I’ve compiled a list of the food items that are considered safe and also what to look out for, where wheat or gluten may be present.
First let’s begin with what you can safely eat:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Meats, poultry and fish
- Dairy – milk, butter, cheese (except things like shredded cheese which may contain flour to prevent caking/sticking)
- Rice, quinoa, polenta, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, teff,
- Nuts (choose raw – some dry roasted and flavored may be off limits)
- Olive oil, coconut oil, coconut butter, canola oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil
- Spices (if 100% spice)
Here are some names you may see on the packaging of some foods, and what they are:
- Citric acid – usually made from corn, beet sugar or molasses. Even if made from wheat, it is so highly processed that no gluten protein would remain.
- Dextrin – a partially hydrolyzed starch that can be made from corn, potato, arrowroot, rice, tapioca or wheat. If made from wheat, it will be labeled as such and is not safe on the gluten free diet.
- Dextrose – made from rice, corn or wheat starch but is so highly processed that it is considered gluten free.
- Emulsifiers – keeps the oils suspended equally throughout the solids and is gluten-free
- Food starch – This can be made from wheat, potato, rice, corn or tapioca.
- Glucose syrup – often referred to as corn syrup
- Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein – if derived from wheat, it will be labeled as hydrolyzed wheat protein and is not gluten free.
- Lecithin – Processed foods such as bread, ice cream, margarine, salad dressing and cosmetics also contain lecithin (from the soybean, and sometimes listed as soy lecithin).
- Maltodextrin – if made in the USA is made from corn, potato or rice.
- Modified food starch – a derivative of corn, wheat, potato, rice, or tapioca, chemically altered to dissolve quickly and serve as a thickener.
- Mono and Diglycerides – fats made from oil such as soybean, cottonseed, sunflower and palm kernel oil
- MSG – also known as sodium glutamate. It is the sodium salt of glutamic acid.
- Starch hydrolysis – a complex carbohydrate found in corn, wheat, potatoes or rice.
- Triticale – a hybrid of wheat and rye.
- Whey – the liquid part of milk that is separated from solids when cheese is made.
Foods you MUST avoid:
- Wheat including but not limited to Bulgur, Coucous, Einkorn, Durum, Faro, Graham, Kamut, Matzo Meal, Semolina and Spelt.
- Barley - a grain which is also used to make malt flavoring. It can be listed as barley, barley malt or just malt. Beer, for example is made using barley. Manufacturers are not required to list barley as an ingredient so barley malt can simply be listed as “flavoring.”
- Rye – often used in sandwich bread.
- Triticale – a grain created from the crossbreeding of wheat and rye. It can be used in bread, cereal manufacturing, brewing and distilling.
- Soy sauce is usually fermented from wheat and is therefore not safe on a gluten free diet. However, there are a few GF brands – like Tamari.
Places Where Gluten May be Hidden: Gluten can be hidden in many different places. Here are some frequently overlooked foods that may OR do contain gluten:
- Beer, ale, lager, Brewer’s yeast
- Cereal, oatmeal (if processed in a facility with wheat/gluten) PLEASE note, not everyone can tolerate oatmeal, even if it is gluten-free!
- Non dairy creamer, flavored coffees
- Imitation meats and seafood (ie. seitan, Boca burgers, tofu dogs, fake crab meat)
- Processed luncheon meat, hot dogs
- Self-basting poultry
- Stuffing, dressing
- Sauces, gravies, marinades (soy sauce, Teriyaki sauce)
- Fried foods (Aside from the breaded foods – when eating out – the oil may be contaminated by what else was cooked there previously)
- Flour, breading/bread crumbs, coating mixes, crackers, Matzo, communion wafers (also anything used to thicken)
- Pastas, soba noodles, seasoned rice mixes
- Salad dressings, malt vinegar, croutons, imitation bacon
- Soup and soup bases (ie. canned soup as well as bouillion/stock)
- Vegetables in sauce
Unfortunately, I cannot say that this list is complete, partially because companies change their ingredients, but also because there are just SO many things out there that may contain wheat/gluten. However, I have tried to include as many things as I can so you’ll be better able to avoid some of the pitfalls.
Remember though, the less processed food you eat, the better off you’ll be anyway because nothing replaces good, wholesome food for keeping us healthy and feeling good!