What Does Gluten Free Mean? Easy Guide

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Have you ever wondered what exactly gluten free means? If so, we’ll explain it in an easy way for you to understand.

From celebrities endorsing gluten free lifestyles to grocery store aisles stacked with specialized products, we’ll delve into what gluten free really means.

A person reaching for gluten free bread at a store.

What does gluten free mean?

Gluten free refers to a dietary term and label used to describe foods and products that do not contain gluten.

A selection of breads.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in these grains:

  • wheat
  • barley
  • rye
  • spelt
  • durum wheat
  • bulgur
  • kamut
  • einkorn wheat
  • farro (also known as emmer)

Please note, not all grains contain gluten. For example, rice and corn are grains and they do not contain gluten.

Corn on the cob with potato wedges, grilled peppers, and a dip.

What are gluten free foods?

Gluten free food items are made from ingredients that do not contain gluten, such as rice, corn, potatoes, quinoa, almonds (almond flour), and even coconuts (coconut flour).

A banana cake with a slice removed.

These food items can either be naturally gluten free like an apple or made gluten free like gluten free bread that is made specifically with special gluten free flours.

Three bottles of bourbon.

The manufacturing process can make the item gluten free. For example, distilled alcohol like bourbon is usually made from grains that contain gluten but it is considered gluten free because of the distillation process. Some people still react to distilled alcohol.

The other thing gluten free means is food or items that have not been contaminated with gluten. For example, oats are naturally gluten free but during the processing of oats, they can become contaminated with gluten. It is important to purchase certified gluten free oats that have been processed in a gluten free manufacturing facility.

Three cups of chocolate peanut butter and oats dessert.

So when you see a product labeled gluten free it means it does not contain any gluten. It is either naturally gluten free or has been made with gluten free ingredients to make it gluten free like gluten free bread.

Certified Gluten Free Label

Some products will just be labeled gluten free and others will be labeled certified gluten free. Usually, the items labeled gluten free are naturally gluten free like an apple, banana, etc.

The items labeled certified gluten free have been made with gluten free ingredients and in a gluten free facility and tested for the presence of gluten.

Who needs to avoid gluten?

Some people have medical conditions, such as celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or wheat allergy, that require them to avoid gluten in their diet.

For them, consuming gluten-containing foods can lead to adverse reactions, ranging from gastrointestinal symptoms to allergic reactions or autoimmune responses.

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Instead, they need to eat gluten free alternatives like gluten free bread made from flour that is gluten free and avoid foods that have been cross-contaminated with gluten-containing foods.

For individuals with celiac disease or gluten-related disorders, it is crucial to read food labels carefully and be vigilant about cross-contamination, as even small amounts of gluten can trigger adverse reactions.

Many countries have established gluten free labeling regulations to help consumers identify safe products.

If you need to eat gluten free it is important to consider purchasing items labeled certified gluten free to help ensure the product is gluten free and has not been contaminated.

DISCLOSURE: Not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations is at the choice and risk of the reader. Ditch the Wheat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. I only endorse products that I believe in.

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Carol Lovett is the founder of Ditch the Wheat and a Globe and Mail bestselling author of the cookbook, Ditch the Wheat. She has been eating gluten free since 2010. She loves all things food, natural living, and spiritual. She's also a reiki master and crystal healer.

Gluten Free Resources

Do you need help with gluten free meals?
I recommend this meal-planning app. It makes cooking gluten free dinners extremely easy and family-friendly.
What gluten free snacks can I eat?
Lots! I have a ton of practical gluten free snack recipes in my cookbook.
How can I eat dessert on a gluten free diet?
You can 100% eat dessert while eating gluten free. Try my dessert cookbook for easy gluten free dessert recipes.
How do I know what is gluten free and what isn’t?
I have a whole section is it gluten free?
How do I make substitutions?
If you need substitution advice I created a ton of resources here.

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