This Common Ingredient Is Ruining Your Gluten-Free Diet

There is no denying the power of bread and its many benefits for the soul and taste buds, but sometimes circumstances out of your control may cause you to rethink your love affair with the carby delight in favor of something a little less glutinous. Gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular, not only as more people are becoming gluten intolerant or vocal about celiac disease, but because people are realizing some of the benefits behind the dietary adjustment.

According to Clean Eating Kitchen, in addition to wheat's allergen status, its inflammatory nature, possible thyroid issue-causing effects, lack of nutritious elements, and even nutrition-absorption blocking nature, make it necessary to ditch the wheat in favor of a cleaner, leaner diet that will cause less stress to your system. But in giving up gluten, you definitely have to become more conscious of what goes into your food to make sure you're avoiding the right ingredients, and some can be sneakier than you'd expect.

Some vinegars can contain gluten

Amy Gorin, a writer at Food Network, outlined several foods you should be careful with, no matter what your reasons are for going gluten-free. Among these ingredients are some well-known possible containers of gluten, like oats, cereal, gravy mix (which often contains flour as a thickener), and soy sauce. But some are much more inconspicuous, including spices, frozen hash browns, canned soup, and even some pre-packaged meats. However, undistilled vinegar might be the biggest surprise of all.

She explains that undistilled vinegar can contain grains made up of gluten; if you're especially sensitive, it could have an effect on you. Pre-packaged meats can be mixed with sauces that contain soy sauce among other ingredients, while canned soups often contain "gluten additives." The same goes for spices that use binding agents that contain gluten. Gorin adds that "wheat flour is sometimes added to hash browns to bind the potatoes together and create an extra-crisp coating." She points out that the spices and undistilled vinegar are particularly disturbing because they're both such common ingredients in everyday cooking.

So the next time you're in the checkout line with your items or dining out with friends, you may want to give the ingredients a quick review to make sure they're actually as gluten-free as they seem. Petition to improve clarity on gluten-free labeling on any and all grocery items moving forward? It's only fair to our gluten-free friends!