It can be a challenge when you have pre-diabetes/diabetes in addition to celiac disease, as gluten-free foods are generally higher in starches, sugars and carbohydrates and lower in fiber than their gluten-containing counterparts, especially baked goods. Starchier foods raise your blood sugar quicker than high fiber foods. However, with a few adjustments you can eat a healthy gluten-free and diabetes friendly diet.
Focus on naturally gluten-free whole foods instead of processed gluten-free foods. Select low starch vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish, dairy, and naturally gluten-free whole grains. Just make sure all grains are labeled gluten-free, as many have had cross-contact with gluten-containing grains. As a quick rule of thumb, the American Diabetes Association recommends that half your plate is low starch vegetables (such as leafy greens, cucumber, broccoli, tomato), one quarter protein foods (such as lean meats, fish), and one quarter carbohydrate foods (such as gluten-free whole grains, fruits/berries, sweet potato). Check out their plate here as well as lists of foods. Keep in mind to adjust for the gluten-free diet.
For times when you do choose processed baked goods, select those that contain whole grains. Read labels carefully and look for foods lower in sugar and carbohydrates and higher in fiber. Here is a good article by Melinda Dennis, MS, RDN, on how to decrease sugar and what to look for on the label:
Nutritious and high fiber gluten-free whole grains:
Nuts, seeds and legumes are also great sources of fiber. Note that legumes have a risk of cross-contact with gluten-containing grains, so always pick through them before soaking, even if they are labeled gluten-free.
These are very general guidelines, and it might be helpful to see a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) to navigate a diet for both diabetes and celiac disease. An RDN can be a great resource on how to eat a healthy balanced diet that optimizes nutrition while adhering to a special diet, as well as considering personal preferences. You can search for a dietitian here:
For general information about diabetes and nutrition: https://www.diabetes.org/nutrition
Reviewed October 20, 2022.
Note: This information is provided by NCA and Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN, NCA's Director of Education. This information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for personalized medical advice or replace any medical advice provided directly to you by your health care provider. No liability is assumed by the NCA or Katarina Mollo, MEd, RDN, LDN by providing this information.