6 items that surprisingly aren’t gluten-free

6 items that surprisingly aren’t gluten-free

So you’ve recently discovered you either suffer from coeliac disease or a gluten allergy and now you’re adjusting to a gluten-free life. 

That’s easy, right? If gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, then by avoiding those grains, you’re all good. 

Yes and no. If you really were sticking to a clean diet and lifestyle where you made your own products and cooked everything from scratch with complete visibility of where all your food and product ingredients come from, then yes, navigating coeliac disease or a gluten allergy really can be that simple. 

However, the reality is that for most people, it is less organic than we’d like it to be. Sometimes, it’s easier to grab a store-bought sauce or pop out for dinner as a treat, and most of us buy our bathroom products from a shop. 

While the apparent gluten culprits, such as bread and pasta, are easy to cut out, some unexpected sources of gluten might catch you off guard.

One of the more interesting triggers we found is that gluten isn’t only in food products anymore. We gathered some of the top items with hidden gluten for you to keep an eye out for. 

1 – Make-up

We were most surprised by make-up being at risk of containing gluten. 

Namely, you’ll find these in:

  • Lip products
  • Foundation and face powder; and
  • Hair care 

Lipsticks, lip balms, and lip glosses may contain ingredients derived from wheat or other gluten-containing grains. These products can be inadvertently ingested when applied to the lips. Conversely, some foundations and face powders may include gluten-containing binders or additives. These products can come in contact with the skin and, in some cases, cause skin reactions. There’s been an increase in wheat products being used in shampoos, conditioners, and hair styling products. While hair care is unlikely to be consumed (we hope not), if you have sensitive skin, contact with the scalp can be problematic.

2- Supplements

Health supplements are another sneaky mask of gluten. While our stance is to try to get your vitamins directly from the food source, it can be more complex. Some nutritional supplements, including vitamins and minerals, use gluten as a filler or binder in their formulations. Some herbal alternatives specifically contain forms of gluten. Look out for wheatgrass or barley grass. Protein powder typically contains gluten-based additives or flavourings.

3- Sauces and dressings 

Salads are often considered a safe haven for those avoiding gluten, but the dressings can be a hidden culprit. Many commercial salad dressings use wheat-based thickeners or malt vinegar, both of which contain gluten—soy sauce – a staple in many Asian dishes – is traditionally made with wheat. 

4- Processed meats

When you’re avoiding grains, you wouldn’t expect meat to cause an issue. However, certain processed meats, such as sausages, hot dogs, and deli meats, may contain gluten as fillers or binders. Be cautious with pre-marinated meats as well, as the marinades may contain gluten-based ingredients. In extreme cases of gluten intolerance, consider the diet of the meat you’re consuming. Cheaper meat is more likely to be on a heavily grain-fed diet. 

5 -Imitation seafood

Fish isn’t where you’d expect to find gluten, but artificial variants are likely to contain it. Some imitation seafood products, such as crab sticks or artificial crab, contain gluten as a binding agent. 

6 – Chips and roast potatoes

While potatoes themselves are naturally gluten-free, the preparation process of chips and roast potatoes can introduce gluten. Some restaurants coat their chips and potatoes with flour or use a shared fryer for both gluten-containing and gluten-free items. 

Managing your adverse reaction to gluten

While not everyone with a gluten allergy or coeliac disease will experience adverse reactions to gluten-containing cosmetics or supplements, you need to be aware of these potential sources of gluten exposure. Manufacturers are becoming increasingly attentive to gluten-free labelling in the cosmetics and supplements industry.

Maintaining a gluten-free lifestyle requires a vigilant approach, as gluten can hide in unexpected places. By carefully reading labels and choosing whole, unprocessed foods, you can enjoy a diverse and flavorful diet without the worry of gluten surprises. Being aware of these less obvious sources of gluten empowers you to make informed choices and embrace a gluten-free lifestyle with confidence.

If you’re unsure if you are allergic to gluten

If you’re eating these foods with unfavourable consequences, there is a chance what you’re experiencing is an undiagnosed gluten intolerance or coeliac disease. Underdiagnosis of coeliac disease is a significant problem, and it is estimated around half a million people in the UK are currently undiagnosed. Sometimes, the worry of a lifestyle overhaul can stop you from getting tested. Don’t let it. 

If you’re yet to diagnose an issue with gluten but you can relate to the experiences we describe in our blog, why not take a test and find out for yourself today? Register as a new patient today, and let’s start the process of helping you feel better. You have the option to visit our London-based allergy clinic for a comprehensive evaluation by our specialists or take advantage of our home allergy test.


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