Tips for Incorporating Fiber into a Gluten-Free Diet

BIDMC Contributor

APRIL 01, 2016


Why is Fiber Important?

Fiber is essential for people with celiac disease who follow a gluten-free (GF) lifestyle. There are two types of fiber — soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fiber soaks up water as it passes through your system, which helps bulk up your stool and guard against diarrhea. Insoluble fiber helps prevent constipation and can be found in whole grain products. Incorporating healthy sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber will help improve intestinal motility and ensure that you are consuming an adequate amount of fiber and nutrients.

When consuming a diet rich in fiber, it is important to drink water throughout the day to prevent constipation. Consuming about eight (8-ounce) glasses per day is recommended for adults.

Great Sources of Soluble Fiber

  • Legumes (beans, peas, lentils)
  • Fruits (apples, pears, mangoes, papayas, strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, prunes)
  • Vegetables (carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, okra)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Ground flax seeds and chia seeds

Great Sources of Insoluble Fiber

(Note: all grains must be labeled gluten free, except rice)

  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Millet
  • Teff
  • Sorghum
  • Amaranth
  • Wild rice
  • Brown rice
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, soy nuts)
  • Chia seeds
  • Fruits and vegetables with skins and edible seeds

Here are some tips and sample meal plans for adding fiber into your gluten-free diet, courtesy of the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center .

Tips to Increase Daily Fiber

  • Choose one of the “super-six” grains (quinoa, buckwheat, millet, teff, sorghum, amaranth labeled GF) instead of relying only on rice, potato and corn products.
  • Sprinkle ground flax seed onto hot and cold GF cereals.
  • Mix together half a portion of whole grain brown rice with half a portion of amaranth, quinoa or teff and cook; be sure to increase the amount of cooking water accordingly.
  • Add cooked, dried beans to soups, salads and casseroles.
  • Choose fresh fruits and vegetables rather than juices.
  • Choose fruits, vegetables, and high fiber GF crackers for snacks.
  • Experiment with substituting whole GF grains into your favorite recipes.

Meal Options for a High-Fiber, Gluten-Free Lifestyle

  • GF hot cereal (quinoa, buckwheat or brown rice) sprinkled with ground flax seed and fruit
  • Greek yogurt with berries and slivered almonds
  • GF cold breakfast cereal, lots of berries and slivered almonds or other nuts
  • Berry, mango or papaya smoothie with Greek yogurt, ground flax seed or chia seeds, low fat milk or a dairy-free alternative (GF rice milk or almond milk) and fruit
  • Homemade buckwheat pancakes topped with a nut butter, honey and cinnamon, with orange slices on the side
  • GF tortillas with egg or tofu, salsa, and cheese (regular, GF dairy, or GF vegan cheese)
  • Chickpeas on your favorite salad with citrus/olive oil dressing
  • Hummus, spinach leaves and roasted vegetables in a GF teff tortilla
  • GF bean soup with GF crackers
  • Chicken/vegetable stir-fry (GF soy sauce) over cooked quinoa or millet
  • GF vegetable soup with teff, amaranth and/or quinoa added as a grain
  • Wild rice with salmon and steamed asparagus
  • Homemade split pea or lentil soup
  • Sautéed kale salad with avocado, lemon juice, tomatoes, and slivered almonds
  • Veggie sushi made with brown rice, cucumbers, avocado (use unseasoned rice vinegar for sushi rice)
  • Black beans, salsa, cilantro and low fat cheese on a GF teff or corn tortilla
  • Roasted sweet potato with chicken breast and grilled vegetables
  • Brown rice mixed with quinoa, teff or amaranth with beans and vegetables
  • GF bean chili made with brown rice and extra vegetables
  • Quinoa pasta with black beans and roasted vegetables (turnips, parsnips, carrots)
  • Corn, quinoa, lentil or rice pasta with pasta sauce and ground/chopped lean beef or turkey, vegetables and shaved parmesan
  • Butternut squash soup
  • Stir-fry with tofu chunks, mushrooms, green onions and lemongrass over brown rice
  • Risotto with short-grain rice, low sodium GF broth, vegetables, parmesan cheese, lemon and olive oil
  • GF crackers with nut butter
  • Edamame (boiled soybeans)
  • Roasted sweet potato sticks sprinkled with cinnamon
  • Trail mix: 1/4 cup almonds or walnuts and 1/4 cup dried fruit
  • GF snack bars
  • Air-popped popcorn
  • GF chips with bean dip or hummus with tahini
  • Apple or banana with nut butter
  • Roasted or grilled eggplant slices with GF tomato sauce and mozzarella
  • Fresh fruits (berries, peaches, plums, apricots, bananas, melons, oranges, grapefruit, mango, papaya)
  • Dried fruits (in small servings): cherries, cranberries, apples, pineapples, raisins, peaches, mango, banana chips
  • GF dry cereals mixed with GF low fat yogurt
  • Snack mix: GF dried cereal, GF pretzels, GF chocolate bits
  • Tuna mixed with lemon juice and GF yogurt on high-fiber GF crackers
  • Peanut butter (or other nut butter) and jelly or honey on whole-grain GF rice or corn cakes
  • Raw vegetables with hummus, salsa or other GF dips
  • GF low fat yogurt with almonds or walnuts
Important to Note
  • Gluten-free grains: All gluten-free grains (quinoa, teff, amaranth, millet, sorghum, buckwheat, etc.) must be labeled gluten-free.
  • Plain rice (white or brown) does not have to be labeled gluten-free, but avoid rice mixes or pilafs unless labeled gluten-free.
  • Nuts and seeds: all nuts and seeds should be labeled gluten-free.
  • Dried fruit: avoid dates rolled in oat flour.
  • Gluten-free oats can also be a great source of soluble fiber in the gluten-free diet. Tolerance depends on the individual. Talk to your celiac health care team to help you make an informed decision about when/if to add gluten-free oats to your diet.

April 2016

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Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.