Know Your Ingredients

Reading labels and packages

The best way to approach shopping for gluten-free foods is to read the nutrition and ingredient labels carefully. Many packages say gluten free on the label. Labels are also a great teaching tool for children as they learn to read and identify gluten-free foods on their own.

Here are some common gluten-free logos you may encounter:

gluten-free logos

As you start to look for more gluten-free food, you’ll find that wheat, barley, rye, and oats are often in other, less obvious products, such as salad dressings, puddings, and other foods. Manufacturers add other products to foods to improve their taste, shelf life, or appearance. Also, standards for foods that have come from other countries can vary, so use caution when buying.

Additionally, wheat is a common allergen. Due to this, products that contain wheat are required by law to declare wheat in a “contains” statement. However, rye, barley, and non-gluten-free oats are not included in this law. Continuing to read the full food label will be the best tool for a successful gluten-free diet.

Finally, if you’re not sure about whether an item contains gluten, contact the manufacturer directly. Most labels have an email address or telephone number for customer service. Here are some gluten-free foods and ingredients to choose.

What grains should my child avoid?

The “big four” grains to remove from your child’s diet are: Wheat, Barley, Rye and Oats* (unless they are labeled “certified gluten free”)

Oats are naturally gluten free. But they can pick up gluten during harvesting and food processing; this is called cross contact or cross contamination. When you buy certified gluten-free oats, it guarantees that the oats are free from gluten contamination.

If you see any of these grains and grain products on the food label, move on to another product that doesn’t contain it. Avoid these foods and ingredients.

Grocery store shelves are full of options that can make it a little easier to go gluten free. However, proceed mindfully when choosing gluten-free substitutes. Many products are not as nutritious because they are made from refined grains and have added sugar, fat, and salt.