I’ve been diagnosed for a while now and I’m still getting confused! You walk around the shop for hours getting more and more frustrated! There are loads of gluten free myths floating around and I’ve decided to tackle them head on!
Oats are naturally gluten free, but you can’t go eating oats willy nilly! It’s recommended that you avoid all oats for 6 months, to allow your stomach to heal. Then try some pure, uncontaminated oats. Oats are often milled in the same factory as wheat flour meaning major contamination issues! So no Quaker Oats, no Oat so simple….only pure, uncontaminated labeled gluten free oats, look for the crossed grain symbol! You can find a list of these in the wonderful Coeliac Uk food and drink directory! However, BEWARE…. Not all Coeliacs can eat these ‘pure’ oats, for some people it will still make you ill! Try with care! If you’ve not eaten oats yet, I’d recommend having a small spoon full in the morning and record how your feeling for any ‘gluteny’ changes! But always talk to your dietician!
Starch which is added to food usually comes from wheat, potato, maize and corn. Do not fret! Starch made from wheat it must be clearly labelled on the ingredients list.. ‘Modified wheat starch’ ‘starch (from wheat)’ ect. Any other kind of starch, is gluten free… Even if it just says ‘modified starch’. Confusion over.
Moving on to…the dreaded barley malt extract!
You can not have barley malt, so no Horlicks before bedtime! However, barley malt extract is used in such tiny quantities that it can be suitable for Coeliacs, but make sure you check the food directory for the definitive list. It’s usually the cheaper cereal brands that tend to use less barley malt extract, but check check check!
Now, barley malt vinegar! Oh what confusion this caused to me and my sister. Lauren loves mint sauce and lived for almost a year and a half with less than satisfactory lamb. However all vinegar is gluten free! So pour that tangy liquid on your chips now! If you still don’t believe me, it’s because of the distilling and fermentation process, it removes the gluten from it… that means you can also drink malt whiskey too.
Now MSG Monosodium glutamate (or MSG) is gluten-free. It is a flavour enhancer used in many manufactured foods and can be made from wheat; however, during processing the wheat protein is completely hydrolysed (broken down) and can be eaten by people with coeliac disease.
Mustard, mustard is gluten free, mustard flour is gluten free….however English Mustard usually has wheat flour added to it, I know Colemans does for sure, but check your directory!
Finally, cosmetics, shower gels, shampoos and toothpaste! This is the biggest myth of all and I see it plastered all over the Internet! When was the last time you ate a bottle of shampoo? Gluten ingredients are only a problem if ingested. I could rub a sandwich all over my face and it will be fine. There is no need to buy gluten free cosmetics, toothpaste, or any other toiletries because. There is no way you can eat enough to cause you to be sick! I promise! Talk to your dietician if your still worried, and you can find out in more detail from the Coeliac UK website. There has been a lot of discussion over this, so I have contacted Coeliac UK, you can see what they say in this follow up blog…here. I must add an addition to this, it is possible that people can have a skin reaction to a product that contains gluten, it is possible to have gluten sensitivities as well as coeliac disease, but it not caused by coeliac disease. In the same way as people can have skin reactions to cosmetics containing gluten without having coeliac disease. If you are concerned about this, contact the manufacturers directly about a specific product, or talk to Coeliac UK, who I’m sure will be happy to help.
I hope these myths have made your life a little easier, it certainly did mine! Now I live for drinking vinegar and rubbing muffins on my forehead.
*all information was correct at the time of writing and is only correct for the UK. I can not guarantee this is true worldwide*