For people with certain medical conditions, such as celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is necessary to manage symptoms. Some people simply feel better when they avoid gluten. However, avoiding gluten isn’t as easy as it sounds. Gluten is present in many foods, some of them you might never suspect. If you’re helping an older adult to eat gluten-free, learning how to read product labels is the key to choosing products that fit into the diet plan.
Gluten is a type of protein that is found in grains, such as wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten helps foods made with grain keep their shape because it’s sticky. Gluten is what gives bread dough its elastic quality. In fact, the name “gluten” comes from the glue-like properties of the protein.
Recognizing Products with Gluten
Determining if a food contains gluten can sometimes be tricky. That’s because the USDA doesn’t require food manufacturers to disclose that a product contains gluten on the label. They do have to state that the product contains wheat, but wheat isn’t the only place gluten is found. So, that means it’s necessary to know what sources of gluten are.
The most common ingredients containing gluten are:
- Brewer’s yeast.
- Oats (except when labeled gluten-free).
There are lots of products that are obvious foods to avoid, but there are many items you might not think to check the label on. Some surprising items that could contain gluten are:
- Flavored teas and coffees.
- Imitation bacon bits.
- Salad dressings.
- Sausages and hot dogs.
- Soy sauce.
What to Look for On Food Labels
The Celiac Disease Foundation recommends looking for the following information on food labels:
- “Gluten-Free”: The FDA only allows manufacturers to use state a product is gluten-free on the label if it contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten, so those products are probably safe to eat.
- Obvious Ingredients: Look for the things you know contain gluten, like wheat, barley, or rye.
- Allergen Listing: If the product contains a list of known allergens, check it out. Wheat is a known allergen, so looking at the allergens can be a quick way to rule a food out. However, not having an allergen listing doesn’t make a food gluten-free. There are several gluten-containing ingredients that are not considered common allergens.
A senior care provider can assist an older adult with following a gluten-free diet. Labels can be difficult for aged eyes to see because the print is often quite small. A senior care provider can go to the grocery store with your aging family member and read the labels for them. And, if your loved one has difficulty cooking, a senior care provider can also help with preparing gluten-free meals.
If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Plainsboro, NJ, please contact the caring staff at Care Street Home Care of New Brunswick today. Call (732) 607-8870.
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