When you’re first starting to figure out what you’re going to eat on a gluten free diet, it can be difficult to figure out where to look for information about what you can eat. You can read through whole long lists of gluten free foods and brands before you go to the store, but once you walk in it can be overwhelming trying to remember which items you had read about, let alone find them.
While lists of gluten free products can be helpful if you’re trying to find a particular item, they are often not as helpful when you’re first starting to make the transition to a gluten free diet. What you really need to learn in this situation is how to read labels quickly and efficiently. Of course, you don’t want to be in the store all day trying to read the label for every product on the shelf either.
One of the easiest things to look for on any nutrition label is allergen information. There are eight major food allergens and foods containing any of these are required to clearly list them on their labels. Of course, gluten isn’t one of these allergens, but wheat is. Wheat contains gluten and is the primary source of gluten in foods, particularly processed foods.
Since any product with wheat in it will be clearly marked, this is a good place to look first. On most labels you won’t have to read through the list of ingredients – just a glance at the allergen information section will tell you if you should keep reading or look elsewhere. Because gluten can come from both rye and barley ingredients as well, you can’t automatically assume a wheat free product is gluten free, but looking for wheat first will help you rule out a lot of products more quickly.
When you’re looking for gluten free products, you’ll want to steer clear of products with long lists of ingredients as well. There are all kinds of additives and fillers that can contain gluten and trying to remember the different names each of these can be listed under is certainly an overwhelming task, especially when you’re first starting out.
In general, you’ll want to look for foods with short lists of ingredients, most of which are easily identifiable as foods and not weird, long chemical names. Not only is it easier to tell if these foods have gluten in them, they’re generally healthier for you as well.