Nine Foods and Places to Avoid If You’re on a Gluten-Free Diet

Aug 20, 20210 comments

Going gluten-free entails removing all wheat, barley, and rye products from your diet. Sounds simple, right? But while ditching these ingredients may seem easy, it can take some time to root out all the hidden gluten from your food. Newbies in the gluten-free diet are especially vulnerable to gluten traps.

Gluten can hide practically anywhere and everywhere. To completely get rid of gluten, it’s crucial to learn how to recognize gluten on food labels. For starters, here are nine foods, products, and situations that pose a danger to those who are on a gluten-free diet.

Soy Sauce

Nine Foods and Places to Avoid If You're on a Gluten-Free Diet
Despite sounding soy-based, most soy sauce actually lists wheat as its number one ingredient. Most Chinese food also contains soy sauce, putting Chinese restaurants on this danger list as well.

Thankfully, there’s a traditionally brewed wheat-free Japanese soy sauce called tamari that you can use as a substitute. There are several brands of tamari in the market, including the gluten-free certified San-J brand.

Some Japanese restaurants also have tamari in stock for their gluten-sensitive customers, so keep that in mind when you’re looking for a good gluten-free restaurant. Traditional Thai soy sauce should also be gluten-free, but it’s still best to ask since most Thai restaurants in the U.S use soy sauce that contains wheat.

Cream-Based Soups

It’s easy to think that cream-based soups are gluten-free because the label says “cream.” But the truth is that most “cream” soups sold in the market have a creamy texture because they contain starch, which often comes from wheat flour. In fact, most commercial soup brands use tons of wheat every year in canned soup production.

To make sure you’re clear of gluten, read labels carefully and don’t always go for the less expensive stuff. Prepared soup in box packagings may not be as creamy as the canned ones, but they are often gluten-free. Who knows, you might discover a new favorite flavor in the process.

Ice Cream

Nine Foods and Places to Avoid If You're on a Gluten-Free Diet
Like in the case of cream-based soups, you wouldn’t think that ice cream would include gluten since it’s a dairy product. But most ice cream brands and flavors contain gluten, including “Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough” and “Key Lime Pie”.

Some commercial ice creams, even simple flavors like vanilla, contain wheat flour because the ingredient serves as a thickener. Other flavors contain cookies or candies, so you need to check the ingredients lists carefully.

There are plenty of gluten-free ice cream flavors out in the market, and some may also contain gluten-free chocolate chip cookie dough.

There’s also a risk of cross-contamination when eating ice cream in an ice cream parlor since the workers often use one ice cream scoop for all the flavors. When buying ice cream for take-out, first choose a gluten-free flavor. Then, ask the workers to get your ice cream from a fresh tub, and ask them to use a clean scoop, too. Also, make sure to get your toppings from a new container.

“Wheat-Free” Products

Many people think of “wheat” when they hear the word “gluten.” However, wheat-free doesn’t mean gluten-free. Wheat-free products may still contain barley or rye ingredients. If you have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, you need to eliminate gluten and not just wheat. So don’t be fooled by products that say “wheat-free” because they may still be bad for you.


Not many people know that beer contains gluten. When you drink beer occasionally, you rarely focus on its ingredients. However, conventional beer contains barley. Thankfully, several supermarkets and restaurants sell gluten-free beer.

A lot of people are saying they still like the regular beer better, but gluten-free beer is getting better and better thanks to hardworking brewers. If you have celiac disease, avoid the so-called “gluten-removed” beer, as it’s not safe for you.

Prescription Medications

Food labels list all wheat ingredients (but not barley or rye) on their labels, which makes it easier for us to choose which products are safe. But the rule doesn’t apply to prescription drugs, which sometimes contain gluten grains as a filler. No rules require prescription drug manufacturers to disclose these ingredients to consumers.

It’s also very hard to determine if the drug you’re taking is gluten-free as ingredients can change in time, and the company’s customer service representatives often do not know about these changes either.

To avoid this danger, tell your pharmacist that you need to be gluten-free, and always double-check every single refill to find out if there were changes in the ingredients.

Gourmet Meats

It’s common to see prepared gourmet meats in high-end grocery retailers nowadays. There are sausages and prepared ribs, chicken, or fish in a delicious sauce. However, many of these foods do not come with a complete ingredient list. The stores often outsource their sauces and spice rubs, so they may not be able to thoroughly track the ingredients.

Even if workers in the meat counter know what’s in them, you still need to be careful. While the meat may not contain gluten, there may be a risk for cross-contamination, and you’ll know just by looking at the other items at the meat counter that contain bread crumbs. Beware, especially if you have gluten sensitivity.

Restaurant Meals

Restaurant Meals
More restaurants are more aware of gluten issues nowadays, offering better gluten-free options on their menu, so it has become easier for people with gluten sensitivity to eat out. However, dining out can still be dangerous. While you can order something that “looks safe” off the menu, hamburgers may still have bread crumbs, marinades can contain soy sauce, and not to mention the high risk of cross-contamination in the kitchen.

As hard as it may be, you must tell your server that your meal must be gluten-free. You may even need to talk to the manager and/or chef to find out what are the ingredients so you can get a safe meal.

Meals with Friends and Family

Sometimes, it can be more difficult to stay gluten-free when eating at a friend or family member’s home than it is at restaurants because most chefs and servers undergo training for food sensitivities, while your mom has not. Going gluten-free and creating a perfectly gluten-free meal requires study and deep cleaning of the kitchen.

It’s not advisable to eat food prepared by friends or family unless you supervised the whole process of meal preparation. The one in charge of food may not realize that soy sauce or flour can ruin your meal and diet, and they won’t know to watch for other hazards that may cause cross-contamination. It would still be safer to bring your own food.

Gluten can hide in places you wouldn’t expect. When you’re just starting a gluten-free diet, don’t let your guard down at all. However, if you’ve mastered the intricacies of the diet, it’ll be easy for you to tell whether there’s hidden gluten in foods, and you’ll know to avoid it.

Here at Wave the Grain, we have a 100% gluten-free kitchen. All our ingredients, utensils, oven, and every surface, are free from any risk of cross-contamination. We serve pastries, bread, cakes and cupcakes, and savory dishes that are completely gluten-free. You can see our full ingredient list on our website. Visit us today at 8172 South Holly Street Centennial, CO 80122!