Grocery shopping can feel overwhelming if you’re following a gluten-free diet. You may know which foods you can and cannot eat, but packaged and processed foods may contain gluten.
Knowing how to read labels and which foods to steer clear of will make your shopping trips less stressful. In this guide, we’ll share some tips to help you create a gluten-free shopping list for beginners.
More people are doing their grocery shopping online. Many people find that it’s actually easier to do gluten free shopping online than in-person. Why? Because you can take your time and research products before making a purchase. You also have the option of shopping at a gluten free online shop, which eliminates much of the guesswork when choosing gluten-free products.
When shopping online, make sure that you take the time to learn more about the online retailer and any brand or product that’s new to you. Labels can help ensure that you’re only purchasing gluten-free products.
When shopping gluten free foods, it’s important to know how to read food labels. In the U.S., FDA-regulated food products can only be labeled as gluten-free if they contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) gluten.
But you don’t necessarily have to limit yourself to only foods labeled as gluten-free. Remember that this gluten-free label is voluntary. Some foods that aren?t labeled gluten-free may not contain gluten. For this reason, it’s important to read ingredient statements when shopping for products.
How to read ingredient statements?
When reading ingredients on products, look for:
- Derivatives of these ingredients, like malt (derived from barley);
- Semolina, kamut, bulgur, durum, einkorn, farina, couscous, faro, and spelt (these are all varieties of wheat);
- Brewer’s yeast;
Be careful when shopping for flour and grains, as they often come in contact with gluten. When purchasing these products, it’s best to stick with ones labeled as gluten-free.
While oats are naturally gluten-free, there is a high risk of cross-contact with grains that do have gluten. Therefore, stick to oats that are labeled gluten-free.
Here’s another tip for label reading: look for allergen warnings. Food products must declare certain allergens: wheat, soy, nuts, egg, and milk. If you see this warning, then you know there’s a chance that it contains wheat. But one important thing to note here is that barley and rye are not required to be listed as an allergen. So, don’t use this rule alone to shop for gluten-free products.
If you find products with confusing labels, put them back on the shelf. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to avoiding gluten.
Once you get the hang of reading labels and know what to look for, shopping will be much less stressful. Eventually, you’ll develop a list of go-to products and brands that will make grocery shopping even easier.
How to shop gluten free?
Everyone needs help with gluten free shopping at first. Learning to read labels is crucial. But it’s helpful to know the basics of which foods are generally safe to eat and which ones to avoid.
Gluten is found in many kinds of cereal, including wheat, rye, barley, spelt and their derivative products. But you’ll also find that many natural, unprocessed foods are free of gluten, including:
- Fish and shellfish;
- Meat and poultry;
- Dairy products;
- Fresh fruits and vegetables;
- Legumes, nuts, herbs, and spices;
The key is to ensure that these foods are fresh, plain, and unprocessed. Fresh chicken breast is almost certainly safe to eat, but breaded chicken breast is almost certainly not.
If you can stick strictly to whole and unprocessed foods, that’s great. However, most people consume at least some processed foods, so make sure that you know what to look for when reading labels. Use the tips above to help you find products that are free of gluten.
Here are some other helpful tips for shopping gluten-free:
- Research brands and products before you go so that you know what to look for when you’re shopping;
- Ask friends for recommendations;
- Join gluten-free food groups on social media. Ask for recommendations or look for brands and products that members share;
- Shop the perimeter of the store. Here, you’ll find produce, meat, seafood, and dairy products that are naturally gluten-free;
Over time, gluten-free grocery shopping will get much easier. You’ll develop a list of favorite brands and products that you’ll stick with, which will save you time in the store. But as a beginner, the tips above will make your shopping trips less stressful and overwhelming. Looking for gluten-free labels and reading ingredient statements will make it much easier to avoid gluten.
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