I have to admit, when I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease I had no idea what I was doing. All my doctor told me was that I would have to avoid foods that contained gluten and basically left me to figure the rest out on my own. Let me tell you, it is not easy removing gluten from your life, as it is in nearly everything.
Although I have been a self-proclaimed gluten free master for a few years now, even I still slip-up and accidentally come into contact with my arch nemesis, gluten. That is why I created this list of 5 surprising things you didn’t know contained gluten, so that you can avoid a future run-in with this villan.
1. Hand Sanitizer
Ah yes, something that many of us use on a regular basis. I learned the hard way that not all hand sanitizers are created equal. I became glutened about 5 minutes after I used some eucalyptus hand sanitizer from Bath & Body Works. Confused, as I hadn’t eaten anything in the past 2 hours, I wondered what was happening and why my fingers were tingling and my brain was filling with fog. I quickly checked the ingredients and lo and behold wheat germ oil was listed as an ingredient. I obsessively washed my hands (about 5 times) but the damage had already been done. It is important that you check labels of EVERYTHING including all of your beauty products! Please note that products you put on your skin are absorbed by your body.
2. Dog Food/Treats
Now I know what you are thinking – “I don’t eat dog food or treats, why does this matter?” It matters because we all love our dogs and we let them lick us (usually all over our faces). If your dog is eating food that contains gluten, you are likely to gluten yourself from not only serving them the food and/or treats, but by allowing them to get their gluten filled saliva all over you. I’ve been glutened by my dogs before from simple negligence on my part – not reading labels. Just because my little fur babies are on a grain free diet, it doesn’t always mean their favorite little treats don’t have barley or oats lurking in them. So, just like with the food you eat, always check the ingredients of the food they eat too!
3. Medication & Supplements
You wouldn’t think there would be gluten inside of your multivitamin or allergy medication but it is possible. Gluten is used as a bonding agent, therefore used in the production of many pills (and many foods) to help keep everything together. It is important that you double check the ingredient list on the package of all over the counter medications and supplements and consult with your doctor and pharmacist about the ingredients in your prescriptions.
In the beginning of my gluten free journey, I was only concerned about making sure there was no gluten in my food. I had NO idea that the beauty products I used everyday could also contain gluten. Many shampoos and conditioners contain hydrolyzed wheat protein or wheat germ oil. There are even some shampoos that contain oats, which are not gluten free. I was actually shocked at the amount of hair products (dry shampoo and hairspray included) that contain gluten – always check the label before you buy!
You may not think that this fun colorful goo would contain gluten, but it indeed does. If you are an adult with Celiac, gluten intolerance or a wheat allergy, you probably won’t come into contact with Play-Doh unless you have or work with little kids. Since Play-Doh is something kids play with using their hands, it is likely that they will transfer the gluten particles to their face and/or mouth and develop a reaction if they cannot have gluten. While the amount of wheat used in Play-Doh is unknown, they do explicitly state on their website that “children who are allergic to wheat gluten may have an allergic reaction to this product.“
As you can see, gluten is hiding in more places than just our food! My advice to you is to ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS read labels! Even on products that you know are safe and have used before without a problem. Manufacturers can change ingredients at any time without notifying consumers, so in order to avoid getting glutened, stay on top of those labels!