Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Things That Do Not = Gluten Free

The world is becoming more gluten-aware these days. Product labeling is better. More restaurants offer gluten free options. It's a good decade for us gluten free-ers.

Yet with the rise of gluten awareness have come a few misconceptions.

So today I bring you a list and some stories of what does NOT = gluten free. This is for you newbies out there, as well as for the gf experts who might want a little help in passing along a link to well-meaning friends and family who are trying to offer gluten free options.

1. Organic is NOT gluten free.
Organic labels mean that a food is... well... organic. Free from chemical pesticides. Grown in a certain way.

Guess what can be organic? Wheat. Barley. Rye. Oats. GLUTEN can be organic.

I got the sweetest care package from some friends a year or so ago. In it they had put a few bags of cookies. 100% organic... 100% made with whole wheat flour. Luckily I read the label carefully.

2. Natural is NOT gluten free.
Gluten is natural, so just because a product is labeled "all-natural" or "natural" doesn't mean it's gluten free. It just means it's natural.

3. Vegan/vegetarian is NOT gluten free.
Vegan just means vegan. It means the food item contains no animal products, including milk or eggs. Vegetarian just means vegetarian - no meat included. Products labeled vegetarian or vegan can still contain wheat, rye, barley, or oats, so read the label carefully.

5. Wheat free/flourless is NOT gluten free.
This one is a little tougher, but still true. Some restaurants will offer a "flourless chocolate cake." Beware of these, unless they're explicitly labeled gluten free. "Flourless" doesn't mean gluten free, nor does "wheat free." These products can still contain rye, barley, or unsafe oats.

So... what IS gluten free?

Products that are naturally gluten free, and processed foods that are labeled gluten free. Depending on your sensitivity to gluten, you may want to limit yourself to those processed foods that are made in a dedicated facility (those I refer to as "EXTRA gluten free"!).

For more info on what labels to look for, check out my previous post on gluten free labeling.

Safe eating, friends!


  1. Great post! I'd add dairy free to that list too. Someone once got me dairy free chocolate even though most normal chocolate is gluten-free! But 'wheat-free' is the most awful one ay?!

  2. My grandmother bought 'wheaten cornflour' to make biscuits for me. I felt really bad pointing it out so I gave the biscuits away and bought some proper stuff for her the next time! She doesn't speak english well so it was substantially easier than explaining it.


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