Tag Archives: gluten-free

Grain Brain - a Great Resource to help you go gluten free easily

Gluten Free Easily, Thanks to Grain Brain

I’ve been gluten free for about seven years now and it’s made a tremendous difference in my life, but I can’t really say it was easy – especially at first.  Honestly, I really just wish I’d had Kristen Loberg and David Perlmutter’s book Grain Brain. Not so much for the information about gluten and your brain – honestly at that point in my life I didn’t care what it was doing to my brain, I just wanted my joints to stop hurting (great success, by the way). But the problem was, that it wasn’t easy at all to find the gluten hiding in things. Because due to some inconvenient labeling, they don’t just say “gluten” – in fact they work really really hard NOT to say “gluten” so thanks so much to grain brain for these great tools to make gluten free easy.

I am sharing this information from Grain Brain, simply because I so wish it had been around in such a clear way when I was starting out. This will help you to go gluten free easily. Or at least with fewer accidental gluten episodes.

Grains and starches which contain gluten:

  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Couscous
  • Farina
  • Graham flour
  • Kamut
  • Matzo
  • Rye
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Triticale
  • Wheat
  • Wheat germ
  • Wheat grass (I’m including it here because although there is some debate about whether or not it contains enough gluten to trigger a reaction, it most certainly triggers a reaction in me – so count this one as a just-in-case)

Gluten-Free Grains and Starches (Stick to This List and You’ll be Fine!)

  • Amaranth
  • Arrowroot
  • Buckwheat (Best. Pancakes. Ever.)
  • Corn
  • Millet
  • Potato
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Sorghum
  • Soy
  • Tapioca
  • Teff

These Prepared Foods Often Contain Hidden Gluten:

  • Canned baked beans (sigh. Camp food.)
  • Beer
  • Blue cheese
  • Bouillons/broths that are premade
  • Breaded foods
  • Cereals (not so hidden in this one – but even the ones that claim to be “rice” or “corn” are often a mix)
  • Chocolate milk (store bought, not home-made)
  • Cold cuts (weird that those aren’t just meat.)
  • Communion wafers
  • Egg substitute (sigh)
  • Energy bars
  • Flavored coffees and teas
  • French fries (apparently often dusted with flour before freezing, but it usually isn’t listed on the label)
  • Fried vegetables/tempura
  • Fruit fillings and puddings
  • Gravy
  • Hot dogs
  • Ice cream (eek!!! Thank god Hagen Daz makes some really clean ones.)
  • Imitation crabmeat, bacon, etc…
  • Instant hot drinks
  • Ketchup
  • Malt, malt flavoring, malt vinegar, hydrolized malt extract
  • Marinades or pre-marinated meat
  • Mayonnaise
  • Pre-made meatballs or meatloaf
  • Non-dairy creamer
  • Oatmeal, oat bran or oats unless certified gluten free
  • Processed cheese (easy-melt, velveeta – this means queso! Arg!!)
  • Roasted nuts (why? why?)
  • Root beer
  • Salad dressings
  • Sausage
  • Seitan
  • Soups (store bought – no worries if you’re cooking at home)
  • Soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, Bragg’s liquid aminos  (try coconut aminos – they’re delicious)
  • Syrups
  • Tabbouleh
  • Trail mix
  • Veggie burgers
  • Vodka (blarg. The good news is that there are several great gluten free vodkas – one of which is Texas’ own Tito’s Handmade Vodka, which is 100% corn. Also Ciroc Ultra Premium Vodka, which is 100% from grapes, and Smironff Vodka, which is also 100% corn.)
  • Wheatgrass
  • Wine coolers

    Grain Brain - a Great Resource to help you go gluten free easily

    Grain Brain – a Great Resource to help you go gluten free easily

Non-Food Sources of Gluten

  • Makeup
  • Lipstick and lip balm
  • Medications (sigh. Check the package insert)
  • Play-Doh
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Vitamins and supplements (also check the label – the good ones don’t have it.)
  • Volumizing hair products
  • Dog biscuits (hopefully you’re not eating these, but for some people – one dear friend included – even handling them is enough to trigger a reaction)

Secret Names for Gluten (Hidden Gluten in Food)

  • Amino peptide complex
  • Avena sativa (this should be wild oats, but sometimes it’s wild whatever-grass-they-happen-to-grab)
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Caramel color (often made from barley)
  • Cyclodextrin, dextrin, maltodextrin (could also be from corn)
  • Fermented grain extract
  • Hordeum distichon or Hordeum vulgare (I’ve never stumbled across these words, but apparently they’re types of grasses).
  • Hydrolysate
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein, textured vegetable protein, vegetable protein, HVP, TVP.
  • Modified food starch
  • Natural flavoring (this is in everything)
  • Phytosphingosine extract
  • Secale cereale
  • Soy protein (!!)
  • Triticum aestivum and Triticum vulgare
  • Yeast extract

The Biggest Tip to Going Gluten Free Easily

The biggest thing you can do to make sure you’re gluten free is to only shop on the outer edge of the grocery store – fruits, veggies, meats, and most dairy are typically pretty gluten-free.  I head into the aisle part for things like nuts, cleaning products, pickles and pickled veggies, the occasional GF baking mix, and paper products and that’s about it. Of course this means I cook at home a lot, but it also means that my body feels better every day because I’m not getting the gluten that causes so much inflammation.

Going gluten free is always a big change, because as you can see there are a shocking number of things that we come in contact with every day that have gluten in them outside of the obvious bread, cookies, cakes, crackers and pasta. Hopefully thanks to Grain Brain you can do gluten free easily and start out with fewer accidental gluten-ings.

Is Gluten Free Right for Me?

I hear the question every day – “Is gluten free right for me? Should I be gluten free?” Spoiler alert – there is no easy answer.  There are so many reasons why gluten free diets might benefit everyone, but there is also a right way and a wrong way to do it, and from what I’ve seen lots of people are doing it the wrong way.  Gluten free diets have helped lots of people, but the real question is it healthy for YOU? Let’s explore this idea:

Why Should I Be Gluten Free?

Anyone who knows me knows that I am serious about food sensitivities.  Many people are sensitive to foods that are common in the modern diet – not allergic, just sensitive.  This means that by eating that food you are creating a low-level inflammation in your body that is always there because the food is always there.  While you’re in good health and things are going well that may not show up as anything, but if you get sick or if your body has a weak spot somewhere (like allergies or eczema or behavioral disorders or arthritis) then that low-level of inflammation is going to make your thing, whatever that happens to be, worse.

As it happens, gluten is one of the most common food sensitivities, along with dairy, corn and soy.   Does this mean everyone should eliminate it?  No – not at all.  It does mean that if you happen to be sensitive to gluten then eliminating it is going to make a world of difference to your health, both now and long-term. If you’re sensitive to it, then the answer to the question “is gluten free right for me” is a resounding YES. If you’re not sure how to figure out what your food sensitivities are, the please check out the full post on it here.

Outside of the food sensitivity angle, eliminating gluten from your diet often means that you’re cutting out a lot of the starchy, carb-rich roods that we seem to adore so much (as long as you’re doing it right). This helps you prevent diabetes and heart disease and also keep that waist-line trim – all in all that’s not too shabby for a simple diet change.

What Are the Risks of Being Gluten-Free?


Is gluten free right for me? Gluten-free cookies (yep. Still cookies.)

Although they look like they *should* be healthy, these gluten-free cookies are really still cookies. Really.
© Raymond Kasprzak | Dreamstime Stock Photos


Risk is maybe too strong a word, but there can be pitfalls. The most common of which is that people switch to gluten-free, but still eat just as many cookies and crackers and breads and pastas as they did before. This is still a good idea if you’re gluten-sensitive (or obviously if you have Celiac disease) but doesn’t give you any of the benefits of a lower carb diet. There seems to be a common misconception, that looks like this:

Gluten-Free = Healthy

Sadly, that is not the case.  Gluten-free just equals gluten-free.  The cookie is still a cookie, with all the carbs and calories and sugars that go with it.  Here’s the thing though, that still doesn’t mean:

Gluten-Free ≠ Healthy

Gluten-free can be an awesome way to eat, it’s just a matter of doing it right. So let’s talk about that.

The Right Way to Eat Gluten-Free

The basic rule to eating well gluten-free is eating well.  That means the normal rules still apply – just because it’s gluten-free doesn’t mean you get a free pass to the cookies, cakes and baked yummies. So here are some good guidelines:

  • Make the bulk of your meal fresh veggies and fruits – I try to go for 2/3 of meals, but breakfast sometimes isn’t as easy to proportion that way.
  • Include a good protein-source like grass-fed grass-finished beef, natural poultry, organic eggs, organic dairy or wild-caught fish (in moderation because populations are dwindling). If you’re vegetarian than focus on complete proteins like beans and rice, nuts, or seeds.
  • Include plenty of good fats – avocados, olives, olive oil, grass-fed butter, nut and seed oils
  • The smallest portion of the meal should be your sugars and starches – even if those starches are gluten-free starches.

The biggest problem is that lots of people are going “gluten-free” which means they still eat a Standard American Diet (SAD for a reason) except that the vast quantities of bread, pasta, cookies, crackers and sweets all have GF on the label.  I’d love to say the gluten-fairy took away all the sugars and carbs and calories when she took away the gluten, but sadly that isn’t the case. Just remember to think about the big picture when you’re going gluten-free.

Is gluten free healthy? The Answer is yes, as long as you do it the right way. Is gluten free right for me? Well… that depends on you.