bread), flour, wheat syrup…
All unadulterated vegetables, fresh or frozen. Packet soups.
Home-cooked pulses. All tinned food containing meat, fish or meat pâté, stuffings, deli-type meats in particular sausage meat and sausages.
Homemade purees. All shop-prepared vegetables: gratins, stir-fries, preserved or fresh mixtures, including lentils.
Most simple accompaniments: salt, pepper, spices, herbs, capers, gherkins, all similar homemade pickles (foodstuff + vinegar + aromatics). All shop-prepared accompaniments and sauces: mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, stock cubes, gravy mix, tomato or soy sauce, celery salt, spice mixtures.
All basic dairy products (milk, cheese - except spreadable, yoghurt). Margarines, all dairy products not coming under the "yes" column especially industrial preparations such as desserts, tarts, chocolate bars, industrial ice creams…
All tinned fruit in its own juice or syrup and all homemade preparations (puree, stewed fruit). TAll sweets (including chewing gum, nougat, sugar coated almonds, marshmallows, chestnut puree, snack bars, fruit jellies).
All fruit juices. Vodka, beer, whiskey, "complicated" alcohol (mixtures).
Almonds, walnuts and dark chocolate. Breakfast drinks based on malt, cocoa, chicory.
All basic sweetened products: jam, honey, maple syrup, jellies. Classic infant cereals, normal desserts and small pots not labelled "gluten-free".
All homemade desserts in this category where you fully control preparation: rice pudding, creams, sorbets. Packed and flour-coated dried figs.
Tea, coffee, water, wine, cocoa with milk (pure cocoa not a preparation).
All products specified as "gluten-free" on the packaging.
For children, cereals and desserts labelled "gluten-free".

Always read the label!

Menu suggestion


1 fruit 10 to 15 minutes before the meal


Green tea or coffee or coffee substitute or infusion
1 soft-boiled egg or 1 goat's milk or ewe's milk or soya milk yoghurt 
Budwig cream with permitted gluten-free cereals of "Claire's Savoury Pancakes" + almond or hazelnut puree…


Raw vegetables (carrots, lettuce) with virgin first cold-press oil (rapeseed, walnut, olive…)
Meat or fish or eggs with an accompaniment of vegetables and/or potato, rice
1 seasonal fruit puree
If required rice or buckwheat pancakes, or "Claire's Savoury Pancakes"*

Noix et fruits secsSnack (5 p.m.)

1 fresh seasonal fruit
1 infusion
1 handful of nuts (hazelnuts, almonds…)


Vegetable soup
Depending on your appetite add permitted pulses/carbohydrate: chick peas, lentil salad, rice…
Goat's or ewe's cheese fromage frais (2 or 3 evenings per week) with rice cakes or buckwheat pancakes or soya dairy product.
1 seasonal fruit puree of stewed fruit

* In a bowl place 4 to 5 soup spoons of gluten-free flour (arrowroot, buckwheat, rice), add one egg and salt, then liquify with rice or soya milk. Cook in the pan like a pancake. This savoury pancake can replace bread at mealtimes.
Claire DESCHAINTRES: Nutrition advisor at NUTERGIA

To find out more

 For simple and original recipe ideas using varied and high-quality gluten-free products we have selected the following 3 books:

Sans gluten naturellement
Sans gluten naturellement

Sans gluten naturellement
Publisher: Editions La Plage

Desserts et pains sans gluten
Desserts et pains sans gluten

Desserts et pains sans gluten
Publisher: Editions La Plage.

For further information:

Et si c'était le gluten

Et si c’était le gluten
Philippe Barraqué
Publisher: Editions Jouvence