Gluten-Free Oatmeal: All You Need to Know

Oatmeal, so we hear, fights cancer and heart disease, and it makes the gluten free diet a little easier to maintain. Specially grown gluten free oatmeal does not have to be contaminated with gluten. If you have Coeliac disease and you want to know if you can still spoon down hot, steaming oatmeal on cold winter mornings, then you’ve come to the right place. Here you can find all you need to know about GF oatmeal.

Can  I order oatmeal in a restaurant?

No. It is sure to be contaminated with gluten unless the restaurant actually buys gluten-free oatmeal, and that is not likely to happen.

How is gluten-free oatmeal different?

These oats are not grown near crops that contain gluten. The oats are also tested for gluten contamination, supposedly on a regular basis.

Is gluten-free oatmeal safe for me to eat?

According to the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America, 1/2 cup of gluten-free oatmeal a day is safe for most celiacs. They suggest you introduce oats slowly into your diet so that the increased fiber does not upset your digestive system. A few people with celiac disease also have a hypersensitivity to oats. If you plan to introduce gluten-free oats to your diet, the GIG suggests that you should do it with the advice and supervision of your health care team.; make sure to have your antibody levels reviewed regularly.

However, according to a scientific study published by the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in June 2007, only 25 of the 134 “pure, uncontaminated oat varieties” reviewed in Europe, the U.S. and Canada had undetectable levels of gluten. The other 109 varieties were contaminated, especially with barley. It turns out that one of the two commerical gluten tests cannot detect barley contamination. Furthermore, some celiacs’ “hypersensitibity to oats” mentioned by GIG is actually “oat sensitive small intestine T cells,” which means trouble in the same area affected by celiac disease. Complicating matters still further, some varieties of oats are more toxic to celiacs than other varieties, regardless of contamination. That is why the Celiac Sprue Association recommends not eating oats.

All you need to know? Eating oats is currently a risky endeavor for a people with celiac disease, and GF children should absolutely not be allowed to eat any oats. If an adult is confident that the oats s/he is buying are uncontaminated, up to 50 grams a day might be introduced gradually under medical supervision.

Where to buy gluten free oatmeal?

Without being able to guarantee that these oats are in fact the gluten-free kind, here are some links to gluten-free oats. They all boast the use of the latest commercial test that scientists think can accurately detect barley contamination.

Bob’s Red Mill, a gigantic U.S. company

Chateau Cream Hill Estates, a Canadian company

Gluten Free Oats

Gifts of Nature

Only Oats, a Canadian company

What do I do with oatmeal?

Let me recommend a site (pictured above) created by an oatmeal zealot, Kath’s Tribute to Oatmeal.

20 thoughts on “Gluten-Free Oatmeal: All You Need to Know”

  1. Hi Sarah. Thanks for the article on gluten-free oats and for mentioning our company. If anyone reading this or yourself want to see our R5 ELISA test results to verify that they are gluten-free, we use the gold standard test which does test for barley. On our website we have our Safety of Oats document, literature we reviewed before starting the business, and our purity process posted. You are absolutely right to suggest that the eprson should speak with their healthcare professional (doctor or dietitian) before adding gluten-free oats to thier diet.


  2. Way to write a negative article–“some varieties of oats are more toxic to celiacs than other varieties”. This suggests that the author thinks all varieties are toxic to some degree. How about the far more sensible and moderate language used by Shelley Case and others, to the effect that most people with celiac (not celiacs, please, I am not my disease) can safely eat up to 1/2 cup of oats a day. (Yes, you included that in the reference to GIG, so why not leave it at that? The CSA has been using unwarranted scare tactics on this subject, among others, for way too long. Their time as leaders of the gluten-free community is over.) This article is a good deal less than “all you need to know” when it comes to oats as a part of a healthy gf diet.

    1. Your point about not calling people with celiac disease “celiacs” is interesting and provocative, but hours before reading your post, Joe, I used the word “celiacs” to save space in a newspaper that invites comments and replies to comments.

      I have Graves’ disease, and there is no abbreviation for people with autoimmune thyroid disorders. I don’t have diabetes, but if I did and were referred to as a diabetic, I don’t think I’d object even though I would consider myself far more than a disease. I believe people with bipolar disease are often called “manic-depressives.” Saves characters you will agree, but just because something is expedient doesn’t mean that it’s proper or moral, so I take your point and appreciate your perspective even though I may not comply.

      In March 2014, a woman named Laurie Lyons wrote a blog post praising Dr. Mehmet Oz but complaining that he referred to the “celiac community,” and she doesn’t consider “celiacs” (Ms. Lyons’ term) members of a community with a (tongue in cheek surely) clubhouse and secret handshake. Although Ms. Lyons chides people with celiac disease for being too sensitive, she ends her post with a whine.

      It’s tough to be empathetic and politically correct all the time.

  3. My new cookbook, No Wheat No Dairy No Problem, has just been released! Many of the recipes are gluten free, but not all. I use oat flour for the desserts etc… For those of you who can eat gluten free oats, you’ll love my book and I hope it is very helpful to you. Eat and enjoy all those old favorites like brownies, cake and cookies! Read my blog for more information on ingredients like gluten free oats too. Be Well and Bon Appetite!

    Lauren Hoover

  4. My son eats Bobs Red Mill oats. Dillons use to carry in Manhattan, but no longer do. We order it in bulk through our coop (Peoples Grocery) and it saves us on shipping. It has helped with the convience of going out on a whim. If there is nothing trustworthy or tasty to my son, we just bring a container of his GF oats along and ask for hot water. He sprinkles his sugar or gf sprinkles on it and he is happy. We have not seen any adverse effects to his health from this product. We have taught him not to eat unmarked GF oats since there are so many controversies. When trying a a new food, I am cautious as a mom, even when it says GF we do it gradually and that has proven to be beneficial for our son.

  5. I have a cholesterol problem and decided to try oatmeal to lower. I tried Quaker oatmeal and if eaten in small amounts did not have to much of an issue, until I ate it more than 2 times per week. Well, I thought all the articles I’ve read say to try GF Oats, so my wonderful husband bought Bob’s Red Mill (which was pricey) and my first time I had them I had a worse problem than with Quaker. Don’t know why and will not try them again, my husband will eat them. I’ll still with my other cold cereals and hope for something else to help with my cholesterol.

  6. I’m able to find Gifts of Nature at SunHarvst in San Antonio, Texas. I switched to them today, they are pretty good so far. I think I need to cook them a bit longer. It’s all learning from here. Thanks for the suggestions and tips. Keep them coming!

  7. So thankful for the gluten free mixes from Betty Crocker. Good for General Mills. I have been making my own mixes, that are quite good, but time consuming. If we could get the makers of Campbell’s Soups to make GF soups I could once again make my husband casserole dishes he loves, with my old soup recipes. They do market Swanson GF chicken and beef broth which has been a life saver for me as I attempt to create well balanced meals. My husband, who is not a great chocolate lover, is wild about Betty Crocker Brownies.

  8. You should get some reading glasses. Gifts of Nature is located in POLSON, MT, not poison as you negatively suggested. They are doing a great gluten-free company. Look at the map of Montana and their website, which is linked to your website.

  9. Wow … People get really bitter … I love your work you do for all of us who have a gluten intolerance and i just wanted to tell you I love the info and the books … I have the cards (dont leave home without them) The books I love the restaurant guide and the blog … keep up the good work and please people be nice they are working for us.

  10. Adele – Thanks for letting us know about the typo. I didn’t write this post and can not correct it but I’ll try and get it corrected by someone who can fix it.

    Mark – thanks for the kind words and we’re so glad you enjoy the Triumph Dining guides. When I got my first Restaurant Guide in 2006, I felt like I could take my life back. It was six months before I really tried to go out to eat on a regular basis and now we eat out at least as much as we did before my diagnosis. Meaning we eat out a LOT!

    Happy New Year to all our readers and customers!

  11. I found individual sachets of a organic 7 whole grain GF cereal a must when traveling, all you need is a little hot water. They are from Eco- planet organics and are available in original,maple and brown sugar and apple and cinnamon.

  12. I’ve been reading up on how many people might not be able to tolerate pure uncontaminated gluten-free oats. It seems that most researchers agree that it’s about 5% of people with celiac who will react to them. They are of course, not reacting to gluten since gluten-free oats are gluten-free, period. I can’t imagine not enjoying my oatmeal raisin cookies or oatmeal for breakfast on cold mornings and I can see on lab results that eating oats has affected my cholesterol in a very good way! Thanks to the companies taking on the challenge of producing safe gluten-free oats for those of us that can enjoy them!

  13. what does typo mean,how do u know your glutin intolerance what does coeliac mean…….sorry new to this im49 can you get this anytime in your life what were your first warning signs? thanks jayne

  14. Jayne – “Typo” is short for “typographical error”, a misspelling due to hitting the wrong key rather than being ignorant of the correct spelling.

    To my knowledge no one has ever acquired Celiac during their lifetime. It is an inherited intestinal immune reaction to a protein called gluten present in wheat, rye, and barley. The problem with oats seems to come from cross contamination with one of the other three.

    I just read of a recent study saying that the cause has been narrowed down to three amino acids in gluten leading to speculation of future treatments that may allow the ingestion of gluten without problems. I’m not going to hold my breath on that one.

    This is just wild speculation on my part, but I don’t view Celiac as a disease. My speculation is that the 1 in 133 of us that “have” it come from ancestors who lived far enough from the Middle East Agricultural Revolution to have reached modern time with the same digestive system that our ancestors brought with them when they walked out of Africa 80,000 years ago. They lived on meat, seafood, and vegetables. Grains are a very recent addition to our food supply.

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