If you suffer from Celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten, you're likely very careful about what you put into your stomach.
Yet when you find yourself from suffering symptoms that range from gas, bloating, and headaches to blisters and intense itching of the skin, you can't help but wonder what slipped through your defenses.
Most commonly identified in bread, pasta, and muffins, gluten can also be disguised in other healthful forms of wheat including durum, kamut, farro, triticale, graham, einkorn, semolina and spelt.
Becoming a diligent label-reading detective is the key to successfully managing a gluten-free lifestyle. And it's important to note that just because a food is labeled "wheat free" doesn't mean it's also "gluten free." To be truly gluten-free, you need to know just where hidden sources of gluten may be lurking. As it turns out, it could be in some of your favorite places:
The Movie Theater
Before you order the value pack at the next Ryan Gosling flick, make sure to read the label on your favorite candy and popcorn. Many treats like Twizzlers, Jordan Almonds and Whoppers contain wheat flour and barley malt. Most movie theater popcorn is safe, but there is potential risk for cross-contamination depending on how the popcorn was transported, or if there are wheat products in the concession area.
The Breakfast Bowl
Aside from cereals being a source of gluten; oats and oatmeal can potentially be bad news. Many people living with Celiac disease react negatively to this belly-filling food. Oats are easily contaminated with gluten during harvest, storage or other stages of processing. Some oats are more toxic than others, so label reading for gluten-free varieties ensures a safer choice. Make sure your oatmeal, cereal and granola is made with gluten-free oats.
The Bento Box
Japanese restaurants are enticing with the plethora of sashimi, brown rice and edamame. However, don’t get too comfortable with your chopsticks without your gluten guard up. Many Japanese ingredients including soy, teriyaki, imitation crab and salad dressings contain wheat and MSG.
Tip: Bring your own gluten-free soy sauces and salad dressings such as San-J Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce.
Tempting Trail Mixes
Raw nuts and seeds are nutrient-dense sources of protein and a low-carb snack. Yet, pre-mixed or seasoned mixes have the potential to trigger gluten-sensitivity symptoms. Always read the label to be sure that wheat, barley or rye did not make its way into the mix. Keep your eyes peeled in the bulk bins at your local health food store.
Vegan Junk Food
Many products essential to a vegan lifestyle contain some gluten. Think fruits, veggies, and legumes. Non-meat alternatives such as veggie burgers, frozen entrees and desserts contain hidden sources of gluten. Beware of baked beans, binders, brown rice syrup, hydrolyzed plant and vegetable proteins, vital wheat gluten, seitan and TVP (textured vegetable protein).
Tip: Make your own veggie burgers using alternatives such as quinoa, navy bean flour and lentils.
The Deli Tray
The typical deli meal is laden with undercover gluten. This sticky protein can be found in lunchmeat, hot dogs, blue cheese, soups, mustard, pickles, and chips.