Coeliac Disease or Dermatitis Herpetiformis – Gluten-Free Diet Plan

Coeliac (Celiac is the US spelling) disease is an auto-immune disease, where the body produces antibodies that attack the lining of the small intestine, and the microscopic protrusions, called villi, which are involved in helping us absorb our food, becoming flattened, leading to a multitude of symptoms. In Coeliac disease this attack is triggered by gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Some people with Coeliac disease also react to oats, so in the meal plan oat and oat products are also excluded. Symptoms of Coeliac disease may range from mild to severe, and can include: Bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, wind, tiredness, constipation, anaemia, mouth ulcers, headaches, weight loss, hair loss, skin problems, short stature, depression, infertility, recurrent miscarriages and joint/bone pain.

Dermatitis herpetiformis is a skin condition also caused by gluten intolerance. It affects fewer people than Coeliac disease, but the two conditions can be related. Symptoms are: Red, raised patches, often with blisters that burst with scratching, severe itching and often stinging, a rash which most commonly occurs on the elbows, knees and buttocks but can affect any area of the skin.

Both Coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis patients need to completely exclude all gluten and gluten containing products from their diet. Even small amounts must be eliminated. Beware that some manufactured food items which you would think would be fine, may actually contain gluten as an additive, so if there is any doubt, do not include the product. For updates list see The Food List.

Specially produced gluten-free products are made for people who follow a gluten-free diet, these include breads, biscuits, pasta and flour, and some of these are available on prescription, but only for patients formally diagnosed with Coeliac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis.

The following meal plan is an example plan of a healthy diet which completely excludes gluten, with options there for specially produced gluten-free items. Use this to give you an idea of what are healthy nutritious foods to include, but don't forget to vary your food choices and to drink plenty of water through the day.

Large bowl of gluten-free breakfast cereal e.g. cornflakes / buckwheat flakes + 200ml skimmed milk + 1 tsp sugar
and/or 1-2 slices gluten-free bread with olive oil-based spread* and jam*
200ml fruit juice
Mug tea/coffee
2-3 rice cakes + peanut butter
Item fruit
Mug tea/coffee
Sandwich: 2 slices gluten-free bread + olive oil-based spread + slice deli chicken/ham or tuna in low fat natural yoghurt or smoked salmon
or tuna or chopped chicken with basmati rice
Mixed salad
Low fat / low sugar yoghurt*
Drink water
Mid afternoon
2-3 rice cakes + cottage cheese
Item fruit
Mug tea/coffee
Evening Meal
Chicken breast or white fish or lean meat and basmati rice or
gluten-free pasta or jacket potato or quinoa
and loads of veg or large salad
1-2 gluten-free biscuits
Drink water

* Check The Food List

As with all the meal plans this is merely a guide and must not be stuck to rigidly! You must eat a variety of different meats / fish / alternatives, complex carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables every day, and drink plenty of water. Adapt the plan to suit your own needs and vary portions and food choices from day to day.

Plans for people with illness or medical conditions in no way should override advice provided specifically for you by your doctor, clinical dietitian or other clinician. We advise that you seek the advice of a suitably qualified physician before commencing any exercise regime, following any dietary or nutritional regimen or beginning the use of any dietary supplements, legal or otherwise. The information provided on the Website is intended as information only and does not constitute advice. Therefore, it must not be relied on to assist in making or refraining from making a decision, or to assist in deciding on a course of action.