What is Gluten?
My kryptonite! That is what gluten is. It’s in some of the most delicious foods you can think of: bread, crackers, beer, cookies, pizza dough and so much more! Okay but seriously, gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Gluten acts like glue holding foods together and helping the foods maintain their shape. You know how bread has that classic chewy, soft texture? Yeah that’s gluten working its magic to deliver you that warm, fluffy, delicious pizza dough we all know and love.
Those who must avoid gluten (like those with celiac disease like me) must stay away at all costs. The tiniest crumb can start a war in our bodies flaring up our autoimmune system responses. Gluten does not “cook off” so using the same kitchen applicances that had gluten cooked on them will cause the same reaction in our bodies. This is called cross contact or cross contamination.
Gluten is in the obvious foods like mentioned: bread, pizza dough, crackers but it is also hidden in many foods as an additive, most commonly in processed foods and surprisingly in many medications and personal hygiene products. Gluten is in a ridiculously long list of products. I cannot possibly list everything for you BUT let’s go over a few common items you may have in your diet. When you read some of these your jaw may very well drop like mine did when I started researching for myself after my diagnosis. Okay, sit down and buckle up!
- Breads (I’m still crying about my love for REAL pizza and settling for its wanna-be-cool replacement…the cauliflower crust.)
- Flour (I mean come on?! This is everywhere.)
- Pastas (well this is kind of a problem because I’m married to an Italian.)
- Bakery items (stop right there, shut the front door! I AM a baker! I mean not professionally but my love for baking is not new. How the hell can I still bake without gluten?!)
- Sauces (okay…again, I’m married to an Italian.)
- Soups (well lucky for me, I live in a state that very rarely sees snow. So, I only make soup maybe twice a year when we want to make it feel like we are in the winter months and we turn our wood burning fireplace on and lower the air conditioning.)
- Malt (okay, the only malt I know of is that dark, syrupy looking bottle that diners always have displayed on the tables next to the ketchup and salt & pepper. Not sure I’ve ever seen anyone use this mystery item)
- Cereals (I grew up in the 90’s…cereal was a staple in the house. Hands down best cereal growing up….Fruit Loops!!!)
- BEER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I’m crying as I type. Tears are dropping on my keyboard. I was always a beer girl. Occasionally, I may feel a little elegant and sophisticated and order a delicious oaky, full-bodied cab but most of the time, hand me an ice-cold beer and I’m your girl. And if you handed me a Guinness, we were INSTANT best friends!)
So there you have it. My tiny list of common places gluten can be lurking. Do NOT get discouraged. It is SO possible to live your life gluten free. The list can be daunting but we’re here for each other. We got this! I have so much more to cover with you so keep following and reading as I help provide you with a more detailed list soon! And check out my resources page for a more detailed list on spots gluten can be hiding!
“Never allow anyone to take away your sparkle. Be kind and laugh and love often.”