Are you on a gluten-free diet? There are many ways to get exposed to gluten. That’s why cross-contamination is such a relevant topic. Here is how to avoid it.
The gluten-free diet is the strict avoidance of gluten. If a doctor prescribes the regime as a treatment for a condition, this diet can be life-long. The gluten-free diet is the only treatment for many diseases. And if that is the case, the menu needs to be even more focused and strict. Because in a world full of gluten, there are tons of ways to get exposed to it.
One of the most common ways to break the gluten-free diet is by consciously eating something that contains gluten. But as gluten is a protein molecule, and therefore quite small, there are many other ways. Some ingredients can contain traces of gluten. So there is a possibility that small amounts of that can contaminate the gluten-free food.
Here is cross-contamination and how to avoid it.
Gluten-Free Diet and Cross-Contamination
I have mentioned that cross-contamination is a process in which a gluten-free food gets gluten molecules or traces added. Most of the time, that contamination process is unintentional. In that way, gluten gets mixed within the foodstuffs. This phenomenon is also known as cross-contact.
That contact between gluten-free food and gluten can happen at any part of the cooking process; or even while eating it! The entire preparation process of gluten-free food is fraught with the risk of gluten contamination. This is because many edibles are gluten-based. And, sometimes one kitchen handles the preparation of gluten-free and gluten-based food. Cross-contamination is a result of the collision of two diets.
How does cross-contamination happen? Mainly by using the same utensils or appliances for preparing both gluten-free and gluten-based foods – toasters, ovens, mixers, containers, and many other things are all sources of contamination.
Adding ingredients that are not certified gluten-free is another common way of contaminating food. Always read labels carefully!
Consequences of Cross-Contamination
What are the consequences of eating cross-contaminated food? It depends on the person and how long that person has been eating a gluten-free diet. And why. If you don’t have any diet-related disease, you might not even feel the difference!
However, even if you don’t have a diet-related disease, you may feel some kind of physiological reaction by being exposed to gluten – typically digestive issues. If a doctor prescribed the diet for underlying health issues such as Celiac Disease, breaking the gluten-free diet carries certain risks.
Let’s start with the person new to the gluten-free diet – just diagnosed and beginning the gluten-free diet. That is the hardest part, as many mistakes are made through a lack of knowledge. If you are starting a gluten-free diet, you will need time to learn before you heal. Cross-contamination can sustain your symptoms or even make them worst!
While on the other hand, if you have been on the gluten-free diet for some time and accidentally eat some, you can have severe health issues and symptoms. Also, many of the initial symptoms of your health condition can return stronger. For example, after six years on the gluten-free diet, I ate cross-contaminated food, and many of my Celiac Disease symptoms returned stronger. An example of that was experiencing a depressive episode.
Gluten-Free Diet and How to Avoid Cross-Contamination?
Now we know the problem and its consequences, it is time to bring solutions, even when cross-contamination might seem something impossible to avoid. The truth is that following some basic steps, it is possible. The key to preventing cross-contamination is by cutting any contact. And by contact, I mean the possibility of a mix between the gluten-free and the gluten-based foods.
- Something important to take into account is to divide the utensils if possible. If we want to avoid cross-contamination, we must use utensils exclusively for making gluten-free foods. And, different ones exclusively for the gluten-based foods
- Try to have separate kitchen appliances for making gluten-free food too. That means using a different toaster, mixer, blender, and if it is possible, a separate oven and dishwasher. Because gluten can not be sanitized away, it is also recommended to use separate sponges and dishrags.
- Avoid eating at restaurants that are not gluten-free certified. No matter what they sell, there is a possibility of cross-contamination in that food. You can control the risk at your home, but regular food restaurants would not do it. So, if the restaurant is gluten-free certified, that means there is not a chance for cross-contamination. But if it is a regular food restaurant, there is going to be cross-contamination somehow.
- Only use ingredients that are gluten-free certified. Because regular ingredients and products are produced without avoiding cross-contamination. Again, you are the one who can prevent cross-contamination. And many elements could be manufactured under the cross-contamination of gluten. So, if you use ingredients that are not gluten-free certified, those might have gluten traces.
As you can see, avoiding cross-contamination in the gluten-free diet is on ourselves. We are the ones who decide to take risks, or not. So, with a gluten-free diet, our health and wellness are in our hands too.
My gluten-free fella, I encourage you to avoid cross-contamination by following these necessary steps strictly. You are the only one who can take care of yourself. When you have been sick, you discover wellness and health are the main things in life. See you soon!