You need to be careful when you shop, as grains, especially wheat and corn, can be found in an incredible variety of forms in processed foods—hidden as additives, thickeners, coatings, or cheap “bulk.” Avoiding foods containing hidden grains can be difficult because wheat and corn, in particular, come in some tough-to-recognize names. You will be shocked at how many processed food products contain grains—frozen dinners, bottled salad dressings, dry salad dressing mixes, seasoning mixes, canned soups, instant soup mixes, candy bars, licorice— the majority of foods filling the aisles in supermarkets.
So it is important to recognize these aliases to remain safely grain-free. Of course, the best way to avoid hidden sources of grains is to eat whole foods that don’t require labels in the first place, such as vegetables, eggs, and meats. But on those occasions when you need something with a label, such as premixed salad dressing, mayonnaise, even ketchup, it’s important to be aware of such hidden sources of grains. Also note that many medications and nutritional supplements contain wheat or corn.
Here are the not-so-obvious foods and ingredients that are really wheat. A question mark (?) following an item means it is either variable or uncertain (given manufacturers’ reluctance or inability to specify the source).
Caramel coloring (?)
Caramel flavoring (?)
Farina (often in hot cereals)
Fu (gluten in Asian foods)
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
Modified food starch (?)
Panko (a bread crumb mixture used in Japanese cooking)
Roux (wheat-based sauce or thickener)
Seitan (nearly pure gluten used in place of meat)
Textured vegetable protein (?)
There are hundreds of common food ingredients derived from corn, such as dextrose, dextrin, maltodextrin, high-fructose corn syrup, fructose, maltitol, polydextrose, ethanol, caramel coloring, and artificial flavorings, that will not be identified on the label as being corn-sourced. However, the process to generate these products from corn reduces zein protein content to negligible levels, so they are generally not a problem for grain exposure for the majority (though these ingredients, especially sugars like fructose, pose problems of their own). Because of the many ways that corn-derived ingredients can make their way into processed foods, the best policy for the ultrasensitive is to avoid processed foods as much as possible.