If you are one of the more than 2 million Americans suffering from celiac disease, the only way to relieve your symptoms and treat your disease is to avoid all gluten. This can be harder than you think. Although it isn't difficult to search labels for the most common gluten sources -- wheat, barley and rye -- foods can often contain hidden sources of gluten. Learning more about the foods that potentially contain these hidden gluten sources is essential for avoiding gluten and the damage it can cause.
Some commonly used food additives contain gluten. These include modified food starch, malt flavoring, autolyzed yeast, brewer's yeast, seasoning, flavoring, thickeners, maltodextrin, artificial color, caramel color and cereal binding. Look carefully at the ingredients of any processed food you purchase for these additives. Choosing mainly minimally processed and whole foods can help you avoid these ingredients and the hidden gluten they contain.
Baked Goods and Snack Foods
Commercially prepared baked goods and snack foods also often contain gluten, since they are usually made with refined wheat flour. Unless they are labelled gluten free, avoid cakes, crackers, pies, cookies, breads, cereals, croutons, french fries, dry-roasted nuts, ice cream, frosting, licorice, candies, puddings and chocolate. Look for corn chips, sorbet, popcorn, potato chips, nuts, gelatin and rice cakes that don't contain additives.
Sauces and Soups
Sauces and soups are sometimes thickened with gluten-containing ingredients, making them common sources of hidden gluten. Avoid vegetables in sauce, soups, soup bases, soy sauce, salad dressings, gravies, marinades, sauces, broth and bouillon. Instead, make your soups, dressings and sauces from scratch using whole foods or choose brands labelled gluten free.
Other Processed Foods
Avoid buying imitation meats, imitation seafood, pastas, beer, ale, processed luncheon meats, self-basting poultry, seasoned rice mixes, sausages, meat loaf, stuffing, vegetarian burgers, baked beans, herbal tea and blue cheese crumbles, as these are other hidden sources of gluten. Unprocessed red meat, poultry, seafood, plain beans, plain corn, plain rice and eggs are gluten free, so choose these instead.
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.