When you’re first diagnosed, all of the acronyms, scientific terms and Free From specific jargon can seem quite daunting. Well don’t despair – I’ve compiled as many terms, phrases and acronyms as I can to help you out!


GF – quite simply this is an acronym for “Gluten Free”. This one can become a little confusing as it is also used to mean “girlfriend” in non-Free From circles.

Coeliac Disease – an auto-immune disease that causes the body to attack the gut when gluten is ingested. Read more here.

Gluten intolerance – an intolerance that causes a reaction to gluten. People who suffer from a gluten intolerance do not have the long term gut damage associated with Coeliac Disease but still suffer bouts of illness after ingestion and can be effected by cross contamination. Those with a gluten intolerance may be able to tolerate small amounts of gluten. Little is known about why some people are intolerant to gluten.

Gluten sensitivity – similar to an intolerance to gluten, those with a gluten sensitivity can handle certain amounts of gluten without gut damage or illness. Again, little is known about what causes it.

DF – Dairy Free

EF – Egg Free

SF – is used to mean both “Soya Free” and sometimes “Sugar Free” so you may have to infer the meaning from context.

CC – Cross contamination. This is a term used to describe the act of cross contaminating Free From food. For example, a chef handles gluten bread and then handles gluten free bread. The trace amounts of gluten on the chef’s hands leads to the product being cross contaminated – i.e not safe for Coeliacs. You can read more about the effects and prevention of cross contamination here.

Under 20ppm – less than 20 parts per million. This is the term used in the legal discussions about gluten free food labelling. To legally be labelled as “Gluten Free” a company must prove that their food item contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten. Read more about this here.

DH – Dermatitis Herpetiformis. This is a skin condition associated with Coeliac Diesease. Not every Coeliac will also suffer from DH. Read more here.

NGCI – no gluten containing ingredients. Read more about that here.

IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I have lots of blog posts about this, you can browse them here.

Low FODMAP – A diet created with the aim of helping those that suffer from IBS. Read more about it here.

Glutened – this is a term used by those with Coeliac Disease or gluten intolerance when they have accidentally ingested gluten.

Made in a factory that handles… – this is as simple as what it says. This is a warning that companies place on their products to show that the product has been made in a factory that uses a specific allergen in other products. There is no general consensus on this issue in the gluten free community – in fact, it seems split right down the middle with some people happy to eat them and some people not! Do your research and make your own mind up about whether you think it is safe.

May contain… – this is similar to the phrase above. Labelling a product with “may contain” is completely voluntary. It indicates that the product has been made in a factory that uses the allergen, and potentially that the same line is used. This label is a little ambiguous, and again the free from community seems quite divided on the issue of “to eat or not to eat”. Read more here.