Where is gluten hiding?

Yeah sure if you have celiac disease or are severely gluten sensitive we all know to avoid the usual suspects like bread, breadcrumbs, cakes, cookies, pastries, donuts, wheat, barley, and rye but where else does gluten hide? Where else might gluten be lurking in your food? 

Staying gluten-free is critical to your health so it is important to find the hidden places where you might be surprised to find have wheat, wheat starch and gluten added. 



1. Oats 

Yes oats in nature are gluten free however it is how and where they are grown and how they are processed that becomes the problem. Most oats are processed along with wheat and flour therefore making cross-contamination very likely. Sometimes the oats are stored in silos that are also used to store other grains. So unless they are clearly marked as Certified Gluten Free Oats meaning they were grown, processed and stored safely stay clear of them.

2. Chewing Gum 

Believe it or not some brands of gum are not even safe because they use a gluten-based powder to keep the gum from sticking to the wrapper. It is crucial to double check the ingredient list here because not all gum is created equal in a celiacs world.

3. Licorice 

Both red and black kinds both contain wheat. So for a celiac this is a no go to candy.

4. Pickles 

Some are fine and some are definitely a no. This will depend on the pickling process. Did they use a corn-based vinegar (which is fine) or did they use a malt/barley based vinegar (which would be a definite no). Double check the ingredient list and choose wisely.

5. Processed Meat 

This would include hot dogs, deli meats (cold cuts), and sausages would all be in this category. These are often filled with flour for added texture and thickening processes. Double check with the Butcher and/or all of the packages and see if there are better options like cleaner organic, grass-fed meats.

6. Veggie Burgers 

Would be similar to processed meat meaning that many brands add wheat gluten to add texture and to help them stay together, so it is important to double check those labels.

7. Flavored Potato Chips  

No there is no gluten added to a plain potato chip (at least not that I have found); however, when all the flavorings are added many of the “flavoring mixes” do have gluten added. You definitely have to check the labels here. The question becomes that if the same company makes flavored and plain potato chips most can not guarantee that the plain chips were not cross contaminated so be very careful. My suggestion would be to stick with the Certified Gluten Free ones if your looking for that crunch.

8. Condiments 

We have all heard that gluten is a thickener, a stabilizer and is used as a filler in may products including ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, pre-made marinades, pasta sauce, soups and even tomato paste. I completely feel your pain the good news is there are gluten free options, my suggestion would be to learn to make your own (which I do often) or purchase the Certified Gluten Free versions to make sure there was no cross-contamination when being processed with the others.

9. Flavored and Blended Coffees 

Regular ground coffee beans are gluten free in nature. However, many coffee brands add gluten as a thickener so it is crucial to double check your favorite coffee brands. Many flavorings added to your coffee include barley, Carmel coloring and/or natural flavorings which is often times code word for added gluten. If you are insistent on adding flavorings to your coffee it is best to find the actual source from the Carmel coloring or flavoring and confirm it is not derived from wheat. Blended coffees like frappuccinos often the mix does contain gluten, wheat or barley. My suggestion is if you are in a coffee shop ask them to see the container it comes in to double check the ingredients yourself. Also please note that the since the equipment is shared there is a good chance that you will get cross-contaminated as they equipment is merely rinsed and not scrubbed between uses.

10. Tea Bags 

This one was the most surprising to me. Yes most teas are gluten free however many manufactures use wheat starch to seal the tea bags. So it is important to look for the certified gluten free ones.

My Rule of Thumb

Always remember to double check the ingredient labels of all foods, even foods that you know are safe because companies are always switching up recipes and trying new formulas.

How about you?

Were you surprised by any of these? Have you found any unexpected places gluten has been hiding in your pantry or frig? Please share you never know who you could help.

Hope this helps answer your question, dear reader. And if you have a question of your own, click the ask a question button and I’ll do my best to answer soon.