Starting a Gluten-free diet can be a steep learning curve. It is easy to cut out the basic stuff like pizza and pasta. But what about all the little doses of gluten that can be in our food. Hidden gluten can sneak its way into your diet in unsuspecting foods, skincare products and medications.
With that in mind here is my blog about hidden gluten in your food. They key thing is to read the label, particularly on things like chips, lollies and sauces.
Going gluten-free doesn’t mean just giving up pasta and bread. Gluten can hide in all sorts of everyday things you never thought of.
Fries, Wedges & Chips
French Fries and wedges can sometimes be coated in flour or flavourings with flour to give them some extra crunch. Also when you are out your fries may be cooked in a frier with glutenous crumbed and battered items, it pays to ask how they are prepared, as this can cause issues for celiacs. Some places have a seperate frier for chips with is great too!
- Check the labels when you look at oven fries
- Avoid anything beer battered
- Check the ingredients on flavoured wedges.
The flavouring in crisps or potato chips frequently has gluten in it. I am a bit of a friend when it comes to salt and vinegar flavoured kettle chips. Sadly I have discovered certain brands use malt vinegar or others bake wheat thickener into the chip for crunch.
- Always read the label.
Soups, Stews and Stocks.
Not all soups are created equal. Barley can often be used as a soup base, flour can also be used as a thickener for stews, and conventional cubes of stock can often contain wheat.
Cosmetics, Shampoo & Conditioner
Ok, so you do not necessarily eat cosmetics (unless its something like lipstick) but if you are prone to eczema and skin allergies from a gluten allergy this is a biggy. For years I had a rash and irritation on my neck, I could not for the life of me figure out why. I thought it was dust mites or something on my sheets. Turns out it was the wheat protein in my conditioner that was giving me a rash and really dry patchy skin on my neck.
- Look for hydrolized wheat protein in your hair conditioners, serums and treatments.
- Let the salon know about your allergies ( Sometimes I will wash my hair before I go to avoid irritation).
I have already mentioned the seasoning on potato chips, but there are also certain brands of like fries seasoning, chicken salt, stocks, and packet seasonings that can contain a wheat thickener, caramel, barley or malt.
Licorice & Lollies
Red liquorice is one of the things I miss the most now being gluten-free. There seem to be black liquorice substitutes available in supermarkets, but not red :(. Lollies can also have a wheat glucose base so it pays to read the packet
This one took me a few years to figure out. It wasn’t until I started to get concerned about the amount of sugar I was eating, that I realised there what wheat glucose in the lemonade ice block I was eating. Gutted – Yet another packet I have to check.
- Go for natural fruit juice based ice blocks OR make your own.
I was gutted to discover my favourite balsamic vinegarette salad dressing contained malt the other day. This was another item I never thought to read the label on. Watch ours for Malt Vinegar & Balsamic.
While beans themselves are gluten-free, the sauce they are thickened with may not be. This varies from brand to brand so be sure to look out for wheat thickeners and wheat flour in the ingredients list.
It sucks when you dine out somewhere off the grid and the only option you usually get offered is a roast or steak… with no gravy! BOO! Most people thicken their gravy with flour, so it pays to ask about this so you do not end up each a dry roast, steak or fries. The good news is you can buy some brands of gluten-free gravy or thicken your own with corn flour.
Medication, Vitamins, dietary supplements
Watch out for containing wheat-based “modified food starch or other ingredients, fillers or casings that contain gluten.
Some chocolate is safe, it varies from brand to brand and flavour to flavour. Look out for anything with biscuits, caramel, or lollies inside. It tends to be the flavour infused chocolate that has more ingredients, so more potential for gluten.
Hidden Gluten in The Brine of Gerkins
Sometimes the brine contains malt vinegar, it varies from brand to brand – read the label.
Chinese, Thai and Other Asian Food
Meat and Vegetables seem like a safe bet right? The trouble is the sauce. This is another one that made me feel ill for years. Soy, hoison, black bean, stir dry and oyster sauces may contain wheat-based ingredients. It pays to ask about the ingredients
Sure rice and meat and seaweed sound safe enough? And sometimes it is. But what about imitation crab meat, the teriyaki sauce on the chicken or salmon, wasabi, or certain brands of rice wine vinegar.
This contains a 40% to 60% wheat thickener, reach for Tamari its gluten free cousin.
There are several types of miso, so make sure you read the label because the sort that’s made from barley is not your friend.
Hidden Gluten in Hot Dogs, Patties, Meatballs & Sausages
So you know to watch out for the hot dog bun or batter… but what about the bread crumbers or fillers inside? Grilling is often a source of gastronomic pyrotechnics for me if I can not pick out the gluten free sausages I bought in the line up of bangers.
Cross Contamination from Toasters, Chopping Boards & Appliance
If you are celiac or hypersensitive even the toaster, grill or chopping board can be cause for concern. You can buy super knifty toaster bags for popping your gluten-free bread in to avoid cross-contamination, rather than having a gluten-free specific toaster in the house.
Did I miss any? Leave your comments below.