Celiac disease and pregnancy


Celiac disease is a serious medical problem that makes it hard to digest gluten. Gluten is a protein in grains and wheat. 

If you have celiac disease and want to have a baby, what you eat is critical. You’ll need to have a gluten-free eating plan before, during and after pregnancy. It’s important to both your health and your baby’s health. 


What’s key to a healthy pregnancy?

To have a healthy pregnancy, you’ll need to follow a few guidelines: 

  • Gain the right amount of weight. The calories you’ll need will depend on: your age, your weight before you become pregnant, and how many babies you’re carrying. 
  • Get physical movement. Every body needs to move to stay healthy. Talk with your doctor about what’s right during your pregnancy.
  • Eat a variety of foods. Choose fresh fruits, vegetables, gluten-free whole grains, protein and dairy.
  • Take daily vitamin and mineral supplements.
  • Stay away from alcohol, tobacco and other harmful substances.

What’s in a healthy pregnancy eating plan?

To stay healthy and help your baby grow, you’ll want to look for foods that contain: 

Folate (600 mcg/day)
Folate prevents birth defects like spina bifida. (Spina bifida is a birth defect when the spine and spinal cord don’t form in the right way.) Fill your plate with natural gluten-free sources, like:

  • Spinach (131 mcg in ½ cup cooked)
  • Enriched brown or white rice (75 mcg in ½ cup cooked)
  • Asparagus (89 mcg in 4 spears)
  • Avocado (60 mcg in half an avocado)
  • Kidney beans (46 mcg in ½ cup cooked)

Iron (27 mg/day)
Iron helps create red blood cells that carry oxygen to your whole body. Babies need plenty of oxygen to grow. The most iron-rich foods have about 3‒4 mg per serving:

  • Red meat or dark meat from chicken or turkey (2 mg in 3 ounces cooked)
  • Legumes like chickpeas, black beans or kidney beans (3‒4 mg in 1 cup cooked)
  • Spinach (6.4 mg in 1 cup cooked)

Fiber (25 g/day) 
Pregnant women are more likely to get constipated. Eat more fiber and drink more water to help stop constipation from happening. Gluten-free choices include:

  • Legumes (10–16 g per 1 cup of cooked beans, lentils or split peas)
  • Brown rice (3.5 g in 1 cup cooked)
  • Nuts (3 g in 1 ounce)
  • Fruits and veggies

Rice salad recipe

This fresh and tasty gluten-free rice salad is rich in iron, folic acid and fiber. You can also add raw or fresh steamed veggies. Add four ounces of grilled, diced chicken to add more lean protein and iron content.


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard (gluten-free brand)
  • Small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup brown rice, freshly steamed
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach 
  • ½ cup steamed chopped green beans
  • ½ cup sliced yellow squash
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 diced tomato
  • 1½ ounces crumbled feta cheese (look for a pasteurized version)
  • Chopped fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro or any herb of your choice)


In a salad bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, scallion and salt and pepper. Toss in the warm rice and veggies. Taste and add more or less of the seasoning and vinegar, if you like. Toss in the feta and herbs, if using. Serve at room temperature.