9 Things You Probably Didn't Realize Contain Gluten

If you or someone you love just received a diagnosis of celiac disease, gluten allergy or other gluten intolerance, you might feel overwhelmed as you adjust to a new diet. When making food choices, reading labels carefully is essential. Gluten can be found in many places you may not expect it.

1. Condiments

The wrong condiment can ruin your gluten-free meal, so choose wisely. For example, many dressings and sauces use wheat products as thickeners.

Malt vinegar is derived from barley, so it is not gluten-free, nor are any products that contain it. Pickles are fine if they are pickled in distilled vinegar, but not malt vinegar. Worcestershire sauce generally contains malt vinegar, so look for a gluten-free brand.

Soy sauce, despite the name, contains wheat as well as soy. Like Worcestershire sauce, though, it does come in gluten-free varieties.

2. Rice and Oats

Is rice gluten free or not? The answer is normally yes. Rice is a popular gluten-free grain, but factories and equipment that process rice often process wheat, barley and rye as well, which can lead to cross-contamination.

The same is true for oats. When purchasing oats, rice, quinoa or other grains, your safest options are the ones labeled as gluten-free.

3. Processed Meats

Meat may sound safe enough, but deli meats, sausages and hot dogs sometimes include wheat as a filler.

Another surprising source of gluten is imitation crab meat. Often used in seafood salad and some types of sushi, imitation crab is made of fish held together with wheat starch.

4. French Fries

Even if you can’t enjoy the onion rings or fried chicken at your favorite restaurant, surely the french fries are safe, right? Unfortunately, many restaurants fry their french fries in the same oil as breaded items. Before ordering fries, ask if they are cooked in a separate fryer. If not, it’s safest to skip them.

5. Potato Chips

Like french fries, chips may seem safe because they’re made of potatoes. Usually, the chips themselves are fine; it’s the flavoring you need to watch out for, as some seasonings contain gluten.

6. Candy and Gum

Many candies contain wheat starch or barley malt. Unsafe candies include most licorice and many popular chocolate bars. Fortunately, there are many gluten-free candy options as well. If you have a small child with gluten intolerance, be extra careful around holidays like Halloween, and make sure your child knows not to eat a new candy without checking with you.

7. Alcoholic Beverages

Many popular beverages contain gluten. This includes many alcoholic beverages, such as beer, which is made from wheat or barley. While wine is generally safe, wine coolers are not, because they usually contain malt liquor. Distilled spirits are generally considered gluten-free because the distillation process removes the gluten, but some people still have adverse reactions to them, so proceed with caution.

8. Ice Cream

You probably already know to avoid ice cream flavors with cake, cookie or brownie bits, but even flavors without those ingredients sometimes contain gluten starches.

If you go to an ice cream shop, you need to be extra careful. If the shop uses the same scoop for multiple flavors, your ice cream might be cross-contaminated. Confirm that your chosen flavor is gluten-free and ask the server to use a clean scoop for your order.

9. Your Pots and Pans

Even though they’re not edible, your kitchen utensils, bowls and pans merit a spot on this list because they are potential sources of gluten contamination if your household is not entirely gluten-free.

Porous items, such as cast-iron pans, wooden cutting boards and wooden spoons, present the greatest risk. Keep a separate set of these items exclusively for gluten-free cooking. Plastic and non-stick items can get scratched, and the scratches can harbor contaminants, so it’s best not to share those either. Glass and stainless steel are safer, but you should still wash them thoroughly before each use.

Final Thoughts

Adjusting to a gluten-free lifestyle is difficult. In time, however, you will learn new habits to help you identify safe foods and foods to avoid.