Starting out Gluten Free:
People with Celiac disease can treat their symptons by following a gluten free diet. That means avoiding wheat, barley, oats (for some), and rye. I have cut a lot more foods from my diet (grains and sugar) in addition to foods that contain gluten but I don't think I could have handled that at first. Here are my tips when starting out on a gluten free diet.

1. Gluten is hidden in EVERYTHING!!! (at least that's what it feels like) so check everything you eat. Only eat foods that are labeled gluten free or the manufacturer confirms it. It's not worth it to "see what happens".

2. Know your ingredients. Modified food starch and maltodextrin should be avoided unless stated that they are made from corn. Barley malt extract is a common sweetener used in flavored coffees and cereals.  Check out for a Forbidden List and Safe List of ingredients.

4. Do your research. Most product sites have a gluten free section. If not, I google my questions and find the answers on blog posts.

5. Simplify your fridge. If your family can handle it, get rid of the sauces, snacks and pre-made foods that contain gluten. People with Celiac disease have a hard enough time as it is when eating out, it's nice to come home to a gf "safe" kitchen.

6. When eating out, call ahead and ask the restaurant's policy on preparing gf meals. I have been pleasantly surprised at servers' and chefs' knowledge and willingness to work with my needs. That being said, don't feel guilty asking questions to make sure your food is safe.

7. Bring your own dish or snack when attending social events. It just makes life easier for the host and you less worried.

Hidden Gluten:
Gluten is used in a lot of products and can easily be hidden.  In the beginning of my GF diet adventure, I got sick enough times from foods that I assumed were gluten free that I hopped on the "know as much as possible and be super strict" bandwagon.  Here is a list of foods and products that may not be on your radar yet:

1. Alcohol, Vanilla Extract, & Soy Sauce
  • GF Beer, Hard Apple Cider, Wine, pure Tequila, pure Rum, pure Rice Liquor and Potato Vodka are all GF. Traditional beer is not GF and other liquors are created from gluten grains. Liqueurs, like amaretto, have a base of distilled grain alcohol that often isn't even listed on the bottle. Distilled products are technically certified GF. I, however, and many others still get sick from the aforementioned distilled alcohol products.
  • Vanilla has the same issue- it contains distilled grain alcohol. I suggest Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla. Yum.
  • Soy Sauce typically contains wheat, and there are wheat free varieties available- this works for many people. Yet these also contain alcohol. When I'm not following the GAPS diet, I use a wheat-free and alcohol-free soy sauce, Koyo Organic Wheat Free Tamari Soy Sauce found at MOM's.

2. Sour Cream & Blue Cheese
  • Sour Cream may contain gluten as a thickener (Ruby Tuesday's is not GF)
  • Traditionally the mold in blue cheese is grown on bread- not GF. Today, many brands of blue cheese are GF because a "liquid mold" is used instead. 

3. Marinades & Dressings
  • Both marinades and dressings can contain soy sauce, thickeners and gluten-based sweeteners. Annie's Naturals makes a great GF papaya poppyseed dressing and Lea and Perrins worcestire is gluten free.
4. Fast Food & Corn Chips
  • Grilled chicken (like at McDonald's), burgers, fries (McDonald's again!), toppings, sauces, and soft serve ice cream may contain gluten. Fast Food websites do have allergen lists and Wendy's even has them posted on the restaurant wall. If you have to eat fast food, I recommend Wendy's and chick-fil-a ( which has an easily found "gluten info" section on their website)!
  • Some corn chips contain flour (like at Chili's-yet their salsa is GF)

5. Meat & Lunch Meats
  • I once ate at a restaurant where they guaranteed me a gluten free meal, and I still got sick from eating it. Turns out the beef they used had modified food starch from wheat, injected into the meat, and the restaurant and chefs didn't even know. Needless to say, check your meat for additives and solutions!
  • Deli meat is processed and contains fillers. Applegate Farms, Dietz and Watson, and Boar's Head have gluten free varieties.
6. Flavored Coffee & Teas
  • Hazelnut and Vanilla flavored coffees are a no-no. However, some Coffee-mate dry creamers are GF and DF, even the flavored varieties (labeled on the container).
  • You would think all tea is GF, I've even read it on GF sites. But, a few Tazo teas from Starbuck's actually contain gluten!!! Do not drink the ginger green tea, honeybush tea, passion fruit iced tea (not listed on their site, but definitely made me and a GF friend sick), lemon ginger iced tea, or lemonade iced tea. Pretty devious, huh?

7. Stock & Broth
  • Campbell's has a great gf list.  Their Swanson canned chicken stock is gluten free, but the canned beef stock is not.  I got confused between all of the varieties, so double check!
8. Medicines, Vitamins & Baking Powder
  • Here's a list of gf medicines and vitamins I found very helpful.  Baking powder contains starch fillers, both Rumford and Clabbergirl are gf. 
9. Candy, Gum & Mints
  • Altoids contain wheat!  Luckily, lots of candy like starburst and m&ms and certain gums, like trident, are gf.
10. Toothpaste & Chapstick
  • These things can easily be ingested, so it's very important that they're gluten free.   Crest, Colgate and Aquafresh toothpastes are gf.  Arm and Hammer and Tom's of Maine are also gf but  Sensodyne can not guarantee that it is gf.  As for chapsticks, Blistex, Carmex, burt's bees, lobello and badger balm are gf.