13 surprising foods you didn't know contained gluten

Many people believe that cutting out gluten, the protein found in wheat, is helping them feel like their healthiest selves.

But while research suggests the vast majority of people don’t need to avoid gluten, for people with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which gluten damages the small intestine, a gluten-free diet is necessary to avoid some very nasty symptoms.

Going gluten-free means, yes, avoiding breads and other wheat-based products, but there are a number of other foods one wouldn’t expect to contain gluten that could have it.

Here are 13 foods you should avoid if you have celiac:

Ice cream


Many brands and flavours of ice cream are already gluten-free, but some may contain wheat ingredients like wheat starch, malt, and some artificial colours and flavours.

Check the ingredients carefully before you buy, and absolutely avoid flavours like chocolate chip cookie dough, cookies and cream, and cake batter.

Ground spices

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There are two reasons why ground spices like curry powder, turmeric, paprika, and cinnamon might contain gluten: They were either contaminated while in the factory, or the manufacturer added a little flour to them later to prevent caking.

Most herbs and spices are safe, however, especially if they're fresh.



Most chocolate is safe to eat if you can't have gluten, but some may contain crispy bits or caramel colouring that could contain gluten, or may be processed on equipment that also handles wheat-based ingredients.

Cocoa powder, hot cocoa mix, and chocolate sprinkles may also not be completely free of gluten.



It's not just beer and ale -- many varieties of alcohol have gluten in them, including whiskey, bourbon, and rye.

Cider, wine, tequila, and rum are almost always safe to drink for people who can't have gluten, as are gluten-free beer brands like Omission and New Planet.


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Unless it's processed on contaminated equipment, all rice is gluten-free. However, it's the California roll that celiacs should worry about, which is made with imitation crab meat -- an assortment of different seafoods and fish mixed with starch.

Other kinds of fish are perfectly fine, but again, make sure you use proper gluten-free accoutrements (soy sauce and even some kinds of wasabi).

Deli meat

Chris Snyder

Cold cuts, including hot dogs and sausages, can become contaminated with gluten when they're being processed. Some may also contain wheat-based fillers.

But not to worry, it's perfectly fine to eat grain-fed meat.

Seitan, aka 'wheat meat'


Seitan, and many other vegan or fake-meat products, are made primarily of gluten (one nickname for gluten is 'wheat meat,' since it's a protein that comes from wheat).

Many gluten-free vegans and vegetarians have developed recipes for seitan sans gluten.


Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Gravy is commonly made by taking the drippings from chicken, turkey, or other roasted meat and thickening them with flour or cornstarch.

Gravy made with cornstarch is fine for folks with celiac; gravy made with flour is not.

Fried foods

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Not all fried foods have gluten in them, but the ones that are battered (in beer, flour, breadcrumbs, etc.) and then fried could be problematic.

As long as the frying oil hasn't touched wheat, other fried foods are harmless.

Whole grains


Just because a grain is labelled 'whole' doesn't mean it's gluten-free. Couscous, spelt, orzo, barley, and kamut are all whole grains that contain gluten.

Safe-to-eat whole grains include buckwheat, quinoa, flax, millet, and sorghum.

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