For a Celiac, eating restaurant foods or packaged foods can sometimes be like walking through a minefield. Everything looks clear. You’re told it’s safe. So you take a tentative step forward and… BOOM. You’re blown sky high. Once, I purchased a ‘gluten-aware’ salad from a company with a shared kitchen. The company advertised a separate gluten-free area and separate utensils were used to make the salad. It was one of the best tasting salads I ever had, but two hours later, when the excruciating pain hit, it was no longer my favourite salad.
Has this happened to you?
I usually think of gluten-free foods in three categories: certified gluten-free, naturally gluten-free (like fruits or vegetables) or no gluten ingredients listed on the food label.
‘Certified gluten-free’ foods are the only foods out there 100% free of gluten cross-contamination because of the stringent regulations governing how food packaging companies can operate their facilities and maintain their gluten-free certification.
Food products that don’t have gluten listed in the ingredients do still carry a risk of cross-contamination because gluten may be in other foods packaged in the same facility. Cross-contamination occurs when a trace of gluten comes into contact with a gluten-free food which can happen in a manufacturing plant or in a shared kitchen either in a restaurant or at home.
Why does this matter? Cross-contamination carries real consequences for people with Celiac disease. A trace of gluten can cause uncomfortable, painful symptoms, and repeated amounts of gluten can damage the small intestine. This holds even for those “silent” Celiacs, people with little to no apparent symptoms.
What about oats? The Canadian Celiac association says, “oats are often in cross-contact with wheat and barley crops making them inedible to a person with celiac” This is why the purity protocol, a step-wise process that removes risk of cross-contamination with oats, allows most Celiacs to eat oats.
So, when is it helpful to eat more certified gluten-free foods? It’s helpful when you’re a new Celiac and your gut is healing. It’s also helpful when you’re a refractory Celiac, and you still have symptoms despite following a strict gluten-free diet.
Here are my favourite certified gluten-free brands:
Gluten-Free Cold Cereals
Nature’s Path Sunrise Crunchy Vanilla
Gluten-Free Oats or Alternatives
Gluten-Free Waffle & Pancake Mix
Gluten-Free Breads (Tip: can eat these brands untoasted)
Gluten-Free Pizza Crust
Gluten-Free Tortillas & Taco Shells (Tip: heat to prevent cracking of soft tortillas)
Gluten-Free Sauces & Condiments
Gluten-Free Protein Powder
Gluten-Free Cookies & Donuts
Gluten-Free “Ice” Cream