Monday, May 11, 2009

Exposing Hidden Gluten

So, you’re going along, doing your gluten free thing, but you think you should be feeling a lot better than you do. Or maybe you’re still having symptoms even though you’ve stripped your kitchen of wheat and all the other “bad” grains. What’s going on? Well, it could be hidden gluten, that nefarious little protein is lurking somewhere – you just need to flush it out. Look into some of these more common sources of hidden gluten and see if they sound familiar.

Toasters, grills, toaster ovens, bagel cutters…do you toast regular bread in your toaster, and then throw in your carefully baked GF bread? There could be teeny weeny wheaty crumbs sticking to the inside of your toaster. Either invest in a dedicated toaster just for GF use, or try toast sleeves.

Same for grills, toaster ovens, panini makers, even bagel cutters. Make sure you use a cutting board just for your GF foods or wash the family’s cutting board well before using it.

Peanut butter, Mayo, etc…One of the biggest hiders of crumbs is the infamous peanut butter jar. Your family makes a pbj, dipping the knife in and out of the peanut butter and jelly, depositing little crumbs just waiting to jump on your knife when you go to make your GF PBJ. You need a dedicated peanut butter jar, just for you. Same with jelly, jam, mayonnaise, Nutella (tell your family that you NEED your own Nutella jar!) tub margarine or butter and other jars and tubs. Lots of products now come in squeeze bottles, so that’s a good option, too.

Products that you wouldn’t think would have gluten in them sometimes do. Soy sauce is almost always made from wheat. Some ready-to-spread frostings and whipped toppings contain gluten, as well as tomato sauces and pastes. Some spices and spice blends may have gluten, and sometimes corn tortillas have wheat in them. You must be diligent and look at labels each time you buy them. Some products may change ingredients over time (i.e.: Pringles used to be GF, but now they’re not).

Many medications and vitamins contain gluten; if you’re not sure, ask the pharmacist. Some health and beauty products, like lip balm and moisturizer, also hide gluten. Check the label, but if there’s no info, go to the web site. Most companies have it listed somewhere on their site.

Thanks to GFers like us, more and more companies are listing ingredients and/or labeling products as containing gluten or gluten free. Be a label detective and you should be fine.


Jill said...

Yesterday I bought a cookie at the health-food store that was labeled "wheat free". I'd taken two bites in the car, and at a stop light I read the ingredients. 2nd one listed was "barley flour" and that's when I learned that "wheat free" does not mean "gluten free"! :)

trish said...

Isn't that frustrating? Did it make you sick?