Shopping Gluten-Free? Helpful Tips to Decode Food Labels

A lot of food items are thankfully gluten-free. However, the way they are processed may sometimes  introduce gluten sources: wheat, barley or rye or Triticale (hybrid of wheat and rye) or their other sub forms, to get the preferred consistency or taste. You can be sure of unprocessed products but for processed food, being able to decode food labels is a definite must!

So! What to do? Food labels can be a bit daunting to look at, and in the end it may just leave you playing the guessing game. All that unfamiliar terminologies, in the back label?(– is it just me? Or do they make it complicated on purpose?) 🙂 Before you give up, here are a few more handy tips we’ve gathered, for the next time you need to decipher the food label.

  • Remember that “wheat-free” is not necessarily gluten-free.
  • Wheat (and also barley and rye for that matter) take other forms. Hydrolized wheat protein” for example contains wheat and has gluten.
  • Malt – malt extract, syrup and the like is the term that appears for Barley, and so has gluten
  • Maltodextrin that is an additive used as thickener or filler, is not to be confused for malt: this is made from potato, rice or corn (even the wheat variant, is not to worry about as processing renders it gluten-free) and so this is one less thing you don’t need to watch out for.
  • It is a good idea to have a preference for the “all-natural” if you’re looking for gluten-free options. Of course, it is a claim that can be abused and misused, and so as a smart shopper, it is always a good idea to look at the back label for the ingredients of the product we are buying. But it is best for you to look for products without any additives.

Studying gluten sources is a worthwhile effort. Keep educating yourself and in no time, you will be reading those food labels like you are your own nutritionist. 😉

Feel free to share your own tips in the comments! 🙂