When you are first going gluten-free, it’s really hard to wrap your head around just exactly what gluten is… where is it found? What foods do you need to avoid when you are avoiding gluten? Knowing the names of gluten and where they hide the most in common foods is essential to going gluten-free and sticking with a gluten-free diet.
I’ve covered on my blog the hidden sources of gluten – some of the many hiding places in ingredients lists that you can expect to find gluten, but in today’s blog post, we’re going to cover the names of gluten that you’ll want to be on the lookout for. These are foods that may not say “gluten” on them, but definitely do contain gluten.
But first, what is gluten anyway?
Gluten is simply a general name for the proteins that are found in wheat, spelt, barley and rye. It is the glue that holds foods together and helps maintain their shape.
Now, let’s talk about the names of gluten that you’ll want to be on the lookout for. These are the names that you want to read ingredient lists for or look for any packaged products with these names. These are the ones to avoid on a gluten-free diet.
When you turn over any packaged product there will be an ingredient list. You can look for any of these words and you’ll know that it has gluten in it.
The Names of Gluten
- Modified food starch
- Natural flavors
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- Soy sauce
- White vinegar
- Malt vinegar
- Barley enzymes
Wheat, barley, rye, spelt, bran, flour, modified food starch, natural flavors, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, soy sauce, distilled vinegar*, malt vinegar, farina, durum, semolina, glucose (which I found interesting and surprising), barley enzymes, maltodextrin (it will say wheat if it’s made from wheat), and oats (unless specified as gluten-free).
When it comes to vinegar, there are differing sources of information out there on this. Some sources say that all vinegar is gluten-free as long as it doesn’t contain malt, while others say that pure distilled vinegar is gluten-free and if wheat protein is contained in vinegar, the label will say it contains gluten. I say do some research on whatever brand you use – and if you start finding that you’re reacting to vinegar, to swap brands or remove it from your diet for the short-term to see if it helps alleviate any symptoms.
Some folks often ask me if oats are gluten-free, and the answer is yes and no. Although oats are naturally gluten-free, they are often cross-contaminated while they’re being processed in factories. That means if you are super sensitive to gluten, its probably best to avoid them, unless they have a gluten- free label on them, or if they say somewhere on the packaging that they are processed on dedicated gluten-free machinery. If you’re not super sensitive to even the smallest gluten traces, you may find that you’re okay to enjoy oats – even if they aren’t labeled as gluten-free – without any issues.
So where do these names of gluten hide the most?
Some of these places may be obvious sources of gluten, while others may surprise you…
Remember, this list is NOT an exhaustive or complete list, just simply a jumping off point for you to see the possibilities for where gluten may be in the foods you’ve been eating and you weren’t aware. Don’t assume that if a food didn’t make this list that its gluten-free always always ALWAYS read ingredient lists when you’re eating a gluten-free diet so you can ensure that you’re sticking with it. Labels don’t always give you the full story.
- Baking powder (check the ingredient list!)
- Blue cheese
- Caramel coloring
- Beer, ale, scotch, bourbon, grain vodka
- Gravy and stock (boullion) cubes
- Lunch and deli meat
- Potato chips
- Sauces, salad dressings, and marinades
- Soy sauce (unless wheat-free tamari)
- White or malt vinegar
- Bacon or jerky
- BBQ sauce
- Rice or pasta mixes
- Instant potatoes
You’ll see that the biggest offenders of where gluten are found in everyday foods are in many breakfast foods, in breaded and fried foods, a lot of pre-made and packaged foods, and within a lot of foods that have additional flavorings – like sauces, soups, gravy, and pasta mixes.
While it can seem daunting to search out all the hidden gluten in your diet while you’re making the transition to a gluten-free diet, it isn’t impossible. I hope that this list has given you some great places to start searching for those lurking sources and you can get on track with your gluten-free diet once and for all.
If you want to learn more about how to cut gluten out of your diet for good, I’d love to invite you to check out my signature course, GFDF Living for Beginners. I’ll teach you how to go gluten and dairy-free with ease – starting at the basics, and show you what’s safe and how to stick with this diet for the long-term. For more details and to enroll, click here or the image below.
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