When I first started eating gluten free, I thought the restrictions would be simple. Don’t eat bread. No more pasta. Crackers and cookies are out. No donuts. No cake. (Ok, some of that stuff is probably best left uneaten anyway.) But what I didn’t realize is that gluten hides. It hides everywhere.
Even if packaging doesn’t say ‘gluten’ or ‘wheat’, it might still contain gluten! And that’s because there are other ingredients out there with other names that are essentially gluten. Watch out for barley, rye, malt, spelt, and a whole host of other ingredients.
If you’re not checking your ingredient labels, you’re going to miss something. Even if you are checking your ingredient labels, you might miss something. This can be tricky because the length of some ingredient lists are just ridiculous. And I think that’s why I’m so drawn to simple recipes with simple ingredients. When it comes to packaged snacks, I’m drawn to the ones with simple ingredients that are easy to pronounce. Dried mangoes with just one ingredient!? (mangoes) Who knew it was possible!
One thing I can’t imagine is what it was like to be gluten free 10 or 15 years ago. From what I’ve heard, gluten free packaged goods have come a long way. Today you can get just about any food in gluten free form.
With the continuing rise of gluten free consumers, companies have done a good job of highlighting that their product is gluten free on the packing. That said, some are more visible than others. Wheat is also typically bolded on an ingredient list, which makes it easy to spot from the get-go.
What’s been most surprising to me now that I’m gluten free is how drawn I am to a product just because the packaging says “gluten free”. There are some foods that I never would’ve given a second thought before. But because they say those two magical words, I’m willing to give it a try.
If you’re new to gluten free living, watch out for the following products. There might be gluten free alternatives, but you’ll want to be cautious if you’re going to buy this product straight off the shelf or menu:
- canned soup / creamy soup
- candy / chocolate (don’t worry! plenty of chocolate is gluten free, just not all)
- cereal (just because the name contains ‘corn’ or ‘rice’ doesn’t mean it’s GF)
- french fries (anything that has been deep fried is at risk for cross-contamination)
- granola bars
- hot dogs / processed deli meat
- ice cream (RIP my favorite flavor – chocolate chip cookie dough)
- licorice (Twizzlers)
- oats / oatmeal (unless certified GF, it’s at risk for cross-contamination)
- pasta sauce packets
- potato chips
- salad dressings
- seasoning mixes (ex: fajita mix, chili seasoning, taco mix)
- soy sauce
- tortilla chips (corn chips are the way to go)
- veggie dip
So obviously this is not a comprehensive list. It’s just a few of the products that initially surprised me. That said, just because one form of the product might contain gluten doesn’t mean it’s off limits forever. You can buy many of these products in gluten free form (ex: soy sauce & seasoning mixes) and you can make many of these foods on your own at home (ex: soup and french fries). So don’t worry! But do practice caution when purchasing and consuming these foods.