Can you trust labels that say “gluten free”?

By Britni Vincent, RD, LD
August 21, 2014


Have you ever been wary of labels such as "fat free" or "gluten free" in the supermarket? Have you ever wondered what defines them and what other ingredients may have been added to such foods? In August 2013, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that foods labeled gluten free need to meet specific requirements. As of August 5, 2014, all products with a gluten free label need to meet the FDA's new standards. Before the FDA issued this rule that defined what characteristics a gluten free-labeled food needed to have, consumers could never completely trust it was gluten free.

The FDA’s new standard is a progressive step and good news for individuals with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. It is especially important for those who have celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease that can cause potentially life-threatening reactions when even trace amounts of gluten are consumed. The only way to manage the disease is to avoid gluten-containing foods.

Gluten free products are still processed

GlutenFreeFDA_GroceryShopping.jpgThis new definition of gluten free is a relief for those who have celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, but the reality is that the healthiest gluten free foods—real, unprocessed foods—do not need labels. Gluten free packaged foods are becoming more abundant in the grocery stores. From 2008 to 2012, the gluten free market experienced a compound average growth rate of 28 percent; according to market research firm Packaged Facts. It is important to realize that the foods labeled “gluten free” are still processed. They lack nutrients, vitamins, fiber and can still increase inflammation in your body. Food manufacturers "get the worst foods to replace wheat and gluten" said William Davis, a cardiologist and author of the book, Wheat Belly. Gluten provides elasticity to baked products, helps them rise and maintains their shape. Without gluten, food manufacturers need to add more ingredients to make the product tasty and have a desirable texture.


Studies show that gluten free products often have a higher carbohydrate content than their gluten-containing equivalents. In addition, it’s common that additional sugar is added to gluten free products to improve their taste. Food manufacturers often use potato, tapioca or rice flour in their gluten free products--all of which are high-glycemic foods that make your blood sugar rise quickly. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition determined that blood glucose rose higher after eating gluten free bread than white bread. Even though individuals may decrease inflammation by removing gluten from their diets, the sugar, refined oils, and the processed carbohydrates in gluten free foods will still increase inflammation in the body.

A better way to eat gluten free

GlutenFreeFDA_ManEatingHealthyMeal.jpgAlthough the FDA’s new gluten free requirements are good news, at Nutritional Weight & Wellness we have a better, healthier way to be gluten free. We recommend that individuals avoid process foods, even gluten free ones, and focus on a diet filled with real foods. Meats, eggs, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats are all naturally gluten free. The majority of carbohydrates you consume should come from vegetables, not packaged foods. Eating the Weight & Wellness Way will provide you with the nutrients your body needs, decrease inflammation and will help you to repair the damage in your intestines that may have been caused by consuming gluten.

Try this naturally gluten free meal plan for yourself:


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 strip of bacon
  • 1 cup of spinach
  • ½ cup of sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon of butter (to cook your eggs in and put on your sweet potato)


  • 1 ½- 2 cups of chili
  • ½ avocado and bell peppers



  • 4 ounces of chicken
  • ½ cup carrots
  • Broccoli and cauliflower with 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil

Bedtime Snack

  • ½ cup berries with 1 tablespoon heavy cream on top

Learn more

If you want to learn how to eat gluten free the healthy way or to determine if going gluten free is best for you, you can meet one-on-one with a nutrition counselor. During the appointment the nutritionist will provide you with education and a customized gluten free meal plan. We also have a class, Going Gluten Free the Healthy Way, you can take in person or online.

About the author

Britni is a licensed dietitian at Nutritional Weight & Wellness. Britni once struggled with insomnia, acne and regular migraines that would force her to retreat to a dark room for relief. She tried several different approaches to feel better before she realized her diet was the culprit and changed her eating to a more balanced approach. As a result, her insomnia and acne are gone, and she rarely has migraines. Britni is a registered and licensed dietitian through the Minnesota Board of Nutrition and Dietetics. She received her B.S. in dietetics from the University of St. Thomas and completed her dietetic internship at the University of Iowa. She has experience in nutrition counseling, leading seminars and motivating clients of all ages to make changes.

View all posts by Britni Vincent, RD, LD


Sonia Hittle
This is all really great information! Chris Rich, Vice President of Development for the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG), explains why the "circle GF" is the most valued and trusted gluten-free certification and what brands go through to become certified in this blog post that I also found to be really helpful!
May 17, 2016 at 12:45 pm

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