Reading Food Labels

One of the biggest hurdles my clients face when going gluten free initially is identifying what is and isn’t gluten free when walking up and down those never ending grocery store isles. It’d be nice to assume that everything retailed today is straightforward and transparent, however I’m sorry to say that it isn’t always the case. It’s in the best interest of consumers (that’s you and me) to read the food labels of what your purchasing and trusting in the label and that the claims they make regardless of whether it is a “gluten free food label” or not.

Misconception can be very dangerous and risky, especially for those who have coeliac’s disease, any gluten sensitivities or allergies.  Please note:  I strongly believe that we should all know what is in whatever we put into our bodies, regardless of if you’re reading for a gluten free diet or any other allergy/diet requirements. You should always have the knowledge of knowing what is in the food you are consuming. After all what you put in your bodies is what you get out.

On that note, here are a few things you ought to take into consideration when gluten free shopping.

  • “Wheat free” doesn’t always mean “gluten free”. While gluten is primarily derived from processing the said grain, it can also be derived from barley, rye and triticale. So food manufacturers may be misleading you into thinking you’re home free with the tag ‘wheat free’. The best thing you could do to avoid this gluten free food list problem is to stick to alternative gluten free grains like corn, rice, tapioca and quinoa. Buy local from farmers markets instead of large conventional pre-packaged grocery stores as often as possible.
  • Factory made “gluten free” food doesn’t always live up to the expectation. It’s quite easy to contaminate naturally gluten free products with gluten, especially if the middle ground isn’t as meticulously guarded as it should be. Sometimes, it isn’t even the manufacturer’s fault because wheat flour, for example, can stay airborne for hours and travel meters at a time. The most rational move you can make regarding this stale mate is to research on gluten free food brands that include wheat products in their roster or are in locations where there are a lot of wheat fields.  This note is particularly crucial for those with coeliac’s disease.
  • In cases where you don’t have prior knowledge of the above facts, what you can do is check out if the gluten free food labels are approved by the Food and Drug Administration’s, and other similar organisations. Some of which would contain certified Certifications from the Gluten Free foundations and other food governing bodies.  Note that depending on what country you are in that these may change from country to country.


Personally when working with clients I am more comfortable with recommending gluten free food that has been certified by the GFCO (Gluten Free Certification Organization) program because that means the resource went out of their way to coordinate with gluten free shopping authorities to authenticate their gluten free food labels. On the other end of the spectrum, I am much more confident in eating what I’ve bought when I know first hand that the produce has no signs of gluten at all. Besides fruits and vegetables which are a major part of mine and my clients diet’s, I try to recommend sticking with farm fresh ingredients, like eggs, meats, beans, seeds and dairy products. Fresh is best!

Reading food labels as a novice can be tough, I know I’ve been there myself. If you keep in mind my gluten free shopping tips and you’re bound to make smart choices. If in case you find this all too complicated, the next best thing is only consume products that you can read the labels and ingredients off. If you can’t read or pronounce an ingredient it probably shouldn’t be entering your body, after all if you don’t understand it how is your body suppose to?

Want to find out more about Shopping Gluten Free?

Here are some more great reads:

> What is Gluten Free

> 10 Must have’s for a Gluten Free Pantry

How to get Started on a Gluten Free Diet

> 8 Gluten Free Grain Alternatives



Wellsome by Jema Lee Signature

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