Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and select other grains, can cause discomfort for those with gluten intolerance. When these people eat gluten, they can experience issues in their digestive tract that can affect how their bodies absorb food.
While some gluten-containing foods like wheat, bread or pasta are easy to spot, other foods you wouldn’t expect can also contain gluten. Gluten is so common in the United States that it often shows up in foods you may not even consider carbohydrates.
If you are sensitive to gluten or simply want to live a gluten-free lifestyle, make sure to steer clear of what may be sneaky gluten-containing foods.
Corn doesn’t contain gluten, so you might think a bowl of cornflakes in the morning is a good gluten-free cereal option. However, many corn- and rice-based cereals often contain malt extract or flavoring. Malt does contain gluten, so you’ll need to read the ingredients list carefully before choosing your favorite breakfast cereal.
Even oats or some granolas can contain gluten, so it’s always important to check the labels. Luckily, many cereals are now labeled gluten-free right on the front of the box. Locate these boxes in the cereal aisle to find a nutritious breakfast.
How can a sauce made of soy possibly contain gluten? Unfortunately, many soy sauces are thickened with wheat flour. Many Asian-inspired sauces like teriyaki or sweet-and-sour sauce can also contain gluten. Even though each serving only has a small amount of gluten, it may still be enough to affect a sensitive digestive tract. Not all soy sauces use flour, so always be sure to read the label first.
Cream sauces like alfredo or even the sauce on macaroni and cheese may also be thickened with flour. Carefully check the ingredients in any recipes or on any products before eating these items. You may be able to use gluten-free corn starch, arrowroot or tapioca flour to thicken these sauces without losing the creamy texture you enjoy.
Many fried foods are breaded and battered, typically in a batter that contains wheat. Whether it is breadcrumbs or Panko breading, fried foods are often coated in a layer of gluten-containing ingredients. Avoid fried foods when you are eating out, to avoid gluten.
If you are battering and frying a food at home, you can use cornmeal, gluten-free cornflake crumbs or crushed rice cereal instead.
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Salad dressings, especially those with tangy flavors, can contain malt vinegar or soy sauce. Always check to make sure your chosen salad dressing is free of these ingredients.
Instead of a prepared salad dressing, you can always use olive oil and distilled vinegar. If you are looking for a creamier dressing, be sure to read labels carefully and keep in mind that many salad dressing manufacturers do not test their products for the presence of gluten.
Vegetarian Food Products
Some veggie burgers, imitation bacon and meat-free sausage are made with seitan, a type of wheat gluten. Before purchasing these products, check for seitan and other gluten-containing ingredients.
You can also use tofu for meatless options. It is made of soy, not wheat, and it is gluten-free.
Soups, especially those that are cream-based, may also use wheat as a thickener. Whether you are purchasing soup at the store or in a restaurant, you’ll need to figure out if your soup contains gluten.
When making soup at home, consider using corn starch, arrowroot or tapioca flour as a thickening agent instead. You can also stick to broth-based soups that may not use any thickeners.
Beer, full of barley, rye and wheat, isn’t the only alcoholic beverage that may contain gluten. Malt beverages like hard lemonades or other flavored beverages may also contain gluten.
If you choose to drink alcohol, you can find gluten-free beers in many stores across the country. Wine and distilled liquors like vodka and rum are also gluten-free.
Thanks to increased awareness of gluten sensitivity, it is easier than ever before to eat gluten-free. New products, better labels and improved food processing makes it easier to find options that are safe for people with gluten sensitivity. By avoiding tricky gluten-containing foods, you’ll be able to steer clear of this sneaky protein.
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