Learning how to tell if a product is safe for consumption can be one of the hardest parts of going on a gluten free diet. Thankfully, there are a number of ways for us to make sure that an item is gluten free before eating it.
Identifying if a Product is Gluten Free or Not
The first thing you should do before buying a food item is reading the label. Obviously, we want to avoid wheat, barley, and rye, but those aren’t the only ingredients we need to watch out for. To see the entire list of ingredients to avoid, read the last few paragraphs of this section. Memorize as many of those ingredients as you can. If you have a bad memory like me, print out the list and keep it handy at the grocery store.
If a product doesn’t have a label, such as when eating out in a restaurant, ask the chef/owner/waiter/waitress, until you are comfortable with the answer you receive.
Also, always beware of cross contamination issues. If you are a celiac, many items that are gluten free will still cause health issues if consumed because they have come in contact with gluten-containing foods. Most of the foods in the deli section of your grocery store need to be avoided because of cross contamination. When gluten free food comes in contact with gluten-containing food, guess what? It’s not gluten free anymore…unfortunately.
Can You See or Taste Gluten?
Well, technically, you can’t see gluten itself in food, but you can learn if an item has a good chance of being gluten-free or not by knowing which foods do and don’t contain gluten. For example, you can quickly identify mozzarella sticks as containing gluten because they are covered in breadcrumbs, and you know that a Subway sandwich has gluten because of the bread.
According to the IFT, “on it’s own, gluten has a chalky flavor, similar to corn starch and a stringy mouthfeel, like a very weak bubble gum”. But, in food products, it is not possible to bite into a product and “taste” the gluten in it. So, don’t plan on biting into something, tasting gluten, and spitting it out!
If you are not sure an item is gluten free or not, simply avoid it until you are 100% sure.