Digging in: Ingredient Labels

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How far do you go to make sure that the product you’re ingesting doesn’t contain gluten or soy ingredients (or anything else to which you have an intolerance/allergy/sensitivity)?

I generally don’t like to shout.  However, after my recent personal (and AWFUL) experience, I’m here with a reminder:  if you aren’t 100% certain…CALL THE MANUFACTURER FIRST!

Reading vitamin labels can be even more complex than the already dark and twisted road of food label deciphering. 

In personal coaching sessions with my clients, one of the main things we discuss is how to decipher labels.  Clients often bring me labels of things that appear to be “safe,” but in order to meet the strict “GGF standards” (truly gluten, grain, and soy free) they get the thumbs down more often than they’d like. 

In the beginning of my own transition to health, I often got “glutened,” due to not recognizing hidden ingredients.  Thankfully, that is a rare occurrence these days!  I learned precisely what to avoid, and the names that the ingredients hide behind (thanks to lots of study, getting certified with Gluten Free Society, and several occasions of trial and error).

Recently, I had ordered multi-vitamins and was excited to incorporate them into my teen daughter’s daily regimen.  The label (pictured) promises no gluten.  It doesn’t promise to be soy free (oops number one on my part).  While I admit to missing the boat on that one, soy is considered to be one of the FDA’s top eight allergens.  If a label calls out one allergen, it is supposed to call out the rest.

The next part can be controversial, since I don’t agree with the standards used to define the term “gluten free.”  If you are familiar with a true gluten free lifestyle, you know that there gluten proteins in all grains (including rice and corn).  Because of the gap in labeling standards, I have learned that it is best to ask specifically about corn and rice with the manufacturers.

Gluten Free Vitamin?

In this particular case of the “glutens,” I had been stuck inside for four days due to the weather.  As usual, I had cooked all of my normal foods from scratch.  I didn’t use anything out of the ordinary or consume anything different in my diet. So, when I found myself doubled over in pain and unable to leave the bathroom, I was immediately suspicious.  I hadn’t had a “gluten attack” like that in more than a year.  To be completely certain, I carefully combed through my food diary to make sure there wasn’t anything else that could have caused it.

Reluctantly, I called the manufacturer.  It took a while to get to the consumer products division, but I finally got to the truth.  The vitamins indeed contained both corn and soy (can you figure out which word should have caught my attention?)  After answering a myriad of their questions about my reaction, I suggested that they might want to indicate the presence of corn and soy on the label.

I truly hope that in time, label laws will change.  Until then, don’t hesitate to ask…it could save you from an unpleasant experience, digestive or otherwise.  


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