Gluten is found in items that contain wheat, barley, and rye. It can also be found in oats that have been cross-contaminated. Knowing this can be somewhat helpful when figuring out which food items may or may not be appropriate if you are on a gluten free diet.
Unfortunately, there are also many sources of hidden gluten, such as in some sauces & salad dressings. Although manufacturers are required to disclose ingredients such as peanuts and wheat (the latter of which contains gluten), they do not need to disclose barley, rye, and the other hidden sources of gluten. Not surprisingly, there are also no requirements for manufacturers to list the word, “gluten,” on their labels. You have to learn how to read food labels properly to identify possible sources of gluten.
What is interesting to note is that the term “gluten free” can be used in the U.S.A. when a product contains less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. This is the level found to be where most celiacs do not experience symptoms or experience further damage to their intestines.
Here’s a list of some naturally-occurring foods that are allowed in a gluten free diet:
- Fruits and veggies
- Meat, fish and poultry that has not been coated with bread crumbs or made in batter.
- Most dairy
- Unprocessed seeds
- Unprocessed beans
- Unprocessed nuts
- Some rice
Here are foods that you can almost guarantee are made out of wheat & therefore contain gluten (unless they specifically say that they are gluten free):
- Flour (white, whole wheat, bread)
Here are other terms that you may not recognize but most certainly mean the presence of gluten:
Gluten can be found in a number of foods, including the following (unless they specifically say that they are gluten free):
- Canned soups
- Some candies and chocolates
- Soy sauce
- Hot dogs
- Processed foods
- Some medications, vitamins, and supplements
Of course, these are not comprehensive lists, but it gives you an idea of how many food items contain gluten. Fortunately, there are still many food items that do not contain gluten, or are below the threshold of 20 ppm. The surest way to find out if gluten is in a food item is to contact the manufacturer directly.
The key is to be patient as you learn and build your knowledge of what you can & cannot eat. It’s normal to make some mistakes when beginning to follow a gluten free diet. However, you can take comfort knowing that your health is only going to get better, from here on out!