Our Foods List

I can’t write a list that is safe for everyone, but since our son is pretty darn sensitive, more sensitive than anyone I know in person, this list should be a good starting point for anyone that is trying to eliminate all FGA.

Do you our label checking, of course, and do let me know if there is something here I need to update or add.  (When brands are listed, you can assume most other brands are probably not safe).

NOTE: These foods don’t eliminate all free glutamate., which is extremely difficult, especially with a teenage boy! There will be trace amounts that someone extremely sensitive may react to.  Anyone that wants to eliminate ALL sources and go on a complete glutamate elimination diet should follow the diet on msgmyth.com written by Deb: http://www.msgmyth.com/test_diet.html, and buy her book. My belief, though, is that this will eliminate enough that most people that suspect a sensitivity will be able to tell if it’s making a difference.

Another great resource is Emily’s Savory Seasonings Blog at http://savoryseasonings.blogspot.com/. She is much more strict than we are and has wonderful recipes.

General guidelines

  • Anything that is directly from a plant or an animal is generally safe. E.g., plain rice, fruits, vegetables, whole milk, eggs
  • Canned and boxed items (e.g., beans) are problematic and need to be checked very carefully
  • Most anything that is processed is likely not safe (95% of the time), unless it has simple ingredients (beans, oil, salt; corn, potatoes)
  • Pasta is usually safe but sauce often isn’t
  • Full-fat is always safer than low-fat (butter, sour cream, yogurt) but still is questionable.
  • Crackers, soups, quick/sweet breads, cereals, snack bars, pizza, or basically anything processed or seasoned are huge problems and should be avoided
  • No American cheese or processed cheese (nachos)
  • No salad dressings, dips, barbeque sauce; other sauces have to be checked
  • Nothing “cheesy”, ranch, nancho, popcorn from a bag unless checked, etc
  • No powdered milk, soy milk, rice milk, chocolate milk, margarine, or whipped cream.

Safe Foods

Whole Foods

  • Fresh and frozen vegetables, cooked by you or raw
  • Fresh and frozen fruit
  • Whole spices and condiments (salt, pepper, herbs–anything that is grown on a plant), read mixes carefully
  • Organic chicken pieces with nothing added, ground beef, ground pork, and steak
  • Bulk grains you buy and cook yourself: rice, oats, etc
  • Real butter, honey, sugar, and maple syrup
  • Whole, 2%, or raw milk, half-and-half (most whipping cream or heavy cream has carrageenan)
  • Most kinds of whole, “brick” cheese (avoid American or “cheese food”)
  • 100% real juices, without calcium added

Processed Foods

  • Beeler’s sausages (most mixed meats will be suspect)
  • Applegate Farm beef hot dogs (but not lunch meats)
  • Rudi’s Organic Breads, buns, and bagels (has questionable ingredients but he has never reacted; it’s our staple)
  • Homerun Inn Classic or Thin-Crust Pizza (Signature looks OK but we haven’t tried it)
  • Cheerios, Gorilla Munch, and regular or cinnamon Puffins
  • Stacey’s Organic Tortillas, or tortillas with simple ingredients, no malted barley, and no aluminum
  • Amy’s frozen Mac-N-Cheese, regular or gluten-free but not dairy-free
  • Natural peanut butter, almond butter
  • Udi’s Natural Granola
  • Muir Glen basic pasta sauces

Snacks and Treats

  • Plain potato and corn chips (label should say simply, Potatoes/Corn, oil, salt)
  • Natural roasted/salted nuts without “flavors” (he loves cashews)
  • Arlene’s, Haagan Das, or Breyer’s all natural (not extra creamy or special flavors) vanilla, chocolate, mint c/c, strawberry  ice ream.  (ALL OTHERS ARE LIKELY TO CAUSE REACTIONS)
  • Oreos
  • Hershey’s regular milk chocolate
  • Plain or nut M&Ms (limited quantities as coating has dextrose)
  • Most dark chocolate from health food stores
  • Hard candy is usually safe
  • Twizzlers or Red Vines, sno-caps (movie theatres)
  • sprite/7-up/equivalent (no DIET drinks whatsoever)

Sauces and Condiments

  • Kikkoman soy sauce, no other brands unless you check ingredients
  • Annie’s Ketchup
  • Annie’s Cowgirl Ranch (only safe creamy dressing we’ve ever found!)

Pantry Staples

  • Whole wheat or white 100% wheat flour (no malted barley)
  • Aluminum-free baking powder; baking soda
  • Bearito refried beans (most refried beans are OK, check labels)


Note: Ask for everything without sauce. If food comes with any kind of sauce on it, or if the fries have specks of pepper and taste really yummy, send it all back.

Almost all bread products at restaurants will contain malted barley flour. We compromise and eat malted barley flour when we are out but avoid bringing it into the house.

  • Plain burgers at real restaurants (not fast food; they add protein; cafeterias in museums etc might be OK if patty is 100% beef). It MUST be ordered without any seasoning other than salt on any of the bun, burger, or french fries, and with Cheddar or Jack, NOT American

Note: waiters will often tell you they don’t think the burger is seasoned, but they will most likely be wrong and they must tell the kitchen; the kitchen will think the seasoning has no MSG but if they don’t mix it from salt and dried plants, it will always have something – the kitchen needs to just leave it off. If seasoning is pre-mixed into the burger, have them check the children’s burger or make something else. If the fries are pre-seasoned or breaded, have something else.

  • Small amounts of real white bread (not garlic bread, biscuits, corn bread, etc) with real butter
  • Broccoli without seasoning
  • Baked potato with only butter (or ask them to check the sour cream for carrageenan)
  • Grilled salmon without any house seasonings or sauce (he adds sliced lemon)
  • The bowls at Chipotle Mexican Grill are all safe; tortillas have aluminum
  • Mexican food is usually pretty safe if they make everything from scratch. Chicken chimichangas are often fine, nachos made with grated cheddar and beef are options. No Nacho cheese, nothing with broth, no soups. Ask them to check the sour cream for carrageenan.
  • Most chinese/asian food in Colorado is relatively safe. Ask the staff (or look on the menu) if they use MSG at all in the restaurant. (“We’ll leave it off” is not enough, as it will be in the bases).
  • Kikkoman soy sauce, no other brands unless you check ingredients.
  • Traditional Indian restaurants are usually OK; avoid garlic Naan and sauces.
  • The only take-out pizza I’ve found that is safe is Falbo Bros, without meat or Parmesan. Pizza is very tricky to make tasty and safe. I would love to find more safe pizza options, but doing so involves grilling the manager who rarely knows what is in the mixes that they get from a corporate office. Here are the questions to ask; you can stop if you get a “no”: Do you grate your cheese fresh from a block each day? Do you make your own sauce from tomato paste and sauce and spices? If so, can you tell me exactly what is added and what is in your seasoning mix (watch for yeast, maltodextrin, parmesan, protein, etc)? Lastly, what are the ingredients in your plain white dough? (watch for cysteine as well as others).

Pre-made Desserts

  • Best to skip dessert. Cake is sometimes OK but frosting is usually a problem. The richer the dessert the more likely it is to have problematic ingredients. Avoid cheesecake, mousse, custards, caramel, whipped cream.
  • More likely to be safe options if you must have dessert: berries drizzled with chocolate sauce; soda with maraschino cherries; bread with butter and honey


  1. Eating That Elephant » Blog Archive » Eliminating Excitotoxins:

    […] Our Foods List – What we have found safe for our family […]

  2. Lindsey:

    I recently (not because of any issues, other then just feels right) have elimiated most foods that are not natural for a wild omnivore animal. I think about the omnivore animals out there (because that is what we are after all) and most of them eat a majority of raw fruits and veggies (plant life) and a small amount of meat/fish/poultry. I cook our meat/fish/poultry, but I don’t feel we need to eat it at every evening meal. I have noticed that when my children are on this diet of more natural foods they just have an overall positive day, however when we have days where some other processed foods are eaten more then the natural ones, they have sibling bickering and other complainy type days. I don’t make them eat this diet. If we attend a party or resturant meal, the kids are able to eat whatever is offered and they desire. They are not limited to ONLY this more natural diet, however at home the options are ONLY healthy natural choices. They were not always on this diet, we have had our fair share of fast food (unfortunately) so to the parents that think altering their child’s diet is impossible, it’s not, I did it slowly over the corse of 6 weeks and it was fairly painless for them. I’m not sure they even noticed they are eating FAR MORE raw fruits and veggies then before! And I lost 10 pounds without ever feeling hungry, tired, grumpy or any other negative emotion. I just stuffed my face left and right with fruits and veggies and was SUPRISED to find the weight shedding! I will print off your list and aim for it when we do have those processed meals. 🙂 THANKS!

  3. Rebecca:

    I love the line, “avoid cheese food”. Shouldn’t we all!

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