Dietitian’s Top 10 Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Snacks

Finding gluten-free and dairy-free snacks that are not only tasty, but also healthy and quick, can be super challenging.

Sure, you could make everything from scratch, but sometimes, you don’t have the time or the desire.

Here are some ideas for quick, healthy options at home and on the go. 

woman eating chips from a bowl

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Why Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free?

Everyone has their own reasons for adhering to a gluten—and dairy-free diet. Usually, these concerns are health-related. 

Someone with celiac disease must completely eliminate gluten to heal their gut and absorb nutrients. This differs from someone who has lactose intolerance and just needs to avoid some forms of dairy, like milk and ice cream, to avoid gas, bloating, or diarrhea. 

Working with a dietitian can be super helpful if you have health concerns that might be food-related. They can help you identify if you might have food intolerances or food sensitivities. 

Food intolerance or food sensitivity symptoms may include fatigue, joint pain, headaches, hyperactivity, attention deficit, poor mood, poor memory, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, swelling, frequent illness, or other digestive issues.  

My own health concerns led me down a path of trying to determine if I had my own food intolerances. As a result, I now adhere to a gluten-free and mostly dairy-free diet.

A little background: I have been a Registered Dietitian for over 12 years, specializing in helping others manage their weight and improve their health. 

Not all journeys are alike, and while I share my story, I do not expect anyone to have the exact same results. 

Everyone’s body processes and reacts to foods differently. Some may be perfectly fine eating gluten and dairy, while others may not. It’s up to you to experiment and see what works best for you and your body while ensuring you meet your nutritional needs. 

Goodbye Gluten

Here’s my long story, shortened.  

I was diagnosed with Hashimotots after trying for a year to get pregnant with my 2nd kiddo. As a result, my naturopathic doctor recommended I completely cut out gluten (I was about 80-90% gluten-free at the time), so reluctantly, I went for it. 

An aside here: while there is certainly anecdotal evidence for eliminating gluten and at least this study to show its benefits regarding Hashimotos, a review of the research states “doubtful justification.”

After a full four weeks, holy cow! My energy improved, my mental clarity was back, I no longer had to choose between an afternoon nap or coffee, and my mood was much better. 

And…I got pregnant the following month. 

Since then, I think I’ve eaten gluten twice…well I guess three times if you count the time I got Smirnoff “Iced”. (I know who does that anymore?! My friends.) 

It’s just not worth it to me to feel the way I did before cutting gluten out. 

Odd symptoms I didn’t even know might be related also disappeared: joint pain, the intense cramping feeling in my lower abdomen with bowel movements, and the occasional waking up to a feeling of choking on my own saliva in the middle of the night. 

Such a relief!

Now, what about the dairy part of this story?

Goodbye Dairy

Rewind about 15 years and that’s when I started greatly cutting out dairy. 

I returned from traveling in South East Asia with my stomach and digestive system not quite right. Looking back, I’m sure I had a parasite of some kind that I should’ve attended to, but instead, I let it run its course. 

The end result was not being able to tolerate dairy. 

So, I sadly cut that out of my diet and found other ways to enjoy my dinner salads (without the delicious Tillamook cheddar). 

I know everyone is different in how much diary they can or cannot tolerate. For me, I find that I can tolerate dairy just fine if it’s only a little bit and only a day or two in a row. 

Beyond that, it will definitely cause me some digestive issues. Painful cramping in my lower abdomen, bloating, constipation, and other fun stuff I don’t need to go into detail about here. 

So…that leaves me dairy-free and gluten-free. 

Honestly, after all these years, I don’t feel deprived, and I feel like I can manage almost every situation. 

I realize, though, that it can feel like an insurmountable challenge for most people just starting out on this journey. Especially if all of your go-tos consist of dairy or gluten. 

Luckily, there are so many decent options available these days. While none will be a perfect substitute for your previous dairy and gluten-laden goods, in time, you will get used to the change. 

And if the benefits to your health are substantial, then it will all be worth it. 

My Top 10 Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Snacks

Please read the ingredient list on the package to ensure it is still dairy-free and/or gluten-free. Ingredients can change at times, and my recommendations are for those with sensitivities, not true allergies, as some products listed below may have cross-contamination with gluten or dairy.

Here’s my list of the best gluten free dairy free snacks for adults (and kids): 

  1. Hippeas. I love that they contain protein and fiber for a filling snack. Plus, you can get them at Costco, which is a total win in my book! The vegan nacho variety disappears quite quickly in our home. 
  2. Calbee Harvest Snaps are awesome for sneaking in veggies since they are made of actual snap peas. This means they also contain protein and fiber, unlike Veggie Straws, which are more of a glorified potato chip (in the eyes of this dietitian).
  3. Roasted chickpeas are a fantastic high protein, high fiber, whole food option. Check out a recipe to make your own, or try my favorite, Biena Chickpea Snacks. The honey roasted chickpeas are a bit addictive but without a ton of added sugars.
  4. Meat sticks such as Chomp or Mission Meats. These offer dietitian-approved grass-fed beef options. These are a great way to stave off hunger and help meet your daily protein needs. Pair them with a fruit for some added fiber and antioxidants. 
  5. GoMacro Bars. I’m admittedly addicted to the almond butter coconut chocolate chip variety. If you’re trying to lose weight or watch your calories, opt for the snack-size version or kid version, both lower in calories. 
  6. Nuts, all kinds of nuts! Trader Joe’s is a great place to stock up on nuts. You can buy a variety and make your own trail mix or get their pre-packaged options. 
  7. Cheese and Crackers. I know you’re thinking, hello, dairy and gluten, but don’t fret, I’ve got options. Simple Mills Almond Flour crackers (again, thank you, Costco) and for cheeses, Daiya or Follow Your Heart (by the way, their Ranch dressing is amazing) are my favorites. 
  8. Yogurt. Luckily, great strides have been made to improve dairy-free yogurts. Siggi’s Plant Based Coconut Blend is rich and creamy, with a lot of protein and a small amount of sugar. Forager vanilla is my kids’ favorite, but it’s higher in sugar with less protein. 
  9. Apple slices with nut butter are an easy at-home option that contains fiber, healthy fats, and a little protein to keep you satisfied. When I’m looking for something more indulgent, I sprinkle in some Enjoy Life chocolate chips. Yum!  
  10. Homemade air-popped popcorn is a family favorite. We drizzle on a little olive oil and sprinkle it with salt or my cousin’s San Juan Island Sea Salt Popcorn Blend. For easy and quick, I choose Skinny Pop. I love the ingredients, and it’s the perfect-sized portion. 

Now, don’t these sound delicious?!

If you need more choices, you can check out my other post, Macro Friendly Snacks: 10 Options. Most of the snacks listed there are also gluten and dairy free or can easily be made that way with minor substitutions. 

Managing the Dietary Changes

If you’re brand new to eating gluten-free and dairy-free, the following is my advice to you. 

Stay open-minded and know that your taste buds WILL change over time. Gluten-free bread will likely never be as good as regular bread, but you will get used to the new texture and flavor and not hate it forever. 

Eating gluten and dairy free will get easier with practice. Change is hard, but it comes with benefits. If you see drastic improvements in your health, like myself and so many others, then it will all be worth it. 

Stick with the dietary changes consistently for at least four weeks. It typically takes that long to see benefits. 

You may also want to write down the changes you experience. A year down the road, it’s easy to forget and talk yourself into that slice of deep-dish pizza, only to regret it the next day or the next week.  

Shopping will take a little longer as you navigate this new world of food, so be patient. 

Always bring snacks with you so you don’t get into a situation where there are no food options available that meet your dietary restrictions. You don’t want to derail all of your efforts and you don’t want to be starving. 

Don’t be afraid to tell family and friends about your dietary changes. These days, most people are happy to accommodate food allergies or intolerances.  

Eat most of your meals at home. Some of you may be lucky enough to live in an area that provides great substitutions to accommodate your dietary preferences. If not, you’ll have to stick to your own kitchen. 

It’s a new journey, and there are bound to be ups and downs along the way. Be kind to yourself. 

Conclusion

I hope my top 10 list of healthy gluten and dairy-free snack options gives you confidence in finding great food options that don’t leave you feeling deprived. 

While it can feel overwhelming to drastically change your diet, know that there are many options available to meet your food cravings and nutrition needs. This list is just a start. 

If you’re struggling with dinner planning, I highly recommend making weekly or monthly meal plans. That way, you can alleviate the stress that comes with the loaded question, “What’s for dinner?” 

I’d love the hear in the comments how your dietary changes have impacted your health. It can be so inspiring to others who are on this same journey. 

For more tips, join my community in the Facebook Group: Weight Loss Support for Moms with (and without) Insulin Resistance.

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