Should I avoid gluten? This is a question that I have answered in a 3 part series of posts. Part 1 was titled: Should I Avoid Gluten? This post is all about the question: How do I recognize Gluten?
As a general rule when adopting a gluten-free diet you should avoid all baked goods like bread, cakes, pies, cookies, and crackers as well as pasta. There is a learning curve to knowing and recognizing grains that contain gluten or foods that contain gluten-containing ingredients.
What foods should I avoid?
Grains to Avoid:
Wheat Flour: white flour, enriched flour, whole wheat flour, and self-rising flour
Wheat Starch, Wheat Bran, Wheat Germ
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Farina Graham Flour
Triticale–a cross between wheat and rye
Seitan– Vegetarians “Wheat Meat”
Hidden Sources of Gluten
90% of gluten is found in the foods listed above. The other 10% is found in hidden sources. These sources generally come from processed foods. Wheat is often used as a filler or thickener.
These items often contain wheat:
Alcoholic Beverages (Beer, whiskey, and grain alcohols are made from wheat, barley & rye)
Candy (Hard candy or gum is often dusted with flour to prevent sticking)
French Fries and other deep-fried foods- these are often dusted with wheat or cross-contamination occurs with other fried foods.
Frozen or pre-packaged meals
Glazed ham, marinated meat, and self-basting turkey
Oats: (Oats are by nature gluten-free but many are cross-contaminated due to being processed in plants that also process wheat. Only purchase certified gluten-free oats.)
Seasoned Potato or tortilla chips
Seasoning Packets and Spice Blends
Non-Food Items: make-up, shampoos, and lipstick or lip balm
The Importance of Reading Labels
As you have just read there are lots of foods that contain gluten. Reading labels must become a new part of everyday life unless you remove all processed foods from your diet. We need to read labels at the grocery store and reread them again before opening a can, box, or package at home. Manufacturers often change ingredients so, we must read labels over and over and over again, even when purchasing products we think are safe.
When reading labels look for “Gluten-Free” on the label, “Contains Wheat” in the allergen section of the label, “May Contain Traces of Wheat” and “Processed in a Gluten-Free Facility” or “Processed in a facility that also processes wheat” on the label.
Ingredients that Contain Gluten
Citric acid: (can be made by fermenting wheat, corn, molasses or beets)
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
Modified food starch
Keep a list of gluten-containing ingredients with you. Make a list on your phone or tucked into your wallet so that you can use it as a reference when shopping until you easily remember what to look for on ingredient lists.
For some real-life strategies check out the post titled: How do I replace gluten?