Is Gluten-Free Diet The Same As A Wheat-Free Diet?

Gluten-free is not wheat-free. These two terms have been wrongly interchanged to mean one thing. However, that is not the case.

With so many terms describing diet plans and lifestyle choices, you should know what each means and the differences between the seemingly alike terms.

When you know the differences between eating gluten-free and wheat-free, you’ll help your body a good deal. It’ll help you avoid the symptoms that would come with eating the wrong meal.

To get things clear, read this article and save yourself from more serious consequences.

What is a gluten-free diet?

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, spelt, rye, and sometimes oats. A gluten-free diet excludes foods and drinks that contain gluten.

A food is gluten-free when it doesn’t contain any gluten ingredients. Furthermore, the FDA certifies items with less than 20ppm of gluten as gluten-free.

The gluten-free diet is particularly for people with celiac disease. However, people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and Crohn’s Disease also adopt a gluten-free diet.

Additionally, if you’re going gluten-free, you’ll avoid foods that contain gluten grains, some processed foods, cereals, sauces, condiments, and drinks.

Always check for a gluten-free label on processed foods and beverages or read the ingredients list to see if there are any gluten ingredients.

What is a wheat-free diet?

A wheat-free diet is a diet plan for people with a wheat allergy. This plan involves eating wheat-free items to avoid the unpleasant symptoms of a wheat allergy.

Some of these symptoms include bloating, nasal congestion, difficulty in breathing, nausea, diarrhea, hives, itchy skin, and anaphylaxis.

Furthermore, a wheat-free diet is for people with wheat allergies and those who suffer from wheat intolerance. Wheat intolerance is the inability of the digestive system to break down foods that contain wheat.

Signs of wheat intolerance include bloating, bowel discomfort, bowel irregularities, and skin irritations.

In addition, if you’re going wheat-free, have a dietician talk you through this. The dietician will give you a list of foods to avoid, what to eat, and foods that will make up for what you are not getting on a wheat-free diet.

What are the differences between gluten-free and wheat-free?

Eating gluten-free and eating wheat-free are two different dietary restrictions. The differences between them may not be many, but if you understand these differences, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble.

These are the unique differences between the two diets:

  • A gluten-free diet means eating only foods that do not contain gluten (wheat, barley, rye, spelt, some soy sauces, oats, etc.) in any way. Eating wheat-free is staying off wheat alone.
  • People who eat gluten-free either have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). On the other hand, if you’re eating wheat-free, it’s either because of a wheat allergy or wheat intolerance.
  • If you’re eating gluten-free, you’re automatically wheat-free. However, you may not be gluten-free if you’re eating wheat-free.

Are all gluten-free foods wheat-free?

Yes. All gluten-free foods are wheat-free but not the other way around.

Eating wheat-free doesn’t mean you’re gluten-free. Other grains, ingredients in your meals, and processed foods may not be gluten-free.

What foods contain gluten and wheat?

It is not every gluten-free food that is wheat-free. The food may not contain wheat grain but will have derivatives of wheat. Also, foods may become cross-contaminated with other gluten grains during processing.

Here’s a list of some foods that may contain gluten and wheat. Keep in mind that, under some conditions, some of them may not contain gluten if they are prepared with gluten-free alternatives.

  • Bread
  • Sauces and gravies
  • Salad dressing
  • Candy and granola bars
  • Beer
  • Cookies
  • Casseroles
  • Soy sauce and oyster sauce
  • Pasta and pasta sauces
  • Crackers
  • Cakes
  • French fries
  • Marinara
  • Cereals
  • Ice cream
  • Batter-fried foods
  • Breadcrumbs and bread stuffing
  • Sausages that contain rusk and some processed meats
  • Semolina
  • Couscous
  • Foods made with vegetable gum, vegetable protein, cereal filler, cereal binder, cereal protein

Most importantly, eat in restaurants that offer a gluten-free menu. Ask questions about how your meal is prepared.

Let the waiter or manager know about your gluten or wheat intolerance. You can also request that your meal is prepared with clean gloves and utensils.

What foods are wheat-free and gluten-free?

  • Buckwheat
  • Corn
  • Rice
  • Arrowroot
  • Beans
  • Potato
  • Tapioca
  • Amaranth
  • Millet
  • Soy
  • Quinoa
  • Sorghum
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Teff

Can celiacs eat wheat-free?

Yes, they can.

People with celiac disease should stay off whatever contains gluten and this includes wheat.

If you have celiac disease, you must always examine your food and ask questions about the ingredients used in the preparation process. If wheat is included, do not eat the food.


Is gluten-free a wheat allergy?

Going gluten-free doesn’t only mean you have a wheat allergy.

If you’re gluten-free, avoid eating foods that contain wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and soy sauce.

How do you know you have a wheat allergy?

Symptoms of wheat allergies include diarrhea, cramps, nausea, itching, swelling of the mouth, irritation of the throat, difficulty in breathing, and hives.

Can food be gluten-free but contain wheat?

No, it can’t. Any food that contains wheat is not gluten-free.

Can you go gluten-free if you don’t have a wheat allergy?

Yes, you can eat gluten-free without a wheat allergy or gluten sensitivity.

However, going gluten-free will deprive you of many nutrients. Gluten-free foods lack the fiber, vitamins, and minerals your body needs.

Is spelt gluten-free and wheat-free?

No, it is not. Spelt grain is a type of wheat. Eating spelt grain with a wheat allergy will trigger the same reaction as eating wheat would.


What differentiates gluten-free foods from wheat-free foods is what they contain. If you’re eating gluten-free, you’re automatically wheat-free. However, eating wheat-free does not mean you’re gluten-free.

That being said, if you’re eating wheat-free, you must be wary of eating gluten foods because you could have gluten sensitivity.

Following a restrictive diet shouldn’t be a difficult task. Here’s what to do, if you’re picking a restrictive diet for health reasons, consult a doctor.

Thanks for reading.

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