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The gluten free trend is massively increasing in popularity in the UK and the US. Many people are choosing to remove gluten from their diets either because they think it is healthier, or because of an intolerance or Coeliac disease.
Coeliac disease is a digestive condition, where gluten causes the immune system to attack the small intestine. This means that nutrients cannot be absorbed as effectively, leading to deficiencies, weight loss and fatigue. Gluten intolerance and sensitivity are different to Coeliac disease in that the immune system isn’t involved, but they carry the same symptoms.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. It is used to help food keep it’s shape. Avoiding gluten can be a tricky problem as it is found in so many staple foods. Anything obviously containing wheat is off the table, such as bread, pastries, cakes and pasta. However, gluten is also found in many foods that you might not expect. Here are 9 foods that you might not realise contain gluten.
Oats, themselves, are gluten free. However, most oats are contaminated with gluten, either by being grown near to wheat, barley or rye, or by being processed and having flour added to them. Rolled oats, steel cut oats and instant oats will all be at risk of containing gluten. Fortunately, it is possible to buy gluten free oats, which may also be branded as pure oats.
2. Soy Sauce
Soy sauce almost always contains wheat as a thickener. However, gluten free soy sauce can be bought online. We use this gluten free soy sauce by Kikkoman.
Most plain chocolate does not contain gluten, but you’ll need to check the ingredients list for boxes of chocolates. If you’re in the UK, Thorntons do many gluten free chocolate boxes.
Crisps are a product that don’t usually contain gluten, but are at risk of contamination, so aren’t usually considered gluten free. There are many crisp brands out there that do gluten free crisps. If you’re in the UK, Seabrook crisps are all gluten free and come in a range of flavours.
Like soy sauce, gravy and stock cubes often contains wheat to thicken the sauce. This includes gravy granules as well as gravy bought as a sauce, although there are some gluten free gravy and gluten free options in supermarkets.
Sausages, meat and vegetarian, often contain wheat. Burgers and other processed meats can also contain gluten, as well as many meat free products, such as mince and chicken pieces. Some gluten free sausages are available in supermarkets and they tend to be the more expensive, higher % meat options. A lot of the Quorn products are gluten free, and they even do gluten free sausages, but remember to always check the ingredients list to make sure.
7. Anything fried
Gluten free foods may be fried in the same oils as foods containing gluten. When you’re frying at home, this isn’t a problem, but when you’re eating out it is important to ask if there is a designated gluten free fryer to avoid contamination.
8. Ice Cream
Yep, ice cream can contain gluten! Before you get too upset, most ice creams that you buy at the supermarket won’t contain gluten – just read the ingredients lists to make sure. But, ice cream from ice cream parlours or ice cream vans may contain wheat as a thickener, so you will need to ask. In my experience, staff in ice cream vans don’t tend to understand or know what gluten is, whereas staff in restaurants and ice cream shops are more aware of allergens.
Most beers are made from wheat or barley, making them unsuitable for people trying to avoid gluten. However, there are a few gluten free beer brands that you can buy in supermarkets and online. Pubs are less likely to stock gluten free beer, but it’s always worth asking.
Whether you have Coeliac disease or not, avoiding gluten can be very difficult; however, it is not impossible. Reading ingredients lists and asking staff at restaurants and cafes are essential. If you’re from the UK and have Coeliac disease, you can sign up to CoeliacUK, where they have a regularly updated directory of gluten free food, including all the food you can buy in any UK supermarket. While the subscription isn’t free, it isn’t expensive and is worth it to keep up to date on gluten free food.
Images taken from Pixabay.com