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12 Hidden Sources of Gluten You Need To Know About


When you first start the gluten-free diet, it may seem like there’s not much left you can eat. While there is a large part of processed foods you can’t eat anymore, there are still a lot of amazing options available — both naturally gluten-free and otherwise.

There is a huge importance when you’re on a strict gluten-free diet to read and re-read labels on everything food related for your safety. Many times we forget about the products that maybe we’re not eating, but could be indirectly contaminating ourselves with gluten. There are also products that are typically contaminated without much thought and even beauty products could be the reason why you’re still feeling ill.

If you think you’re on a strict gluten-free diet, but you’re still not feeling well or blood tests still show reactions you may be contaminating yourself without really realizing it. There are some common hidden sources of gluten that you may want to check into as the first possible reason you’re not feeling well even though you’re eating gluten-free.

1. Lipstick

It’s one of those make-up products that is likely going to end up in your mouth at some point. Licking your lips and eating will transfer the lipstick ingredients into your digestive system and one of those ingredients could be gluten (typically wheat or barley). You need to be sure to check the ingredients on the package and know those tricky scientific names for gluten.

2. Pet food

When it comes to removing the offending food allergen from our diet, we often take a lot of time looking at our diet, but what about your pets? Most pet foods that you can buy contain some form of gluten in it so you either need to find a grain-free variety or be extra careful in how you feed them.

3. Glue

Typically those commercial glue sticks are going to be fine, but when it comes to household glue products, you need to be careful. Those most envelope glues are derived from corn, they do have the potential to contain wheat (and they don’t come with an ingredients list) as does wallpaper glue and gluten can even be found in tile grout. While you’re likely not going to eat these products, they can be inhaled or ingested in a secondary way.

4. Hand lotion

If you have an insensitivity to gluten when ingested and not just topically, you may be able to get away with this product, but be wary. Hand lotions can contain a lot of ingredients and one often found is wheat—making it unsafe for those with celiac disease or gluten allergy.

5. French fries

If you’re a big fan of French fries, you’ll want to make sure you’re eating safely! There are a lot of fries that contain a gluten-based light breading to give them an extra crisp when they’re fried up. Also, if you’re getting your fries from a restaurant, you will want to make sure they’re not fried in the same oil as other gluten-containing products like onion rings because your food will be cross-contaminated.

6. Strengthening nail polish formula

If you’re looking for a nail polish to strengthen your manicure while strengthening your nails, there are products available to do just that. The problem is, some of those properties that make your nails strong, contain wheat or other sources of gluten. I am not sure if, when dried, if it will transfer any gluten properties, but you can’t be too safe.

7. Chips

While potato chips are made from — well, potato — the seasoning is not all the same so you need to be extra careful. Some flavorings contain gluten in their ingredients and others may not. Another word of caution — just because one brand of chips doesn’t contain gluten, doesn’t mean any brand of the same flavor is safe so read those labels!

8. Your peanut butter jar

While typically peanut butter is gluten-free, there is a huge risk of gluten contamination with your peanut butter jar. If you’re making a sandwich with peanut butter and using gluten bread, than placing the knife right back in the container — you’ve just put gluten into all of the peanut butter. You need to make sure that your being safe, so always have separate containers!

9. Shampoo and conditioner

I was surprised when I realized that not all shampoos and conditioners were made equal. Many of the higher-end salon products that I have checked out contain wheat and/or barley and when it comes to having celiac disease or gluten allergy, they’re just not safe.

10. Vegan meat substitutes

If you’re looking to go vegetarian, many of the meat substitutes that are soy-based also contain gluten. You need to make sure that you’re reading the labels and checking if it’s safe for you to eat — being free from one ingredient doesn’t mean it’s safe for everyone.

11. Items labeled “wheat free”

If something is labeled wheat free you may assume you’re safe to eat it on a gluten-free diet, but that’s risky business. Wheat free and gluten free are two different things because a product could be wheat free but contain barley, rye, or oats making it unsafe for those on a gluten-free diet.

12. Processed meats

If you’re family is a fan of pre-shaped, frozen burgers, hot dogs or deli meat you need be extra careful to check the ingredients. Many use wheat crumbs or simply list “filler” in their list which could be wheat flour or barley. There are a lot more products being put on the shelves that contain no fillers and are labeled to be gluten-free so keep your eyes out for those.

Photo credit:  adapted from Lee Cannon | Flickr 

:: Do you know of any other hidden sources? Share in the comments! ::


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Devan McGuinness

Devan McGuinness is Editor-In-Chief of the lifestyle website byDevan . Gluten-free, vegan eater, and home-schooling mother to 4, Devan believes you can have all the finer things in life -- even when you don't have a lot of time.

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