Commonly Overlooked Sources of Gluten

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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!


About Author: Jaime A. Heidel
  • Beth

    I would like to point out that gluten-free oats are safe for the majority of people with celiac disease. You need to read the label on “gluten-free” products that contain oats to ensure they are using gluten-free ones.

    As you pointed out, bottled mixed drinks can be a problem but distilled alcohol drinks, even the grain ones – vodka, gin, rum, are OK.

  • admin

    Thank you for your comment, Beth. According to what I’ve researched, certain vodkas and gins cause reactions in people with gluten intolerance. It’s the same with rum, since these alcohols are distilled from grain. Vodka made from potato or grape is generally regarded as safe, however.

    Yes, gluten-free oats are safe. I’ve eaten them for years. I made a few changes to the article so it’s a bit clearer.

    Thank you again.


  • rohit

    i am now 25.from 17 onwards i suffered serious “silent handicap” disease. i now discovered that food it is milk.i cant even have adrop of milk or diary products.i had sweaty palms but when i stopped taking diary products it stopped.could you pleease explain the symptoms and how to control my diet.i am from kerala india.i suffered p follicultus and ow i am completely bald.please help.

  • admin

    I’m sorry this has happened to you. I understand how hard it is to have mystery symptoms and not be able to figure out the cause. Were you diagnosed with p follicultus? I kept losing my hair for a while because of my gluten intolerance. That type of hair loss is called Telogen Effluvium. Then again, lactose intolerance could have caused your follicultus.

    For lactose intolerance this severe, you have to avoid any and all lactose products. This doesn’t mean just milk, it means anything with lactose in it. Here’s a good list:

    I would also suggest seeing a holistic doctor if you’re able.

    I wish you the best with this. I know it isn’t easy.


  • Mallory Molineu

    The toaster! I’m going to have to run out and get a new one. Thank you.