To avoid gluten, you basically need to stay away from its sources: wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. But in a world where cross-contamination and food additives are a norm, here are some quick and useful tips to keep your gluten-free shopping and meal planning a breeze. Have this ready in your back pocket at all times to keep safe against gluten.
- Fruits: fresh, frozen, or canned
Double-check: For dried fruit, check the label for gluten-containing additives
- Vegetables: fresh, frozen, or canned.
Double-check: Frozen potatoes are not always gluten-free. Read the label for additives.
- Meats: fresh, or frozen
Double-check: marinated, or processed meats like your sausages, tocino, tapa. Check the label for additives.
- Cheese & Dairy: all-natural cheese is naturally gluten-free
Double-check: processed cheese, like cheese spreads
- Nuts & Seeds: unseasoned or in shell
Double-check: seasoned cocktail nuts and seeds
- Beverages: 100% fruit or veggie juice, water. Avoid malted drinks and beer.
Double-check: yogurt, pre-mixed shakes, chocolate, milk drinks, and smoothies
Befriend the Label
FDA only allows packaged foods with less than 20ppm of gluten to be labeled “gluten-free”, so checking for the label would be a good rule of thumb. But even without the gluten-free food stamp, some packaging already adds helpful information on their labels, so you may know which ones to stay away from. Check also for information if it has been manufactured in the same facility that also processes food containing gluten, or if the product may contain gluten.
Know What To Look For
BUT without the gluten-free label still in most packaged foods today, grocery shopping can be a much more complicated task than we may like. To make it easier, first, check for obvious gluten sources:
- Brewer’s yeast
- Oats (unless specifically labeled gluten-free)
Then, the less obvious terminology that means the same :
- Triticum vulgare (wheat)
- Triticale (cross between wheat and rye)
- Hordeum vulgare (barley)
- Secale cereale (rye)
- Triticum spelta (spelt, a form of wheat)
And look for the following terms represent ingredients that always contain gluten:
- Wheat flour, bread flour, bleached flour(wheat)
- Hydrolyzed wheat protein,
- Hydrolyzed wheat starch
- Malt (product of barley)
- Couscous (product of wheat)
- Farina (product of wheat)
- Pasta (from wheat unless otherwise indicated)
- Seitan (made from wheat gluten and commonly used in vegetarian meals)
- Wheat or barley grass (will be cross-contaminated)
- Wheat germ oil or extract (will be cross-contaminated)
- Vegetable protein/hydrolyzed vegetable protein (can come from wheat, corn, or soy)
- Modified starch/modified food starch (can come from several sources, including wheat)
- Natural flavor/natural flavoring (can come from barley)
- Artificial flavor/artificial flavoring (can come from barley)
- Caramel color (now considered a safe ingredient, but if you’re in doubt, check with the manufacturer)
- Modified food starch
- Hydrolyzed plant protein
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- Vegetable starch
- Dextrin and Maltodextrin (both sometimes made from wheat)
Make your next grocery shopping experience a less stressful and less overwhelming task by being prepared. Let us know how it works out in the comments!
1 Anderson, Jane. “What Terms on a Food Label Really Mean ‘Gluten’?” Verywell Health, Verywell Health, 7 July 2019, http://www.verywellhealth.com/how-to-identify-gluten-on-food-labels-562666.