For those of us following a strict gluten free diet, reading food labels is a part of life. Gluten is something we think about often, especially before we put anything into our mouths.
If you’re newly gluten free or are trying to figure it out for a friend or family member, you might be surprised by some of these foods that contain gluten. I know that a few of the items on this list really surprised me.
Sorry to tell you, gluten is found in many items that may shock you! Manufacturers often add gluten to products as a stabilizer and thickener. You may be surprised to learn that many of these products, some are even non-food, contain hidden sources of gluten.
It’s easy to catch the big things like bread, cookies, and pasta that are made from wheat flour while missing other less obvious sources of gluten. The important thing to remember with each of these foods is to read product labels to determine if a food contains gluten.
Soy Sauce – I list this one first because it’s very commonly used, and it often surprises people. I know it surprised me, but many brands of soy sauce contain wheat. Also, be on the lookout for other sauces that include soy sauce as part of the ingredients such as teriyaki and marinades. But don’t despair, there are gluten free options available such as Tamari Soy Sauce.
Oats – On their own, oats are naturally gluten free but during the milling process, cross-contamination with wheat can happen. We know how popular oats have become in recent years with thanks to a delicious array of recipes such as over-night oats and fruity breakfast smoothie recipes, but remember not to undo all your good work by using gluten-heavy oats. Avoid adverse reactions by purchasing oats which are clearly labelled as being gluten-free.
Pickles – While the pickles themselves don’t contain gluten, the pickling process often involves malt-vinegar which contains barley. With BBQ season fast approaching, make sure to avoid adding pickles to your delicious burger.
Liquorice – Maybe not everyone’s sweet-of-choice, but it’s important to note that liquorice is made with wheat flour and is unsuitable for people with gluten intolerances. For fans of this sweet or sometimes salty treat, delicious gluten free liquorice alternatives are available.
Alcohol – Typically, between Monday and Friday we’re extremely diligent with our diets. However, slip-ups can happen at the weekend when temptation to indulge in non-coeliac friendly beverages arises. The most obvious drink to avoid is, of course, beer but tequila, rum, wine and potato or corn vodka are all naturally gluten free and should be your drink of choice on night’s out.
Ice-Cream – With summer upon us, there’s no better time to indulge in your favourite ice-cream, but people with gluten intolerances need to be careful with the types of flavours they choose. Avoid flavours like cookie dough, cookies and cream or cheesecake as these, unless otherwise labelled, often contain gluten.
Chocolate – The news that certain chocolates are off limits can be heart-breaking to hear. Although our favourite treat doesn’t contain gluten in itself, the risk comes from cross-contamination with wheat, barley or rye during processing. When shopping for your favourite cocoa-treats, pay careful attention to the labels and in particular note which brands are off-limits. Certain chocolate brands, like Cadbury’s, can contain traces of gluten. Chocolates which include caramel or malt should be avoided as they can cause reactions in people with gluten sensitivity.
Seasoning Mixes – Individual herbs and spices are gluten free, but when you get into seasoning mixes, especially the kind in packets (such as chili seasoning), you need to be careful. Many of them contain gluten.
Stamp and envelope adhesive – This one is up for debate. Some say they contain gluten as a “glue” for the adhesive, and others say the glue is made out of corn. My feeling is licking envelopes is gross anyway, and I’d rather proceed on the side of caution, so I don’t lick them!
Play-Doh – Wheat flour is a main ingredient of Play-Doh. Even though you can’t absorb gluten through your skin, many children place their hands and toys in their mouths, which can cause contamination.
Beauty Products – Even though you’re not ingesting beauty products, some products such as lipstick can easily enter your mouth. Many beauty products contain gluten in the form of wheat germ oil or hydrolyzed wheat protein. Hydrolyzed gluten is used to make emulsifiers and stabilizers.
As always, make sure you read labels and contact the manufacturer if you’re unsure. Also, when in doubt… go without!