Foods Containing Gluten

People with celiac disease need to eliminate foods containing gluten from their diet. Gluten foods cause damage to the small intestine in people with celiac disease, and eating those foods causes symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal bloating, and gas.

Common Foods Containing Gluten

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Therefore gluten is frequently found in foods like breads, bagels, muffins, pancakes, crackers, pretzels, cereals, pasta, pizza crust, cookies, and cakes. Bran, wheat germ, Bulgar wheat, and couscous all contain gluten. Some snack foods like chips also contain gluten, but not all do, so it is important to read the label carefully.

There are gluten free alternatives to many of these items that are made with things like rice, potatoes, buckwheat, corn, soybeans, and tapioca. Those choices are appropriate for someone with celiac disease.

Other Foods Containing Gluten

In addition to the common gluten foods discussed above, there are some other foods that might not readily come to mind that do contain gluten, too. For instance, beer is made from barley, so it contains gluten. Many processed meat products like hotdogs, sausages, salami, and other lunchmeats contain gluten because it is used as a filler. Some cheese products contain gluten. Some candies and ice cream products contain gluten. Salad dressings, gravy mixes, and soy sauce may contain gluten. Instant coffee sometimes has flour added to give it more bulk, and this contains gluten. Baked beans may contain gluten in the tomato sauce.

Some nutritional supplements like vitamins contain gluten, as do some pharmaceutical products. Some toothpastes also contain gluten, although this may not be a problem since people are advised not to actually swallow toothpaste but to spit it out after brushing.

Avoiding Foods Containing Gluten

It is important for people with celiac disease to avoid gluten foods because those foods will make their symptoms worse. Of even greater concern is the fact that gluten foods actually cause damage to the small intestine in people with celiac disease.

To avoid foods containing gluten, people with celiac disease need to read labels very carefully. Look for ingredients like wheat, rye, and barley, of course, but there are other ingredients that may contain gluten as well. For instance, some cereals list “malt” as an ingredient. Malt comes from barley and contains gluten. Some products list “hydrolyzed vegetable protein” as an ingredient, including some products that claim to be wheat free. Hydrolyzed vegetable protein is usually made from wheat, though, and contains gluten. Ingredients like filler, binder, food starch, or thickening often contain gluten. Ingredients like flavorings or seasonings may also contain gluten; it’s just not clear what those things are when they are found on a food label.

When buying food that claims to be wheat free or gluten free, it is always a good idea to read the label carefully to make sure it is suitable for someone with celiac disease. People that need to avoid gluten foods are advised to read the label on a product every time they buy it, because manufacturers sometimes change ingredients. A product that was gluten free at one time might later contain gluten. Many food packages list a telephone number for the manufacturer, or a telephone number can easily be found online, so people can call to ask questions about ingredients if the label isn’t clear.

When purchasing meals in restaurants, people with celiac disease are advised to ask questions about the ingredients of any dishes they aren’t sure about. If the server doesn’t know all of the ingredients in a dish, he or she can go back to the kitchen and find out the information.

More than foods containing gluten on our celiac disease symptoms page

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