If you are wondering how to go gluten free, this is the right place to start. There are many main sources of gluten that you will need to watch out for. Yes, gluten can hide in a variety of innocent looking foods, and you need to be aware that gluten can lurk anywhere, from candy to condiments. Unless you are diligent about what you eat, you could get sick without knowing why!
First, the more obvious main sources of gluten:
- Wheat starch
- Varieties and derivatives of wheat:
- einkorn wheat
- Malt (malted milk, milkshakes, malted barley flour, malt extract, malt syrup, malt flavoring, malt vinegar)
- Vital Wheat Gluten
Main sources of gluten in food (check to make sure the product is labeled “gluten-free”. If not, it’s not safe and you should call the manufacturer if in doubt):
- Brewer’s Yeast-Derived from beer or barley, be careful with this one. You can find a gluten-free Brewer’s Yeast here)
- Oats-Naturally gluten free; however, they are processed in the same facilities that process wheat, so you must choose certified gluten free oats!
- Salad dressing and marinade-Think your chicken ordered from a restaurant is safe? It might not be. Many marinades contain gluten. MOST ranch dressing contains gluten as well. Restaurants use flour to thicken it. When in doubt, always ask the manager and follow these tips for eating out!
- Soy sauce and teriyaki sauce-Most soy sauce/teriyaki sauce has wheat! Unfortunately, many sushi restaurants and other Asian restaurants do NOT have a gluten free soy sauce. Some of them do. You can call ahead to ask, or take your own sauce and request a dish with NO sauce to be prepared in fresh cookware. You can find a gluten-free soy sauce here.
- Meat substitutes and Processed meat-Many vegetarian/vegan burgers, sausage, bacon, and imitation seafood contains vital wheat gluten for a binder and protein. Also, sausages, deli meat, and hot dogs are prone to being gluten-laden.
- Tofu-Not all tofu is gluten free, either – many brands offer “flavored” tofu that has soy sauce (wheat) in it.
- Candy-Many candy bars have gluten. Also watch out for “Twizzlers” and other gummy types of candy. Yes, Twizzlers contain gluten as do many other types of licorice candy! These licorice candies are gluten free.
- French fries and other fried foods-Most restaurants fry their french fries in the same fryers as breaded chicken strips, mozzarella sticks, etc. that contain gluten. I’ve also seen french fries that were coated in wheat flour. Make sure the restaurant has dedicated fryers and that the restaurant doesn’t coat the fries with flour!
- Cheesecake filling-Think it’s okay to eat “a little” cheesecake filling without the graham cracker crust? Not only are you risking cross-contamination, but many cheesecake filling recipes include wheat flour.
- Tortilla chips-Not all tortilla chips are safe just because they look like “corn”. Make sure you ask. The tortilla chips at Abuelo’s and Chili’s are both laden with gluten. Abuelo’s has gluten free chips (by request), but Chili’s does not. I take my own chips and have never gotten in trouble! These tortilla chips are gluten free.
- Brown rice syrup-Make sure it’s labeled gluten free, like this gluten free brown rice syrup.
- Soups and gravies-Flour is used as a thickener in soups, sauces, and gravies. It’s easier to order food without the sauce!
- Caramel coloring frequently is made from barley malt
- Natural smoke flavor often is made with barley
Manufacturers are NOT required to disclose the presence of barley!!
Main Sources of Gluten in Beverages
According to research and the Celiac Disease Foundation, most distilled alcoholic beverages (spirits) are gluten-free, because the gluten peptide is too large to carry over in the distillation process. Even so, I tend to play it safe and only buy gluten-free vodka (Tito’s).
These alcoholic beverages are sources of gluten:
- Malt beverages (Smirnoff Ice, Mike’s Hard Lemonade or any other flavors, White Claw Hard Seltzer, Henry’s Hard Soda) are NOT gluten free!
If you want to try a low calorie gluten free alcoholic beverage, Truly Spiked & Sparkling says their product is 100% gluten free. Made from cane sugar, Truly spiked sparkling water has a hint of fruit with flavors such as Colima Lime, Grapefruit & Pomelo, Pomegranate, Sicilian Blood Orange, and Lemon & Yuzu. At 100 calories per serving, you won’t find any artificial flavors/sweeteners. 5% ABV.
I have tried Truly Spiked & Sparkling and will write a review here.
Other Sources of Gluten
- Communion wafers. This is tricky because many churches have a loaf of bread or wafers but do not offer a gluten free version.
- Drugs and OTC medications. A doctor once prescribed Synthroid to me and it made me very sick and gave me daily head-pounding migraines. I later learned Synthroid contains gluten! These ingredients in medication should be avoided: food starch, dextrose, dextrin.
- Vitamins and supplements
- Makeup, including lipstick and lip balm can be accidentally ingested and cause side effects.
From the Celiac Disease Foundation: AVOID cross contamination during food preparation and cooking! One eighth of one teaspoon (1/8 tsp) contains enough gluten to cause intestinal damage in most people with Celiac disease. Learn more about preventing cross-contact both at home and when dining out.