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A Hunt for the Gluten Monster

Give me a pitchfork and a torch because I’m on a hunt for a terrible monster! The Gluten Monster!

Okay, a bit dramatic, but I live for drama, so it’s all good. I swear I’ve been on a witch hunt for gluten since I first began the alkaline diet. Emma Goodman, my beloved nutritionist, told me gluten can stay in your body for up to six months. That fact combined with all of the alarmingly negative effects the stuff can do to your body set me in motion. A motion to see if what I’m eating has gluten in it. What I learned? Gluten is everywhere and in everything. It’s frustrating how prevalent the stuff is. When I learned it can even pop up in vodka, I about busted a gut (no pun intended.)

That’s when I decided that I was going to get responsible in regards to reading labels and hunting the pesky stuff down. I swear food peeps get tricky with how they sprinkle it in to the ingredients. You’ll rarely see the word “gluten.” So I had to get clever and put on my research hat.

Words That Mean “Gluten”

  • Wheat
  • Tricticum
  • Spelt
  • Bran
  • Farina
  • Malt
  • Barley

According to the lovely blogger/author Brittany Angell, these words can stand alone or be sprinkled into other words such as “barley grass” or “disodium wheatgermamido Peg-2 Sulfosuccinate.” See how sneaky gluten can be? If you read Brittany’s whole post, you’ll see a long and informative list of all the other gluten-ous words to watch out for.

I swear my friends think I’ve gone crazy, but I care not. I’ve got my pitch fork in hand ready as a mother trucker to avoid the g-word like it’s the plague! Gluten Monster begone!

Care for a challenge? I dare you to hunt for gluten for a week. Everything you eat, check the labels and when you go to a restaurant ask about gluten-free foods. The list of what you actually CAN eat will astonish you. Come back here and report your findings! —Tish

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  1. Kate says:

    It’s nearly impossible to eat out, or eat prepared foods, when you’re checking labels and asking at restaurants. I learned that when doing a Wellness Cleanse that kept us off gluten and certain sugars and minimized sodium for a portion of the time. I couldn’t find anything to eat unless i made witch’s brew, soup, broth, smoothies and juices, from scratch. Good luck with that pitch fork 😉

  2. FBG Tish says:

    ha! Kate I know right! I don’t know where you reside, but LA is getting better at offering gluten-free menus. P.F. Changs even had one! I was in heaven!

  3. This is a great post! This was something I realized well into my gluten free diet!

  4. Jeanean says:

    It is so hard to read everything, I was just diagnosed with Celiacs and find that we hardly eat out anymore and I prepare everything myself, I make a lot of fruit smoothies with frozen fruit and juice my vegetables and that is the safest way for me to eat.

  5. kirsty says:

    We’re a little luckier over the big blue in the UK. By law every label of every kind of food stuff must highlight and put a warning on of potential allergens. E.g. you go to the supermarket bread section and a standard loaf of bread will have on the label, made with wheat flour, water, salt, yeast, butter and seeds, . Allergy advice, this product contains wheat, gluten, cow’s milk, lactose and may not be suitable for nut allergy sufferers due to manufacture methods.

    So in general is very easy and quick to see as they are legally required to list.!!!

  6. Barb Cannonq says:

    It is soooo much better than it use to be…. I went to Italian restaurant in Columbus Ohio last night and had a fantastic mean including bread and oil while everyone else was eating theirs…. but you’re right, gluten is in everything. Asia food is still troublesome because of the soy sauce. I’ve had them say they use corn starch and I still get sick so it’s stir fry at home for me. Watch for thinks with caramel coloring… it will get you everytime.

  7. Rita says:

    This is something in the last two months I have come to realize is very hard, I recently was diagnosed after ten years of hell and countless doctors misdiagnosing me with everything from a spastic colon to IBS to it’s all in your head with celiac….(they never thought to do a blood test for celiac) that said Thrive Market (online) and my local Sprouts market have all gluten free products marked and if you have not tried Thrive market – great prices – makes shopping for groceries way easier, plus free delivery, also you can go on celiac.com and put in any brand, any food and it will let you know if it has gluten. Have been out to eat once since being diagnosed, almost ended up in the emergency room because of so much pain (and this after the server assured me it was gluten free) and sadly have not been out since, much easier to cook at home – will venture out eventually, but I need to heal first. My functional medical doctor said six months at the least to get gluten out and in reality more like a year for the gut to heal. I will say taking probiotics and using enzymes helps along with supplements for all the deficiencies I have from celiac – it’s month two and I am finally starting to feel human again.

  8. Some gluten tries really hard to hide! I tried to put some explanations on the website no-glutn.org.

  9. Bonnie says:

    Yes and also be on look out for modified food starch!!!

  10. Sarah says:

    Also in US, oats can contain gluten due to cross contamination of crops. And vanilla also contains gluten.

  11. Nyx says:

    Depends on where you live, but finding celiac safe places to eat can be a nightmare or rather simple.

    As a celiac, I don’t really have an issue finding food that I can eat be it when eating out (McDonalds fries are always an option, here in Canada – yet are not in the US) or buying my food in general (I don’t buy a lot of processed foods to start with, mostly because of my other food allergies that I do deal with).

    The labeling laws that they have to follow here in Canada make it much easier to find the foods one can’t eat because they have to tell you by law what the product is made from, so if it contains wheat, barley, oats, etc then you know it likely contains gluten.

    However that isn’t always true, since some processes do eliminate the gluten but they have to by law say wheat because it is an allergy and there are those who are allergic to wheat, so something can be actually gluten free and still contain the label of wheat for all the gluten in the wheat doesn’t exist – this gets confusing for those who are new to being celiac or living with a gluten intolerance.

  12. Mom of 8 says:

    Even vitamin supplements and medications can contain gluten . WHY?! I don’t understand why it is added to so many things. Spices are huge on sneaking it in as well.

  13. Heather says:

    Modified food starch, tocopherols, vitamin E, caramel coloring….

  14. C says:

    Don’t be fooled by chain restaurants that offer gluten free foods! I have been gluten free (due to intolerance ) for 7 years. Once your body is truly cleansed, you’ll give up dining at any place that isn’t organic and gluten free. You’ll know immediately if you get something in your diet that is wrong.

  15. Michele says:

    Haha! 18 years gluten free and you have added one or two to my list! Disodium wheatgerma -what-o? What they won’t come up with next!

  16. Breanna says:

    I just got diagnosed with Celiac Disease after a go around with Cervical Cancer. I’m 3 weeks post op next week from a total hysterectomy. It feels like I can’t catch a break in all things concerning my health. I’m so angry and annoyed and frustrated but I’m trying to do some research on gluten free eating and hopefully in the next 6 months or so I’ll start feeling a lot better. Your post was very helpful so thank you!

  17. Anna says:

    This is a very insightful article

  18. Thanks for sharing the post.

  19. Hempsoft says:

    Great blog its very informative thanks for sharing.

  20. Juliana Helena Pereira Mota says:

    In Brazil we have a law that force the food industry to put in the labels the phrase: have gluten or dont have gluten, independent other ingredients.
    Congratulation for the great post!!

  21. Suzie says:

    Thanks for this! Husband just found out he has to go gluten & dairy free. ? so now WE are in the learning curve!

  22. Maribeth says:

    I was just diagnosed with celiacs. My dietician recommended an app called ShopWell – you can scan food barcode and it will tell you if it has gluten. I also found an ap for eating out called “ find me gluten free” and it lists all the chains and your local restaurants. I’m satisfied with both apps.

    1. Jenn says:

      What a great resource! Thanks for sharing, Maribeth!

      —FBG Jenn

  23. Tabitha Parenti says:

    Hubby had to go gf a few months ago. I purged the house to avoid cross contamination. We even changed all of our pets to grain free just to make sure. A lot of dog and cat food has “middlings” in it. That is the lumps left over from making wheat flour. So, if you have any kind of gluten sensitivity, check all of your pet foods, too.

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  25. Relda Sandgran says:

    I was a little disappointed in the article. The items you listed are common items that people should know. I was hoping to find more of the chemical phrases that contained gluten. Eating out is impossible anymore. There are only 2 restaurants here in town that are GF and l mean cook with no cross contamination. Most restaurants say yes they have GF items but they are not prepared separate.

  26. Mark Gugel says:

    It all depends on how sensitive to gluten you are. If you are sensitive to cross contamination from gluten such as from open flour in the kitchen, then ingredients listings alone aren’t enough. For me, there are exactly three restaurants in the whole state of Michigan that are safe to eat at.

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