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12 Surprising Foods That Likely Contain Hidden Gluten

Are you trying to stay away from gluten?

Gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye and barley?

Known for its sticky function resulting in elasticity of dough and chewiness of baked products?


Why to avoid gluten?


People who are gluten sensitive should avoid gluten as much as they can because of the severe abdominal pain, extreme fatigue and other pains and symptoms experienced when eating gluten. People with autoimmune celiac disease have to stay completely away from gluten at all times or they will damage their small intestines.


Hidden gluten


It is good to know that gluten is not only found in the obvious wheat- rye- and barley-products but also in some foods that might just surprise you:


  1. Oats

Oats are a special case. While oats in their pure form contain no gluten reality shows that there is almost always cross-contamination with gluten during the oat’s production process.


  1. Sushi

Yes! Sushi! Especially the one with crab meat can contain it since the crab meat is usual ‘thickened’ with gluten.


  1. Ready-made salad dressings

That’s what makes dressings so nice and thick contains gluten – the thickener. Home-made dressings are an easy to control alternative.


  1. Baked beans

Beans contain gluten? There is no wheat, barley or rye in beans. Well, not in the bean itself but a thickener in the baked beans processed product contains gluten.


  1. Licorice

I know, it is very sad, but licorice candy contains wheat. All of them; the red and the black, the sweet and the salty ones. Only if labeled ‘gluten free’ are there some safe alternatives.


  1. Processed Meat

Sausages, hot dogs, deli- and luncheon meats all fall under the category of processed foods. They often contain flour for texture, as filler and for thickening purposes.


  1. Soy sauce

Unfortunately, wheat is part of the production process of soy sauce. So it can contain wheat. It is necessary to check the label carefully.


  1. French fries

This one is a little bit tricky since french fries are actually gluten free. But reality shows that it happens that your french fries are dipped in the same frying oil as breaded onion rings or hush puppies. To be sure; better ask before you order.


  1. Gravy

In Restaurants gravies can be made with flour and many instant gravy packets contain gluten as well. At home, you can use cornstarch as a thickener. Away from home, it might be best to skip the gravy.


  1. Chocolates

Oh no! Oh no! Why chocolates? Chocolate contains wonderfully sticking thickeners that contain gluten. And even the pure cocoa should have no gluten there is a big risk of cross-contamination


  1. Wheat free products

Wheat free does not equal gluten free. We have to be careful with this. Wheat free products can still contain barley or rye.


  1. Vitamins and medications

That might come as a surprise as well but it has a very similar explanation as many of the products above: a substance that sticks and glues the pills together – gluten


Do you see the common themes here?

There is always cross-contamination to consider!

And thickeners are likely to contain gluten!

So as a rule of thumb; be aware of thickeners and cross-contamination

to be aware of hidden gluten.

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Hi I'm Ilka, a self-development writer and lovable scientist with a knowledgeable expertise in brain science. I help people realize the power our behavior has on our brain - and the other way around.

Ella - April 9, 2015

Hey Ilka!

A fantastic list. Thank you!

I didn’t know that this autoimmune disease is so serious. It looks that it is quite hard be totally gluten free. So your list is a great help 🙂

    simplyilka - April 10, 2015

    Thank you Ella! There is so much information out there but I thought it is good to point out where to be careful 🙂

Sue Bamford - July 24, 2015

I found this very interesting. I usually eat baked beans with no problem. They’re supposed to be gluten free. Heinz baked beans Traditional. Just recently I had a nasty vomiting session about half to one hour after eating them. The only other time I have vomited like that was when I found out I had eaten non gluten free pasta. Now after reading your blog on baked beans, I’m wondering just how safe they are? The coeliac society and others still say they are fine to eat, but I’m not so sure I’ll ever eat them again after this incident.

    simplyilka - August 11, 2015

    Hi Sue!

    Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

    It is very tricky with the thickeners in canned beans and different brands might use different ingredients. I am sorry to hear about your incident and understand that you want to avoid another one.

    All the best to you, Ilka

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