Finding your way gluten-free?


Did you know you can enjoy totally delicious, healthy food while following a gluten-free diet? It’s true. Gluten-free products have come a long way in taste and texture in the last few years and that is not even taking into consideration the foods out there that are naturally gluten-free.

First off, gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Foods containing gluten include bulgur, couscous, semolina, graham flour, spelt, kamut, wheat berries, tritcale, farro, einkorn and emmer.


What is it about gluten that so many people are avoiding it? 

Celiac Disease- It is estimated that 1 in 100 people worldwide have Celiac Disease (CD), an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when wheat is consumed causing the small intestine to lose its ability to absorb nutrients from food, leading to malnutrition and a variety of other complications. Symptoms of CD vary greatly. Blood screening is usually the first step in making a diagnosis. Consult your doctor if you suspect you may have Celiac Disease.

Gluten Intolerance-  Individuals with gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity are unable to tolerate gluten and develop an adverse reaction when eating it that can worsen over time. With gluten intolerance, there is no indication that the gluten consumption causes damage to the small intestine as it does with Celiac Disease. A qualified healthcare provider can help determine if Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance or a wheat allergy are present.

Major Food Allergen- Food allergies can be very serious and in some cases even life threatening. Wheat is one of the eight major food allergens identified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If you think that you may have a food allergy, talk to your doctor about being referred to a board-certified allergist. It is important to receive testing and an accurate diagnosis for food allergies. Self-diagnosis can lead to unnecessary avoidance of foods and affect your nutrition and quality of life. 

How can I tell if my food contains gluten? 

Labeling-  Gluten-free is a voluntary claim, meaning that manufacturers have the choice of  whether or not to put a gluten-free label on their products. Once a manufacturer does identify a product as gluten-free, they are accountable for using the claim in a truthful and non-misleading way and they must comply with all FDA regulations for gluten-free.


If you see the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO) symbol on a product, GFCO guarantees that the product has less than 10 (ppm) of gluten. 



"The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness endorses the Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP), a certifying body created by the Canadian Celiac Association that NFCA now brings to the U.S. This alliance makes the GFCP the first North American program endorsed by leading celiac disease organizations in both the U.S. and Canada." If you see this label you know that the product contains less than 10 ppm of gluten. 


"The QAI Gluten-Free certification program is designed for food producers and manufacturers of gluten-free products, to verify the safe production, storage and transportation of gluten-free products."

        The Grain Train red “gluten-free” tags are a convenient way to help you find products in the store that manufactures claim are gluten-free. Look for the gluten-free red tags located to the side of the shelf price tag. Make sure you always read the ingredients as products can unintentionally get moved on the shelf.

Look for the Gluten-Free Favorite tags to see staff's gluten-free top picks. 



What about products that are not certified gluten-free? 

So how do you identify if wheat, barley or rye is in a product that is not certified gluten-free? If a product that contains wheat is sold in the United States then it must claim that it  “Contains Wheat” on the packaging because the FDA recognizes wheat as a major food allergen. Barley and Rye, however, are not major allergens so they do not have to be listed in the allergy statements on products. Malt is the most common form of barley found in products; malted barley flour, malted milk or milkshakes, malt extract, malt syrup, malt flavoring, malt vinegar are all sources of barley. Check out this link for more tips on how to identity gluten in a product.


Cross-contamination is something to consider when following a gluten-free diet. Levels of gluten sensitivity vary. Some people are able to eat food produced in a facility where gluten is present, others are not. In the home or office sources of contamination may include dishes, pans, utensils, toasters, cutting boards, sponges/dish rags, counter tops, etc.

Restaurants pose a particular challenge because they are often preparing your gluten-free food on the same counter or grill as glutenous products. A deep fryer can be a major source of gluten cross-contamination.

The Grain Train Bakery/Deli is not a gluten-free facility. Soups and items on the hot bar are identified when they are made without gluten added but there is still the possibility that cross-contamination occurred in the process of making a product.

Gluten-Free Naturally 

Let's not forget about all that there is out there that is naturally gluten-free! Sticking to a whole food diet, while eliminating wheat, barley and rye leaves you a lot of delicious, healthy choices for every meal.

Remember though, once you add a spice, broth or sauce you will need to start reading ingredients to make sure that something is still gluten-free. 

    • Fruits and Vegetables 
    • Meat
    • Poultry 
    • Fish
    • Nuts 
    • Seeds
    • Beans
    • Rice 
    • Millet, Amaranth, Quinoa, Flax 

Shopping Gluten-Free at the Grain Train

The Grain Train carries a wide selection of gluten-free products from breads, to pastas to baking flours and snack bars. Look for the red “gluten-free” tag but remember to always read the labels before you make a purchase.

Ask a staff member about a personalized gluten-free tour. Want to know what gluten-free options are available and how they taste? We are happy help individuals and groups find their way gluten-free

Visit here for a guide to gluten-free entertaining. 

To schedule a gluten-free store tour e-mail or call (231) 347-4914 X 12 

 Additional Resources 

Mention of any company, product or program does not constitute endorsement by Grain Train Natural Foods Markets. Further, the Grain Train is not responsible for the content of any linked web sites. All web addresses referenced were accessible at the time of this publication.