What grains can I eat on a yeast free diet?

BEFORE YOU READ THIS: read my blog post on Why Yeast Free Isn't The Answer

I have changed my views a lot about a yeast free diet over the last few months and want you to learn with me! This historical post is here for reference so you can see my journey, and a lot of it is still true and useful. But please read the post above for more up-to-date opinions specifically on a yeast free diet.  


In going on this food journey, and really if you’re aware at all of trying to eat more ‘healthily’, you’ll hear a lot about grains, wheat and gluten. So I wanted to get this all straight in my mind, and for on my own list.

What is a grain?
Grains, commonly referred to as ‘cereals’ or ‘cereal grains’, are the edible seeds of specific grasses belonging to the Poaceae (also known as Gramineae) family. Stay with me people, it gets less jargon-y I promise. 

What is a whole grain?
Grains are divided into two subgroups, Whole Grains and Refined Grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel ― the bran, germ, and endosperm.

What is refined grain?
Refined grains have been milled, to remove the bran and germ. This is done to give grains a finer texture and improve their shelf life, but it also removes dietary fiber, iron, and B vitamins. Some examples of refined grain products are white flour, white bread and white rice.

Most refined grains are enriched to put back things like the B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid) and iron that were removed through the milling process. Fiber is not added back to enriched grains.

So let’s agree if we are going to eat grains at all (and that in itself seems to be contentious, with arguments about whether they have any nutritional benefits whatsoever), we want to eat whole-grains.

A list of whole-grains

  • Amaranth
  • Barley +
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn (including polenta)
  • Farro / Emmer *
  • Bulgar (cracked wheat)*
  • Freekah *
  • Kañiwa
  • Millet
  • Oats ^
  • Quinoa
  • Rice (brown, wild, red, black etc.)
  • Rye +
  • Sorghum
  • Spelt *
  • Teff
  • Triticale (a mixture of wheat and rye) *
  • Wheat (incl. durum used for making pasta, couscous and semolina) *

* All the whole-grains listed above with a * are wheat. As such they contain gluten.

+ These whole-grains also naturally contain gluten.

^ Oats are naturally gluten free, but they are often grown together with or handled in the same factory as gluten containing grains which means they become contaminated. However there are gluten-free oats available, I’ve found them pretty readily in supermarkets.

You can eat wheat on a yeast-free diet. However wheat, like all carbohydrates, turns rapidly to sugar when digested. Also remember that a lot of wheat-based products have yeast in them too, so it’s often a double-whammy.

As such I choose not to include wheat in my diet or the recipes you’ll find here on the Flourishing Pantry.

Just to put them all in one place that means no: wheat (including durum and semolina), triticale, spelt, freekah, bulgar and farro.

You can eat gluten on a yeast-free diet. But personally I am choosing not to eat gluten. I'm having a tough time making sense of all the information out there about gluten at the moment and whether it's bad for you, or if everyone's become too obsessed with cutting it out unnecessarily.

[[2017 UPDATE: I talked to Coeliac Lea from blog Can Eat Attitude in a four part blog all about gluten which starts here. Read more for my more up-to-date attitudes towards gluten]]

So in addition to the wheat list above, that also means no rye and no barley.

I hope that’s helpful, I’d love to know what you think! I’ve found this a helpful way to separate out some buzz-words and to differentiate between grains, wheat and gluten.