Ingredients To Watch For (And Why)
Keep in mind that none of the lists included on these pages
promises to be either complete or rest on any absolute authority.
These are just designed as a guide, and all users of this
information remain responsible for their own choices. If there's
anything you disagree with on these pages, or you notice anything
I missed, please Email Me.
The first thing you need to understand when reading
ingredients labels is that there are several classes of items to
be wary of. These groupings follow; click on the link to get
detailed lists of each type.
- Toxic Grains
- These are certainly wheat, rye and barley. Oats is also
generally avoided, and for the purposes of the following
lists will be considered to be firmly on the toxic list.
For more information about oats, see the
"Controversial Ingredients" section.
- Whole Foods
- These are items which, when you're shopping in a grocery
store, will always be crossed off of your list. These
include things like "noodles" which, when
listed as an ingredient in most foods, will almost always
contain wheat. There are exceptions, of course, like rice
noodles in Oriental foods, or even gluten-free noodles
found in speciality stores. But in general, you will know
to avoid these foods.
- Taboo Ingredients
- These are ingredients that you should always avoid.
- Nebulous Ingredients
- These are ingredients which may be derived from toxic
grains, or those which may, themselves, have ingredients
you can't be sure about. So, for example, you may see
"tomato paste" on a list and assume it's safe,
however tomato paste may have more than tomatoes in it,
including the flavor enhancer "hydrolized vegetable
protein" (HVP) which can be made from wheat. These
items may need to be checked with the manufacturer.
- Controversial Ingredients
- These are foods which some celiacs feel are safe, and
some do not. You need to familiarize yourself with the
issues surrounding these foods, consult with your doctor,
and make informed choices.
- Safe Ingredients
- Here's a short list of things that sound suspicious but
are actually okay.
- But I Heard It's Not Safe To Eat...
- If the items you were looking for were not on any of the
"problem" lists above, perhaps they are on this list of foods
and ingredients that are safe, but are often given a "bum rap"
due to ancient misinformation that is still circulating through celiac
societies and general word-of-mouth.
I find that, when shopping, it is quickest to do a fast
"scan" of the label first looking for the obvious
culprits ("flour," "modified food starch"
where the starch is not specified, "natural flavorings"
in dinner-type foods, and "spices" are the main ones I
look for), and then go back and read more carefully if the
product passes first muster. If you are reading many labels and
begin to find you're scanning without absorbing it, try reading
aloud. Other shoppers usually just smile tolerantly at you when
you do this.
Another way to get a handle on what may be safe and what may
not, is to purchase food guides from one
of the celiac groups.
Copyright ©1998 Linda Blanchard All Rights
Reserved. Date Added: February 16, 1998. Last Update: January 07, 2009.