Following a vegetarian and gluten free diet

Following both a vegetarian and a gluten free diet means a more limited diet and you need to take steps to reduce your risk of nutritional deficiencies.

Did you know there are different types of vegetarian diets?
  • lacto-ovo vegetarians avoid all meat but may eat dairy products and eggs
  • lacto vegetarians eat dairy products but avoid all meat and eggs
  • ovo-vegetarians avoid meat and dairy foods but include eggs
  • vegans avoid all animal products

Undiagnosed coeliac disease damages the gut in the area where some nutrients are absorbed. This can increase the risk of iron and B vitamin deficiencies and osteoporosis because of reduced absorption of calcium.

 
Protein

If you are not eating meat and fish you need to make sure you’re getting protein from other sources.

Non meat sources of protein which are also gluten free include:

  • textured vegetable protein made from soya and tofu* made from soya milk
  • pulses (peas, beans, lentils)
  • eggs
  • nuts, nut butters and seeds
  • mycoprotein, a high protein meat alternative

 

Calcium

To have good bone health, you need a diet rich in calcium as this can help treat and prevent osteoporosis in people with coeliac disease. Foods rich in calcium include dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt.

If you are following a vegan diet you can drink soya and rice milk fortified with calcium as an alternative to cow’s milk. Other non dairy sources of calcium include:

  • tofu*
  • dark green vegetables (kale, broccoli)
  • seeds (sesame, sunflower)
  • kidney or baked beans
  • dried fruit (raisins, apricots, figs)
 
Iron

If you don’t have enough iron in your diet it can lead to iron deficiency anaemia. The following foods are all good sources of iron suitable for a gluten free and vegetarian/vegan diet:

  • pulses (peas, beans, lentils)
  • eggs
  • dark green vegetables (kale, broccoli)
  • dried fruit (raisins, apricots, figs)
  • nuts and seeds.

To improve iron absorption, include food and drink rich in vitamin C with meals. Good sources include fruit juice, citrus fruits and potatoes.

 
Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin B12 is found naturally in foods such as milk and eggs, therefore deficiency is not usually a problem for most people on a vegetarian diet. If you are following a vegan diet, alternative sources include:
  • fortified margarines
  • fortified yeast extracts.
  • fortified breakfast cereals*
  • fortified soya milk, yoghurts and desserts.

Many specialist vegan foods are supplemented with vitamin B12 but may not be gluten free, so it is recommended that you take additional supplements. If you are concerned about meeting your nutritional requirements, talk to your dietitian or GP for advice about your diet and supplementation.

 
Vitamin D

You need vitamin D for calcium absorption, which your body makes when you get sunlight on your skin. In the UK, people will get less vitamin D from sunlight in the winter months, making dietary sources essential. Foods like oily fish, eggs and some yoghurts and breakfast cereals that are fortified with vitamin D. But supplements may be required to ensure you are getting enough.

Public Health England and Scottish Government recommendations indicate that supplements should be considered in winter months for everyone aged 4 years and older. Other people, including breastfeeding or pregnant women and children under four, may need to take a daily supplement. Some calcium supplements prescribed by your GP may also contain vitamin D.

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