How do you shop for a gluten-free diet in Filipino grocery stores?

A woman shopping in a grocery store

Proper food labeling regulations by the Bureau of Food and Drugs require indicating common allergens in food. However, rules specific to gluten have not been properly defined as of late. As a result, hunting down gluten will take a bit of legwork in the Philippines.

To start, let’s get to know the culprit:  Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. So, as a basic rule,  you would need to develop the habit of checking the back labels of items to make sure gluten is not found anywhere in the ingredients of the food you are buying.

You also have to watch out for stealth gluten, which are not as easy to spot. One example is malt. Malt is commonly made from barley and is mostly in items such as energy drinks, for its energy giving properties, and to enhance flavor and color (So, you’d know that malt drinks, such as Milo chocolate drink, are out.) Another thing is hydrolyzed vegetable protein, which can be a term used for hydrolyzed wheat protein, that is used as a flavor enhancer in processed food like soups, gravies, and some meat products like hotdogs.  

To further guide you in your shopping, here are some common grocery items  that you’d need to be more careful about when following the gluten-free diet:

Breads

tastybread

Say bye bye to breads as you know it, as common breads on the shelves and even in your bakery are made of wheat such as white bread and whole wheat bread. But then you can say hello to a wide variety of alternatives which use other types of flour, such as brown and white rice flour, and cassava starch. Breads like these are safe and available in gluten-free specialty shops, and online at GERALD.ph.

Breakfast Cereals and Oats

cerealbowl

Breakfast cereals also should be studied carefully. Read the back label since some that are not even made of wheat such as corn or rice cereals may have malt in their ingredients.

Oats on the other hand are not related to the varieties of grains you need to watch out for. Studies have also suggest that commonly, oats in its pure form are safe for those with gluten-intolerance. Although, household brands such as Quaker Oats state their products may not be completely gluten-free due to manufacturing cross-contamination. So, if you’d want to be on the safe side, better to research brands and see if any of them fit the gluten-free bill.

Pizza & Pasta

Lots of pastas are commonly made of wheat. But thankfully, like bread, alternatives are available that use other gluten-free ingredients such as brown rice. You can find gluten-free penne and spaghetti to use as substitute for your favorite pasta dishes. A great recipe to try can be found here.  

Yes, unfortunately pizza is also another casualty when going gluten-free, as your classic pizza doughs are made of wheat. But before you decide to start cutting yourself, hold that thought! There are gluten-free pizzas available, and you can also play arround with gluten-free pizza toppings on gluten-free crust to make your own pizza, also available on GERALD.ph

Alcohol

You can still clink a glass in a gluten-free diet. Just choose wine instead of beer or whiskey that are normally made of malted wheat.

Snacks and Desserts

cakes

Usual sweets like cakes and cookies are also out when following a gluten-free diet. But keep on scouting the grocery aisles as there are countless other options for snacks like corn chips, or rice cakes that are waiting for you. But if you cannot let go of the cookie and cake craving, there are gluten-free options that do not use wheat, rye or barley and are as good as any other gluten laced dessert.

If you want to be a little more carefully in your shopping, also consider that some packaged snacks like packaged nuts may be subject to cross-contamination since packaging lines are commonly dusted with common wheat flour. Better to opt for those that still come in shells.

It may seem at first that taking out gluten is taking over your whole grocery check list. Do take comfort in the fact that most items are naturally gluten free such as eggs, unprocessed meats, fruits, vegetables, all-natural cheeses and dairy, and other starches such as potato and rice.

To further help you, you can also visit WebMDs list of hidden sources of Gluten to arm  you in your next grocery shopping.

References: WebMD, About.com, QuakerOat.com

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Gluten-Free by Gerald.ph

Gluten-free delivery in Metro Manila and the Philippines. Available at glutenfree.ph and shop.gerald.ph/glutenfree

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