How My Family Went Gluten Free For Two Months (and lived to tell the tale)

The ups and downs of 60 days without wheat with my supportive husband, skeptical teenage son and vegetarian daughter.

I’ve never been much for croissants. The texture doesn’t do anything for me, and I’d rather spend my calories on an indulgent scoop of ice cream than a baked good. But this croissant seemed to be calling my name. And I knew exactly why—because it was forbidden.

There’s nothing that makes you want something more than being told it’s off limits.

As I sat through my meeting at a neighborhood bakery that day, inhaling more and more of the buttery, melt-in-your-mouth scent of the croissant, something inside me snapped. After seven weeks without gluten, I wanted that croissant more than I wanted world peace or at least civility on Twitter.

After the meeting broke up, I marched to the counter and ordered a raspberry cheese croissant to go. As I watched the bakery manager load the gooey pastry into a bag, I felt giddy—and also a little guilty. Was I about to throw away everything from the previous 54 days for a few moments of culinary bliss?

Why go gluten free?

It started, as many good things do, over a pint of cider during a girls’ night. A friend mentioned an article she’d read that claimed removing gluten from your diet could work wonders for what she called “Brillo Pad arms.” A bell dinged in my head. “You mean like this?” I asked, displaying my keratosis pilaris-covered arms. I’ve had them for 42 years, and not even a dermatologist could clear them up. “Yes,” my friend replied.

I’m no stranger to the gluten-free diet. I have worked for Gluten-Free Living for eight years, and I’ve edited countless stories about the impact of the diet. I keep up on the latest research through the Study Sessions column. I’ve written stories about how children on the autism spectrum have benefitted from going gluten free. But I’d never considered doing it myself.

When I got home, I Googled “gluten” and “skin.”

I discovered going gluten free had been shown in several studies to relieve symptoms of psoriasis.

Hmm. My husband has had psoriasis for as long as I’ve known him. I thought a minute, then I Googled “gluten” and “asthma.” Double hmm. Both my kids have asthma. While the evidence is not conclusive, a gluten-free diet has been tied to lessening the frequency and severity of asthma flares. Could it be that after years of trying the conventional medicine approach, the cure to our maladies had been in the refrigerator and pantry the entire time?

I sat on the information until the next morning, then texted my husband, Jeff, at work. “Want to go gluten free for a couple months?” I typed. Within 10 seconds he replied. “Sure. But you have to tell me what to eat.”

Preparing for the journey

I knew going into the experiment that my family was more fortunate than most who embark on a gluten-free diet. None of us has received a celiac diagnosis, and we could bail on the project whenever we wanted, unlike those who have to go gluten free to treat their condition.

I also had to admit, part of me was curious how difficult it would be to navigate life on the gluten-free diet. I grew up with food allergies. From age 6 to 11, I was not allowed to eat dairy, beef, pork, peppermint and more. I outgrew the allergies (or diagnosis technology got better—which one, I’ll never know for sure), but being barred from eating ice cream during your formative years leaves a permanent impact, which probably is why I can never turn down a scoop these days.

I wanted to see if it was easier to navigate food restrictions as an adult and with the benefit of better food technology and options.

During my childhood, we didn’t have substitutions like almond milk or soy protein burgers. We just skipped all the good stuff. Now, it’s completely different, if not easier.

We told the kids about the 60-day experiment. Our 9-year-old daughter, whose asthma flares are worse, was on board but concerned about further limiting her diet. After a traumatic incident at a lobster shop, she had gone vegetarian a few months before. She was still navigating new ways to get her protein.

Our son, 14, was also skeptical. He’s a three-sport athlete with the ravenous hunger of a typical teenage boy and was in the midst of cross country season, which meant he basically inhaled anything within a half-mile radius. Getting him to slow down long enough to check the ingredients label would be a challenge.

Jeff was on board right away, but he proved less detail-oriented than you would need to be to truly adopt a gluten-free diet. One of our first orders of business, after an early unintentional cheat, was finding decent gluten-free beer (choices were limited in our area, but he enjoyed Omission).

I outlined general GF best practices for the family, and we set a start date, timing it so we’d finish our experiment right before Thanksgiving. We had to delay the start when I realized on our designated day 1 that I’d failed to buy the proper lunch supplies—I couldn’t just pull out the gluten-containing leftovers from the night before. Finally, we began.

Here are five takeaways from our experiment.

  1. The high cost of gluten-free food is no exaggeration

I tracked our grocery bills over the course of the two months, and they went up by about a third. In addition to paying more for things like bread and waffles, you also receive smaller portions than in gluten-containing food. A bag of pretzels might be 2 to 3 ounces less, for instance.

  1. Gluten pops up in unexpected places, constantly. But there are so many alternatives.

We were a few days into the experiment when my daughter came to me wailing. “We’re gluten free for Halloween,” she moaned. How could I have forgotten? Our kids are still young enough that trick or treating is an annual ritual. We scrambled to Dr. Google to ask, “what candy is gluten free?”

The search engine spit back dozens of pages of results, and I exhaled slowly when I saw Snickers, my favorite, was among the GF options. In truth, there were tons of choices for my kids. We barely had to remove anything from their bags (though tossing the Whoppers—malt made from barley—hurt).

That was a huge lesson from this experiment. While you couldn’t always find equal swaps, you could always find alternatives. Maybe I couldn’t eat Whoppers, but I could have so many other things that I didn’t feel deprived. That was a change from my youth, when there was practically nothing to swap for dairy.

  1. Being vegetarian might make the GF diet easier.

Especially when you eat out, meat is often covered in something to make it tastier, and that something, whether it’s breading or sauce, frequently contains gluten. So my son’s go-to dinner on busy sports nights, fish sticks, was out. But my daughter still could make her busy night quickie, bean burrito in a gluten-free wrap.

I gravitated more and more toward vegetarian choices when we dined out. My son definitely felt the frustration of not being able to order many of his favorites. My daughter just smiled most of the time. She’d been trying to convince us all to stop eating animals anyway—this felt like a small victory to her.

  1. I wasn’t always comfortable asking for adjustments.

On a lunch date with a friend, I asked the server if she could hold the croutons on a salad. She asked if I was gluten free, and I responded yes. She replied that the kitchen would have to make an entirely new batch of salad and use different utensils for me to avoid contamination. It was a hassle, she said, but they would do it. I felt my cheeks flare—I’m aware of cross-contamination risks, but since I wasn’t really gluten free, I didn’t want to make the kitchen staff go through all that trouble. I mumbled a different order instead.

People who suffer from celiac have no choice, of course. It hit me then that being gluten free is about more than just the physical (food) stuff. For someone quiet and accommodating like myself, having to advocate for what you need can be a significant emotional adjustment.

  1. We noticed surprisingly little change from the diet

My arms had a few days where the KP—little dots that look like pimples but are actually blocked hair follicles—seemed a little smoother. But I saw no long-term effect, and by day 60 my arms felt the same as they did on day 1.

My husband didn’t see any difference in his psoriasis. Now, he and my son definitely had the most unintentional “cheats,” so that could have accounted for the lack of improvement. But Jeff decided the dietary restrictions weren’t worth any hypothetical gains, so we’ll never know if a longer-term commitment would have helped.

As for the kids’ asthma, they experienced no flares or attacks during our two months. I have no idea if that’s a result of the diet or not, since they have had similar periods before. Our pediatrician said they seem to be outgrowing the asthma, too.

Remember that croissant?

I’d love to tell you that I resisted the urge to eat it. That I dumped it in the trash after I walked out of the bakery. Alas, I did not.

Sticking to the gluten-free diet requires a great deal of will power, and I found it difficult to muster. I know those of you with celiac reading this are thinking “well, obviously.” What this experiment brought home more than anything else was how much of a struggle and a sacrifice it is to go gluten free—and how sensitivity to that challenge can make me a better editor.  

Toni Fitzgerald is a freelance writer as well as the copy editor for Gluten-Free Living and a slew of other Madavor Media publications. Find her on the web:


Gluten-free products we loved

  • KIND bars
  • Glutino pretzels (my kids continue to prefer these over regular)
  • Cheerios (all kinds!)
  • Superior on Main brownies
  • Tinkyada rice pasta (we’re still eating this months later)
  • Udi’s gluten-free hamburger buns
  • Smart Flour Foods frozen pizza

Five small changes that made the adjustment easier

  1. I packed lunches for my kids every day. Since we were doing this short term, it wasn’t worth contacting the school about a change. My son hadn’t brought lunch in four years, but he did find the balanced meals I packed gave him more energy on cross country meet days.
  2. I bought more snacks than usual. While we usually keep pretzels and granola bars around the house, I added potato chips, GF crackers and more to my shopping list. We have a rule that the kids have to eat a fruit or veggie with every snack, so they probably got more of those in these two months than ever since they were so eager to try the new snacks.
  3. Aldi’s and other discount grocers are a huge help. I stocked up on bread and pasta at half the price I would have paid at our name-brand grocery store.
  4. We found a local parlor that makes gluten-free pizza and ordered it the second night. This reassured my kids that they could still eat the things they loved. And we all enjoyed the GF version, though the pie was smaller and a lot pricier than the other option.
  5. I took the kids shopping with me so they could pick out foods. They always used to accompany me to the grocery store, but they hadn’t done that in a while. Discovering new foods they wanted to try made the restrictions feel less daunting.

A Different Type of Performance

Autism-friendly Broadway Shows Bring Theater to a new Audience

During his long career in theater, Steven Chaikelson has served as general manager of Broadway productions ranging from “Death of a Salesman” to “Ring of Fire.” Yet, until recently, he had never taken his youngest children, twins Jamie and Daniel, to a Broadway show.

The 10-year-olds, who are on the autism spectrum, had been to several other plays with their father, including children’s productions. But as much as Chaikelson wanted to share his passion for the theater with his kids, he knew that seeing a Broadway show was unlikely. “It was challenging,” he says of bringing the twins to other theaters. “Jamie would tend to vocalize during a performance, so he might start talking to himself; he might start singing a completely different song.” Daniel enjoyed the theater when he was very young, but, as he got older, the experience became more difficult for him. “He’d walk in and start to freak out a little bit when it started. There was just so much hitting him from so many different directions,” Chaikelson says.

For many children with autism, attending a live theater performance of any type, let alone a Broadway show, is out of the question. The lights, the sounds and the large number of people in the theater can be troubling for kids on the spectrum. But the Theatre Development Fund (TDF), a nonprofit in New York City, launched a program in 2011 that is making Broadway shows accessible through a series of autism-friendly performances.

TDF’s mission is to provide support for works with artistic merit and to expose a diverse audience to the theater. The group has previously put on special performances for audiences with disabilities. In 2008, it began working on an idea to present an autism-friendly performance.

“We had done very successful outreach to students with hearing and vision loss through public schools, and the special-education teachers said, ‘What can you do for students on the autistic spectrum?” says Lisa Carling, TDF’s director of accessibility programs. “Right now, there are so many kids who are being diagnosed.”

But, unlike planning a performance for hearing- or vision-impaired audiences, an autism-friendly performance isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor. “We were dealing with a wide range of behavior on the spectrum,” Carling says. TDF reached out to Chaikelson and several other Broadway managers and producers whose children have autism to gather input on how to tweak a production for an audience of kids on the spectrum and their families. The group also consulted with Jamie D. Bleiweiss, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Hunter College who is also the co-founder and director of Autism Friendly Spaces, Inc., a nonprofit that helps organizations make their spaces and services accommodating to those with disabilities.

“We worked with the production teams, recommending minor adjustments to the audio levels and lighting to address some of the sensory sensitivities that individuals with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] commonly experience,” Bleiweiss says. “It was of the utmost importance to us that the integrity of every show was maintained to ensure that the audiences had an authentic experience and were not provided with a watered-down version of the shows.”

For example, in “The Lion King,” the first autism-friendly show that TDF sponsored, a strobe light usually shines during Mufasa’s death scene. The autism-friendly show substituted a dim light for the strobe. The consultants also recommended no noises louder than 90 decibels. House lights don’t go all the way down during the shows, either.

For each performance, TDF partners with a play. It buys all the seats for the production and sells them at a discount to families of children on the spectrum. TDF also consults with the play’s producers, cast and crew on needed changes. So far, there have been five TDF-sponsored autism-friendly performances of Broadway shows, including two each of “Mary Poppins” and “The Lion King,” both Disney productions, as well as “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” last year.

“One of the things we talked about was really educating the cast and the theater staff at whichever performance we were presenting, so that the actors would know what they’re in for [and that] the house staff, especially the ushers, would know how to work with this community, many of whom were coming for the first time,” Chaikelson says.

Every performance has a calming corner where children can go if they start to feel anxious or overwhelmed. “[The families] get to experience the magic of theater in a welcoming and accepting environment where they don’t have to worry about someone telling their child to be quiet or being asked to leave because their child is too disruptive,” says Bleiweiss.

More than two dozen volunteers are on hand during each show to help with any needs that arise, and TDF offers coloring books and other activities for kids in the quiet area. Children are encouraged to bring comfort foods. They also receive a booklet before the show that introduces the characters in the play and gives them an outline of what to expect during the play. The booklet includes pictures of the ticket takers and suggests that, if children get nervous, they might hold a family member’s hand or play with a favorite “fidget,” such as a Koosh ball.

Carling says that about one-half to three-quarters of the families who attend are from New York City, and others come from farther away. She remembers one woman who drove all the way from Tennessee with her teenage son, who is on the spectrum, to see “Spider-Man.” “Her son couldn’t [tolerate airplane travel]. She didn’t have a ticket; they showed up the day of the performance. Luckily, we had some emergency seats and were able to accommodate them,” Carling says. “It’s that kind of interest and passion to do whatever it takes to get to see an autism-friendly performance.”

Though TDF was among the first to offer the autism-friendly live theater performances, they’re starting to pop up elsewhere. Houston, Pittsburgh, San Diego and London have had or are planning such shows, and TDF has consulted with many local theater groups about how to stage autism-friendly programs, as well as what to expect during them. “This is the most honest audience we’ll ever get,” Carling says. “There are sounds and movements in the auditorium that have nothing to do with the kids’ being bored and everything to do with their excitement and responding.”

For Chaikelson, it’s been a way to share his passion for theater in a way he wasn’t sure would ever be possible with his family, which also includes eldest son, Kevin, and wife, Amanda Rosen. But it’s also nice to connect with other families who have a child on the spectrum. “For kids, it is that experience of going to the theater,” he says. “For parents, it’s a little more emotional. You’re able to take the kids to experience this, and you’re able to go as a family—go out and experience this together without the constant fear. It’s people dealing with the same issues you’re dealing with, and it takes the pressure off in a huge way. You can go and relax a bit and enjoy the show on its own terms.”

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Autism & Dietary Intervention

Eimile Hart, a mother of four from Norman, Okla., remembers the day she decided her family was going gluten and casein free.

She began emptying her cupboards, filling huge trash bags with flours, breads and cookies. Her mother-in-law, who happened to be visiting, thought Hart had lost her mind. “She was sitting there watching me like I was a crazy person,” Hart laughs.

But Hart had a reason behind her rampage. She’d just finished the book “Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder,” a memoir by Karyn Seroussi, who claimed to have cured her son’s autism in part by removing casein and gluten from his diet. Hart, whose twin boys were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at age 2, was inspired. In came the trash bags, and out went anything containing gluten or casein.

Six years later, the Hart family remains on the diet, and many of the twins’ symptoms have faded. When they started the diet, the twins were nonverbal. Now they make eye contact, listen well and talk like any other kids. The Harts believe eliminating gluten and casein was key to those changes.

They’re one of a number of families who have tried dietary intervention in an attempt to treat autism, a development disorder whose symptoms range from difficulty communicating to sensory processing issues to gastrointestinal disorders.

“There is a long history of parents reporting that dietary changes have really helped their children. While this falls under the category of ‘anecdotal,’ it is very widespread,” says Lisa Lewis, PhD, who co-founded the Autism Network for Dietary Intervention with Seroussi. Still, scientific studies suggest dietary intervention is no magic pill. A 2010 study by the University of Rochester (N.Y.) concluded that removing gluten and casein from the diets of children with autism did not impact their behavior, sleep or bowel patterns.

So how do you decide if dietary intervention is right for your child? And even more so, what exactly is a gluten- and casein-free diet?

Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat, rye and barley. It’s the substance that gives bread dough its elasticity and baked goods their chewiness. Casein is a protein found in dairy products. Both can cause inflammation in the intestine.

Gluten is present in a wide range of products, including most flour, bread and cookies, prompting Hart’s purging frenzy. It’s also found in pizza crusts, bagels, cereal, pasta, beer, soy sauce and many imitation meats. Casein is present in everything from yogurt to pudding to cheese. Eliminating them from a diet can be difficult under the best of circumstances. And for picky eaters, which most kids with autism are, it can be even harder.

“At first it was extremely hard. All they wanted was milk, bread, chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. We were desperate to find something they would eat,” Hart says. “We spent every day for two weeks going to the store and reading labels.” Most families find emphasizing fresh foods, such as fruits, vegetables and meats, is the easiest way to make the switch. “You can still eat a lot of good foods,” says Angie Even, whose son, Dylan, has been on a gluten- and casein-free diet for four years. “Honestly, my 6-year-old [who is not gluten-free] prefers the gluten-free pretzels.”

In fact, going gluten- and casein-free often improves the nutritional value of a child’s diet, says Vicki Kobliner, MSRD, who advises parents and children on nutritional issues. “Most American children eat a lousy diet, and that is not what we’re striving for, not what we’re trying to replicate,” she says. “What takes the place of dairy and gluten is beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables. That’s far more nutritious than the Goldfish crackers or mac and cheese it’s replacing.”

Some children with autism see marked improvement, particularly with the gastrointestinal disorders commonly associated with autism—chronic constipation, chronic diarrhea and gastroesophageal reflux disease—with dietary intervention. Kelly M. Barnhill, certified clinical nutritionist and director of clinical care at the Johnson Center for Child Health & Development, a nonprofit in Austin, Texas, says the reasons for those changes are likely a combination of factors. Some children may have celiac disease but have never been tested because gastrointestinal problems are a common symptom of autism. She also notes many children with autism have never had normal bowel patterns, and simply removing casein can help firm them up.

MacKenzie Palumbo, whose 4-year-old sons Cash and Hollis have ASD, tried the diet after speaking with pediatricians and specialists. Though the Fall River, Mass., resident says she was told that there wasn’t enough scientific evidence to support dietary changes, she wanted to help her kids without adding to the more than 40 hours of therapy they already receive weekly. Her children have been on the diet a couple months, and she already has seen changes.

“One of my sons [Hollis] has been struggling with sleep for over three years. He’d be up five or six nights a week for hours. We’ve had him scoped to see if anything was wrong, had sleep studies done, you name it,” Palumbo says. “Three days after being on the diet, he started sleeping through the night.”

Still, Barnhill cautions there are no studies that have examined dietary intervention and autism and come up with consistent results. “I think the best research hasn’t been done yet,” she says.

Indeed, dietary intervention doesn’t work for everyone. “Honestly, it has not been the results I would have loved to have,” says Even, who lives in Burleson, Texas. Though her son sleeps better than he did before going on the diet, Dylan remains nonverbal and has not experienced the sort of drastic improvements noted by the Palumbos or Harts. Even says they continue the gluten- and casein-free diet because Dylan seems less hyper. But she’s open to returning to a gluten-containing diet when he gets older.

Barnhill notes that there is currently an extensive study on autism and dietary intervention taking place at Massachusetts General Hospital, led by director of the Center for Celiac Research & Treatment Dr. Alessio Fasano. Barnhill hopes that the study will provide a better understanding of how and why going gluten-free could help children with autism. At the least, Lewis would like to see doctors become more open to recommending dietary intervention. “Most doctors still do nothing more than treat symptoms, often with very powerful and potentially dangerous drugs that were developed for disorders other than autism,” she says. “Why they won’t recommend diet is mystifying.” 

Autism, also referred to as autism spectrum disorders or ASD, is a brain development disorder. Those on the spectrum have difficulty with social interactions and communication. They may avoid making eye contact, experience delays in speaking or making hand gestures, and communicate in ways that fail to convey their feelings. They often engage in repetitive behavior, such as opening and shutting doors or hand-flapping. They may also demonstrate intense preoccupations or obsessions. In older children and adults, this can manifest as a strong interest in numbers, dates, patterns or science.

According to Autism Speaks, an advocacy organization, 1 in 88 American children are on the spectrum, about 10 times the number who were diagnosed just 40 years ago. The reason for the increase is unclear; it could be that diagnoses have simply gotten better in that time, or, some argue, it could be environmental factors are upping the number of cases. Autism is more prevalent in boys than girls.

The cause of autism is still not entirely understood, though Autism Speaks says most cases “appear to be caused by a combination of autism risk genes and environmental factors influencing early brain development.”

There may be a correlation between a gluten-free, casein-free diet and improvements in behavior and physiological symptoms of children with autism, according to a recent study. Researchers at Penn State University asked 387 parents or primary caregivers of children on the spectrum some 90 questions about their children’s dietary habits, food allergies, food sensitivities and gastrointestinal issues. They also surveyed them about the children’s adherence to a gluten-free, casein-free diet.

Christine Pennesi, a medical student at Penn State College of Medicine, and Laura Cousino Klein, associate professor of biobehavioral health and human development and family studies, found that parents of kids with ASD reported a higher proportion of GI and allergy issues than the general population. They noted that parents whose children were on a gluten-free, casein-free diet reported more improvements in kids’ behaviors and symptoms than those who were not on such a diet. Improvements included language production, eye contact, engagement, attention span, requesting behavior and social responsiveness.

“There are strong connections between the immune system and the brain, which are mediated through multiple physiological symptoms,” said Klein in a statement. “A majority of the pain receptors in the body are located in the gut, so by adhering to a gluten-free, casein-free diet, you’re reducing inflammation and discomfort that may alter brain processing, making the body more receptive to ASD therapies.”

The study appeared in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience last year.

Warm Up with a Hot Bowl of Gluten-Free Cereal

gluten-free oatmeal

As we trudge through the last frigid months of winter, a bowl of warm cereal can be the best way to start the day before facing the slap of cold air waiting outside the door.

The introduction of gluten-free oats and the increase in variety and availability of gluten-free oatmeal makes it much easier to get a warm healthy breakfast.

Though mainstream oats do not contain gluten, they have a high risk of cross-contamination during harvesting, storage, milling and processing and are not considered gluten free. But companies in Europe and North America are avoiding that pitfall by using oats grown on special fields and processed in gluten-free facilities. Many are also certified to be gluten free by independent third-party testing companies.

Most, though not all, adults who have celiac disease can tolerate up to three-quarters of a cup of specialty gluten-free oats per day. Children can have up to one-half cup per day.
Nutritionally, hot cereals stack up well against cold. Hot cereal often has more fiber, from the oats, and is generally low in fat and calories, often less than 200 calories per serving. Oats are rich in thiamin, magnesium and phosphorus, and studies have shown that they can help lower cholesterol. Sorghum, a gluten-free grain, is sometimes used in gluten-free hot cereal, upping its protein quotient.


One of the newest gluten-free hot cereals comes from Glutenfreeda Foods, which just launched a new line of instant oatmeal cups. The single serving comes in a disposable paper cup and is available in four flavors. You just have to add hot water.

“We decided to develop it because we had a lot of success with our current instant oatmeal line,” says Jessica Hale, chief marketing officer at Glutenfreeda. The company’s first instant product came in a box with six individual serving packets. “With many of our customers, there is a convenience factor of grabbing it and taking it to work and school,” Hales explains.


GF Harvest

GF Harvest, formerly called Gluten Free Oats, is one of the oldest gluten-free hot cereal companies, established in 1990. It sells bags of gluten-free oats and groats that simmer in the traditional way.



Bakery on Main

Bakery on Main is a newer player in the hot cereal market, having introduced its instant oatmeal in fall of 2011. It offers four different flavors, as well as a variety pack, with Maple Multigrain Muffin its most popular flavor.


Bob’s Red Mill

Bob's Red Mill Quick Cooking OatsBob’s Red Mill, which produces a wide variety of gluten-free products from flours to flaxseed to biscuit mix, sells Mighty Tasty GF Hot Cereal, made with brown rice, corn, buckwheat and sorghum, as well as quick-cooking oats, steel-cut oats and thick rolled oats.


B&G Foods

Though Cream of Wheat is obviously not an option for those with celiac disease, B&G Foods also makes gluten-free Cream of Rice hot cereal. Before oats were accepted as safe for most of those who follow the gluten-free diet, Cream of Rice was one of the very limited hot options available.

Avena Foods

Avena Foods stocks a variety of gluten-free hot cereals under the Only Oats line, including whole-grain rolled oats and whole grain steel-cut oats.

The Birkett Mills

For those who are looking for something a little different from traditional oatmeal, buckwheat cereal is also an option. Buckwheat is naturally gluten-free and tastes a bit nuttier than oats. It is high in fiber, niacin, magnesium and copper. Hodgson Mill makes buckwheat hot cereal with milled flaxseed that has only 1 gram of fat. And The Birkett Mills sells Wolff’s Cream of Buckwheat and Pocono Cream of Buckwheat, an organic cereal with 140 calories per serving.

For now though the gluten-free hot cereal market is a little cool compared to the exploding growth in cold cereal.

Consumers, whether they are gluten free or not, often prefer cold cereal. And there are still fewer choices of hot cereal. Hot cereal accounts for just 11 percent of all cereal sales, according to Nielsen, which tracks consumer spending. It generates about $760 million in annual sales. According to the Global New Products Database from Mintel, a market research company, just one new hot cereal is launched for every five cold ones.

But the future will bring a lot more of hot cereal choices, predicts Glutenfreeda’s Hale. “The whole gluten-free market is still developing and there are new entries in all the time,” she says. “I expect that the variety of hot cereal being offered will change and grow over the course of time.”


Gluten-Free Living features a complete story on gluten-free cold cereal in the March/April issue, due on newsstands Feb 26. You can also subscribe at