You have just been diagnosed with a gluten-related disorder – whether it be Celiac disease, non-Celiac gluten sensitivity. Common symptoms of these conditions include cramping, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and fatigue. These symptoms are all triggered by consuming a protein called gluten so your gastroenterologist has likely advised you to follow a gluten-free diet.
You may have been given a handout that tells you to avoid wheat, rye and barley. You start thinking about all the foods you can no longer eat: bread, pasta, baked goods, pizza, etc.
If it was only that clear cut. Mixed in with the usual suspects are all sorts of foods and products with sneaky gluten. This is important because even a trace amount of gluten is enough to cause distress to those with Celiac disease or a non-Celiac gluten sensitivity. Eating as little as 1/48th of a slice of bread can cause harm. Every crumb counts.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration defines foods labeled "gluten free" as having less than 20 parts per million of gluten. Gluten-free food labeling is voluntary and the number of companies listing gluten free on their products is growing.
As a registered dietitian, I often see celiac patients who come to me wondering why they are not feeling better even though they claim to follow a 100 percent gluten-free diet.
So I turn into a gluten detective — contacting companies, pharmacies and restaurants to clarify if their product is really gluten free. Sometimes I test my patients by making them read food labels to find the gluten. Or I quiz servers in restaurants to make sure if an order is really gluten free.
Here are the sneaky places I've found gluten. (Pro Tip: There are many gluten-free apps that allow you to scan and check packaged food.)
Common packaged products:
Dining out: Even if a restaurant features an extensive gluten-free menu, you can't assume your meal will remain free from cross contamination.
Other sneaky sources of gluten:
The gluten-free diet is lifelong challenge. However, working with a specialist, you'll have all the tools you need to navigate your new lifestyle.