Thursday, March 22, 2012

Where's the gluten??

Remember the commercial from way back, " where's the beef"? I think it was a Wendy's commercial? Well, when you are gluten free for either Celiacs, gluten intolerance, a wheat allergy, or just wanting to have a healthier diet, then " where's the gluten" may be your new motto.

  As a personal gluten free consultant, I get asked this question a lot. After all, most people believe they are gluten free when they first try it. It seems pretty easy, don't eat wheat pasta, bread, cookies and pizza. Ok, I got it! But that is not the only places that wheat is hiding! Or barley for that matter either. So when your looking for wheat, what are you looking for? Well, obviously, the word wheat will be a clue that it would contain wheat. But there are lots of other words that mean wheat but don't say it! Sneaky isn't it?

For instance, " modified food starch". Usually, this means wheat starch, but it could also be corn or tapioca. Though because corn is also a common allergy ( and wouldn't you know the symptoms nearly mirror that of wheat allergies and intolerance) it will often be labeled as corn starch or modified food starch * corn. However, not always. In fact, did you know that if a manufacture does not use more then 2 % of any ingredient, then they don't even legally have to list it? Isn't that a bit scary? And so we have to check the labels very carefully and you may even call a manufacture and ask if the modified food starch is wheat or corn if it is an item you would want to eat. Modified wheat starch will be in a lot of foods, primarily processed foods. You will find it in bullion, gravy, soups and even some chips! So you'll want to be sure to check that one out. I have even seen it in shredded cheese as a way to keep the cheese from caking.

Next you'll see barley malt, it is made from barley and so it is not gluten free. Barley malt is particularly found in cereals and used as a flavor for foods as well. You'll find barley malt in beers, malt vinegars, syrups and milk shakes ( usually as in a " malt shake") as well as other foods.

Where else is the gluten? Well, many other places! In fact, it's even in lipsticks and glosses! Food like dips, fries and seasonings! But here are the  other words you going to mostly look for as these are terms for " wheat", : Couscous, matzo or matzoh, semolina, einkorn, durum, triticale, farina, cake flour, hydrolyzed wheat protein and pregelantinized wheat protein. 

Though there are foods that should be gluten free ( like milk or cheese) some like sour cream may not be so it will not automatically say " gluten free" but you should check the ingredients in any food that is man made! It's a good idea for other preservatives and additives too that aren't good for you either so feel no pressure to buy something you haven't investigated! 

Now you can go off to the market as  a gluten food label detective! And if your in the mood for some beef, try this Ruben sandwich at Jason's Deli, it's gluten free on Udi bread.

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