Living With

9 Surprising Products Made With Gluten

Erica Sanderson May 16th, 2014 (updated Sep 26th, 2016)
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For people with celiac disease, avoiding gluten is the only treatment. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. While it’s obvious that gluten is a part of pasta, bread, and beer, it can also be found in some items you don’t realize.

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Medicine
Medicine

Unlike with foods, there’s no legislation requiring allergen labeling on medications. But excipients, a pharmaceutical additive used as a binder during drug manufacturing, include gluten. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about which medications are safe to take.

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Beauty products
Beauty products

Okay, so you’re not eating your blush or mascara. But lip glosses and shampoos with gluten ingredients—that can be accidentally ingested—can cause problems for someone with celiac. More research is needed to determine if external exposure to gluten is harmful. But some celiac patients may develop dermatitis herpetiformis, a skin condition related to celiac that causes itchy rashes.

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Candy
Candy

Think about it: a lot of chocolate candies have a wafer or cookie middle. KitKat. Twix. Butterfinger, to name a few. In addition to wheat, many candies also contain barley or malt flavoring. Check out this list of gluten-free candies. It’s a good idea to contact the candy manufacturer if you have questions about a particular brand.

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Toothpaste
Toothpaste

This one is a bit controversial. Most toothpaste companies say their products do not contain gluten. However, they won’t go on record saying it’s gluten-free because of possible cross-contamination during manufacturing. Just to be safe, talk to your dentist about known gluten-free toothpastes.  

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Sauces
Sauces

Soy, pasta, and teriyaki sauces aren’t always gluten-free. Same with gravy, marinade and salad dressing, where wheat is often added as a thickener or used in the manufacturing process. But this doesn’t mean you have to live without them. Many brands offer gluten-free alternatives.

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Spice mixes
Spice mixes

Prepackaged spice mixes are a convenient way to improve bland meals. They’re also a way to add gluten to your diet. Many of these grocery store packets include wheat. Use only natural spices and create mixes yourself.

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Cold cuts
Cold cuts

Processed meats often have gluten-based modified starches for binding purposes. Some deli product lines, such as Boar’s Head,  offer gluten-free options.

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Chips & fries
Chips & fries

Potatoes are gluten-free, but the way they’re cooked can change that. Potato chips and french fries are sometimes deep-fried in a batter containing wheat. Flavored chips and fries can also have malt flavoring, modified starches or barley ingredients.  In particular, opt out of these menu items.  

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Nuts
Nuts

Again, plain nuts and peanuts are gluten-free friendly, but once you get spiced or seasoned nuts, a whole batch of gluten ingredients can become involved. Always check ingredient labels. Don’t be fooled because even “salted” nuts may contain more than just added salt.