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Commonly Overlooked Sources of Gluten

If you’re new to a gluten-free diet, you’re probably aware you need to avoid pasta, bread, pizza, cookies and cake made from wheat, barley, rye and gluten-contaminated oats.

If you’ve made the switch to rice pasta and millet bread but you’re still getting sick, you may be eating foods containing hidden gluten. This article offers some commonly overlooked sources of gluten so you can find and eliminate them from your diet.

Enriched Rice

Enriched rice is not only unhealthy for you because its nutrients have been stripped during processing, it may also contain hidden gluten. Instead, choose organic brown rice. It is packed with nutrients and easy-to-digest fiber that will be much better for your healing gut.


This is a big one. It’s easy to remember that pizza and cake are a no-no on a gluten-free diet. But what about ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise? You wouldn’t think so, but many commercial condiments contain added gluten, which serves as a thickener or filler. Since the word “wheat” is not on the label, you believe the product is safe.

Thankfully, more and more companies are labeling their products “gluten-free”. If those words are not on the label of your favorite condiment, check the company website or make a phone call to determine if it is safe for you to eat.

Alcoholic Beverages

You might know that beer is now off-limits and wine is safe but what about mixed beverages? One of the more annoying parts of living with gluten intolerance is not being able to drink bottled mixed drinks. Most of these drinks contain barley malt, which is completely unsafe for someone with celiac.

Grain alcohols such as grain vodka, gin and rum have been known to cause negative reactions, while tequila, grape vodka and brandy are usually okay. When in doubt, always call the company or search their website.


If nothing from this list sounds familiar, the products in your bathroom, not your kitchen, might be to blame. Certain over-the-counter and prescription medications contain hidden gluten. When taking a new medication, be sure to inform your pharmacist and doctor of your gluten intolerance so he or she can recommend safe products for you.

Pop-Up Toasters

A gluten-free diet means watching out for cross-contamination. Even a tiny grain of toast on your gluten-free bread can cause a reaction. If you live in a household with others who toast wheat bread, opt for a toaster oven instead. The crumbs fall to the bottom of the oven instead of touching your gluten-free slices during toasting.

Butter and condiments are also a common source of gluten cross-contamination. Inform your family or housemates why it’s very important they use separate knives for slicing off pats of butter or spreading jam. Even small crumbs of wheat bread left in the jar or butter can cause a reaction.

Dish Soap

You may never have thought of your dish soap as a source of gluten. After all, you don’t eat it. Still, cleaning your dishes with dish soap containing alcohol can cause a reaction if the dish or utensil is not rinsed completely before use. Switch to alcohol-free dish detergent. When in doubt, call the company.

Personal Care Products

Gluten intolerance doesn’t only affect the intestines. It can affect the skin as well. If you’re still experiencing breakouts after cutting gluten from your diet, it may be the shampoo, conditioner or skin lotion you’re using. Some of these products contain grain alcohol, which can aggravate gluten-induced dermatitis.

Food Additives

Wheat, barley, rye and oats are easy enough to remember and avoid but what about food products whose labels only offer alternative names? The list below is only a small sample of food additives that may contain overlooked sources of gluten:

  • Barley Malt
  • Brewer’s Yeast
  • Cereal Binding
  • Edible Coatings
  • Films and Starches
  • Malt Flavoring
  • Artificial Color/Flavors
  • Emulsifiers
  • Modified Food Starch
  • Hydrolyzed Plant Protein
  • Vegetable Protein
  • Vegetable Starch

One of the easiest ways to avoid commonly overlooked sources of gluten is to avoid processed food. Choosing whole-food fare such as organic meats, chicken and fish, fresh vegetables and fruit, nuts and legumes and organic dairy products, will go a long way in improving the health of your damaged gut.

Going gluten-free is tough. It’s an uphill battle that can make every meal seems like a game of roulette. You’ll get there, trust me. One day you’ll get to the point where you can tell whether something is safe to eat in ten seconds or less. Meanwhile, be patient, read labels, do research, call companies and keep a food diary. You’re not alone. You’ll get through this and the vibrant health you’ll enjoy will be well worth the effort!


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