The Spin on Spelt

I am betting that many of you have been offered spelt as a “gluten-free option” or “safe for the gluten intolerant” at one time or another. Maybe you even know someone who eats spelt and says that they do so because it doesn’t cause them any problems like other gluten … that they eat it from time to time without issues.

ciabatta-flaxseed-spelt- My mother-in-law presented me with a loaf of spelt bread when we started passing the food this past Thanksgiving. She’d bought it at an arts and craft fair from an “artisan bakery” home business because it was labeled as “safe for the gluten intolerant.” When she held that loaf of bread out to me, after making that statement … well, it was a very awkward moment. I swallowed hard and told her that it was really sweet of her to go to the trouble of purchasing special bread for me, but spelt bread was actually not gluten free and, therefore, not safe for me.

Another, more distant memory comes to mind … shortly after I went gluten free, we decided to head out early for our beach vacation. We decided to go halfway and stay at a bed and breakfast (B&B). This B&B was well established and had been under the same management since it had opened many years earlier. Of course, when I made the reservation, I asked the owner if he was familiar with preparing gluten-free breakfasts. He assured me he was. There were about a dozen of us at breakfast and food was prepared buffet style, but the foods were in individual serving dishes with separate serving utensils, all placed well apart from each other. I happily ate my serving of frittata and watermelon with no issues. As the owner cleared my plate, he apologized for having just run out of spelt and not being able to make spelt pancakes for me instead. An alarm went off for me, but I was new enough to being gluten free that I had just this little inkling of doubt about my own knowledge. (I thought to myself, “Is spelt really gluten free?”) Because I was suddenly unsure, I said nothing. Of course, as soon as I got to our beach house and surfed the Net, I confirmed that spelt was NOT gluten free. I immediately emailed the owner. I thanked him for our stay and let him know (very nicely) that spelt was not gluten free. He never replied. (NOTE: This information is not a generalization about B&B owners. We are huge fans of B&Bs and stay at them several times a year. It’s extremely rare for me to have an issue with any food prepared for me.)

Not long after that, I attended a general presentation on celiac by a top gastroenterologist. One particular slide still sticks out in my mind … it was a chart of the entire gluten “family” and spelt was clearly a member of the family tree. (It was an excellent, detailed chart, but I’ve never seen it since despite repeated efforts to locate it.)

Currently, an article from Bloomberg news about Newman’s Organics spelt pretzels has been making the rounds on the celiac listserv and other gluten-free forums. Basically, the news is that Newman’s Organics spelt pretzels contain undeclared wheat. Admittedly, the article, which states both Newmans’ Organics viewpoint and the FDA’s viewpoint, is a bit confusing (but, unfortunately, isn’t that often the case with labeling and distinctions regarding gluten?). These spelt pretzels are labeled and marketed as wheat free, but the FDA states that spelt and wheat both belong to the genus Triticum and as such, spelt must be labeled as wheat. (By the way, there’s a great analysis of spelt on the Celiac Sprue Association site.) Newman’s Organics CEO says the packaging will change per the FDA’s direction, but as of today, Amazon is still selling these pretzels as wheat free—a week after the article was published. However, for Vitaspelt pretzels, the ingredients show “spelt (wheat) flour.” (I am not faulting Amazon, it is reporting the information that the manufacturers have provided.)


Bottom line #1: Spelt contains gluten and if you are gluten free, you should not be eating any products that contain spelt. Finally, if you want to see how dramatically spelt can affect someone who needs to be gluten free, please read the story of Allison. Allison’s story was first featured in Gluten-Free Living magazine a few years ago.  I’ve never forgotten it and often share it with folks to show them how dramatic the effects of gluten can be on one who has celiac/gluten intolerance. (And, frankly, every time I read Allison’s story I think about how many people are suffering needlessly because they remain undiagnosed.) Now her story is one of the many moving and enlightening personal stories at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness site.

Along similar lines, an individual wrote in to the newsletter recently regarding Ezekiel bread. She reported that Robin McGraw (better known as  the wife of “Dr. Phil” McGraw) had stated on a recent episode of “The Doctors” that Ezekiel bread was part of her gluten free-diet. The individual who wrote in knew that Ezekiel bread was not gluten free, but wanted to alert readers to the misinformation. She asked all readers to write to the producers of “The Doctors” show so they would be compelled to issue a correction of some sort.

If you are not familiar with Ezekiel bread,  typically, its ingredients include sprouted wheat, sprouted and malted barley, and spelt—so it’s a real evil gluten triumvirate.  However, many say that it is either gluten free or that it has such a minimal level of gluten that it does not bother them. Rationale for eating it is offered; e.g., “the sprouting process, through enzymatic activity, changes gluten to a more digestible or tolerable state”. Bottom line #2: Ezekiel bread contains gluten. If you are gluten free, do not eat it.

How about you? Have you been offered spelt or Ezekiel bread as a safe option on a gluten-free diet? Tell us about it. Even when we are knowledgeable individuals, sometimes when another person speaks with authority we can doubt ourselves. Sharing our stories will help us learn the lesson better so we won’t fall for the spin on spelt or forget what Ezekiel bread really is.

Additional note: This post remains one of my most popular posts. I hope that means that folks are reading and learning that spelt is unsafe for those on a gluten-free diet. However, I continue to get comments from readers who insist that spelt is safe and that they eat it without problems. Sadly, I think that these individuals are deluding themselves and, as a result, will face further health issues down the road. My friend Debi at Hunter’s Lyonesse shares lots of data on why spelt is not safe for those who are gluten free in her article, Spent on Spelt.


Not just GF, but GFE

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119 Responses to “The Spin on Spelt”

  1. noble pig on January 15th, 2009 2:22 am

    This was highly informative. I have no problems with gluten but I am always interested in learning about information like this. Thank you.

    • Lisa on September 12th, 2009 4:47 am

      My doctor just this week recommended spelt and he claimed to know all about celiac disease because his brother has CD and he himself is gluten free. Somehow, I doubt that he is gf. I hope his brother is not following his advice.

      • Shirley on September 12th, 2009 9:13 am

        Hi, dear–I think this is your first time actually commenting on gfe, so first an official welcome to gfe! Just when I think you can’t tell me anything worse about this particular doctor, you share some other advice he has give you that is beyond horrid. And, frankly, beyond horrid is too nice a description. A better one would be criminal and malpractice worthy. And, no, I am not kidding. Such ignorance in the medical profession is why so many individuals with celiac remain undiagnosed OR if diagnosed, not well. He is definitely not gluten free if he is recommending spelt. It seems pretty clear that he is not seeing a doctor who is knowledgeable about gluten for his own treatment. A wise pediatrician once told me that “The physician who treats himself has a fool for a patient.” (That’s an old quote that I’ve seen attributed to more than one person.) I sincerely hope that his brother who has CD is seeing someone well-versed in celiac and its treatment. I am going to stop there, except please let anyone who eats spelt know that it is not safe for those with gluten issues of any kind. Did you read Allison’s story (linked in the post)? That alone should convince anyone of the damage that spelt can do to the body of someone with gluten issues.

        Thanks so much for commenting, Lisa. I’m really looking forward to you finding a doctor who knows celiac and can take care of you properly, so you can heal as quickly as possible. Hugs,

  2. Nance on January 15th, 2009 1:18 pm

    Good job, Shirley. As noble pig said, I don’t have gluten issues either, but am interested in the subject due to my friendship with you, and I’m just fascinated by the misinformation out there. It makes it hard for those with celiac disease to navigate already difficult dietary terrain. Kudos to you for being a strong voice of assistance.

  3. Brenda on January 15th, 2009 5:13 pm

    Wow, I’m glad I’ve not fallen into the “trap” of thinking that Ezekial bread or spelt was gluten free! My foot would be itching me to death! That’s one of the signs that I’ve been “glutened”!


  4. Shirley on January 15th, 2009 6:08 pm

    noble pig–Thanks, Cathy! I think the more awareness the better. You never know when you might be able to help out a gluten-free person (especially someone newly diagnosed) with your new knowledge. Often it’s friends of GF folks who end up mentioning to others, hey, I have this friend who’s gluten free and … Your comments could one day help a person recognize symptoms and seek a diagnosis, help someone stay gluten free, or just learn to eat simply (i.e., GFE). You know I already love your blog ( because so many of your recipes are naturally gluten free or can be made so by small changes. Today your Sweet Potato and Linguica Sausage Soup ( is GF as long as one ensures the chicken broth used is GF (or makes some from GF chicken bouillon or Better than Bouillon).

    Nance–Thank you, dear! Being an educator, I know you’ll share any info gleaned here with others when it’s appropriate. Knowledge is power!

    Brenda–I am so glad you didn’t! None of us like the apparent signs we’ve been glutened. (One day soon I’ll post on the myriad of symptoms of one being glutened and ask for input.) Thanks so much for visiting GFE and commenting. :-) You know I appreciate it!

  5. Heather @ Life, Gluten Free on January 16th, 2009 6:39 pm

    Oh dear!! That is very true about spelt. Not at all gluten free! I have not been offered it, no. But my MIL did ask if I would “outgrow” celiac disease, even though I am a grown woman… and of course, the part about it not being something you can outgrow. I guess it is really hard for people to understand, but at least your MIL tried! that was nice of her.

  6. Shirley on January 17th, 2009 8:22 am

    Hi Heather! We all have our tales on surprising things folks have said to us. I am mostly sympathetic to those in the general public who don’t understand or don’t “get it” … it usually takes a while for those of us are GF to really “get it” ourselves, and we’re living it 24/7. Of course, I do think folks in food service have an inherent responsibility to be sure what they are serving folks is safe for them. It’s often a copout, but I prefer the companies or individuals who say, I can’t say this is a GF product and safe for you, than the ones who erroneously and irresponsibly, say it is safe.

    Yes, as I told MIL it was sweet of her to purchase the bread for me thinking it would be a treat. I guess I would have preferred that she had asked me about it beforehand. As it was, frankly, I felt like a bad person due to her reaction (which, obviously, I didn’t share) when I told her it was not GF. Anyway, that type of scenario is a discussion for another day … I know we’ve all been in similar positions. I really appreciate your input and I’m sorry that you’ve been through the same. Sometimes the questions are not as surprising as the fact that they are asked over and over again, right? Can’t you just have a little bit? A little bit won’t hurt you, will it? Here, take this cheesecake and just don’t eat the crust … that’s okay, right? We’ve all had these experiences. Thanks again for sharing your comments!

  7. H.Peter on January 17th, 2009 12:01 pm

    Ezekiel stuff. One of the local stores here carries their line and I had to smile (sarcastically) about their labels in terms of selling with quotes from the big book.

    And yes, it was in the gluten free aisle. Can you spell ETERNAL PURGATORY?

  8. Shirley on January 17th, 2009 12:42 pm

    H.Peter–Laughing and “crying” at the same time. ;-) You bring up an excellent point! I, too, have seen Ezekiel and other gluten-containing breads, like spelt, in the gluten-free section of stores before. I always inform the store personnel, but as I rarely buy GF specialty items (and may not ever return to the store), I don’t know if and when the products get removed. Thanks for raising this point!

  9. Peter Bronski on January 17th, 2009 8:25 pm

    Great post, Shirley! Highly informative, and full of important info. Thanks for sharing this!

    Cheers, Pete

  10. Shirley on January 17th, 2009 10:26 pm

    Hey Pete, thanks so much! I really appreciate you stopping by since I know from your blog you’re on the road right now. (Good luck again on your ski mountaineering race! Fascinating activity to a southern non-skier like myself.) BTW, I found your post the other day on distillation ( equally compelling.

  11. joan on January 18th, 2009 11:37 am

    This story made me smile and think back to the “olden days” around ten years ago when I was newly diagnosed. Waitresses would proudly tell me that an item didn’t have any wheat in it, “only flour”!

    I was made to feel selfish for inconveniencing others with my odd desires to eat strangely. These days, everyone is way more knowledgeable about food intolerances and “funny” diets. We still have to be very careful and self-educated.

    • Diana on November 23rd, 2011 7:32 pm

      Lol. That’s like me telling people I have a pork intolerance and then being offered ham or bacon. I have to spell it out to them precisely or they don’t get the picture. My daughters have gluten intolerance (though not diagnosed with celiac). One has irritable bowel syndrome and the other hasn’t taken herself off to be properly diagnosed but is showing similar signs as the first – she finds she has an intolerance to rice (of all things), like my dad does.

      I have dairy intolerance, and am diabetic so have issues with carbohydrate metabolism. I’ve contemplated going on a gluten free diet myself. I was put onto a ‘sugar free diet’ many years ago when I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia (before I became diabetic – it was basically a low GI diet with no sucrose sugar in the diet and low other sugars). It actually works well for me (when I stuck to it) – but whenever I tell people, doctors and dieticians included, they act shocked and tell me I have to have some sugar in the diet and then go all technical on me about the sugars in fruit etc. It’s been 24 years now since my first diagnosis with food and sugar issues – I hate it when the so called experts can get it all wrong. Many a time I get told I can eat this or that, knowing full well if I do it adversely affects my health. Hardly anyone can understand my pork intolerance.

      • Shirley on December 21st, 2011 5:56 pm

        Hi Diana–Yikes … I thought I had missed one comment on this post, but didn’t see yours as well until now. I’m so sorry to be a month late in replying! I know you were replying to Joan, but still wanted to thank you for sharing your experience and understanding with her and others reading. I’m glad you’ve found what works for you! :-)


  12. Shirley on January 18th, 2009 12:58 pm

    Hi Joan-So glad you’ve decided to join the discussion! You have to laugh when you get responses like that, don’t you? (Okay, a little laughing and maybe some inward groaning at the same time. I still get some similar ones.) Ten years ago you must have faced a huge lack of knowledge though (a friend diagnosed 8 years ago shared his stories with me). You’re right … the increased awareness is a great thing, but we remain own best advocates for ensuring we eat safely.

  13. glutenfreeforgood on January 19th, 2009 8:47 pm

    Good post, Shirley. Spelt is wheat, no ifs, ands, or butts. There’s this notion floating around that it is somehow different than traditional wheat and okay for those on a GF diet. I’ve even heard people mention how easy it is to bake considering it’s a gluten-free flour. Argh!

    Thanks for spreading the word.


  14. Shirley on January 20th, 2009 6:58 am

    Melissa-Thank you! This is a critical myth to dispel (and how ironic that there’s a bit of word play going on there … maybe that’s a way to remember not to eat spelt–DISPEL SPELT!). As long as folks with gluten issues continue to eat gluten of any kind, damage continues whether one is aware of it or not. So many people say they don’t have symptoms when they eat “this or that”–even if they know the “this or that” contains gluten. I believe the symptoms are there most of the time, but they may not be the ones you have experienced before. They could be like those in Allison’s story. (Suddenly, you’re experiencing chronic back pain or body pain and a diagnosis of fibromyalgia is looming in your future.) And, last, statistics show that 40% of individuals diagnosed with celiac experience NO symptoms. No spelt is a must on the GF diet. Thanks again for adding to the commentary! Shirley

  15. Maureen "Hold The Gluten" on January 20th, 2009 10:03 pm

    Excellent post!! When first diagnosed, I had confusion on orzo — it looked like rice (which is safe) but was really glutenous pasta (totally off limits). I wholeheartedly believe that when in doubt — research, research, research to make certain the food truly is gluten free! By the way, my mother told me that I would outgrow celiac disease as well… Even though I was in my 30′s when I was diagnosed!! :)

  16. Shirley on January 21st, 2009 12:17 am

    Hi Maureen–Welcome to GFE! Thanks so much for your input and the reminder on orzo. Orzo contains gluten, but arborio rice is gluten free. (Both were kind of lumped together in my head … all those o’s. LOL) Arborio rice is used for making true risotto, but not all risotto is GF because sometimes barley is added, or pasta like the orzo you mentioned is used. Thankfully, not all of the GF diet is this confusing! As far as our moms, they mean well … they really do–I guess in a perfect world, we could grow out of everything that causes us difficulty. ;-)

    Thanks again for stopping by … hope you’ll visit and comment often. I’ll go check out your GF blog now. :-)


  17. Shirley on January 27th, 2009 7:28 pm

    If you are looking for more data on spelt, Tricia Thompson, The Gluten Free Dietician, just posted an excellent write-up on her blog over at You can check it out here.


  18. Stephanie on February 27th, 2009 1:53 pm

    I was just diagnosed with a wheat allergy/intolerance in January, so I am still learning. (I cut out all gluten and feel a million times better.) I have run into a lot of misinformation – Spelt is often offered up, since most people don’t know that it is a wheat product, albeit a less hybridized and lower gluten form of wheat. I have also been offered coucous, sprouted bread, semolina bread (sorry, fancy name for a kind of wheat), and pita bread (!). Ultimately, we have to be our own keepers. I am fortunate in that my husband is willing to tolerate my grumpiness as I experiment with making my own bread and he is willing to drive all over hell’s half acre to find things for me to eat.

  19. Shirley on February 27th, 2009 3:19 pm

    Hi, Stephanie! I am so glad you are feeling so much better so quickly–love that! You will feel better and better. :-) Thanks so much for commenting and sharing your experiences and giving even more examples of products that are NOT gluten free. Yes, we have to take care of ourselves for sure and the learning curve is steep at first, but soon we know this stuff like breathing.

    Your husband sounds like a gem! While most people don’t miss bread more and more as time goes on and are just as happy with the occasional slice of GF bread, Karina, the Gluten-Free Goddess, just posted a recipe on her site that people are raving over. So be sure to check out her bread recipe. Personally, I stay satisfied with the occasional muffins, popovers, and the like. Also, the whole focus of my blog is showing folks that they really don’t have to go all over to get specialty items to eat GF. Again, that takes a little learning though. I hope you’ll check out my blog and find recipes that require basic ingredients that you like. :-)

    Thanks again for sharing … look forward to seeing you here at GFE!

  20. Amy Jo on August 26th, 2009 11:08 pm

    I knew that Spelt contains gluten. However, I am finding it difficult to uncover how much gluten Spelt has, especially compared to wheat. If you have & can share this information, I would greatly appreciate it:)

    • Shirley on August 27th, 2009 6:46 am

      Amy Jo–Hi and welcome to gfe! I have to be frank here, since spelt is a form of wheat, even if an ancient/related form, asking how much gluten is in it is irrelevant to me. That would be like asking how much gluten is a loaf of any other gluten-containing bread. Whatever the number in parts per million (ppm), it’s too much and gluten-containing products are just off the table as far as I’m concerned. For everyone who needs to be gluten free and thinks they don’t react to spelt, I’ll just share again one of the links I believe I shared above: Allison’s Story from NFCA site. I firmly believe there are other individuals who are celiac/gluten intolerant who continue eating spelt and then end up down the road with some serious condition (e.g., cancer) that they don’t believe is related to gluten at all. They would be mistaken as the body’s reaction to gluten manifests in many ways. In any regard, since spelt contains gluten, any amount is too much. I’m one who reacts to even the mainstream products on the market today that are being promoted as gluten free at 20 ppm, so spelt will not be part of my diet. I’m sure you could do further searching to get the information you are looking for.

      Thanks for commenting and best of luck,

  21. John on May 26th, 2010 9:39 am

    I just stumbled onto this article by doing some searching and wanted to leave a comment. My wife and I have pretty severe reactions whenever we eat wheat, even minute amounts like what would be found in a meatball or on a fried chicken wing (that we thought was not breaded, but it had a very, very light coating that was not noticeable). However, we have been able to use spelt without any problems (and so have a few friends of ours, but not all…we know many wheat allergy and gluten intolerant people), so I think our problem is more of a wheat allergy than a true gluten intolerance. But, being relatively new to this all, we’ve still playing it as safe as we can and buying GF products whenever possible, but using organic spelt flour to make baked goods like bread, biscuits, cakes, and cookies. We don’t make them too often, but we’ve been using spelt for about 3 years now and we have yet to react to it. But, we accidentally consumed a small amount of wheat flour when we dined out and didn’t realize it was in the seasonings, and we noticed immediately and spent the next 2 days in agony. My understanding is that the proteins in spelt are simpler and easier to digest than those found in regular wheat, so some people can tolerate spelt so long as it’s a wheat allergy and not a true gluten intolerance. Given how pervasive wheat is in food products, even in things like taco seasonings and nacho cheese sauce, it’s not surprising that allergy/intolerance issues are becoming more prevalent like they’ve happened with soy, and likely will happen with corn due to HFCS among other things. I just wanted to share our story.

    • Shirley on May 26th, 2010 9:28 pm

      Hi John–Welcome to gfe. Everyone has to make his/her judgment. The fact is: Spelt is wheat. It’s considered an ancient member of the wheat family per my understanding, meaning that it has not been hybridized like other wheat. While I appreciate you being willing to share your story, respectfully, it hasn’t changed my opinion. Not having a visible reaction does not mean it’s not harming your body. People can go along eating gluten with no visible symptoms and suddenly have another serious condition, like cancer or an autoimmune disease. It’s stated that 40% of those with celiac have no symptoms, yet their small intestine was being damaged during that time. And, often, the folks who say they have no symptoms don’t realize that they are having symptoms. Perhaps their reaction to other gluten exposure is sudden vomiting or diarrhea, but when they eat spelt, for example, they have insomnia, need to take a nap in the afternoon, or have brain fog. They don’t associate the latter symptoms with the ingestion because they already have a set of defined symptoms in their head, but they may well experience issues and not realize them. Or again, they might not experience any symptoms, but it really doesn’t matter if one experiences symptoms or not … wheat is wheat, gluten is gluten. Spelt has been tested for gluten levels and they are there. Bottom line: It should not consumed by anyone with a gluten or wheat health issue. There are many theories on why celiac/gluten intolerance is becoming more prevalent … Standard American Diet, environmental triggers, GMO wheat that contains more gluten, etc. Probably the same is true of the other allergens you mentioned. It all points to the need for eating real food, which is naturally gluten free—meat, seafood, fruit, veggies.


  22. Bill on October 4th, 2010 4:24 pm


    Very very one sided..

    • Shirley on October 10th, 2010 4:13 pm

      Bill–As Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” There can be no sides with the discussion on spelt. It may be in your interest to sell spelt to as many folks as possible being with Purity Foods, which sells Vita-Spelt; however, spelt contains gluten and is not safe for anyone who is celiac, gluten intolerant, or gluten sensitive. There are countless sources that accurately report that spelt is a form of wheat.


    • Diana on December 22nd, 2011 7:25 pm

      When someone has experienced the terrible affects of allergies and intolerances then they can sound one sided in their views. However she has a good reason to be. I too suffer from food intolerances, and often the symptoms are not immediate or severe. I find with my dairy intolerance that the body takes so much and then I start getting symptoms akin to the flu, sore throat and swollen glands. I’m not gluten intolerant (to my knowledge) but too much wheat will send my sugar levels up high (I’m diabetic). Presently I’m seriously considering going on a gluten free diet just to see if it would make a difference to my sugar readings. I’ve always considered my diabetes to be secondary to some other underlying cause – Considering the changes I’ve already made to my diet that should have helped me to control my sugars, but haven’t, I can only assume I’m still consuming too much of the foods I’m meant to avoid (it’s really hard to break old eating habits, especially as cheese is one of my comfort foods).

      • Renee on November 23rd, 2013 11:34 pm

        Hi Diana,

        I’m also diabetic and have recently discovered that I have MANY food intolerances/alleriges – gluten, soy, corn, milk, eggs, coconut, and nightshade veggies, just to name a few.

        Cheese was a real tough one for me, since the trifecta of dairy, corn, and soy make it near impossible to purchase any form of cheese. (I found one brand and it SUCKED.) It smelled like a pile of nutiritional yeast and irreversably adhered to everything except the food you melted it onto.

        I had just about given up hope when I found Artisan Vegan Cheese written by Miyoko Schinner. Fortunately I don’t have issues with tree nuts (most of the recipes are cashew and almond based), so I now have both yogurt and cheese back in my life.

        Granted – it was an adjustment to cook more from a calendar than a clock, but good things are definitely worth waiting for. All of the recipes are very simple to do. The hardest thing for me was finding a way to keep the yogurt at a stable temp during culturing without a yogurt maker. Problem solved with a cooler filled with warm water.

        If you decide to get a copy of her book and give it a go, I’d recommend partnering up with another dairy intolerant person, since the recipes make pretty large quantities. Many of the cheeses you can freeze, so that helps as well.

  23. Micah on January 11th, 2011 12:12 pm

    Whether Spelt contains gluten, I do not disagree.

    Whether there is a difference in the gluten of different forms of grain, that is not so clear.

    As far as your distinction of what is and is not wheat, I have to ask,

    Is Kamut wheat?

    Is Rye wheat?

    Why are they not labeled as wheat and Spelt is?
    You should know the answer to that.

    Also, I would be interested to see your “Countless Sources”.

    • Shirley on January 14th, 2011 8:31 am

      Hello Micah–I am glad that you agree that spelt contains gluten. So much misinformation prevails on that topic and, clearly, that misinformation was the driver for my post. To answer your questions, I’d say rye is not wheat. As far as whether kamut is wheat or not, I’d refer you to Kamut brand’s web site and several of their pages. From their home page: “Welcome to the official site for KAMUT® brand khorasan wheat. Here you can find a variety of information about this ancient wheat, which is produced with passion, fairness and respect for the earth.” Their origin and taxonomy page identifies kamut as wheat and even talks about spelt being wheat. The Classification page is also clear on the wheat lineage, and again spelt is shown as spelt wheat. You can see that here. Admittedly, the makers of the Kamut product do confuse things a bit with this page. Ehow states that “Kamut is the trademarked name for the wheat cultivar QK-77. The exact classification is uncertain, but it is probably a hybrid of Triticum durum and Triticum polonicum. Kamut is a large grain that requires more time to soften than other durum wheats, making it ideal for slow cookers.”

      I thnk I’ve just shared several sources and I listed several in my post and in replies to comments, but I know the debate rages on and is detailed here on this food allergy website.

      The bottom line remains that those who have gluten issues should not consume spelt … or kamut or rye, and the other forbiddens, like barley and oats (the latter should only be consumed if certified gluten free).


      • Diana on December 22nd, 2011 7:50 pm

        Hi Shirley
        I didn’t know that oats had gluten in it too? Maybe that’s what I’m doing wrong in my diet (assuming I may have a gluten intolerance), I have oats/oats based meusli for breakfast every morning. Though it’s my night time meals that seem to be going wrong as I have hight sugar readings in the mornings before breakfast.

        I must start looking at other breakfast options.
        The raw foods diet is looking to be my best option so far – but how to change to salads when the garden isn’t very productive at the moment and the shops are too far away.

        Lentils and chick peas are a good option. Can you make cakes and breads using lentils or chickpeas. Carrot and celery sticks for snacks can at least take the edge off my cravings, and help me avoid eating bread/sandwiches and cheese.

        • Shirley on January 13th, 2012 12:20 am

          Hi Diana–The fact that gluten is in mainstream (i.e., non-certified gluten free) oats is a surprise to many and, likewise, one of the ways that gluten continues to sneak into many “gluten-free” diets. Kelly at The Spunky Coconut makes a lot of baked goods using white beans. I’ve made amazing baked goods with both black beans and chickpeas. Unfortunately, none of those recipes are on my blog yet though. Remember that some green foods and other veggies can keep a very long time. Cabbage is one. Spinach and romaines usually keep quite some time. Just offering some more ideas for you for those times you do make it to the store. Have you heard of the book Mastering Leptin? It’s a book that has some eating rules that are designed to reverse diabetes, speed weight loss, etc. It might be worth a read to figure out how to resolve your glucose issues. Last, in regard to your reply to another reader, there are many, many who have never been diagnosed with gluten intolerance, but do indeed have it. While some will make a commitment and go 100% gluten free to see if that works for them, it can takes months to get clear results and some folks get worse before getting better. So I actually recommend Enterolab’s Gluten Sensitivity Test. Getting the test results can give one the validation needed to commit to a 100% gluten-free diet.


    • Diana on December 22nd, 2011 7:40 pm

      All the reading I’ve done about spelt, over a period of 26 years, has told me that it is most definitely a wheat. My husband had a wheat intolerance when I first met him and I checked out all my options as to what he could and could not eat. Now my daughter has a wheat intolerance. My sources have come from numerous books initially, a nutritionist, and on the internet since it had become available. Not any of the literature that I’ve read about spelt has said that is is not wheat and all literature has said that it is. Spelt is one of the original wheat grains that was around in ancient times.

      I go with Shirley on what she says about rye. It is a grain, but it is not wheat.

  24. Matt on April 20th, 2011 5:17 pm

    Is wheat vodka a problem for people who have an intolerance to wheat or gluten? I’ve read that the distillation process removes all traces. Is that true?

    • Shirley on April 20th, 2011 10:53 pm

      Hi Matt–Welcome to gfe. :-) Distilled alcohol is considered to be safe for those with celiac/gluten intolerance. The gluten protein is supposed to be removed during the process. Many drink distilled alcohol with no issues.. Still others say they have reactions to grain-based alcohol despite distillation. So those folks choose to go with grain-free alcohol, like tequila, potato and grape vodka, etc. For either, any gluten added after the distillation problem would be a concern. Thankfully, the latter doesn’t happen very often. Read more on all here and here.


    • Renee on November 23rd, 2013 11:47 pm

      It kind of depends on whether they distill and then bottle it straight away or whether they age it further in things like oak barrels (whisky and brandy spring to mind here).

      Many folks don’t know that barrel aging is a problem, mainly because the barrels are made water tight using a flour paste – hence the re-introduction of gluten.

      Some wines will also have this gluten contamination problem if they are actually produced in barrels (boutique wine makers and high end products) and not tank-fermented (mass production, cheap).

      You can contact the distiller/wine-maker to learn whether your favorite liquor/wine is produced in barrels (gluten issues) or tanks (ok).

      (Yes, I spent some time working at Gallo when I was in CA…)

      • Shirley on November 23rd, 2013 11:58 pm

        Hi Renee–Welcome to gfe. :-) Thanks for sharing information from your experience. Even when wheat paste is used in barrels, for most folks it won’t be a problem as the ppm falls far below what is a concern. It is addressed here on

        Thanks again,

  25. Linda on December 14th, 2011 11:45 pm

    Hi Shirley,

    About 3 years ago when I started having digestive problems, I worked with a naturopathic doctor that told me to go off all gluten but told me that Ezekiel products were all right because they have no flour in them. So this is a common misconception.

    I have had a lot of health problems in these last 3 years and have never entirely gone off gluten (and have especially eaten my Ezekiel bread). I tested negative for celiac. I had my gallbladder out about 6 months ago (which did stop my gallbladder pain), and after that I realized that I was having trouble eating the Ezekiel bread and cereal. And I now seem to have very dramatic reactions to gluten. So I am now going seriously off gluten. Thanks for a wonderfully informative blog–I am considering how to do gfe living with having 5 kids (including several teenagers) and a husband who are not gluten free.

    Thanks, Linda

    • Shirley on December 21st, 2011 6:03 pm

      Hi Linda–Your comment got buried in all the ones for our holiday event. I’m so sorry to be so late in replying.

      I’m very disappointed that you were under the guidance of a medical professional staying that Ezekiel was safe for you. Gall bladders issues are another sign of gluten intolerance/celiac. That’s true of organ issues in general. Our bodies are attacking themselves in their quest to attack gluten and defend themselves from what they see as a foreign invader. :-(

      Thanks so much for the kind words on my blog! Have you taken a look at the Getting Started with GFE tab? There are great tip sheets there for getting started and serving meals that the whole family will love. No “weirdness” in taste or texture is the key to converting family members and, of course, just keeping us, the gluten-free eaters, happy, too. Also, it’s very likely that others in your family have unrecognized gluten issues as it is genetic. Living gf as a family might head those off or resolve them.

      Best of luck! Send me an email if you need further help … nag me if it gets lost and you need an immediate answer. ;-)


  26. Lillian @ lillianstestkitchen on December 29th, 2011 3:59 pm

    Great post Shirley! A family friend was giving his gluten-intolerant son spelt bread for YEARS thinking that he was doing the right thing. I told him multiple times that it wasn’t gluten-free but it really took him a long time to change his thinking. Once we’ve decided upon a thing it seems like it’s just crazy difficult to learn that we’ve been wrong all along… I’m sympathetic, but I’m not THAT sympathetic. A part of me just feels like: GET IT RIGHT PEOPLE. Get it RIGHT!

    • Shirley on January 13th, 2012 12:04 am

      Hi Lillian–We chatted so much on Twitter on this topic that I thought I’d replied to you. Thank you for sharing your friend and his son’s story even though it’s very hard to hear. Sadly, this dogmatic stance that spelt is safe is erroneously repeated time and time again, and even here in comments. Many times I believe that it’s the old unwillingness to let go of products that folks have gotten used to (like Ezekiel bread) that taste “normal.” The price is way too huge though, and I understand your reluctance on being sympathetic. The gluten-free diet cannot be done halfheartedly. It has to be done 100% as you and most of us know. Thanks for taking the time to comment!


  27. Diane Eble on January 9th, 2012 7:34 pm

    Thank you for this. I just got a bread machine that does GF bread and it had a spelt recipe in the GF section. So I searched about spelt. I had some from when I was told spelt was a different kind of wheat and was OK. So thanks for confirming what I figured was the case.

    And thanks for your site. I will come often, I think. Really appreciate what you do, and will tell others. So many of my clients are probably gluten intolerant and don’t know it.

    • Shirley on January 12th, 2012 11:54 pm

      Hi Diane–I’m so glad you found my site for validation that spelt is not safe. Thanks so much for your kind words, too! I hope that your clients will find my site helpful. There are lots of easy and delicious recipes here at gfe, whether one is gf or not. Sometimes that introduction can be a good way to start someone’s journey down the gluten-free road. ;-)

      Thanks again, Diane!

  28. Susan Morris on January 11th, 2012 10:17 pm

    I can’t speak for all who have celiac’s disease, but I know of two (my daughter and the daughter of a friend) who can eat spelt with no gastrointestinal pain or other adverse effects.

    My naturopath theorizes that the increase in gluten intolerance may be due to the fact that all the regular red and white wheat in this country has been genetically modified to make it pesticide-resistant. Spelt, on the other hand, is the same in nature as it has been for centuries.

    So give spelt a try and see if it works for you.

    • Shirley on January 12th, 2012 11:48 pm

      Susan–I am publishing your comment, but very reluctantly. This type of advice that you are dispensing is exactly why I wrote this post. I know you believe what you are saying, but what you are saying is potentially life threatening to those with celiac and gluten issues. Did your read Allison’s story that I linked to in my post? There are a couple of important points to note here. First, no visible reaction does not mean there are not adverse effects. Second, there may be symptoms, but they may not be recognized as such. (Again, please read Allison’s story.) Third, maybe there are no symptoms, but “suddenly” 6 months after eating spelt “with no gastrointestinal pain or other adverse effects” the person consuming spelt has a bone density scan and osteopenia is revealead or a blood test reveals anemia. Would that be tied back to the spelt? It’s doubtful, but the spelt—i.e., the gluten, genetically modified or not—could well be the cause of such issues. The person continues eating spelt because the symptoms are not ones they would expect to be gluten symptoms. Fourth, even IF (not an if that I can validate) spelt is unchanged, the person with celiac/gluten issues already has a condition where gluten in ANY form will impact them. Spelt is gluten and it will impact them. Your advice is akin to telling someone to play Russian roulette with their life. I urge all my readers to listen to the experts on celiac/gluten intolerance/gluten sensitivity, and they all say DO NOT EAT SPELT!


  29. Mandie on January 13th, 2012 1:35 pm

    My 4 year old daughter is what I would describe as “spirited”, she is “more”, and on a daily basis gets very intense. In talking with other parents who have children with possible sensory issues it has been advised that these children try a gluten free diet because the “leaky gut” from the gluten can cause wires in a person’s brain can become crossed and muddied. For breakfast and lunch my daughter has bread so I wanted to, for starters, try gluten free bread so my husband stopped at Meijer and was hard pressed to find anything “gluten free” but came home with spelt bread. Lol, I was confused because it says on the label that it is wheat, but my husband assured me that it is free of gluten?! Of course I was skeptical because of it being labeled as a wheat product and in looking it up I found this article. Thank you :)I could you tell me what brands of bread are gluten free? Thanks :)

    • Shirley on January 16th, 2012 11:44 pm

      Hi Mandie–Welcome to gfe! :-) I’m so glad you found my article. I sincerely believe that the gluten-free diet can help your daughter. Gluten and leaky gut can play a role in so many conditions. The results of a gluten-free diet can be amazing in many cases. I hope it will be with your daughter! FYI, gluten-free breads are found in the freezer section of the grocery store and usually with other gluten-free items. Some brands are Rudi’s (my favorite), Udi’s, Enjoy Life, Ener-G (great for using in stuffing and casseroles, not my fave for sandwiches and such), and more. Note that some of these companies also make gluten-full products, so be sure the product says gluten free. I tend to advise that bread be removed from the diet for a bit so that there’s no comparison of the gf bread to regular bread. They can be pretty different in most cases. You might want to take a look at Getting Started with GFE. It’s a tab under my header and there are tip sheets there for getting started gluten free with meal ideas, treat ideas, etc. I think you’ll find it helpful. Also, take a look on my sidebar at Essential Posts for posts with other helpful tips. Please email me if you have any more specific questions.

      Best of luck!

      • Krystal on June 13th, 2013 2:20 am

        A company by the name of Jensen’s makes great buns (burger and hotdog). They are called better buns and I actually really like them…they have the texture of an english muffin but is gluten free:)

        • Shirley on June 15th, 2013 11:06 am

          Thanks for sharing, Krystal. :-)


  30. Maureen on January 17th, 2012 2:59 am

    I think there is great confusion between those suffering from gluten sensitivity and fructose malabsorption. Someone who has celiac disease should never eat spelt no matter what the process is as it contains gluten. My own research and testing with my physician and naturopath, I came up that I was suffering from fructose malabsorption. Many FM sufferers have problems with fructans – short chains of fructose found primarily in wheat and onions. I had great problems with gluten free products and many of the subsitutes are not good for FM. Many individuals who suffer with problems with fructans find that the baking method of spelt sourdough breads are tolerable as the sourdough reduces the amount of fructans in spelt to a small amount. This is being discussed on FM blogs. Sourdough process does not lower fructans in wheat breads and still remain intolerable for myself.

    • Shirley on January 17th, 2012 10:15 am

      Hi Maureen–After rereading your comment several times, I’m not sure if you are stating that only those with celiac need be concerned about spelt. Perhaps I am misinterpreting that part of your comment, but I want to emphasize that anyone with gluten issues of any kind—from gluten sensitivity to non-celiac gluten intolerance to celiac disease—should not be consuming spelt. EVER.

      I know a handful of folks with both gluten issues AND fructose malabsorption. You’re right that highly processed gluten-free products and substitutes are not good for them. Really, they’d not good for anyone on a gluten-free diet. These foods contribute to ongoing inflammation (with its own multitude of side effects), problems with glucose levels (often pushing the pre-diabetic over the edge into diabetes), and much more. Whole, real foods, and recipes made from them are always the best.

      Thanks for your input, Maureen. I didn’t know about the discussion on spelt in regard to those with FM alone, but please keep sharing the fact that spelt is NOT safe for those who eat gluten free.


      • Maureen on January 19th, 2012 3:37 am

        Absolutely Shirley people with celiac disease AND gluten sensitivity should not eat spelt. There is much buzz about spelt in the FM world and some may be making the mistake of confusing FM and gluten/celiac problems. There was infomation that spelt sourdough bread has lower gluten levels, but that is NOT good enough for celiacs and gluten sensitivity. Spelt sourdough bread may be appropriate for those with solely FM and others who wish less gluten in a whole grain product. It is only the sourdough levain that makes the difference of lowering fructan and gluten levels acting as a fermentation process. The information coming forward has stated that spelt flour and pastas still contain high levels of gluten and fructans. Also sourdough levain wheat products show no improvement in levels of fructans and gluten.

        • Shirley on January 19th, 2012 11:10 am

          Thanks very much, Maureen. Let’s keep the folks with gluten issues and/or FM safe. No spelt, thank you very much. I really appreciate your insight!


  31. Linda M. on January 21st, 2012 10:18 am

    Hi, Great info here.

    I am not allergic or test positive for celiac.
    However, I eat no wheat.

    I do feel that I’m sensitive to wheat. It immediately affects my IBS. I do not avoid all the condiments and things that may be gluten free.

    Would you happen to know if spelt agrees with people who are just sensitive to wheat?

    Linda M.

    • Shirley on January 21st, 2012 3:27 pm

      Hi Linda–Welcome to gfe! :-) Unfortunately I can’t offer you much more than I’ve already stated. I would not recommend that anyone who has either wheat or gluten issues of any kind eat spelt. There are many others who agree with me. Here’s a post from Alison at Sure Foods Living on spelt: Not surprisingly, you’ll see the same type of comments of agreement and disagreement on her post.

      All the best,

  32. Diane Eble on January 21st, 2012 4:38 pm

    OK, another question, though I think I know the answer: What about kamut? I assume it’s a kind of wheat, like spelt, and so is off limits. I just found around 40 lbs. of kamut grains that I had bought (along with spelt) when I found out I could not eat wheat but was mistakenly led to believe I can eat spelt and kamut.

    • Shirley on January 21st, 2012 5:56 pm

      Diane–A quick Google search will show that kamut is an ancient wheat. It’s much like spelt in that regard and also in the sense that some folks who are wheat intolerant (NOT those with gluten issues) say they don’t have issues with kamut. BUT I would NEVER advise anyone with gluten or wheat issues to eat kamut. That 40 lbs of kamut might make a great donation to your local food bank.

      Stay safe and healthy!

  33. Melodie T on March 8th, 2012 4:34 pm

    Hi Shirley,

    Thank you the info on spelt. I only wish I read it before I bought this loaf of spelt bread and made myself a sandwich…ugh! My friend told me to try spelt bread as an alternative to the gluten free bread. I will inform her that spelt isn’t gluten free. My doctor informed me if I went gluten free, my Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms would stop. Wish me luck!

    • Shirley on March 8th, 2012 10:46 pm

      Hi Melodie–Welcome to gfe! :-) I am so glad that you now know the truth about spelt and will share with your friend and others—thank you! I’m sorry that you ate the spelt bread not knowing, but you can put all that behind you and move forward. You must have a great doctor if he/she knows about the relationship between gluten and RA. You will do great! Hopefully, you will see improvements quickly and complete resolution of your RA symptoms in time. You may want to ask your doctor about high quality supplements, too. Sometimes those are needed to expedite recovery. RA and other symptoms/conditions can be caused by the malabsorption issues related to gluten problems. Once gluten is eliminated, one does usually start to absorb vitamins/minerals again as the body heals, but sometimes a little help is needed. Consult your physician. Finally, wishing you luck, but yes, you can do this! Be sure to check out my printable resource sheets on my Getting Started with GFE page:

      Keep me posted!

  34. Vanessa on April 6th, 2012 12:48 am

    Thank you for this informative article. I have been diagnosed with Celiacs for over a year now and after a year of meticulously avoiding all gluten like the plague I am finally felling better. I feel I am quite educated on gluten, however before today I have never come across spelt. Today I was at my favorite gluten free bakery looking for a spring break “treat”. Because I am also allergic to milk along with a few other weird things, finding store bought baked goods is quite hard. The bakery was selling “gluten and milk free cupcakes,” which I bought 2 of. After reading the ingredients to see what kind of flour they did use (I like to know so I can remember which ones I like/dislike) I noticed the main ingredient was spelt. Because I didnt know much about spelt, I assumed the baker knew what they were doing because it is their profession. After eating a cupcake, I started getting my usual “oops I just consumed gluten unknowingly” pains, and immediately went online and started googling spelt; your website being the first I came across. Well, I guess I’m going to have a talk with the baker tomorrow! Eating spelt was a nice learning experience. At least now I know!

    • Shirley on April 8th, 2012 7:38 pm

      Hi Vanessa–First, welcome to gfe! :-) Second, I’m so very sorry that you got glutened via spelt in a product. :-( The myth about spelt being safe for those who need to eat gluten free just won’t die. I sincerely hope you are feeling much better now and have been able to enjoy your weekend. I also hope you have talked to the baker and he was receptive and will immediately stop selling products with spelt in them as gluten free. I would also be concerned about other “gluten-free” products this bakery sells–even if the ingredients they contain are truly gluten free–because of the cross contamination concerns. Please continue to educate folks that spelt contains gluten.

      Hope to see you more here at gfe!

  35. Dia on May 8th, 2012 1:06 am

    Thanks for a great article & information! I was married to a biologist, & have known that spelt is part of the ‘wheat family’ of grains – & no, I don’t eat it!! Nor the sprouted breads – though I did before going GF.
    The wiki articles have a list of many & some of the history – “Spelt (Triticum spelta) is a hexaploid species of wheat. Spelt was an important staple in parts of Europe from the Bronze Age to medieval times; it now survives as a relict crop in Central Europe and northern Spain and has found a new market as a health food” & this article on wheat has a number of the main varieties –

    I appreciate your reminder that though there may be no ‘obvious’ reaction to eating gluten containing items, our bodies still accumulate damage if we do!! Dr Ford suggests it may take 3 – 5 years to recover from gluten damage!

    • Shirley on May 8th, 2012 10:18 am

      Hi Dia–Welcome to gfe! :-) Thanks so much for the kind feedback and all the info you’ve shared. I know it will be helpful to many!

      Banking on an obvious reaction will trip lots of folks up even though they may not realize the damage until much later. It could be via the form of developing another autoimmune disease, cancer, etc. Continued ingestion of gluten is grave business. Literally. As Dr. Tom O’Bryan shares in all his presentations, ingesting gluten even once a month increase the risk of death by a factor of 6.

      I love Dr. Ford. Have met him in person and heard him speak several times. Part of what drives him is the fact that with children—before he accepted the validity of non-celiac gluten sensitivity—he would see children test negative for celiac, but then diagnosed with celiac several years later. However, in many cases, the damage they experienced (short stature, developmental delays, etc.) could not be undone.


      • Dia on May 9th, 2012 12:17 pm

        How sweet that you’ve met Dr Ford – & thank you for sharing where he’s coming from!! The kids help us see the light, don’t they? One reason I went GF with my daughter’s family – she had 2 genes (so I knew I passed one on, & HAD at least one!) AND – she & her family lived next door! So I knew it would be less confusing for the girls (then 4 & 9) if grammy was GF as well!
        Little did I realize how much I’d benefit, as my reactions weren’t as obvious!
        I just found Dr David Clark – several wonderful U-tube vids, including one on coffee ‘cross reacting with gluten antibodies’ & triggering the body to ‘read’ it as gluten in some folks!!! He’s so funny to watch – a DC, so ‘on board’ with lots of ways to react to gluten!
        Thanks for sharing!

        • Shirley on June 13th, 2012 8:14 pm

          Hey Dia–Checking back on comments on this post, I see that I never replied to this last comment of yours. Boo. :-( You are a fabulous grandmother for going gluten free for your family and I just love, but I’m not surprised, that you have experienced many health benefits yourself. I believe most would find that to be true if they went gluten free. Yes, I know about cross reactivity to coffee (and other foods like non-gluten grains) that some can experience, but thanks for mentioning it here.

          All the best to you!

  36. peggy on May 22nd, 2012 2:45 am

    This is very informative.
    Someone in a Health Food Shop (who said her family member had to follow celiac diet) assured me that spelt, oats and rye were quite safe for me to eat (I’m gluten intolerant/ lactose and soy intolerant) and in fact would be very beneficial for me to include in my eating plan.
    As I was then a newby to glutenfree, I felt very unsure and couldn’t say with certainty that it would not be safe for me (but I had a very strong feeling – gut feeling sorry about the pun) and I felt quite bulldozed to accept her ideas and to buy these items – which I didn’t thankfully.
    I just wonder how many other people are made to feel foolish and end up buying (and eating?) the worst foods for their health?
    I do really appreciate websites such as yours and the topics discussed that are so very helpful and give me so much more confidence to listen to my “inner voice”.
    Thank you Peggy in Australia

    • Shirley on June 13th, 2012 8:19 pm

      Hi peggy–I see that I missed replying to your comment, too, re: spelt … I’m sorry. Thanks for the very kind words! I do suspect that you are right in your pondering … no doubt many have purchased unsafe items in health food stores or tried them at different events because of reassurances from misinformed folks. I’m so happy that you did not purchase any then and now have the confidence and knowledge to steer clear of unsafe ingredients.


  37. Samantha on June 11th, 2012 1:27 pm

    Thanks so much for the information! My kids were recently diagnosed with a gluten allergy…. and there is so much to learn! I was given a brochure on “Gluten free Spelt Flour” I was sure it had some up on their list of no’no’s so I did some more research and found myself here!!
    With being so new to gluten free, we don’t got out to eat much yet….. (my daughter has 27 allergies with soy we one of then…. so we probably wont ever be able to go out to eat!!) I have had family/friends tell me that their stuff is gluten free because they used white flour, not wheat flour….. It amazes me how many people don’t know that white flour is wheat….. Ahhh!

    • Shirley on June 13th, 2012 8:24 pm

      Hi Samantha–Welcome to gfe! :-) Wow on being given an actual brochure with that title … that is simply horrid. Yes, many of us have been told that it’s not wheat bread, but white bread. :-( The truth is that many, many people don’t know what’s in their food. In many cases, at one point that even included some of of us who are now gluten free. Please keep educating and, of course, keep your children safe!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and share your family’s story,

  38. Mike on July 19th, 2012 1:56 pm

    Your argument against spelt for NON-CELIACS is not very strong.

    For many with IBS, spelt is much easier to digest. The reason is that spelt gluten is more water soluble. That is a fact that can be observed by working with it. It is not a matter of supposedly having one’s own facts.

    It may be that some simply to do not produce enough of certain digestive enzymes to break down certain types of gluten, just as many do not produce enough lactase to digest lactose.

    However, once the deficiency is remedied with supplementation, the food might be consumed with no problem at all. There is no damage to intestinal villi, heightened cancer risk, etc.

    It should be no more difficult to conceptualize than the ability to digest some legumes and not others, some dairy products and not others, some soy products and not others, etc. IBS simply is highly idiosyncratic.

    Perhaps, you would not consider what I have described to be an actual wheat or gluten intolerance/sensitivity?

    • Shirley on July 31st, 2012 10:59 pm

      Mike–I am not going to get into a long-winded argument or defense. I will just state a few facts. All the celiac/non-celiac gluten intolerance/non-celiac gluten sensitivity experts (e.g., Dr. Alessio Fasano, Dr. Stefano Guandalini) weighed in during the recent Domino’s “gluten-free” pizza debacle. Every one of them stated that there is nothing to indicate that ANY amount of gluten is safe for ANY individual with a gluten condition, whethere the condition is celiac or the non-celiac gluten conditions like gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity. So I stand by my statement that no amount of gluten is safe for such individuals. Water soluble does not necessarily mean better tolerated and lack of reaction does not mean lack of damage. As far as your continued reference to IBS, one GI doctor has stated that every case of IBS is an undiagnosed case of celiac. Strong words, but I see her point. Personally, I’d amend them to say that every case of IBS is an undiagnosed case of gluten issues … gluten syndrome, gluten spectrum, or whatever label one puts on it. Much research remains to be done on the wide array of gluten issues, but I will never, ever recommend the consumption of spelt by those who eat gluten free for medical reasons.


      • paul on May 22nd, 2013 4:51 am

        things are not easily put into ‘black and white categories”. My granddaughter is lactose intolerant, but can eat yogurt. It can be confusing!! My wife is gluten intolerant, and I cook and shop, so I know how difficult it is to be GF. recently an article came to our attention about “lectin” problems. Lectin is in many foods and gets into your system causing diverse problems!
        One of the key points was that the people most affected had some or much of
        ‘leaky gut”; cause given was inadequate probiotics in the intestine [these beneficial bacteria help protect the lining}. So we tried a probiotic with 11 types of beneficial bacteria, and it has helped with “semi IBS symptoms”!! we are NOT going away from a GF diet, but it is worth knowing that there is more and more helpful information out there, some that was unavailable only 3 or 4 months ago. Thanks very much for this site, and good luck to all being GF.

        • Shirley on May 24th, 2013 6:40 am

          Hi Paul–Thanks for the comment. I’ve definitely become more of a “gray” person since becoming gluten free as I’ve seen that gluten issues are much more prevalent than just the more widely recognized/”accepted” celiac disease (but there’s still even a long way to go even on celiac understanding, of course). My point with this post is that spelt constitutes both wheat and gluten and should not be eaten by those who have celiac/gluten/wheat issues. Tolerating a food per lack of symptoms does not mean that it’s not hurting one’s body. Lactose definitely causes issues in those with lactose intolerance, but it does not do permanent damage per my understanding. That would not be true of spelt for someone who is gluten free. Yogurt does provide that good bacteria like the probiotics you mention. That’s why homemade yogurt is actually part of the healing Specific Carbohydrate Diet, although almost all other dairy is not allowed. Yes, lectins are something that many are not aware of and certainly should be taken into consideration if one is continuing to have issues. In closing, I’m glad that your family is staying gluten free and hope that all continue to heal! :-)


  39. Chris on July 29th, 2012 8:06 pm

    Thanks for this information, Shirley! I have not been diagnosed as celiac or gluten intolerant, but I have IBS and chronic migraines that are difficult to control with meds and after doing some research, I am considering going gluten free, but it is a big, scary step!! It seems really difficult…and I’m not sure it would be supported by my husband or physicians…(husband being the more important one there!! :)) Anyway, I’m glad I found your sight and
    thanks for putting out this kind of helpful info!!!

    • Shirley on July 31st, 2012 10:41 pm

      Hi Chris–Welcome! I’m happy to have you here at gfe. :-) You’re right that going gluten free seems daunting to us all at first. It seems like a whole lot to learn but, truthfully, because you “live and breathe” it, you come up to speed very quickly. The trick to getting your husband’s support is to make dishes/recipes that taste delicious and “normal.” You can do that by using real food and very few gf specialty products (and only on occasion). You’ll want to check out my Getting Started with GFE tip sheets here. They will help you transition from a gluten-full diet to a gluten-free diet and then to a real food, gfe diet. Also, take a look at my sidebar for the Most Popular Recipes, and my Recipe Index. Finding even one or two recipes at the beginning that taste great to you and your husband will really start the ball rolling, so to speak. As far as the physician, going gluten free will not harm you when you are focusing on real, whole foods. You’ll be likely to be eating better than ever before. What will convince your doctor and validate your own suspicions is going gluten free and seeing resolution of symptoms and improved health. Just remember that you have to be 100% gluten free for the diet to be effective. Relying on naturally gluten-free food and dishes will make being 100% gluten free much more of a given and easier as you won’t have to spend tons of time reading labels and/or contacting companies to determine their practices (because all gf labels are not created equal).

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! Best of luck to you, Chris! Please shoot me an email if I can answer any specific questions or resolve any problem areas for you. :-)


    • Christi on December 10th, 2012 1:00 am

      Chris, I don’t know if you’ve made the decision to go gluten free yet or not. If you haven’t, I STRONGLY encourage you to try!!! I also was diagnosed with IBS as well as having issues with migraines (and endometriosis, IC, stomach issues, fatigue, and a slew of other issues). Celiac’s or a gluten intolerance was never even considered in all of that until we found out my brother has Celiacs. After much convincing from my mother, I finally decided to give it a try. I can’t even begin to tell you what a huge difference it has made for me. No more migraines (unless I get “glutened”) and it has also helped with my endometriosis and IC–as well as so many other issues. I am no longer taking any of my pain meds :-D and, unless I’m “glutened” am pretty much completely pain free. We also discovered that my son is gluten sensitive and I’ve seen how much better he feels now that he is off gluten. It is SO worth it. We eat mainly meat, fruits, and vegetables with the occasional “treat” of GF items such as bread, pasta, etc. so it really hasn’t increased our budget at all. I also make a lot of my own broths, cream of _____ soups, seasoning mixes, etc so I know we are eating much healthier. If you haven’t made the “leap” I hope this will help and if you have, I hope it’s going well :-)

  40. Elise on August 25th, 2012 7:31 pm

    Shirley, I suggest that for some clarification of the issue, you should read Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD. In the initial pages of his book, Dr. Davis takes us through a tour of the history of wheat…its natural evolution as well as its more recent manipulation at the hands of geneticists who have bred for traits such as enlarged heads, shorter and more sturdy stalks able to hold up those unnaturally enlarged heads, quicker maturity, and increased yields. Dr. Norman Borlag’s dwarf wheat which now comprises more than 99% of the wheat grown world wide, increasing the wheat yield (in China, as an example) by a factor of eight between 1969 and 1999.

    So, what happened genetically between the original granddaddy of all wheat, einkorn, and today’s wheat. Well, some plants have the ability to retain all the chromosomes of both parents when crosses occur. Einkorn, with a chromosome count of 14, crossed with goatgrass to yield emmer, with a chromosome number of 28. At some point emmer crossed with another grass, Triticum tauschii to yield 42-chromosome Triticum aestivum, which contained the sum total of the chromosomal content of three unique plants. Triticum aestivum wheat was higher yielding and was more baking compatible. It is the closest naturally derived genetic relative to what is now grown as wheat. With the explosion of wheat hybridization experiments that have been done since the 1940′s, human and animal safety with respect to these hybrids has never been explored, because the hybrids essentially yield wheat. Right?

    Well, research findings of agricultural geneticists show some very startling things. Analyses of proteins expressed by a wheat hybrid compared to its two parental strains have demonstrated that, while approximately 95 percent of the proteins expressed in the offspring are the same, 5 percent are unique and found in NEITHER parent. Wheat gluten proteins, in particular, undergo considerable structural change with hybridization. In one hybridization experiment, FOURTEEN new gluten proteins were identified in the offspring that were not present in either parent wheat plant. Moreover, when compared to century-old strains of wheat, modern strains of Triticum aestivum express a higher quantity of genes for gluten proteins that are associated with celiac disease. Multiply these alterations by the tens of thousands of hybridizations to which wheat has been subjected and you have the potential for dramatic shifts in genetically determined traits such as gluten structure.

    My point in relating all this is that your “wheat is wheat, gluten is gluten” point of view may be overly simplistic, and may be missing the whole point of the debate. For thousands of years, wheat has nourished mankind well. It is only in the last century that this explosion of gluten problems has exploded upon the scene….roughly correlating with Borlag’s wheat taking over world-wide production. The wheat available to us today is NOT the wheat that my mother used.

    The wheat situation mirrors, in many ways, the state of the food supply related to GMO species that are, likewise, supposed to be safe for us to eat. It is not the corn itself that is unsafe for us, but it is the proteins coded for by the inserted genes that have toxic effects on our systems. Unfortunately, one cannot tell by looking at an ear of corn whether it contains the genes for Bt toxin. However, it is a little more clear in the case of wheat, because there ARE distinguishing characteristics between todays Super Wheat, and its forbearers.

    • Shirley on August 25th, 2012 7:52 pm

      Elise–I’ve read Wheat Belly. I read it after writing this post, and while I do appreciate the information shared by Dr. Davis, knowing that information wouldn’t change what I would write in this post if I had it to do over again. I get that the wheat of today is not the wheat that my great grandmother used (I say that because my mother and even grandmothers did use modified wheat and lots of processed cakes, etc.) and it’s certainly not the wheat of Biblical times. And while my statements may be oversimplified, my main point is that spelt is not safe for anyone who is eating gluten free for medical reasons or even eating wheat free in my opinion and many others’ (with the others being experts in this area) opinion. I appreciate the information you have shared, but almost feel that you are trying to add yet another spin on spelt and convince my readers to eat it. I will not agree with that. If one is gluten free, spelt is off the table. To me that’s as simple as the message needs to be.


      • Elise on August 25th, 2012 11:34 pm

        If you are going to condemn every gluten-containing grain, then perhaps you should eliminate the corn-containing recipes from your blog. After all, corn DOES contain gluten. Corn gluten is an effective pre-emergent herbicide, and also a good fertilizer once the crop is established.

        • Shirley on August 26th, 2012 6:00 am

          Elise–This IS a gluten-free blog, and as such is free of recipes that contain the gluten that is recognized by the foremost medical experts on celiac/non-celiac gluten sensitivity to cause damage for gluten-free invdividuals. I am aware that some, like Dr. Peter Osborne, denounce all grains and state that their gluten is harmful to us, too. I believe that most individuals do far better grain free as well as gluten free (myself included), but this is not a grain-free blog. As a gluten-free support group leader, speaker, etc., I am providing recipes for those transitioning from the SAD to living gluten free. I will always provide all types of gluten-free recipes here. Usually once people go gluten free, they start looking at their food much more closely and learn about highly refined foods, GMOs, the effects of grains in general, and over time see the effects of grains on their own bodies. Then they can make their own decisions about what they choose to eat in the gluten-free realm.


  41. David on October 2nd, 2012 11:42 am

    So this is why I have my headaches, sweats, and exhaustion again… darn spelt sticks. THANK-YOU!

    • Shirley on October 2nd, 2012 9:15 pm

      Hi David–Welcome to gfe. I’m so sorry you got sucked in by the spin on spelt. Spread the word. Hope you are all recovered soon!


      • David on October 3rd, 2012 9:11 am

        Yep I am pretty much all better. It takes about a day, but once it metabolizes out we are good to go. Thanks for the info and I am already spreading the word.

        • Shirley on October 3rd, 2012 3:08 pm

          I’m glad to hear it, David! Not everyone recovers that quickly. I am very grateful to you for spreading the word!


  42. allison on October 23rd, 2012 7:08 pm

    i have CD. in my ongoing effort to eat in a healthy manner that makes sense to me, i came across a cookbook called “nourishing traditions” by sally fallon. it is recommended by the weston price foundation. prior to industrialized food, hopped up gluten content in hybridized wheat and refrigeration, people used fermentation as part of their food preservation and preparation. i have made pancakes using spelt flour left out on the counter soaking in an equal measure of buttermilk. i used spelt because i am told the gluten content is less and weaker. acorrding to the autor and some other articles i have found on the web, the fermentation process renders this lesser gluten relatively harmless. the other articles i read referenced sourdough bread using the same sort of old school process (it takes a full week to make the starter for sourdough). i’m just wondering if anyone else out there has experimented with this. the pancakes are amazing, but i limit it to maybe once a month. no gas or lethargy afterwards, but i learned that if i eat them 2 days in a row i will have the unpleasant bathroom type results. i don’t really miss bread or pasta much, but for those once in a while treats rice flour is just a lousy substitute.

    • Shirley on October 23rd, 2012 10:52 pm

      Hi Allison–Thanks for taking the time to comment and welcome to gfe. I have to be honest and tell you that your comment saddens me. While some might say that those who have non-celiac gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance can safely consume spelt occasionally (and even that statement I don’t agree with), nobody who is knowledgeable about celiac disease advises that those with celiac consume spelt because spelt contains gluten. I am aware of Nourishing Traditions and the guidance of Sally Fallon (now Sally Fallon Morell). Many follow the wisdom shared in Nourishing Traditions, but when it comes to gluten and those with celiac, it does not apply. Soaking grains does not remove gluten. It might make the grains more “digestible,” but digestibility is not the issue. Gluten damages the body of someone who has celiac in a myriad of ways. “Relatively harmless” is not a possibility when associated with consuming gluten for someone who is celiac. Proposed levels for a safe level for gluten are less than 20 parts per million. Per million. Think specks of water in a 50-gallon oil barrel. That’s all that can safely be tolerated, and that level is not acceptable for some who are more sensitive (like me). The fact that you react if you eat soaked spelt if consumed two days in a row shows that it is harming you. There are so many folks who don’t show reactions each and every time they consume gluten, but their bodies are still being damaged. I recommend that you read this article about the gluten in spelt. There are so many more great-tasting gluten-free grain/non-grain options available … buckwheat, teff, millet, sorghum, etc. that will keep you healthy.


  43. Robear in Ojai on November 14th, 2012 1:22 am

    Wow! I am so glad I looked this up! I personally have no problem with wheat or gluten (though I am lactose-intolerant). I am a home-baker and trained as a French pastry chef many years ago. A friend was visiting with me today, coming over for lunch, and she had brought a loaf of gluten-free bread to make sandwiches with. We both admitted that the bread tasted like spongy cardboard (I am being kind in that assessment, I can’t believe my friend is reduced to eating this!) and I offered to look up recipes for gluten-free bread that I could bake for her.

    The first thing I went looking for is, you guessed it already, SPELT recipes! The spin is so pervasive that, even though I’d never bought or used it before, spelt is what came to my mind as a safe alternative to wheat.

    I now stand corrected & educated and, even though it doesn’t affect me directly, I will be sure to try & educate others about what constitute a gluten-free product (I know a certain ‘health-food’ store here in town that sells spelt pastries as being gluten-free).

    Thanks again for the great blog!


    • Shirley on November 14th, 2012 12:37 pm

      Hi Robear–First, thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment. Your gluten-free friend is lucky to have you being willing to bake for her and more importantly, being willing to research how to keep her safe when you do. Thanks for being that kind of friend (all of us who are gluten free are grateful to friends like you!) and thanks, too, for spreading the word on spelt not being gluten free! Hearing about that health food store peddling spelt pastries as gluten free really disturbs me. I’m sincerely hoping that your new education campagain will make a difference in their actions and others.


  44. kwn on November 18th, 2012 11:03 am

    I think spelt is probably fine for the vast majority of people going gluten free. Sometimes, people get a bit rabid/hysterical posting about CD. No one would every eat mercury, yet people eat swordfish that contains mercury with no side effects. I think the comparison to spelt is similar.

    • Shirley on November 19th, 2012 12:56 am

      kwn–Frankly, comments like yours are the reason that posts like this one must continue to be written and that the reality about spelt (i.e., that it is not gluten free and must not be consumed by those with gluten issues) must continue to be spread. I have shared information from celiac experts here. Information—or more accurately ill-informed opinions—from others on this topic has no merit. In the case of mercury in fish, the usual consensus from experts is that the benefits of eating many mercury-containing fish outweighs the dangers of eating them. And whether one agrees with that “finding” or not, it is not a reasonable analogy to the situation with spelt and those who eat gluten free. There is no need or benefit from eating spelt, whether or not one considers the damage that it does to those with gluten issues, including CD.


  45. Shasta on January 10th, 2013 6:30 pm

    I don’t know if my comment will be helpful to anyone or not but I figured I may as well post!

    I’m wheat sensitive and cannot digest the proteins in wheat, but other sources of gluten do not seem to bother me at all. I ran across a recipe for spelt tortillas recently and have made them three times now, absolutely no problems at all.

    I have read that people with wheat allergies may or may not be able to consume spelt. I’d say if you don’t have an allergy and you aren’t celiac, just simply wheat sensitive, it’s worth a try to see if it bothers you or not. In my particular case it seems to be just different enough that it works for me. I would definitely say to experiment at your own risk!! It’s certainly a good alternative to wheat and I’m looking forward to experimenting with it from time to time. I have gotten so far away from eating breads that I don’t miss them much and don’t have a pressing need for it but it would be nice to have something that behaves similar to wheat and has good flavor for the times I do wish to make something bread-ish in nature! :)

    Just my two cents worth.

    Denver, CO

    • Shirley on January 16th, 2013 12:37 am

      Shasta–Frankly, if I agreed with you or felt that your statements were accurate, I would not have shared this post to begin with. I’ve already outlined in this post that spelt is a form of wheat and is not safe for anyone who is gluten free. I’ve also stated that lack of a reaction/symptoms does not mean that a food is not affecting your body. Case in point, about 40% of celiacs have NO symptoms. Your first symptom might be the discovery of serious damage by your doctor, or development of another autoimmune disease, or worse. My friend, Debi, of Hunter’s Lyonesse has just written an excellent post on the need to eliminate spelt from one’s diet. She gives other data that I didn’t share here so I highly recommend that you read her post. Last, there are many, many wonderful gluten-free bread options. I shared some terrific ones here in my Bountiful Bread Basket post. Honestly, there is no need to eat spelt and risk one’s health to enjoy great bread.


      • Shasta on January 17th, 2013 1:03 pm

        If you read my post again and pay attention this time, I did NOT say that celiac’s should try it, nor did I suggest people with allergies try it. I was ONLY referring to people who are wheat sensitive. Two entirely different conditions. Gluten isn’t life threatening to the wheat sensitive. For us, gluten isn’t the problem, it’s the protein specific to wheat. Spelt is just different enough, in my case, that it is fine and I can consume it. This may or may not hold true for the next person who is wheat sensitive. Again, I was only referring to the wheat sensitive. Please read more carefully next time before reacting negatively. I would NEVER tell a celiac or a person with allergies to experiment. Nor did I in my post.

        • Shirley on January 17th, 2013 1:26 pm

          Shasta–I read your comment and I paid attention. I fully appreciate that you are not telling individuals with celiac or allergies not to experiment, but the fact that you left your comment will encourage some readers to experiment, no matter what their specific diagnosis is. And it’s that “sensitivity” word that falls in the gray area of concern. To me, sensitivity is a problem word because it means that some of the problem ingredient is tolerable, while that might not actually be the case. In my opinion, it probably is not the case. For example, many who are gluten sensitive actually react much more strongly to gluten than those with celiac disease. I maintain that anyone who has any wheat issues (or, again, gluten issues of any kind … this part which you seem to agree with) should not consume spelt. I also maintain my opinion that lack of a reaction via symptoms does not mean lack of a bodily reaction, and therefore consuming wheat, even an ancient form such as spelt, is not advised for anyone with a wheat allergy, wheat sensivity, gluten sensitivity/intolerance, or celiac disease. It’s clear that we are going to “agree to disagree” on this topic.


  46. Agee DiZorra-Toraniccio on February 5th, 2013 7:03 pm

    I have a very good Colorguard friend whose whole family is dedicated to being gluten-free as well as soy, corn, nut, and garlic (?)-free. I once got the whole guard little snack bags with pretzels, fruit leather, and all-natural gummies, and I got my GF friend spelt pretzels and gluten free gummies because I had seen her enjoying spelt pretzels before with no ill effect. However, we are talking about a 100-pound professional dancer/soloist who does not eat very much every day. I did not know that spelt contained gluten. In fact, I did not even consider it because the friend obviously ok’d it by eating them, right? VERY WRONG! My other friend who has celiac disease and eats everything in sight as long as it is GF would not touch the spelt pretzels when I offered some to her. She kindly explained that she had a bad reaction to them, so then I considered the possibility of individual sensitivities. Now, I have to personally take all this into consideration. I have recently decided that gluten free is the best option for me after I tried time and time again to eat wheat products and have had painful reactions and incapacitating bloating to the point where dancer friends have asked me if I ate the whole house or got (Oh, God)knocked up during winter break. How embarrassing! My family is Italian and eats wheat-semolina products every day of the week. It was very hard for me to convince them that I have a gluten intolerance, which my mother thought was an eating disorder. I had stomachaches after eating dinner every night, which my mom thought were caused by eating too much pasta. My doctor examined me recently after a particularly bad reaction to gluten. I had migraines 4 out of 7 days in one week, I was constantly tired, my body ached, and I spent a whole day curled up in the fetal position because the abdominal pain was so bad, like someone was shredding my insides with a rake. I also broke out in a very bad eczema rash that made my skin over my whole body dry out and get cracked and flaky with a horrible burning sensation. It was the worst on my face, the palms of my hands, and the soles of my feet. I am a professional dancer and had a performance with my group one weekend where I piled on tons of makeup trying to cover up the awful bout of eczema to no avail. I was so embarrassed to go out in public, and I felt like everyone was staring at me. I was in constant pain and no amount of stretching and ibuprofen helped my joints. My feet burned really bad when I danced last weekend because they were so cracked. I used Aveeno lotion and then realized that the lotion itself may contain gluten from the colloidal oatmeal ingredient. I used to wonder why I reacted so badly to washing my skin with oat water that was supposed to calm inflammation naturally. I found an article concerning a link between Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease and realized that my inclusion to both these conditions may be genetic. That may also explain the ongoing peripheral neuropathy (pain, numbness,and tingling in the arms, legs, hands, feet, lower extremities) I think that I had so much gluten built up in my body that it was not manageable any longer. I was really scared when I had the bad reaction, so I am opting out of the option to do a duodenal biopsy which requires you to eat a gluten-rich diet before doctors can poke you to see if your intestinal villi have atrophied. Who in their right mind wants to go through that and risk suffering irreversible damage? My intestines are already damaged from years of having to eat gluten as a social norm, so why can’t I start avoiding further damage now? After my issues and the death of my great-grandmother from colon-rectal cancer at the age of 76 (she continually had problems eating bread and pasta)My mother and sister finally decided that our family would adopt a vegetarian (me and sister), gluten-free (me), dairy-free (sister) diet. Dad is still a carnivore who subsists on processed foods, soda, and ice cream. His father is a brittle diabetic and Dad still doesn’t get the idea of eating healthily to live a better life. He cares more about how many deer are in the freezer than how many servings of vegetables he should eat every day.

    Anyway, what drew me to this post is that I am new to gluten-free and I am scared out of my mind that I will have another reaction. A friend who dances with me is a professional baker and makes gluten-free bread for her sister, who has Celiac disease. I told her about my reaction after she noticed my eczema at rehearsal and laid out the facts about CD. She gave me her recipe and I am going to try to make it. However, I do not really enjoy the GF breads I have tried because I think they are like a crumbly dry sponge or magic eraser even when they have been toasted and slathered with homemade peanut butter and preserves. My sister and I thought Ezekiel bread was a better alternative after hearing it was GF, but now we are more familiar with lies that the FDA spreads to sell more expensive products and continue to waste tons of food every day. I will subsist on rice noodles, legumes, and veggies until I find a nicer option. Anyone have some good ideas? BTW my gluten reactions were worse when I was under stress, especially migraines and peripheral neuropathy. Additionally, my body is very bad at warding off staph infections, which I think is a result of gluten messing with my lymphatic and immune systems. Again, I did not just go onto WebMD or Mayo clinic and look up symptoms, I actually went to our family doctor who knew instantly what I was experiencing. I think you should find a doctor with the right knowledge and up-to-date Celiac Disease research involvement to help you figure out what is going on if you experience the same symptoms as me.

    • Shirley on February 14th, 2013 3:00 pm

      Hi Agee–Thank you so much for taking the time to tell your story! I’m glad that your celiac friend knows about spelt being unsafe and that now you do, too. I hope that the gluten-free diet will provide truly good health for you. Being young is a big advantage as hopefully you have not had irreversible damage from your health issues. Many who have your symptoms/conditions have had really amazing results living gluten free. One key to success is staying 100% gluten free, but I do have to mention that some folks also need to be “more free” … sometimes dairy free, nightshade free, etc. Starting with eliminating gluten is a good first step though, and it might be all you need. I am not sure if your knowledgeable family doctor tested you for celiac disease, but that is usually recommended. Some folks need that validation to stay gf, while others say that the end result will be the same if they are celiac; i.e., that they’ll need to eat gf, so they just go ahead and start living gf. You can’t change the diet of everyone in the world (or even your family’s diet), but you can change yours. Sometimes leading by example works really, really well. Other times, folks don’t change. That is reality. As far as different parts of the world, yes, it’s true that some areas have folks who are almost entirely plant based and others have areas focused more on meat. Just two examples. I am not well versed on that topic, but I know that Michael Pollan talks about it in his book, In Defense of Food. I believe the most important thing is that we eat real food and gluten-free food. After we get that down pat, we can consider tweaking our diets more. Wishing you all the best in your new way of life, dear! Hope to hear back from you in a few months!


  47. Agee DiZorra-Toraniccio on February 5th, 2013 7:10 pm

    By the way, my family is largely Italian/Sicilian on both sides, but we also have Ukrainian, Irish (great grandmother), Croat, and Welsh heritage, too. We all have bad issues with arthritis, joint conditions, and my mother and I both have fibromyalgia and arthritis (I am only 19 years old, I should not be having debilitating joint pain, muscle spasms, and muscular cysts that affect my performance as a dancer more and more each week) I have heard that people from certain parts of the world are supposed to eat certain diets pertaining to those regions. How does that apply to GF diets?

  48. Patti on March 25th, 2013 3:01 am

    I’m new to gluten free and am having a hard time finding sliced bread that’s gluten free that actually tastes good. Can you recommend something? Also, can you tell me what kinds of flour are gluten free, if any? I love sandwiches and baked goods but have found in the past few years that they do not agree with me and when I eat anything with gluten I get a very distended abdomen that’s hard and painful. Would love to find something that taste good and is easy to work into my diet.

    • Shirley on March 26th, 2013 4:42 pm

      Hi Patti–Welcome to gfe! :-) The bread question is the $64,000 question (or $64,000,000 one depending upon who you ask), so to speak. Gluten-free bread is made from different flours, doesn’t have gluten, and often has a different flavor and texture. And, yes, there are some “bad” ready-made gluten-free breads. When one first goes gluten free, one is trying to equate the taste and texture of gluten-full bread. I actually recommend that folks give up bread for a while, so you’re not making that exact comparison all the time. Personally, I rarely eat bread any more and don’t miss it (I get my bread “fix” with homemade gluten-free muffins, rolls, etc., but I know that many folks do miss bread, especially the convenience of it. The opinions on ready-made gluten-free bread vary greatly. As soon as I offer up my favorite (Rudi’s Sandwich Bread), someone else will say they don’t like it. You will find a few reviews of ready-made gluten-free bread on my site by using the search feature. And recently, I started a series on gluten-free bread recipes. The first post on loaves is here: Homemade gluten-free bread can be just as amazing as homemade gluten-full bread. But that’s probably not what you are looking for. Honestly, there are probably other gluten-free sites that you might want to check out for ready-made gluten-free bread reviews. You will find many options for delicious homemade recipes for bread, buns, rolls, and other baked goods here on gfe though. :-)


  49. Wendy on May 5th, 2013 5:24 am

    Thanks for this information. I asked for a salad in a restaurant this weekend to be served without bread, and I said I needed to eat gluten free. It came with bread, and when I asked I was assured it was “gluten-free spelt bread”. I asked the waitress to confirm with the chef, as I knew spelt wasn’t GF. She checked back and said “as far as we are concerned it’s definitely gluten free”. I didn’t eat it and am glad I trusted my own memory (which I was beginning to doubt!).

    • Shirley on May 24th, 2013 6:22 am

      Hi Wendy–Welcome to gfe! :-) Sorry for the delayed reply. I’m so, so glad that you knew not to eat that spelt bread! It’s really scary that folks are continually being told this misinformation, and by folks they expect to trust. And it troubles me so when folks who are gluten free knowingly eat spelt bread and say that it doesn’t bother them. That just keeps this myth going. We can’t remind folks enough that spelt is not gluten free and that lack of a reaction does not mean lack of a problem. Thanks for sharing your story and btw, I checked out your blog … so much fun stuff there! :-)

      Happy weekend!

  50. Azure on August 1st, 2013 2:17 pm

    I am new to gluten free and it has helped my IBS so much and feeling great off it,. But I just fell for the spelt line last week. It was so delicious and I missed bread so much that I ate several slices…well, it threw me back to square one. :/ I had even researched before I ate any of it but everywhere it says many gluten intolerant can handle it. Well, I am not one of them. :(

    • Shirley on August 1st, 2013 2:26 pm

      Hi Azure–Welcome to gfe and thank you so much for sharing your spelt story with us all. I am so thrilled that gluten-free living has been working for you and so sorry that you succumbed to the spelt line. As I said in my post, spelt needs to be off the table for all who are gluten free. Those folks who eat it and think they do fine with it are deluding themselves and can expect issues down the road even if they don’t have visible symptoms now. Again, I am so sorry you had this experience, but hope the spelt will be out of your system soon and you’ll be back on track and thriving! :-) Please share your story with others so they’ll know, too. And FYI, there’s a great post here on gfe with wonderful bread recipes. I’m partial to my own Paleo bread that’s in the listing because it’s both delish and so easy to make. ;-) Hope to see you more here on gfe, Azure!


  51. Jess on September 18th, 2013 11:43 am

    Thanks so much for the post! As always I am late to the game and behind so much information. I too fell for the Spelt line as my mother-in-law’s naturopath said spelt was OK for her GF eating. I am not just trying to go GF, but also vegan and of course, organic. It’s rather shocking just how difficult it is to find good bread that meets even two of these requirements. I have tried (and failed horribly) baking my own breads using mainly rice flour blends and Bob’s red mill GF AP flour. Any advice? I have been on the recipe page several times and want to try them all, but as a beginner baker, it’s a bit over whelming. Thanks again for the amazing post and recipes and blog in general!

    • Shirley on September 18th, 2013 8:29 pm

      Hi Jess–It looks like you are brand new to commenting on gfe … welcome! :-) It so distresses me to hear how many are continuing to tell folks they can eat spelt, and particularly so when it’s a naturopath giving that advice. :-( The only recipes on the recipe page are my own recipes. However, I’m always sharing roundups of others’ recipes. My most popular post happens to be a roundup of gluten-free loaf bread recipes. There are several gluten-free, vegan recipes there. I also just shared the second post in the bread series, which is focused on Basic Biscuits and Rolls. Some get their “bread fix” this way vs making loaves. I’m one of those. I probably make a loaf of bread once or twice a year, but often make biscuits and rolls. They’re easier to make, take less time to make, are more versatile, etc.

      As far as flour mixes, I don’t recommend BRM ap flour for bread. In fact, I’m not a fan at all. Personally, I don’t care for the taste or texture of bean flours. Rice flour can work in certain recipes, but it has to be a good mixture of rice flour and starches and the rice flour needs to be finely ground. Anyway take a look at the recipes in these links and I think you’ll find something that will work for you. Shoot me an email if you need more help. :-)


  52. Dee Johnson on January 15th, 2014 12:46 am

    I started following a gluten free diet about 3 years ago after I found out I may have a problem with wheat or gluten. I believe more and more people, such as myself, are becoming sensitive or intolerant of wheat and/or gluten because of the way wheat has been hybridized and possibly changed to GMO. Spelt has not been done this way and is an ancient grain. I know it is not gluten free, so I decided to try it last year. I have been buying and eating organic spelt bread and flour since. I have not had any problems with it at all. I agree some people should not eat it, but it is fine for me and my son who only have problems with the highly hybridized wheat. I think everyone can make that judgement for themselves and test it if they want to try it. Everyone is different. Thanks for this informative article. BTW, I would never serve spelt to anyone who was following a gluten free diet for health reasons. I have a friend with a little boy who has many allergies and intolerances (developed after a vaccination) that I am sending a link of this page to. :) Thanks!

    • Shirley on January 15th, 2014 11:00 am

      Dee–I appreciate you taking the time to read this post and sharing it with your friend. I don’t agree with your conclusion on eating spelt. My point again and again is that while yes everyone is different, you really can’t necessarily tell if you or your son are having issues or not. There could be a single issue or a multitude of issues related to your spelt consumption that you are not associating with spelt. It could be something seemingly unrelated like PCOS, headaches, or back issues for you, or short stature, attention problems, etc. with your son. Or there might not be any overt symptoms of any kind for a good while. The first symptom might be a very serious issue or illness. Obviously you’ve already made your decision, but I am restating that I—and the folks who are actually considered experts in this area—don’t feel spelt is safe for anyone with gluten or wheat issues of any kind.


  53. Molly Malone on February 11th, 2014 3:29 am

    Spelt about killed me 5 years ago! I am not gluten sensitive, nor am I celiac – so go figure. I was told it was wheat free and it was before I knew what it was so I ate a muffin. Not a good idea. I was sick for 4 days. I have a friend who had the same reaction at a different time, different bakery. I was going through a Candida cure so my gut was surely compromised then, but I won’t go near spelt now, and I can eat wheat just fine. Cowardly, I know, but there it is.

  54. Jennifer A. on March 16th, 2014 8:15 pm

    Being a type of wheat, yes, spelt has gluten and is obviously unsuitable for folks with celiac disease. It MAY be o.k. for SOME people with certain wheat/ gluten sensitivities, specifically if they are more sensitive to glutenins than gliadins … to quote the wikipedia article on spelt: “In comparison to hard red winter wheat, spelt has a more soluble protein matrix characterized by a higher gliadin:glutenin ratio.”

    • Shirley on March 16th, 2014 10:24 pm

      Obviously, I disagree, Jennifer. That is the whole point of my post. I think the terms “sensitivities” do us a disservice because they imply some level of tolerance, when in reality, per many respected individuals in the gluten-free community and in my personal opinion, nobody who has gluten issues—from “sensitivity” to celiac disease—should be consuming gluten in any amount and of any type.


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