Learning how to properly examine food ingredient labels for hidden gluten is a skill that you need to quickly learn when you're first diagnosed. In most cases, the ingredients that you need to avoid will be obvious enough but knowing the sneaky ones will make a huge difference. Sometimes the products that claim to be wheat-free might not be and this can be scary, especially if you have celiac disease! This is why learning to recognize the names is important.
Dozens of ingredients contain gluten. There are the obvious ones such as wheat flour or bran, but others can be extremely vague.
Red flag ingredients to look for when purchasing a product:
Barley (Latin name: Hordeum vulgare)
Barley malt or malt (Food examples would be Rice Krispies, Cornflakes and Lindt Truffles)
Bran (Rice and corn bran are safe)
Malt (Corn malt is safe)
Rye (Latin name: Secale cereale)
Soy sauce (Untitled specified gluten free, I got caught with this one!)
Spelt (Latin name: Triticum spelta)
Starch (Potato and corn starch is safe)
Triticale (Cross between rye and wheat)
Wheat (Latin name: Triticum vulgare)
Worcestershire sauce (This can be a tricky item since some contain gluten and others do not. Just make sure to double check!)
There are some ingredients that you see quite often and it's been debated whether they're gluten free or not. Dealing with these ingredients may be better avoiding just in case or you could always test them out to see if your body reacts.
Some of these would be:
Modified food starch / modified starch (Some companies will label whether the starch is something other than wheat, which would be safe)
What kind of foods could have hidden gluten?
When I was first diagnosed, I would go crazy checking food labels with every product. It's a habit that I got into quickly and it proved to be useful in the future. I found out that there are a group of foods that will usually contain gluten even if you do not check out the label. Some of these would be canned soup, packaged soup mixes, sauce mixes, salad dressing, chips (there are some really yummy gluten free ones, like most Lays!) , Ice cream, noodles and any snack foods.
Another clue would be to examine the appearance of food. This could be useful in circumstances when you're traveling abroad and you may suspect a cross contamination.
I usually look out for:
Thick sauces (This could suggest that wheat was used to thicken the base)
Creamy soup (This could suggest that wheat was used to thicken the base)
Deep fried foods (could have been fried in the same fryer as gluten rich foods and could also be dusted with wheat)
Dark and salty sauces (This could suggest that soy sauce was used, which is a wheat heavy product)
It's important to check out labels before being a new product for any hidden gluten. As time goes by, you will be able to determine what is safe to eat and eliminate any gluten attacks. When in doubt, do not be afraid to ask a waiter, cook, or friend. It is your health that should always come first!