Going Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free

Starting a gluten-free and dairy-free diet can improve your health, reduce inflammation, manage food sensitivities, and help fight chronic diseases. Both gluten and dairy are common dietary components correlated with sensitivity, intolerance and an allergic reaction in many people- you can find out more information about this on the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) website. In this article, we will give a brief overview of gluten and dairy, the effects they may have on your body, and some tips on getting started with a gluten-free and dairy-free diet. At the end, there is a list of gluten and dairy substitutions for your reference!

Gluten & Inflammation

Gluten is type of protein known as prolamin, naturally found in some grains including wheat, barley, and rye. This protein acts as a binder, or glue, holding foods together and adding a stretchy quality, helping edibles keep their shapes. Think of pizza dough having that malleable characteristic, or baked goods such as bread, bagels, cookies, and cake.

Gluten is considered an inflammatory because it contains high levels of anti-nutrients, which are proteins that can bind with and interfere with the absorption and digestion of nutrients in your gut. This can then lead to inflammation. Gluten also produces the release of zonulin in the body. Zonulin, another protein, controls the opening and closing of junctions in the gut lining. The release of zonulin takes over natural selective permeability and opens junctions regardless of what should be allowed into your bloodstream. This can cause an immune response in your body, also leading to systemic inflammation.

Dairy & Inflammation

Dairy is another food that is difficult for the body to digest, therefore resulting in inflammation. Lactose, the sugar found in milk, requires the enzyme lactase for digestion. Lactase is produced in early childhood, but we lose production ability as we age. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, approximately 65% of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy.

Dairy also contains a protein called casein, a protein that can cause compromised digestion and immune system function. Particularly, A1 casein is the specific protein that can cause these issues. This food also contains a high level of hormones that may influence your body’s natural hormonal balance.

Getting Started

Many people think that by going gluten-free and dairy-free, they are restricted to what they can or cannot eat. This is not the case! There are plenty of foods that you can eat by choosing whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, meat, poultry, seafood, legumes, grains (except for barley, rye, and wheat), nuts, and seeds. There are also many popular alternatives for gluten and dairy options. For example, wheat flour can be replaced with cassava flour, almond flour, coconut flour, or gluten-free all purpose flour (just to name a few). Milk can be replaced with nut milk (almond/cashew/hemp), coconut milk, oat or soy milk.

***There is a full list below for gluten and dairy-free alternatives! 

When removing gluten and dairy from your diet, it is important to educate yourself on their effects on your own body, and where these foods may be found. To learn more, you can check out our 4 week intensive, 28-day reset diet, the Let Go & Grow® Mind Body Reset right here. Once you are aware of which foods contain gluten and dairy, you can make informed choices when shopping for food or when you’re ordering from a restaurant. Many times, there will be labels and sections in the store labeled gluten and dairy-free.

Dairy-Free Diet

Having a dairy-free diet means that you omit products that contain dairy. Here are some conventional examples to be aware of:

  • Yogurt
  • Ice cream
  • Sour cream
  • Cottage cheeses
  • Buttermilk
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Baked goods containing milk

When looking at labels, other ingredients to look out for that include lactose are:

  • Whey
  • Caseinates
  • Nougat
  • Milk byproducts
  • Casein
  • Fry milk
  • Butter
  • Curds
  • Non-fat dry milk
  • Dry milk powders

Gluten-Free Diet

Here is a list of gluten-free foods for your reference. It is important to note that cross-contact can occur when gluten-containing foods touches a gluten-free food when gluten-free grains are grown, milled and manufactured closely to gluten-containing grains. A tip: try to look for gluten-free products that are certified “gluten-free” by a third-party source.

Gluten-Free Whole Grains 

  • Quinoa + Brown Rice + Wild Rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Sorghum
  • Tapioca
  • Millet
  • Amaranth
  • Teff
  • Arrowroot
  • Oats (make sure they are labelled gluten-free!)

*The grains to avoid: wheat, rye, barley, triticale.

Gluten-Free Proteins

  • Legumes
  • Nuts & seeds
  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Traditional soy foods

*Proteins to avoid:

  • Any meat, poultry or fish that has been breaded
  • Proteins combined with wheat-based soy sauce
  • Seitan

Gluten-Free Beverages

  • Water
  • 100% fruit juice
  • Coffee / tea
  • Some alcoholic beverages (including wine, hard ciders, and beer made from gluten-free grains)
  • Sports drinks
  • Lemonade

*Beverages to avoid:

  • Typical Beers
  • Ales
  • Lagers
  • Non-distilled liquors
  • Malt beverages such as wine coolers

Many healthy foods are naturally gluten-free, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, certain whole grains, dairy products, and oils, as well as fresh meat, fish, and poultry. Wheat, rye, and barley are the major foods that need to be avoided while following a gluten-free diet. Gluten is also commonly added to processed foods, such as canned and boxed items. It is always good to double check the ingredients because some grains, such as oats, may be cross-contaminated with gluten, depending on where they were processed.

Gluten and Dairy Substitutions

Eating gluten- and dairy-free can help reduce inflammation in the body if you are allergic or have an intolerance to these foods. The goal every day is to have balanced meals with a structure in place for gluten and dairy-free meal options. When you are going out to eat at restaurants, you can look at the menu ahead of time or ask for the gluten and dairy-free menu if one is available. Aside from your own knowledge of foods, you can ask the workers to be sure what you have ordered does not contain any gluten or dairy in it- let them know that you have an intolerance or allergy and make your intention really clear. Eating gluten and dairy free doesn’t have to be difficult, you can be casual about it and set your intention to make sure you are feeling the best that you can!

Here are some options that are gluten- and dairy-free…

If you are interested in learning about meal prep services, please feel free to check out our Beginner’s Guide to Meal Prep Delivery Services right here. Some great options are Daily Harvest, Fresh n Lean and Paleo On The Go!

This list is broken down into categories and organized alphabetically:

Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Resources [Books & Blogs]


Additional Resources for Recipes + More Inspiration


More Resources

Resources From Dr. Brooke Stuart / Let Go & Grow®

  • For more holistic resources, sign up for our Free Let Go & Grow® Membership, where you will receive instant access to the heart based practice, a simple 3 min. meditation, a wellness workshop designed to optimize mental health & well-being, and so much more.
  • For Let Go & Grow Publishing House books including the LG&G Holistic Guide Book, LG&G Journal, and the children’s book series Let’s Grow With Zo, check here.
  • For more information, support and a tried and true springboard that can help you address the fundamentals and unlock your power to heal, make sure to schedule a free holistic consultation and check out our Let Go & Grow® Mind Body Reset, a 6 week reset program. To learn more about holistic healthcare and working with Dr. Brooke in private practice, check here.