Avoiding gluten in foods

Posted by Marnie Nitschke on

 Part 4.

Last week Marnie explored the key points of eating gluten free for coeliac disease. This week she looks deeper by explaining how you can be sure you are avoiding all sources of gluten. 

1. First and foremost, if you have been diagnosed with coeliac disease, join Coeliac Australia and make contact with an expert dietitian, who can provide thorough education about shopping, label reading, cooking and dining out. You’re not supposed to be able to work this all out on your own!

2. There are plenty of foods that are naturally gluten free, which can form the foundation of a healthy and varied diet. These include:
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Unprocessed cuts of meat, poultry and fish, eggs, plain tofu
  • Plain milk, many yoghurts (check ingredients) and cheeses
  • Plain or salted nuts, tinned or dried legumes
  • All fats and oils (butter, margarine, cooking oils)
  • GF cereals and grains like rice, quinoa, buckwheat, corn, sorghum and teff.

We Feed You ready meals are a fabulous option to take the load off, expand your variety and have healthy gluten free meals on hand for quick lunches and dinners.  All the gluten free meals are produced in a dedicated kitchen which is strictly gluten free. 

3. Look for foods with a gluten free declaration

In Australia, if a product is labelled as “gluten free” this overrides all other statements. This is considered a high-level health claim and to carry this statement, the product must contain no gluten ingredients.  Products which are at risk of cross contamination with gluten as they are made in shared kitchen facilities should not be labelled gluten free without the correct allergen management plan in place. 

You may see some brands attempt to use creative wording such as ‘no added gluten’, ‘gluten friendly’ or ‘coeliac safe’. These are not permitted under the Food Standards Code in Australia. 

  1. Read labels, and learn how to identify packaged foods that are gluten free by ingredient.

Australian law specifies that even if used in only in very small amounts, ingredients including wheat or gluten must clearly be labelled.  These will be listed in bold, and / or declared using a ‘contains’ statement at the bottom of the ingredient list.

Read through the ingredient list and look for wheat, barley, rye, oats and their derivatives. If none of these ingredients are present, you can safely include the food on a gluten free diet.

  1. Be aware of cross contamination risks, and put processes in place to reduce the likelihood of unintentional exposure, e.g.
  • Use a separate toaster, or reusable toaster bags (available from Coeliac Australia)
  • Clean grills and barbeques and cooking implements properly
  • Watch out for crumbs on benches, cutting boards, in spreads
  • Ask the right questions when eating at restaurants and alert friends / family as to how to choose and prepare meals that are gluten free.

Eating gluten free can be a challenge to start with, and no-one gets it 100% right straight way.  With practice, you’ll be shopping, cooking, reading labels and eating out with confidence!  The best advice: never stop checking labels, learning and exploring the world of delicious gluten free cuisine.


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