10 Silly Mistakes You Make on The Gluten Free Diet

I often get emails from new celiacs praising me about how perfect I seem at living gluten-free. Ha! The truth is it takes a little bit of planning and work to maintain a gluten-free lifestyle despite the fact that I have gotten better at working through the challenges. So since it is Friday, I decided to post a few dumb mistakes I have made on the gluten-free diet that have left me in hives or otherwise uncomfortable. Doh!

10. Fries at a fast food restaurant– French fries at a fast food restaurant are not a good plan. It doesn’t matter if McDonald’s french fries are or are not fried in oil derived from wheat… If you order fries from a place that makes fried food you will eventually end up with a cross-contamination issue. It also gets tiresome asking restaurant employees to make sure things are cooked in a separate fryer. And so I have had the craving for french fries (especially as a crying hungry pregnant woman) and gotten burned for it. It may turn out that you don’t “get gluten-ed” today, but chances are you will eventually if you eat french fries at a fast food restaurant. Do as I say, not as I do…

9. Peanut Butter Jar– Sad but true. I have been “gluten-ed” by this rather simple error. I have heard some people on the gluten free diet say that they institute a “don’t double dip” rule with a single peanut butter jar. This makes me laugh really hard. The last thing I want to do is nag about double dipping to my husband and children. Two peanut butter jars really didn’t work for us either, so now we use the homemade gluten-free bread that I make which makes everyone happy.

8. Chicken Broth– Campbell’s Chicken Broth is definitely, without a question, NOT gluten-free. My mother-in-law (whom I love dearly) made me a chicken tortilla soup and I ended up with really, really bad hives. She still has not forgiven herself for this, but I wish she would because I was never upset! It was a really easy mistake! Now we go over every ingredient together. My advice is to make your own chicken broth or buy one you trust like the gluten-free brand, Pacific Foods.

7. Hand Sanitizer– I admit that the “gluten in beauty products” thing eluded me at first. This is probably the area that I make the most silly mistakes. My first (not last) experience was with hand sanitizer. It pretty much scalded my hands. So FYI, pretty much everything at Bath and Body Works has wheat germ oil in it. We all need to form a coalition against giving people this stuff as gifts. Just my two cents.

6. Phantom Croutons on My Salad– To all the waiters and other restaurant staff (who still manage to sleep at night) who simply toss my croutons off my salad after being told that I have celiac disease and a wheat allergy, beware!

5. Vitamins– Working with your doctor on the right vitamin to take can be tricky. It is best to be proactive and talk with your doctor, the pharmacist, and the vitamin manufacturer to make sure the product you are taking is gluten free. This is a mistake I made when I was newly pregnant with my first son (scary!) but luckily I threw most of those vitamins right back up again.

4 . Flavored Coffee– Most coffee is naturally gluten free! That is good news for me. I have been “gluten-ed” by some flavorings and flavored coffees, so coffee lovers beware of these hidden glutens. And no one should go near instant coffee because it isn’t the real thing, but watch those brands if you are making a recipe that calls for it.

3. Sour Cream– I hate it when I accidentally bring home the light sour cream instead of the full fat sour cream. I have been hurt by the light sour cream, so if you are still eating dairy, make sure you bring the right kind of sour cream home. Most sour cream is gluten-free, but some brands of full fat/light sour cream are not. Restaurant sour cream is the worst. On the Border‘s sour cream is not gluten-free (last I checked) and I had to send my food back because they automatically put it on my salad even though I asked for the salad off the gluten free menu. Be very specific even when ordering from a gf menu!

2. Shampoo– I used to get my hair cut at an Aveda salon, but had to change when the products bothered me. Since the potion for these shampoos changes all the time, you may want to just wash your hair before you go. Most salons have rules against bringing your own products in, but you may get away with it in a smaller, local place. Shampoo may not bother everybody, but if you are taking a shower there is a chance the shampoo might wind up in your mouth (gross!).

1. Cadbury Cream Eggs– This is my dumbest and most recent mistake. I am kinda embarrassed to admit this craving, but these things were my favorite Easter candy as a kid. Anyway, I really thought these things were gluten-free, but it turns out that they are not! I forgot to check the label, and ingested one of these cream egg things. I read the label after eating my old favorite Easter candy (rookie mistake!) and ‘wheat’ was written as clear as day on the label. Yuck! I swear these things were gluten-free before in the U.S. (I could be wrong) but clearly they aren’t now. Things change, so make sure you read the labels every time. 

UPDATE: someone on the listserve wrote to say that those Cadbury eggs do have ‘wheat’ on the label, but they are in fact still gluten free. Apparently, the ‘wheat’ is the starter for the glucose syrup and the end result renders them gluten free- sort of like the distillation process and vinegar. So, I am not sure what to tell you about those Cadbury eggs. Maybe I will avoid them because they are bad for the waistline. I am not sure I can get over the ‘wheat’ on the label.

DISCLAIMER**** I call these ‘silly’ mistakes, but they are serious mistakes for anyone on the gluten free diet with celiac disease and/or food allergies. I call them ‘silly’ because I should have known better and to illustrate how these mistakes sneak up on you even after you have been on the gluten-free diet for years.

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