From The Desk of Josh Gitalis

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If you’ve decided to cut out gluten from your diet, you’ve probably ditched the usual suspects – wheat-based foods like pasta, cereal and baked goods. But what about your soy sauce, your salad dressing, or even the “gluten-free” bread from the local bakery that doesn’t quite live up to its name?

With more and more restaurants and grocery stores wising up to their customers’ concerns about gluten, gluten-free products are popping up like never before. But gluten may still be lurking in places you didn’t expect. And if you fall into the 10 to 20 per cent of the population who are sensitive to gluten, or the one per cent with celiac disease, that’s a big problem. 1

Here are just a few sources of gluten you may not have known about:

1. Soy Sauce

Regular soy sauce is made from fermented soybeans and wheat. Unless otherwise labeled, it contains gluten and should be avoided. 2

Alternatives: Gluten-free tamari (a wheat-free version of soy sauce), coconut aminos.

 2. Oatmeal

While oats themselves don’t contain gluten, they may be contaminated with wheat and barley unless otherwise labeled. 3

Alternatives: Choose certified gluten-free oats, or make porridge from gluten-free grains like buckwheat or quinoa.

3. Mustard

Some prepared mustards contain wheat flour as a thickener. If you’re extremely sensitive to gluten, you may also react to the vinegar in mustard, which may have been distilled from gluten-containing grains. (The distillation process technically reduces the amount of gluten to “gluten-free” levels, but some people still report reactions.)4 Do a little research before choosing your mustard brand and choose one that’s gluten-free.

Alternatives: Choose a gluten-free mustard brand or make your own using vinegar that doesn’t come from wheat.

4. Deli Meats

Meat is generally fine when you’re eating gluten-free, but deli meats can contain added ingredients that aren’t so safe.5 Read the label and be wary of bread crumbs and “spice mixes” that may contain gluten. Calling the company or checking out their website will usually yield more information as to whether or not those extra ingredients are gluten-free.

Alternatives: Make sandwiches out of fresh meat instead of sliced deli meats. They may take a little longer to prepare, but you’ll know exactly what’s in them.

5. Canned Soups 

Canned soups may contain wheat-based thickeners or spice mixes that include gluten. In fact, those “cream of” soups probably contain more wheat than dairy.6

Alternatives: Choose certified gluten-free soups, or make your own homemade soups instead.

 6. Salad Dressing

It’s the attack of the wheat-based thickeners again. Many store-bought salad dressings contain gluten. If you’re extremely sensitive to gluten or are celiac, you may also need to be concerned about the type of vinegar used in the dressing, as many vinegars are distilled from gluten-containing grains.

Alternatives: Choose a gluten-free salad dressing brand, which shouldn’t be difficult to find at your local health food store. Alternatively, whip up your own salad dressing using oil, vinegar and spices. If you’re celiac or extremely sensitive to gluten, you may wish to use apple cider vinegar instead of balsamic vinegar, which could be contaminated with gluten.7

– Josh

Other resources on gluten: