Let’s be honest: maintaining a gluten-free lifestyle can be really annoying. A few other adjectives that come to mind: time-consuming, awkward, boring, and frustrating. It’s not all fun and games, but you do what you have to do to protect your health; even when that means interrupting a first date to give the waiter the third-degree, or shouting complicated instructions into a drive-through speaker. It’s not a glamorous life, but it’s the reality for those that are gluten-free.
But there’s another reality out there that can’t be ignored. For gluten-free newbies and even some seasoned vets, it’s easy to overlook the gluten-filled world that exists beyond the plate. For those with Celiac and serious sensitivities, everyday products that contain gluten ingredients are just as dangerous as the foods you meticulously avoid on a daily basis. We don’t mean to get all 20/20 on you, but you might be slathering gluten all over your face every single day, and you don’t even know it. We’re not suggesting you live in fear of gluten, but there’s no better time than now to ensure your knowledge of gluten in everyday products is up to snuff, so that you can move on and enjoy your life.
Let’s curb some unnecessary headaches (and stomach aches, and breakouts…) and review the top five hidden sources of gluten in the world around you.
1. Cosmetics and hair products.
Clocking in with a strong lead, cosmetics and hair products undoubtedly take the gold in contaminating your otherwise gluten-free life with that pesky little substance. In general, your main concern should always be accidental consumption of these products ― think lip gloss, shaving cream, hair spray; that kind of thing. You may think you’re not one of those people that incidentally ingests your daily hygienic products, but most of us touch our faces, lick our lips, and bite our nails all day long, so go ahead and read those cosmetic labels one more time. While you’re at it, double-check your household cleaners, your hand soaps, and your body soaps. Gluten can show up in the most unsuspecting places.
As redundant as it often feels, when the nurse asks you for the 100th time if have any allergies to medications, tell her gluten. Yes, most prescribed medications are gluten-free, but not all of them are. Plus, things get complicated when you account for shared equipment, shared labs, and even the capsules your medications come in. So, take the precaution and make it extra clear to your doctors, nurses, and pharmacists that you have a gluten allergy, or Celiac disease.
When it comes to over-the-counter drugs, check the label like there’s no tomorrow. Look out for the most common culprits: ingredients in vitamins, supplements, and even gas-relief aids. Check out this article on how to find out if your medicine is gluten-free, and this advice from a real-life doctor on the risks of cross-contamination and gluten ingredients in medicine. You’ll be on your way to medicinal gluten-freedom in no time.
3. Stamps, envelopes, and adhesives.
Just in general, we recommend you stop licking things that aren’t food. You’ve got a gluten intolerance, so don’t put your tongue where it doesn’t belong. There is something of an urban legend that stamps and glue contain gluten, but the jury is still out on that one. It’s established that standard USPS stamps have an adhesive that contains a starch ―and sometimes that means wheat starch ― but nobody seems to be able to give us a conclusive answer on which glues contain gluten and which do not. It turns out that the word “gluten” derives from the Latin word for “glue,” so anytime you encounter glue, just do your best to not inhale the substance (that means don’t lick it!). There’s even a consensus building in the gluten-free blogosphere that drywall and building materials contain gluten, so beware of airborne gluten inhalation during household renovations.
4. Your dog’s treats and your kid’s toys.
They’re the little creatures who are totally dependent on you, and they might be making you sick. For parents and dog owners, this is old news. Your kids give you colds, openly pick their noses, and your dog eats your underwear and then vomits in your shoes. They’re all gross, but you love them anyways. We do too, but there’s some things you can’t share with them. Most dog treats and dog foods contain gluten, unless they’re specifically designed to be grain-free or gluten-free. It is incredibly easy to switch your dog over to a grain-free diet if you so please, but simply washing your hands after feeding Fido and giving him treats will do the trick. When it comes to your kids, keep your hands clean after playing with their Play-Doh, their silly putty, and anything else they play with that is suspiciously sticky. We know, that’s kind of a long list.
5. Your very own significant other.
Dating someone who is not gluten-free? That’s pretty much the norm, but there’s a hidden risk involved in your PDA, besides enraging the single folks around you. You’re going to have to rethink sharing food, drinks, and swapping casual kisses with your partner after meals. In general, a little bit of this isn’t too dangerous, but if you’re in a long-term relationship, so is your stomach. Long-term cross-contamination from sharing drinks, food, and affection will eventually build up and can cause symptoms. We’re not suggesting you leave your lover (although there IS a gluten-free dating website, somehow) , but you do need to ask them to step up their hygiene game and wash their hands, wipe their mouths, and keep it clean when they’re getting their gluten on. Anything for love, right?
Have you ever gotten glutened by an everyday household product? What do you think are the most common culprits of hidden gluten in everyday items?
Let us know what you think in the comments below!