First, to all my friends and family who try to prepare foods that I can eat, thank you. Please please please do not be offended if you see me not eating the food you have provided at whatever gathering we are at. It’s not meant to be an insult. Yes, I know you took the time to make your recipe with no gluten in it, so I should be able to dive right in and eat it, right? Sadly, I can’t take that risk. I’ve done so in the past and wound up sick for three days. What you might not understand about being unable to digest gluten is that it’s not just if the ingredients are gluten free, the pots/pans/plates/utensils have to be as well. Plus some ingredients (seasonings, sauces, etc) can have ingredients you might not even realize are gluten containing. All it takes is one plastic spoon that’s been used with non gluten-free pancake batter to stir your gluten free dish and there’s a possibility of cross contamination.
What Foods Have Gluten?
Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley and any foods made with these grains.
Avoiding wheat can be especially hard because this means you should avoid all wheat-based flours and ingredients. These include but are not limited to:
Whole Wheat Flour
Common foods that are usually made with wheat include:
Oats (see the section on oats below)
This may seem like a long list, but there are still plenty of gluten-free foods out there! Choose from many fresh, healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, dairy, nuts and gluten-free grains like quinoa or rice. There are also gluten-free versions of many of the foods above available in most grocery stores. You just have to look for them!
You may not expect it, but the following foods can also contain gluten:
broth in soups and bouillon cubes
breadcrumbs and croutons
some lunch meats and hot dogs
modified food starch
seasoned chips and other seasoned snack foods
seasoned rice and pasta mixes
There are also many addititves and ingredients in packaged foods that may contain gluten. Always check labels and ingredient lists for these. For a more comprehensive list of gluten-containing additives, contact your local celiac support group.
Other Tips to Remember
Don’t forget that ingredients in food products change frequently, so always check the label before buying packaged foods.
Remember that “wheat-free” does not automatically mean “gluten-free.” While a product may not contain wheat, it can still contain rye or barley in some form.
If you have any question about whether a food contains gluten, contact the manufacturer directly.
The Fuss About Oats
Pure oats are a gluten-free food, but most commercially processed oats have been contaminated during the growing, harvesting or processing stages. In the past, many experts recommended completely avoiding oats those on a gluten-free diet in addition to wheat, barley, and rye. Now, some oats are grown and processed separately, and can be labeled “gluten-free.”
Many people with celiac disease are still advised to avoid oats initially. However, oats can help provide fiber and other important nutrients. Over time, most people with celiac can reintroduce pure oats in small amounts (about 1/2 cup of dry oats per day) without any trouble.
So, as you can see, it’s not a walk in the park to be gluten free, there are so many foods out there that can be dangerous to someone with Celiac Disease.
Again, thank you for taking the time to try and make gluten free food for me, but please know that while I appreciate the effort, it’s just not worth the risk for me. My kitchen has two sets of everything, one set for my son to use with things that have gluten, and my set that never gets touched by gluten. It’s just how it has to be. I’d much rather be able to go out and eat whatever is placed in front of me, trust me.