Gluten is the name of the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale (this is a cross between wheat and rye). These proteins are used to help bind foods together to help them maintain their shape. Let’s look at common food categories to see where gluten lies.
Where can gluten be found?
Common wheat products include bread, wraps, baked goods, crackers, cereals and pasta, which all contain gluten, unless otherwise specified (for example, “gluten-free bread”).
Gluten is commonly hidden inside processed foods. These include meat substitutes, prepared lunch meats, processed cheeses, canned soup and soup mixes, puddings, some ice creams, cereals, hot chips and fried foods, and flavoured tofu.
Condiments are unlikely sources of gluten, but many popular ones actually do contain it. These include soy sauce, barbecue sauce, salad dressings, marinades, cream sauces, spice blends, gravy mixes, malt vinegar, and ketchup. Instead, it’s best to either make your own or purchase ones that are certified as gluten free.
Although this area also seems unlikely, there are some drinks that are made with gluten. These include beer, bottled wine coolers, some pre-made coffee drinks, drink mixes, and commercial chocolate milk.
There is often confusion around whether oats contain gluten. Research shows that one in five people with coeliac disease react to pure, uncontaminated oats. So, the general rule is to not consume them if you’re gluten free or coeliac.
What doesn’t contain gluten?
Many foods are naturally gluten free, including fresh fruit and vegetables, plain meat (not sausages), fish, eggs, cheese, milk, most yoghurts, peas, beans and lentils, fats and oils.
Quinoa, buckwheat, millet, wild rice, corn and brown rice are wheat alternatives – just be sure to buy products that are certified gluten free to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
Nuts and seeds provide a nutrient-rich source of fat and are great snacks! Some include pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, peanut butter, macadamia nuts, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts and pistachios.
Compared to the above list of gluten-containing condiments, the following are safe for those who are gluten free: apple cider vinegar, fresh herbs, pesto, most salsa, coconut aminos, hummus, guacamole, sauerkraut, tahini and mustard.
How can you tell if foods contain gluten?
In New Zealand, products containing the Crossed Grain logo are certified by Coeliac New Zealand to be independently tested as safe for people with coeliac disease and those on a gluten free diet. This logo provides assurance that the product is safe without needing to read the ingredients list.
Products manufactured in New Zealand and Australia can only be labelled ‘gluten free’ if they contain no detectable gluten. This does not apply to imported products, which don’t need to be labelled.
Ultimately, it’s best to know which foods to avoid, and check for these on labels.
Shopping at trusted retailers like the Gluten Free Shop gives you a quick and easy way to decipher if foods are gluten free, to make your browsing a more enjoyable experience and providing options that are safe for you.