Hidden Gluten Sources

by Terri Paajanen

You’ve discovered that you can no longer stomach any gluten in your diet, and now you have to weed out all the new forbidden foods. At first it may seem like a horribly daunting task but if you pay attention to everything you eat (you know, eating mindfully) then its really not that bad. I speak from personal experience.

unexpected sources of gluten in foods
OK, so bread isn’t that unexpected

First of all, there is the obvious things that will have to go. All conventionally-made pasta, bread, buns, crackers, crusts, cookies and pretty much all other kinds of baked goods are now off your menu unless they are made with gluten-free ingredients. You will also have to watch out for most breakfast cereals as well, though there are several major brands made with corn or rice that are fine. Anything breaded, like chicken nuggets or fish sticks, will probably have to go as well.

The problem is the hidden gluten, in products that you don’t associate with wheat or bread. Of course, its always good to read the ingredients on everything but these are the things you can easily forget about.

Processed Meats
This one tripped me up a few times, when I had symptoms even after ditching my hamburger bun. The patties had wheat flour as the fourth ingredient, so now we make our own from 100% ground beef instead. Not all processed meat products will be a problem, but the lower quality ones (the cheap ones) often have bread crumbs or just wheat flour as a filler. Hamburger patties, hot dogs, and sandwich meats like baloney are all potential gluten disasters. Vegetarian ones are even worse because they have more non-meat fillers in them.

This also goes for any frozen entrees that have meat in them. Even ones that don’t contain bread crumbs or pasta can have flour mixed in as a meat filler. Shepherd’s pie, for example, that is just beef with a mashed potato topping almost always has flour in it when purchased as a frozen dish.

Canned Soups
It may be obvious to ditch the ones with noodles or pasta but any soup with a thick broth is likely loaded with wheat flour. Chunky stews with just beef and potatoes, for example or just a simple cream of mushroom soup. All have to be avoided. Some rice soups will be ok.

Gravy or Sauce Powders
Any instant gravy powder is likely to have flour in it though some brands use potato starch instead. This one may seem a little obvious but it is easy to overlook the gravy when you are focusing on the main foods of a meal.

Potato Chips
Chips that are made from actual potatoes are generally fine, but any that are flavored with a powdery coating (like a sour cream and onion) may have flour in the flavoring. It may not be enough to bother you, that will depend on your sensitivity. It will give me symptoms. Also, watch out for “chips” that are not made from slices of potatoes. Brands like Sun Chips or Pringles have flour in them. And of course, stay away from pretzels.

A Few Others
Real soy sauce is made with wheat though the artificial stuff is fine. Some salad dressings and seasoning mixes can have flour in them, and you also need to watch out for instant rice side-dish packets. Some will have flour in the seasoning and some actually have pasta in them along with the rice.

Your Kitchen
Yep, that’s right. You can accidentally contaminate your food right in your own kitchen. If you are serving regular bread to someone and then use that knife to slice some fruit for yourself, you can end up with bread crumbs on your fruit. That may not be enough to set everyone off but if you do that 2 or 3 times a day, that may account for your mystery symptoms. Watch the cutlery, plates and cutting boards in your kitchen.

These are just a few that may trip you up, so don’t consider this an exhaustive list. I will post a longer one (with less chatting) later with more specific foods that can be a problem.

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