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A Few Facts on What's Off Limits for Celiac & Gluten Sensitive People

[ Don't let the Gluten get ya! ]

When it's imperative to follow a strict gluten free diet, life can get rather dicey the it comes to food consumption. Daily living with constantly navigating the gluten free maze can leave anyone often drained and confused. Gluten is a tricky tricky little guy who loves to hid in so many of the foods we eat, especially the foods we'd never suspect! Gluten can be found in foods from seasonings and meats to packaged and processed foods.

Let's clear up a few of those funky food conundrums!

[ Many of us are as confused as this little guy when it comes to gluten ingredients! ]

Maltodextrin, what is it and why we need to avoid it. Maltodextrin is an anti-caking agent used in processed foods, as a thickener and a binding agent to carry other flavors. It's derived from corm, wheat, potatoes or rice. It can appear on our food labels as Wheat Maltodextrin or Maltodextrin ( wheat ). However, maltodextrin is so highly processed that the starch has been 'purified' which makes it acceptable for those with celiac or gluten issues.

Barley Malt and barley malt extract and barley syrup are one and the same and are often use interchangeably for flavoring and colorings as well as their ability to add crunch to foods like cereals, cookies and crackers. All of these ingredients contain gluten.

Dextrin, like its sibling maltodextrin is a starch also used as thickeners and stabilizers in processed foods and some medications. Dextrin can be made from rice, potato, corn (watch out for those with corn allergies), tapioca sorghum or wheat. Dextrin is partially processed so the gluten content remains high for those with celiac or gluten intolerances. Packages are labeled as Dextrin (wheat) or wheat dextrin or just wheat.

Spices and seasonings can be another tricky food item to circumvent. You're safe with single ingredient spices, but its the spice blends and seasoning blends (like taco mix) where you can run into trouble because they have multiple ingredients that may contain gluten. Some of the labled ingredients are wheat flour, hydrolyzed wheat protein, malted barley flour and even bread crumbs. All of these ingredients are off limits for wheat/gluten specialized diets. In the U.S. companies aren't required to label barley ( a gluten containing grain) to be listed as a gluten ingredient.

[ These were a favorite of Violet's but she knows now to be more careful with her labels. ]

[ Vinegar's a big one for Violet too. A major opps! It happens. Don't be too hard on yourself just be careful and thoroughly read those labels! ]

[ Violet can't believe the goof she had with sausage meat! ]

[ "But Niki... where are your pants girl?!" :() I don't know, maybe she's too hot! LOL ]

Meat is certainly safe right? Not exactly! The USDA doesn't require that wheat, barley or other starch ingredients be labeled as gluten-containing on the label list for meats. If you are buying processed meats like luncheon meat, sausages and burger patties, ( if there is one available) ask the local store butcher about that's actually in these meats. If there's no one available, carefully read the labels and look for the ingredients listed in this post. You can also contact the companies to further inquirer about a meat product. I personally prefer to buy my own good quality meat (Costco has organic ground beef, along with many other stores ) and make my own burger patties. As for sausages, I've slipped up a times and forgot to stay on top of my label reading [ It happens! :() ] with sausages and paid the price!! :()

[ Clawdie & Roxy both avoid gluten and with Clawdie's asthma vinegar is a major trigger! ]

Vinegars can be safe for celiac/gluten suffers if you stick to ones like Balsamic or Rice wine vinegar, Apple Cider vinegar or Distilled white and red vinegar and wine vinegars.

Always look for Distilled on the vinegar label because the gluten protein will have been removed in the distilling process. If you like to use seasoned or blended vinegars be careful to read the labels in case gluten ingredients are added. Malt Vinegar is off limits because like in its name it's made from barley.

Sourdough bread has be touted as safe for celiacs in the past but has just caused more confusion. Sourdough bread made from Gluten containing grains ( wheat, rye, spelt ) are NOT safe for those with celiac or gluten sensitivities! There are however, sourdough breads that are made from gluten free grains which are safe for celiacs. Make sure they are labeled gluten free.

Beer can be another trap in the war against gluten! :() Most beer is made with barley, wheat, and rye. But, there are a number of micro breweries that offer gluten free beer made from sorghum, millet, quinoa, buckwheat or rice grains. These are the best choices for those with celiac or gluten intolerances.

There are beers that are made from barley, or wheat which have managed to remove the gluten; or that's how it's marketed. But if you are medically required to steer clear of gluten it is best to stay away from 'gluten removed' beers, as their safety cannot be guaranteed.

[ Vanessa discovered smoke flavoring was being used in some of their foods, and it's loaded with Asthma & allergy flaring ingredients and artificial ingredients! How did this one slip through?!! :() ]

Smoke flavoring. I ran into a wall with this one! Smoke flavorings can contain any number of ingredients to create the smoky flavor. Now some of the smoke flavors derive their smoke from real sources like fish, veggies, meats, eggs and spices, but others use artificial flavors. If the label lists 'natural flavors' or artificial flavors bit the exact contents are unclear, especially for gluten you should stay away from it.

If your'e using a powdered version of smoke flavoring beware because malted barley barley flour may be added but not declared on the label. If you are unsure about any smoke flavoring you can again contact the company ( companies are used to it these days ) or just steer clear of the product.

Spelt is another myth that's been floating around to be safe for those with celiac ar gluten issues. Some processed foods are made wit spelt flour yet are still listed as gluten free which is not accurate and can lead to confusion and bloated tummies or worse! Spelt is an ancient WHEAT grain that dates back thousands of years. Other ancient wheat forms are Kamut, Einkorn and Emmer. These are ALL forms of wheat and spelt in particular contains high levels of gluten. Lay low and far from these touted gluten free or safe grains.

Wheat starch is another ingredient that's confusing people. Depending on how it's processed, it can contain higher or lower levels of gluten. This starch is extracted from wheat flour, so regardless of how it's processed its wheat. Watch out for claims on gluten free foods because depending on How it's processed these's no proof that there's less than 20 ppm ( parts per million) of gluten. Don't worry about the ppm's just avoid wheat starch! :()

Grab your glasses or use the magnifier on your smart phones to really dig into those ingredient labels. The print can be excruciatingly small and confusing. So arm yourselves with this understanding of wheat labeling and shop with care. Shop smarter!!

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