Going gluten free is far more involved than just excluding wheat from the diet. For those with celiac disease, it becomes apparent very quickly just how many foods contain gluten to some degree. Many of the no-nos are no brainers like bread, pasta, baked goods, bagels, crackers and pizza, but not all of them are so obvious.
Some things you might never even consider are on the list of gluten containing foods. While many of them may only contain a trace amount of it, that may be enough to trigger digestive upset for those with extreme sensitivities.
Malt vinegar and Worcestershire sauce are made from barley and contain gluten.
Soy sauce is made from wheat and contains gluten.
There are numerous condiments that are questionable when it comes to gluten. This means they may or may not contain wheat rye or barley in some form depending on the brand. You will want to thoroughly check labels of the following condiments or look for the words gluten free on the packaging. Ketchup, mustard, relish, pickles, olives, salad dressing taco sauce and tomato sauce.
Candy and Other Goodies
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, depending on how you look at it, candy and other sweets may also contain certain amounts of gluten. Unless the packaging on the product specifically says it’s gluten free, it’s best to assume that all candy contains some amount of wheat or malt which means it will not be gluten free.
Gluten is used in foods to create sticky, doughy type textures, which makes it very useful in creating a well binding candy. Consider the texture and consistency of chewing gum, gummy candies, toffee and licorice.
While cookies and cakes may be obvious regarding gluten content, the filling in pies and pastries may not be. Thickening agents used in fillings for fruit pies and custards are likely to be made with some amount of gluten.
If you purchase a spice mix for the preparation of a stew, stir fry, soup or chilli it likely contains gluten. Be sure to check the label for any wheat-based product. Gluten is used as a thickening agent and is often added to these pre packaged spices to create a thicker base or sauce.
Potatoes are on the list of gluten free foods but that’s not the case for the fried variety. French fries are often cooked in the same oil as breaded food like fish and chicken causing cross contamination. To be on the safe side, assume any fried foods contain small amounts of gluten.
Buckwheat is on the list of acceptable gluten free foods, but sometimes buckwheat noodles are not entirely made from just buckwheat. Often some amount of wheat is used to bulk the noodles up and save on cost. Once again, check the labels to ensure the product you are buying is in fact free of gluten.
Flavoured or Roasted Nuts
Some snack foods including many brands of mixed nuts and roasted or flavoured nuts contain wheat flour in the ingredients. Opt for raw nuts that are roasted and flavoured at home to ensure they are entirely gluten free. The spices used to season them may also be made from malt or contain soy sauce.
Malt is a product of barley is on the forbidden list when it comes to living gluten free. Beer, whiskey and ale are all products of malt. Chocolate, and other flavoured milks may contain malt as well. Non-dairy creamer often contains gluten.
Some brands of instant coffee may contain gluten. As a way to save money, some manufacturers will add wheat flour to add volume. Check the ingredients on the label of instant coffee or opt for organic or brewed.
Yogurt, ice cream and frozen yogurt often contain gluten. Look for gluten free brands and avoid ice cream and frozen yogurt when dining out.
Flavourings and seasonings are often made from malt or rye and those will contain gluten. Some spices and flavourings like curry and meat extracts, are bulked up with wheat flour by the manufacturer in an effort to save cost. Check the labels of pre-packaged flavourings and spic mixtures closely.
Non Stick Cooking Spray
Some cooking sprays are partially made of flour, which is a wheat-based product.
Sneaky Things to Watch For
Food manufacturers have one goal and that is to sell their products. There are sneaky ways to abide by FDA regulations and list gluten in the ingredients, without actually using the words gluten or wheat.
Some of the words to watch out for on the label or list of ingredients include, binder or binding, thickening or thickener, edible starch, gum base, filler, modified food starch or modified starch, triticale, rusk, wheat alternative, special edible starch, hydrolysed, plant protein or any phrase containing the word wheat.
There are a number of other ingredients, which may or may not be gluten free. These should be considered “iffy” choices and checked for on the label. Natural flavours, emulsifiers, monosodium glutamate and lecithin are all ones to watch for.
Non Food Products Containing Gluten
Non-edible products that are indirectly ingested may also contain gluten. If your intolerances are severe enough, it may be wise to keep these in mind. Lipstick, toothpaste and some prescription and over the counter medications may contain gluten. Check the label of any products that may make contact with the mouth and ask your pharmacist about any medication.
Now that you can see just how extensive the list is of foods containing gluten, it should be obvious as to just how challenging going gluten free can be. It takes time to learn the specifics and recognize the terminology but it certainly can be done. The most important factor is to read labels, check ingredients and be educated. A gluten free diet can be made simple and the health benefits for those with intolerances may be immeasurable.