Unfortunately, the marketing world has grasped that the gluten free diet is catching on. When you go to do your food shopping, food labels left right and centre are shouting 'GLUTEN FREE’ back up at you. This marketing tactic makes it confusing for newly diagnosed coeliacs to know what foods they actually need to pay double for the gluten free versions of.
Upon seeing gluten-free water, I decided to make a list of some of the unsuspecting items that yes, unfortunately you actually do need to invest in a coeliac-friendly version. This list may be obvious to those who have been living without gluten for a while, but these are the food items that tricked me when I was first diagnosed!
I remember the struggle my mum went through to try and get her hands on gluten free Gravy when I was first diagnosed 10 years ago. it can be easy to forget that the normal kind is a no-no, as it includes barley. Luckily, gluten-free versions are now available in most shops like this Tesco one. For those of you in America, I love this McCormick brand.
Another sauce that to watch out for is soy sauce. It's such a sneaky culprit as you would never think it has wheat in it judging from its light, thin texture. However, it does. So steer well away from it in restaurants and make sure to get a gluten free labelled kind when doing your food shopping. I normally go for this San-J one.
When eating out, if the sauce isn't specified gluten-free, I'll normally just get it on the side. Better to be safe than sorry!
Oats are a confusing one, because although they should be gluten free, technically they aren't. The cross contamination with wheat, barely and rye is so high that if you are a coeliac, normal oats aren't safe! There's so many gluten free brands out there now though. When I was living in Ireland I always just got the Tesco brand, but now that I'm in America I go for Bob's Red Mills.
You may think that all meats should be naturally gluten free, but sadly wheat is often added to sausages and burgers to help bind them together. When eating out, I always steer clear of hot dogs and if I'm getting a burger I'll ask for a chicken burger. Some good restaurants have 100% ground beef which is in the safe zone, but make sure to ask. I love the gluten free Mark's and Spencers burgers and 'posh dogs’, and my all time favourites are the sausages from the Irish brand Denny’s. If you're outside of Ireland you can get gluten free burgers and sausages in pretty much any major store, just keep an eye out for the GF mark.
Another one to watch out for is sushi. I personally love Sushi, but avoid the ‘crab meat’, as it can often be fake crab meat containing gluten. Soy sauce is also the main sauce used in this cuisine, so again, either steer clear or double check!
Soups are another one that you might just presume are ok to eat (or drink?) but wheat is often added to thicken the texture. If it's creamy- be suspicious. There's loads of delicious gluten free soups out there now though. I love the Irish brand The Happy Pear. They have three soups, tomato, country veg and butternut squash- all gluten free and all delicious! Another one of my favourites is the Cully and Sully brand. They have so many variations of gluten free soups and although they may be based in Ireland, they have recipes and tutorials on their website so you can try and make the soups yourself!
If you're cooking rice from scratch then you're in the clear. However, if you're a little on the lazy side when it comes to cooking like me, watch out for the microwavable rice. I used to always get the Uncle Ben's wholegrain rice because there were no gluten-containing ingredients on the packs that I was getting. Unfortunately, I then started branching out into different variations, which led me to discover to steer clear of the Uncle Ben's wholegrain and quinoa microwavable rice packs.
Also, be careful of the rice you find in Mexican restaurants! For example, the very popular Irish burrito chain, ‘Boojum’, have gluten in their Mexican styled rice. So, when ordering out I always just ask for plain brown/black rice, just to be sure.
At first, I had myself fully convinced that all crisps were gluten free and their ingredients did not have to be checked. However, the time soon came where I just had to bite the bullet and burst my bubble of blissful ignorance. All crisps are not gluten free, in fact a lot of them aren’t. My heart almost broke when I discovered that I could no longer eat a pack (or five) of Quavers or Pringles.
If you're a Doritos fan, a point to note is that confusingly enough, the Nacho Cheese pack available in America has no gluten, but the Tangy Cheese version in Ireland does! Not that that even matters though when the cool ranch/cool original are both gluten free.
So those are the main foods that caught me out when I first entered the gluten-free world. If you have any other foods you think should make the cut please let me know! Hope this has helped. X