Gluten free recipes for POCS diet

How to Know When a Food Contains Gluten

Gluten free recipes for POCS diet
by Tallene Posted May 13, 2024

If you’ve heard about going gluten-free, or you’re considering it to help manage your PCOS symptoms, you might be wondering – what the heck is gluten anyway?!

Gluten is a structural protein. It’s found in things like wheat, barely, rye, and more—but, for Cysters trying to manage their PCOS, it can be very inflammatory. Sure, it gives bread products their lovely shape… but it could be wreaking havoc when it comes to chronic inflammation. It targets the lining of the small intestine, damaging it, reducing the absorption of nutrients, and, of course, prompting inflammation!

It’s important to note that there’s a difference between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. People with celiac disease adopt a gluten-free diet as a necessity, as it’s an autoimmune digestive disorder that can lead to serious long-term complications if it’s left untreated. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity, on the other hand, is a milder intolerance that doesn’t cause an immune response or intestinal damage, but the symptoms are similar (e.g. fatigue, bloating, and an upset stomach). 

(This also different from a wheat allergy, where your body has an immune overaction that causes swelling, hives, itching, and difficulty breathing. This one is not an autoimmune disorder and not directly related to PCOS symptoms . . . but you should probably avoid gluten anyway if it hives and shortness of breath.)

PCOS, gluten, and inflammation

PCOS Cysters can benefit from a gluten-free diet because the majority of the ‘acceptable grains’ and vegetables you can eat are low in glycemic index and won’t spike insulin levels. 

Many cysters have found that testing the gluten-free diet for 30 days helped kickstart sustainable weight loss and ease PCOS symptoms. We have found that 30 days of gluten-free is ample time to figure out whether this diet is right for you long-term.  Gluten often causes inflammation, which can exacerbate PCOS symptoms and have a negative effect on our weight, skin, hair, mood, fertility, and metabolic health. 

Please note this blog post is not a substitute for official medical advice. If you are concerned about your PCOS symptoms, suspect you have a gluten intolerance/food allergy, or wish to make dietary/lifestyle changes, please consult your doctor first. 

How to Know When a Food Contains Gluten 

Most packaged foods aren’t gluten-free unless they have a food label stating otherwise. For example, most types of bread, pasta, cake, biscuits, and baked goods will contain gluten.

However, gluten has also snuck into some other processed food products. (Check out my pantry must-haves for eating delicious meals without inflammation-inducing ingredients!)

How to Know When a Food Contains Gluten

Here are my top tips for avoiding even the sneakiest of glutens!

1. Check your condiments

Products like soy sauce often contain gluten, but gluten-free options are usually available. For example, San J soy sauce! Certified gluten-free products can only be labeled “gluten-free”, “free of gluten” or “without gluten” if they contain 20 parts per million (ppm) or less of gluten. This is the lowest level of gluten that can be detected in foods using scientifically validated methods. This ensures the food has been properly processed to remove gluten. Read the ingredients of your condiments carefully before you drizzle them over your dinner! 

2. Check the ingredients first

Be aware of wheat: the ultimate gluten-containing grain! To save time and headaches, check the packaging to see if it says “wheat-free” or “gluten-free” under the ingredients list. You’ll usually find this near the nut allergy or vegan/vegetarian stamps. It should say “Contains: wheat” if there’s wheat flour or wheat starch in there. Remember, there are a host of alternative food staples you can swap in, such as gluten-free bread. 

3. Ask about preparation

When eating at restaurants and cafes, items that are usually gluten-free may not be, due to cross-contamination. Oats, meats, fish, and even potatoes are often flour-coated before cooking to improve the texture – make sure you specify that you’re gluten-free to ensure no sneaky flour makes its way into your meal!

(Also, quick note: “gram flour” and “graham flour” are different. Gram flour is made from chickpeas and is gluten-free. Graham flour, on the other hand is whole wheat flour that definitely contains gluten. So, if your waitor says “gram flour,” confirm the spelling.)

4. Look for naturally gluten-free products

If the idea of reading the ingredients labels every time you visit the grocery store exhausts you, have no fear! There are a host of naturally gluten-free foods you can weave into your diet with ease. 

Gluten-free diet for PCOS

Examples include: 

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Meat and poultry
  • Fish and seafood
  • Beans, legumes, and nuts 
  • Quinoa 
  • Rice 
  • Nut flours

5. Keep eating your go-to meals—just substitute. 

There’s no use adopting a new diet if it isn’t healthy, sustainable, and fulfilling. Gluten-free grain (e.g. almond, buckwheat, and amaranth can be effortlessly swapped into your favorite dishes. You don’t need to ditch your go-to meals to be gluten-free. 

You can find delicious gluten-free alternatives to things like flour, oats, soy sauce, bread, pizza crust, and thickening agents. So, if you want to keep eating buffalo chicken pizza? DO IT! (Trust me, I haven’t given it up.)  

6. Don’t rely on packaged or canned gluten-free foods. 

You don’t need to rely on packaged or canned gluten-free foods. In fact, you shouldn’t! The label “gluten-free” doesn’t make them health foods. Often these products are high in sodium and unhealthy fats, so keep cooking your own meals. If you’re intimidated by the process, just download The Cysterhood app. All the recipes are gluten-free and totally PCOS-friendly!  

7. Ensure your supplements and  medications are gluten-free too.

YES! Gluten isn’t just in food. It’s so important that you check your other items, too. Because you could continually have symptoms if gluten is out of your diet, but still in your supplements and medications! Talk to your doctor about whether gluten is in any of your prescriptions and alternative medications you may be able to take. As for your supplements, switch to Ovafit, my gluten-free supplement line made SPECIFICALLY for PCOS bodies. 

(Not only are the supplements gluten-free, but also dairy-free!) 

8. Try gluten-free apps. 

Gluten-free apps can also be a helpful way to quickly check labels. There are plenty of them out there that scan labels or even find restaurants for you with gluten-free options! Find an app for dairy-free food checking too since I recommend that for a PCOS-friendly diet as well. 

9. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. 

If you’re unsure if something is gluten-free, don’t be afraid to ask questions! Ask the server or call the manufacturer and get more information. There’s no shame in ensuring your health is taken care of!

Ultimately, It’s not the gluten itself that’s the problem; it’s the reaction that gluten triggers in the body. If your body doesn’t process gluten well, a gluten-free diet could be the key to kickstarting reversing your PCOS symptoms and beginning the healing process from within. 

For more information on the relationship between gluten and PCOS symptoms, check out our blog: “Can Gluten Trigger PCOS Symptoms?” 

Need more tips on PCOS diet dos and don’ts? Check out our podcast, A Cyster and Mister, and our handy posts over on the blog

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2 thoughts on “How to Know When a Food Contains Gluten”

  1. Hi dear my daughter introduced me your Instagram and she is following your diet plan and gluten/dairy free food from September and lost 14 kg weight. So I too started it I am 45 years old and having a lot of fibroid in utreues doctor told me to remove it, but not in hurry so i tried your gluten dairy free routine now its 2nd month I have lost 9kg in 2months 92 to 83kg weight I feel very good and feel active as well as utrues is feel less heavy. Thank you so much i will continue it …. Love you

    1. Thank you so much for you kind words! I am so proud of you for the steps that you have taken and the progress that you have made!

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