Before sharing my tips, I feel obligated to warn you that I am very sensitive to gluten traces. I realize more and more that many Celiacs don’t have to be restricted as much as me despite their gluten intolerance. Clearly, people have various levels of gluten sensitivity – here defined as an amount of gluten consumed without feeling any symptoms.
Thus it is more difficult for sensitive people to find reliable information on the internet. A lot of shared information refers to products which don’t contain gluten in the ingredients but are contaminated with it. I can imagine that suggesting the less sensitive people to watch out for traces might not be opportune. And so they advice’s, on the other hand, might sometimes cost another person feeling very sick.
Therefore, I dedicate this post to all sensitive Celiacs who are about to shop for gluten free food in The Netherlands :-)
Where I shop
I buy fruits and vegetables in EkoPlaza (link). I go there because they have organic products and a wide assortment of certified gluten free food. As for meat, I buy it at a butcher. I don’t buy packed meat (very rarely) as it contains entire list of ingredients, especially sugars, like maltodextrin and dextrin (which might contain some tiny traces of gluten – perhaps it is nothing but if you collect all the traces you eat every day you might actually rich beyond 20 ppm).
The rest of food products I buy mostly in Albert Heijn (AH) or in shops with special assortment (also from webshops). AH is the only supermarket in NL that uses their own gluten free and dairy free logo’s on products made by their brand.
Although it is still necessary to double check the ingredients, it allows to shop faster. I check the ingredients on products with AH’ GF logo because they might still contain gluten free wheat starch (I don’t tolerate it well). I don’t buy AH brand products without their GF logo. AH place their GF logo on products which they know to contain gluten traces below 20 ppm. It is safe (although occasionally mistakes happen so read ingredients on these products anyway). There are some products (not from AH brand) which I know are 100% gluten free but it took me some time to collect such knowledge. I used Livaad in the beginning.
I you are very sensitive you might not tolerate well products that ‘may contain traces of gluten’ or ‘are processed at the same facility as products with gluten’.
Recently, AH changed the labels on nuts. In the past, they were marked gluten free with their logo. Now, the logo is not there. I told myself to not exaggerate, those are JUST nuts, and nothing can go wrong, that I would be fine. But I wasn’t fine at all. There is no gluten on the ingredients list but AH doesn’t guarantee that the gluten traces are below 20 ppm. Now I understand why even better, these nuts are contaminated with gluten.
Another problematic ingredient (for me) is sugar. I think it is related to my Hashimoto’s disease rather than to Celiac disease but I react very strongly to all sugar fluctuations in my blood. Sugar and hormones don’t go along. It is really annoying that sugar is added even to the raw meat. That is why I buy meat at butcher. I can barely find any (gluten free) product which doesn’t contain maltodextrin, dextrin, glucose-fructose syrup, sugar or (hydrolyzed) starches.
What makes me really disappointed is that the gluten free flour mixes (e.g. cake mixes or universal flour mixes) often have sugar on the 1st or 2nd or 3rd place on the ingredients list. It is sad and frustrating that the companies who make food for people with gluten intolerance seem not to care about these people at all. They are simply profit oriented. Gluten free food products produced by small (often family) businesses are sometimes of a better quality.
Wishing you all ‘gluten traces – free’ and healthy shopping :-)