14 Surprising Places Gluten Hides
Gluten’s in way more than just bread and pasta. Check your fridge, pantry and plate for these stealthy sources
Have you gone gluten free? So has everyone else, it seems. Some people avoid gluten because they have to — they have celiac disease. Others choose to because they think they are gluten intolerant and believe weeding out gluten will make them feel better.
If you’ve gone gluten free, you know to avoid regular bread, pasta, pizza, most cereals and baked goods. And you're probably taking advantage of the plethora of gluten-free versions manufacturers have been cranking out. But chances are, there’s gluten hiding in some of the foods that are in your fridge or cabinet right now.
Here are 14 foods and other items to watch for.
And remember: Wheat free doesn’t automatically mean gluten free. Always read labels carefully.
- Soy sauce. Surprise! It contains wheat. Solution: Use tamari instead. It’s almost identical in taste and color.
- Lunch meats. That turkey, ham or roast beef you buy from the deli counter for your sandwich could very well contain gluten. While fresh meats are gluten free, processed meats may contain gluten from binders, fillers or seasonings. Note that some brands, including Boar’s Head, claim to be gluten free. Look for a gluten-free statement on the label or go to the manufacturer’s website to be sure.
- Beer. Unless it’s labeled gluten free, it’s not. A few brands that offer gluten-free beers are Sprecher Brewing Company, Estrella Damm and Dogfish Head.
- Fried foods. If you order fried food at a restaurant or fast food joint, consider that those French fries may be fried in oil that was used to fry something breaded. So even if your food shouldn’t contain gluten, it might.
- Soups, soup bases and gravies. Not all soups contain gluten, but many do. Be wary of cream-based soups, which typically use flour to thicken the broth. The same is true of gravies. Campbell’s offers a list of their products that are gluten-free.
- Baked goods. This one’s obvious. You can bet that cakes, cookies, muffins and the like have gluten unless they’re labeled gluten free. Fortunately, you can now find boxes of gluten-free cake and cookie mixes. And many bakeries offer gluten free options for those with gluten sensitivity. If you have celiac disease, however, know that cross contamination is a real possibility.
- Cereals. Not all cereals contain gluten, but you might be surprised by ones that do. Many corn flakes and rice puff cereals do because of their malt flavoring. Always check the ingredients or look for “gluten free” on the label. Even oat cereals may contain gluten, either because the manufacturer has used wheat in addition to oats, or because the oats themselves have been contaminated in the field by nearby wheat fields. If you buy oats and you have celiac disease, look for oats labeled gluten free.
- Vinegar, potato chips and anything with malt. Malt shows up in malted milkshakes — and a host of other places, including potato chips, salad dressing and cereals. Check for malted barley flour, malted vinegar, or anything with the word “malt” on the ingredients list.
- Couscous and any other form of pasta. Yes, couscous is pasta. So are dumplings, gnocchi and ramen. Rice noodles and mung bean noodles are gluten free.
- Candy bars. Don’t worry, chocoholics, there are still ways to indulge. In order to be considered gluten free, the product must not contain any sources of gluten, or the level must be reduced to less than 20 parts per million. Because chocolates are susceptible to cross-contamination with products containing gluten when on the line, always check with the manufacturer to be safe. Some chocolates that are safe to eat are all Endangered Species Chocolate products and many Hershey’s products such as Hershey’s kisses and the milk chocolate bar. Chocolate bars to stay away from include Twix and Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme bar.
- Pizza. Even though many pizzerias are now offering gluten-free crusts, it’s hard to control cross contamination since the crusts are usually cooked in the same oven with wheat-based doughs. Ask the waiter or the owner if that’s the case.
- Play-dough. Play-dough contains gluten, and since most children aren’t above putting the stuff in their mouths, or at least putting their fingers in their mouths during and after play, it can be dangerous for kids with celiac disease. To be safe, make your own. Here’s one recipe for homemade gluten-free play-dough.
- Makeup. According to the Mayo Clinic, using skincare products and makeup that contains gluten isn’t a problem for people with celiac disease (though it may be a problem for people allergic to wheat). Just don’t use gluten-containing products on your lips or around your mouth so you don’t ingest any. Afterglow Cosmetics’ products are gluten free and Bare Minerals doesn’t use gluten-containing ingredients, but they can’t confirm there won’t be traces of gluten in the products.
- Medicine. Certain medications and vitamins and mineral supplements contain gluten. Unless the product is labeled gluten-free, your best bet is to call the manufacturer to find out if it is. Tell doctor you are gluten-free so she can keep it in mind when writing you prescriptions.
These are just some of the surprising places gluten can be found, but remember: If in doubt, go without!