Gluten Free Diet FAQs

Is it gluten free?So you’ve got to go on a gluten free diet, and you have no idea what you can and can’t eat.  You may be getting extremely worried that you’re not going to be able to eat anything good again.  Don’t worry – it will take some adjustments to your diet, but once you get used to them, you’ll fall in love with all the new options that you have.

Most people that are just getting started with a gluten free lifestyle have a lot of questions about what their new diet is going to entail.  There are a lot of foods that you may be questioning the content of, and food you may not be sure if you can eat anymore.

We’ll lay out some of the most commonly asked questions in gluten-free foods.

Is it gluten-free?

As you’re beginning a gluten free diet, you may occasionally find yourself eating uncommon foods and asking yourself, “wait, is this gluten free?”  This can be a frustrating experience, but we’ll try to set the record straight here and now on the following twelve foods.

Is Buckwheat gluten-free?
Is Wine gluten-free?
Is Beer gluten-free?
Is Barley gluten-free?
Is Rice gluten-free?
Is Couscous gluten-free?
Is Oatmeal gluten-free?
Is Cheese gluten-free?
Is Meat gluten-free?
Is Mustard gluten-free?
Is Maltodextrin gluten-free?
Is Marshmallows gluten-free?

#1 Is Buckwheat gluten-free?

There’s a lot of controversy on the internet as to whether or not buckwheat is really gluten free.  It is a grain, so many may worry that it has the same substance as regular wheat.  Well, good new to you gluten-free eaters: it is safely gluten free and good to eat!  Buckwheat comes from an entirely different botanical family and is actually more closely related to rhubarb than classic grain.  It’s also an excellent source of your necessary fiber and nutrients that you may be losing without regular grain.

If you are extremely sensitive to gluten, you should be wary that buckwheat can on occasion be cross-contaminated with wheat during the processing stage.  Or, if it is used as a rotational crop with wheat, it could likely contain traces.  You can make sure your source is free of any cross contamination by making sure the brand or product is certified gluten free.

So rest assured!  This super nutritious and excellent grain is safe for you to eat any time you want.

#2 Is Wine gluten-free?

Wine is another one of those substances that you may suddenly have to ask yourself, “wait, can I even drink this?”  Well, by nature, wine is indeed gluten free.  Because wine is typically made from grapes, it does not inherently contain gluten.  However, you should be careful, because there are several incidents when gluten can be introduced to your tasty alcoholic beverage.

Sometimes flour paste is used to seal oak barrels which contain wine.  This is typically a more common practice in Europe than in the United States, so check to see where your wine is coming from.  Also, some manufacturers use gluten to fine wine, although this is relatively uncommon.

More often than not, the bottle of wine you got as a gift from the office is just fine for you to drink.  But if you need to know if you can drink it, ask the wine maker is oak barrels were used to age the wine, if gluten paste was used to seal the barrel, or if gluten or another protein was used to fine the wine.

#3 Is Beer gluten-free?

This a perhaps not-so-obvious at first definite YES.  Beer is not by nature gluten free, as most of it is made using water, hops, yeast and barley.  Because of that barley, unfortunately, you will not be able to enjoy most of the beer which is available on the market currently.  However, because gluten-free eating is now on the radar, gluten-free beers are being made which utilize alternative grains and grasses like sorghum, buckwheat, rice and millet.

The result?  A whole slew of beers that are just as delicious and flavorful as beer with gluten.  You won’t be missing anything when you try some of the following beers:

–    Ipswich Ale Brewery: Celia Saison
–    Green’s Gluten Free Beers: Enterprise Dry-Hopped Lager
–    Sprecher Brewing Co. Shakparo Ale
–    Estrella Damm: Daura
–    Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales: Tweason’ale
–    Omission Beer: Lager
–    Harvester Brewing: IPA No. 2
–    Epic Brewing Company: Glutenator
–    New Planet Gluten Free Beer: Raspberry Ale
–    Lakefront Brewery: New Grist
–    Glutenberg: India Pale Ale
–    Steadfast Beer Co.: Oatmeal Cream Stout

#4 Is Barley gluten-free?

You may be wondering exactly what kinds of grains you can and cannot eat.  If you’re asking about barley, that’s a big no.  Some of the most common grains which contain gluten and are off limits to those with the allergy are wheat, rye and barley.  These grains are the most commonly used to make things like bread, pasta, baked goods, cereals and crackers.

Just because you have to live gluten free does not mean you shouldn’t be eating grain.  In fact, whole grains are an essential part of everyone’s diet whether they can or can’t eat gluten actively.  There are plenty of other options for those who need them, and don’t worry, they’re just as delicious!  You just have to get used to a few substitutions.

If you’re looking for some excellent gluten-free substitutes for the grains you need, try any of the following options:

–    Amaranth
–    Millet
–    Teff
–    Buckwheat
–    Quinoa

#5 Is Rice gluten-free?

In almost every case you will come across, rice will be gluten free and safe to eat.  Rice, whether whole-grain brown, polished white, basmati or exotic black, is always gluten free unless it has been cross contaminated at some point in its processing.  However, don’t be so quick as to think you are safe every time that you see the word rice on something.

Beware of flavored rice mixes, because these often contain gluten traces and ingredients that wouldn’t be on just plain rice.

Also,there is one kind of rice called glutinous, or sticky/sweet rice.  Have no fear, despite the name, it still does not contain the form a gluten that is so harmful to those with celiac disease.  “Glutinous” just refers to the fact that this kind of rice gets sticky, or glue-like, as it is cooked.

#6 Is Couscous gluten-free?

You may be curious about that funny little grain called couscous.  This delicious grain looks kind of like rice and kind of like pasta, and it’s made from durum wheat.  That’s right, wheat.  That means this grain is definitely not gluten free.

There are brands of couscous which are gluten free, so if you just really have a craving for it, you should be able to find it at your local health food store.  Be very wary about ordering this off the menu at a restaurant unless you can be guaranteed that it’s really gluten free.

Couscous is really popular in Middle Eastern dishes, and if you don’t want to miss out on it, here are some excellent gluten free options:

–    Lundberg Family Farms brand: Specializes in rice and gluten-free roasted brown rice couscous.  You can get two flavors: plain and mediterranean curry.
–    Wholesome Kitchen: Three delicious flavors of plain, garden vegetable and fruit and nut.
–    Goldbauns: A gluten free couscous from Israel.

#7 Is Oatmeal gluten-free?

Oatmeal is one of those food that you have to be careful about, but not because it itself contains gluten.  Pure oatmeal is not one of the grains that contains gluten, but nearly every oatmeal you will by on the market will contain elements of gluten through cross contamination.  Many brands process oatmeal on the same equipment as other grains, so it’s sure to have a trace of gluten.

Many companies are aware of the fact that some of their customers can’t have gluten, and they are making sure their oats are processed in a way that makes them guaranteed gluten free.  If you want to put oatmeal back on your diet, just look for these special brands.  Most people should be safe with pure oats that have intentionally been kept away from gluten.

#8 Is Cheese gluten-free?

For the most part, cheese should be put on your list of safe foods to eat (thank goodness!).  Most groceries stores have cheese that does not by nature contain gluten and has not for any reason been cross contaminated.  Sine cheese is made by combining milk, rennet and bacteria to ferment the milk, it does not have any reason to enter the gluten process.

However, as with most foods, there will always be exceptions to the rule, and you should pay close attention to the food you buy to make sure you’re staying gluten free.  The more ingredients in your cheese, the more of a possibility for cross contamination.  Check the label for any information the cheese you buy gives on gluten content, and call the manufacturer if you have doubts.

#9 Is Meat gluten-free?

If the animals you want to eat have eaten gluten, are they still gluten free?  This can be a difficult question, but we’ll try to clear that up right way for you.  Yes, you can safely consume grain-fed beef and meat even if you have a gluten intolerance.  Because of the process of digestion, all of the gluten that is consumed by the animal will be broken down and destroyed before you would eat it.  By the time it enters your body, the original proteins are unrecognizable.

So don’t worry, giving up on gluten doesn’t mean you have to become a vegetarian too!  It’s hard enough to try to switch your diet around to accommodate a gluten free lifestyle, and it would certainly be difficult to attempt to eliminate meat from your diet along with it.

#10 Is Mustard gluten-free?

Can you have this delicious sandwich and hotdog topping if you’re gluten-free?  Mustard very often does contain gluten because of vinegar, but luckily, there are many gluten free options available that are just as tasty.  Whether the mustard you want to buy is gluten free or not largely depends on the brand you are looking at.  Here are some of the most popular brands and what their gluten free status is:

Annie’s Natural: This mustard uses a vinegar which comes from corn and beets, not wheat.  You’re safe!

French’s: French’s can promise that all of their mustard is prepared to be gluten-free up to 20ppm.  If you are very sensitive to trace gluten, you should not use this brand.

Grey Poupon: May contain gluten cross contaminants

Gulens: Are not labelled gluten free.  Vinegar may be derived from corn or wheat.

Heinz: All varieties of Heinz mustard are considered gluten free up to 20 ppm.

#11 Is Maltodextrin gluten-free?

There’s quite a bit of controversy surrounding whether or not this ingredient is in fact gluten free.  The Food and Drug Administration’s Code of Federal Regulations says that maltodextrine is made from corn starch, rice starch or potato starch.  This has led many to believe that any maltodextrin that is made from wheat would have to be labelled “wheat maltodextrine”, however this is not the case.

Most of the time, maltodextrin is safe.  But if you are really sensitive to trace gluten, you may want to be careful when you see it on the ingredients list.  You can call the manufacturer or pick another product, but do not feel that you are guaranteed to not be consuming gluten if you eat it.

#12 Is Marshmallow gluten-free?

Almost all marshmallows are considered gluten free.  The two most dominant brand names for marshmallows are Kraft Foods and Doumak in the United States, and both of the companies manufacture only gluten free goods.  That means no cross contamination and no problem.

Yes, that means you can eat Eater peeps and you can enjoy your hot chocolate with some marshmallow cream!

Always check the label if you’re using a brand you aren’t sure of by seeing if they process on machinery that uses gluten.  There’s always the possibility when it comes to an unfamiliar brand, so do not underestimate the importance of double checking.